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Which Drive Imaging Programs work the best? Which one would benefit you the most?

Since the early 1990's there has been a quest to backup a complete hard drive (and now a SSD) for disaster recovery purposes thus we need drive imaging programs.

I will endeavor to review the following commercial offering in the "drive cloning" arena.

The first of the drive imaging programs is fairly new it is DIXML by Runtime  software:

This software is what is known as "shareware", although not "crippled" the publisher would like you to donate to them. One of the problems with this type of software is that the program will probably be discontinued and never updated for future technology.

The image, table, or PDF was removed because it will not display on your device. Check back on a PC....

Welcome page of the DriveImage XML

For home use this is a free program, however you are urged to buy the commercial license if you are using it in a business or corporate environment.

Backup you drive or partition.

Using the backup page you can "clone a drive", make an image of your boot or data partitions, and then check the image for errors...

One of the features of this program is it uses the "Volume Shadow Copy" (VSC) service in Vista and newer operating systems. If you are running this from an ERD (Emergency Repair Disk such as mine) the service will not be running and you will get an error that the image may not work. I have tested this program in both normal mode from a Windows 7 installation and my ERD the backup and restore do not have any inherent problems with the VSC not running. I also did a restore from restore points after doing an update through the Windows Update service with out any problems.

Restore your drive or partition...

Restore page, the only catch with this program is a flash or USB drive, the drivers (if your Operating System is that old) have to be loaded. With VM Ware you have to connect to a flash drive after you start the virtual computer. This leads to a few problems with this program, once you realize that you have to connect to the flash drive by disconnecting it from the host computer then the program will do a complete backup or restore. If the flash drive image is a bootable image the flash drive will boot.

You can also do a copy from one drive to another...

The drive to drive will not work for a flash or USB drive, it will copy the files but if the source drive is a bootable device the copy will not boot and using your Windows Install Disk to do a repair will not work on a flash drive. In the case of a flash drive I suggest you make an image and restore it to the flash drive.

The next of the drive imaging programs application is True Image:

This is a fully commercial program that has all the bells and whistles you need, the only problem I have found with this program is the cost...

True Image startup splash screen from bootable media

The new True Image install comes with two separate installations:

Full installation to do complete or "on the fly" restore points. The restore point option is about the same as what you get with Vista and newer Windows Operating Systems (OS).

The other option is a bootable media, you can make a cd/dvd or flash drive. I made the cd version then booted a VM Ware virtual computer to test the program. The results were less than satisfactory because this is a demo program, I didn't buy this program to do a full test because my old reliable still works even for Windows 10...

True image tools page.

Some of the tools you will get with the full or bootable media

True image create your media.

Create your media...

True image save your file.

Save the file...

True image ISO, now you have to burn it.

Now you can burn your cd/dvd media.

True image create a flash or USB drive

Make a bootable flash or USB drive.

More files you will need to create your flash  or USB drive

This is a little more involved.

Saving the files...

It didn't work:

Oppppppssssss...

The stand alone single user license is expensive considering your other options, at one time when the program was fairly simple to install and use. At that time I owned (and still do) a copy of this program to test, cost about 40 USD. I was also an affiliate for selling the program on this web site, I have since dropped my afflation with this company/product.

Is it a good program? Yes, it will do the job as advertised but do you want to pay twice or more for this when you could get another one cheaper or for free?

 

The last of the drive imaging programs is Ghost:

The best but discontinued by Microsoft is the Ghost program, this program was innovative in the early 1990's and even though Microsoft has discontinued the standalone program you may still purchase it in a suite of programs called Ghostcast. Before Microsoft discontinued this fantastic program the cost was fairly low compared to the stand alone True Image program.

 

Ghost 8.0 startup screen:

Ghost startup page.

 

Your options, this version and all the way to Ghost ver 15 will work with Ghostcast.

Ghost options menu.

 

You can "clone" a disk create or backup, create a partition file for backup, restore that file, or check the constancy of the file you made. I do suggest if you use any drive imaging program you always check the file.

What do you want to make?

 

Select your drive:

Select your drive.

 

Select the partition then create the image:

Image created...

 

Always check the file for consistency, nothing like needing your backup and the file is corrupt...

Check that image!

 

Checking the file I made:

The answer is YES!

 

The progress bar.

Most images will only take a few minutes to check, so why not do it?

Once the file is checked store it somewhere besides the computer it was made for, nothing like losing a drive and your backup is on that drive! (I suggest you look into a NAS or a Server).

Drive Imaging Programs conclusions:

I have used all three of these programs all have their small irritations however only Ghost is a true standalone program. It does not rely on any installed programs to run. That is it doesn't need the Volume Shadow Copy service, it doesn't need the True Image base program installed.

Just create your ERD and then boot the computer from it, create your image then copy that image to storage that is not part of the computer you created the image of.

The Ghost32.exe can create an image of another partition on the same computer such as a multi boot computer with Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 10. It does not matter what version of the OS is installed on the target partition it can be 16 bit, 32 bit, or 64 bit Ghost32 will make the image and will restore it with out any errors (assuming the drive your partition is on isn't failing in some way).

I have been using Ghost since it first appeared back in the early 1990's, regardless of the installed OS it would make the image and restore it. This program should be in all DIYer's and Pro tech's IT Tool Box, if you don't have an IT Tool Box you really need to consider building one or buying a commercial one (that can be expensive)...

Last words:

Your recovery is only as good as your LAST backup...



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