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Imaging new hard drive in Windows 7 laptop?

Sorry if this is the wrong forum, but where else to turn? I want a way to make a mirror image of a hard drive, bit-for-bit, that has exactly the same data. Ideally, it would be free.

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It depends. What do you want it for? Realtime? Backup? –  SLaks Apr 27 '11 at 23:46
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I know what you're talking about, but usually people refer to that simply as "mirroring" or "imaging" (or "cloning") a HD. "Mirror image," to me, indicates that you want all of the bits in reverse order on the target. ;-) –  NReilingh Apr 28 '11 at 1:13
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Apr 27 '11 at 23:46

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marked as duplicate by Hello71, Sathya Apr 28 '11 at 4:08

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5 Answers

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If you just want to copy the contents of an NTFS filesystem, attributes and all, you can just use robocopy.

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This is good enough –  thf Jun 8 '11 at 18:18
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Clonezilla can do what you're looking for. It has the ability to clone hard disks.

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DriveImage XML (free) can make raw copies of partitions.

If you want a real-time copy, you can create a RAID 1 (mirroring) array.

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If you have a computer with linux on it, you can use dd to clone your drive.

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To answer your question exactly, you need to explain the reason you need a "bit for bit" copy. There are many programs like Clonezilla, DriveImageXML, and paid programs like Norton Ghost and TrueImage which can take the data which appears to be actively in use and clone or copy them to another hard drive. Note that these will not normally copy deleted data or data in sectors that don't appear to be in use. Depending on what the original drive looks like versus the new drive, it will remake partitions and while the new drive will run, it will NOT be an exact copy.

If you need a forensically exact copy for legal purposes - say you want to image a drive of a person who you suspect may have done something illegal - then you will need to use a forensics program - I believe that there is one which is open source, but most are paid programs. These will create true exact copies with every bit copied whether active files or slack space, deleted space....

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