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Review on the software for cloning a hard disk drive

Author: Vlad Brown

Data recovery specialist, guest author, journalist.

Updated on 01/12/2020

After replacing a hard drive we spent a huge amount of time on setting up an operating system and installing the necessary software. You can avoid performing these boring actions with the help of special programs for cloning an SSD or HDD.

The contents:

What is a clone of a hard drive and why do you need it

Clone is an exact copy of a hard drive, which stores all the information on your system and software. Such clones contain user personal data, OS settings and stored multimedia files. During cloning you can create a complete image of your system or copy individual hard disk partitions.

A clone isn't the same image which you can create, for example, via UltraISO. When cloning, you get an identical copy of the original drive with its original structure.

After connecting a destination hard drive to your computer, there is no need to re-configure programs, restore licenses and so on. You get a computer ready to operate right after a clone drive is inserted.

Preparing for cloning an HDD

It's crucial that cloning process isn't interrupted, that is why:

  1. If you're copying data from a laptop hard drive (or SSD), charge your device in advance and connect it to a power source.
  2. If your computer has shut down or rebooted on its own recently, troubleshoot the issues.
  3. If there is important data on your device that you don't want to lose, create a backup copy of it just to be on the safe side. In case of failure, you'll be able to recover the information via this copy.

An additional disk receiver is required for cloning a hard drive.

A tip: with SATA 6 (also relevant for faster versions) the cloning process goes faster. If you can't connect both devices in such way, use the USB interface.

How long does it take?

Cloning a drive isn't a very fast process. Its speed depends on several indicators:

  • Support software capabilities.
  • Drive capacity.
  • The type and speed of both hard drives. Information is migrated on an HDD more slowly than on an SSD.

Hard drive cloning software

There is plenty of software for creating a byte-to-byte duplicate of your HDD. Let's focus on specific programs for cloning and recovering data.

Acronis True Image 2020

Excellent software you pay for with wide functionality. The main function of Acronis True Image is to create HDD copies and retrieve data on a computer. Acronis True Image can work in both Manual and Auto Modes. The advantages of the program are its high speed and user-friendly multilingual interface.

Acronis True Image is a paid program. The software costs from $45 (for 1 computer) and to $93 (for 5 devices). Those users who are unwilling to buy the paid version straightaway can give a try to the 30 days' trial version of Acronis True Image.

Acronis has its own cloud storage where you can store created clones. A user can get access to the cloud from any device. Cloud registration is carried out through email, you can use the storage for free for 30 days but after this period you will have to choose a paid variant. 

In addition to cloning, the software allows to backup individual files and folders. This saves a lot of time when you need to create a selective backup. 

Cloning can be run in the Background Mode, thus a user can work in Windows / Mac OS as usually. 

We should also mention the Acronis Survival Kit feature which creates a "fireproof" kit for recovering, booting and operating your OS. 

Download Acronis True Image

EaseUS Todo Backup Home

EaseUS Todo Backup Home is a program for sector-by-sector copying of hard drives and separate files. The program has a free trial demo and several subscriptions (each of them includes lifetime maintenance). The cost: 

  • of annual subscription is $79;
  • and a of two-year subscription – $129.

For $259 you can buy a lifetime license for this product.

How to clone a hard drive:

  1. Install and run Todo Backup Home.
  2. Select Disk Mode. Selective copying can be done in the Partition Mode.
  3. Select the drive for copying and click "Next".

The process of cloning HDD partitions will start automatically. When the process is complete, restart your computer.

Download EaseUS Todo Backup Home

Macrium Reflect

A handy free drive cloning tool. Macrium Reflect distinctive features are its high speed and user-friendly interface. The program functionality includes:

  • full and partial disk copying (both of an HDD and SSD);
  • verifying the integrity of ready-made images;
  • high security level (the program uses a multi-level encryption system).

Cloning a hard drive via Macrium Reflect: 

  1. After launching the program you have to go to "Create a backup".
  2. Select "Clone this disk".
  3. Then you just have to select the desired disk/partition for cloning and click "Next".
  4. Specify the destination drive, i.e. the one you want to store the clone on (option "Select a disk to clone to...").
  5. The process of copying will start automatically. 
  6. After cloning is complete, you have to reboot your device.

Download Macrium Reflect

Paragon Drive Copy

Paragon Drive Copy is a multifunctional tool which greatly extends the capabilities of gpedit (a built-in Windows utility). The program has a step-by-step wizard via which all the basic features are carried out. The product is a paid one and it costs $79.95. 

Let's list the main capabilities of Paragon Drive Copy:

  • Basic drive operations. You can use these features in order to delete, recover or hide drives, convert file systems, split and merge partitions, compress and defragment drives, change serial numbers, mount virtual drives and much more.
  • Data migration. Copy OS settings, as well as user data, drives or specific HDD partitions.
  • Complete data deletion. This feature prevents the recovery of deleted files via the corresponding apps.
  • Creating backups and recovering them in the Auto Mode.
  • Creating a bootable media storage device (CD/DVD/USB).

You can copy data via the "Data migration" feature. A user only has to specify the destination disk and the software will start copying the specified information. There is no need to do anything else during cloning, so you can continue working in Windows.

Download Paragon Drive Copy

Handy Backup

Handy Backup is a great utility for cloning an HDD and its partitions. Basic features such as copying data and recovering it on another media storage device are available.

There is a step-by-step wizard built in the program. All processes are automated, thus a user doesn't have to fix the Registry, configure Windows or migrate data.

There are 4 versions of Handy Backup:

  • Standard which costs $39.
  • Professional – $89.
  • Office Expert – $249.
  • Server Network for $448.

Server Network versions differ in their compatibility with operating systems, backup types, storage locations of copies and some additional features (such as syncing, recovering, etc).

There is a free 30 days' demo version of the program. It provides basic capabilities for cloning and copying data. The interface is available in several languages and the software is very convenient to use.

Download Handy Backup