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How do I easily copy or clone a Windows boot partition onto a new hard drive?

For some background: I have not been making full backups of my OS drives for a very long time. For the longest time it seemed easier to fix things by completely erasing a partition and starting over by installing the OS whenever "things get messy". Plus, I always keep my important data on Dropbox so I never lose my files.

But I'm starting to get tired of the Windows installer trampling all over GRUB and similar issues. I'm starting to want some kind of a "reset button" functionality. After all, I've got all these multi-terabyte hard disks that I'm using for storing media already.

These days the machines I build all have SSD's in them so I imagine this could help backup and restore times greatly as well, especially when good compression is brought into the picture. Two reasons I stopped performing backups were the complexity of the process, and the waiting.

I'm sure that many users out there have backup and disk imaging software that have served them well, so I'd like to compile a list of ones to try out.

I seem to remember most recently having used a tool called Clonezilla. What I didn't like about it was all of the steps it required you to go through each time you run it. I know this is a somewhat silly complaint ("oh but i dont want to read things") but you have to admit that the interface (at least in the version I was using) isn't exactly user friendly.

What I want is a utility that can encapsulate the entire content on a particular hard disk, or entire partitions, in a way that allows me to restore them exactly later on, without any guesswork. It has to just work. Write the same bits back onto this drive. Let me know if the image has been corrupted.

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marked as duplicate by slhck, sblair, Mehper C. Palavuzlar, Sathya Nov 18 '11 at 8:50

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

I'd like to avoid anything that is (could potentially be) OS- or filesystem-specific. – Steven Lu Nov 17 '11 at 14:09
Let me add some more preferences: Live-CD is good, but I find myself phasing out optical drives on my machines too. a USB-boot friendly image is even better. – Steven Lu Nov 17 '11 at 14:12
You know that clonezilla has command line options, which would save you from navigating through the menu? Also, if you want OS-agnostic: dd might be a choice? – slhck Nov 17 '11 at 14:12
I have tried dd before. Once I tried to restore using it. I got a "I/O Error" or some similar line of output. I never dared try to use it again. – Steven Lu Nov 17 '11 at 14:25
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Well, while I personally like clonezilla, redobackup sounds closer to what you want. Has a VERY simple point and click UI, and does bare metal backups and restores.

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I am looking at redobackup's site and it's giving me some good vibes. This is basically exactly what I'm talking about. Thanks! – Steven Lu Nov 17 '11 at 14:14

I use Cobian Backup to automate backup tasks:

Cobian Backup is a multi-threaded program that can be used to schedule and backup your files and directories from their original location to other directories/drives in the same computer or other computer in your network. FTP backup is also supported in both directions (download and upload).

Cobian Backup exists in two different versions: application and service. The program uses very few resources and can be running on the background on your system, checking your backup schedule and executing your backups when necessary.

Cobian Backup is not an usual backup application: it only copies your files and folders in original or compressed mode to other destination, creating a security copy as a result. So Cobian Backup can be better described as a "Scheduler for security copies". Cobian Backup supports several methods of compression and strong encryption.

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