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I need to find an easy way to clone a Windows system partition + MBR once a week so as to be able to get back in business fast in case the drive gives up the ghost.

To avoid having to reboot, I looked at the few cloning applications that support hot imaging, ie. cloning Windows while it's running.

I know a few backup applications like DriveImage XML, Macrium Reflect Free, or Acronis True Image that, unlike Clonezilla or Redo, say they support hot imaging, but I'd like to know:

  1. Is it reliable? I don't want to clone a drive only to find out that the restored image doesn't work
  2. Is it slower than offline cloners like Clonezilla?

Thank you.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Tog, Mokubai, Simon Sheehan, nc4pk Oct 18 '13 at 12:56

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Those programs are as reliable as Clonezilla. Your second question cannot be answered as "slower" is hard to judge without data. – Ramhound Oct 15 '13 at 15:06
There is one warning I will provide. I would create images for any of those options, the duplication of a hdd, while the operating system, has some risks connected to it. If you are in the process of duplicating a drive ( not creating a backup image ) and the system crashes or loses power you could in theory lose the source data also. – Ramhound Oct 15 '13 at 16:44
up vote 1 down vote accepted

To an extent - windows has volume shadow copy - this should allow you to backup a running system by letting it create a snapshot of the state of the system before backing up, and this should allow you to make a consistant backup.

That said, the best way to make sure a backup works it to test it. Even clonezilla might mess up once in a while, or you may come across an unexpected issue. Having a known good backup is a smart backup stratergy.

As for speed - it depends, but on other factors - what's the tool and strategy you are using for cloning? Are you, and how much are you compressing and so on.

I find that for a single OS system, 'native' windows software is significantly easier - windows backup is actually pretty reliable, though I've had good luck with third party software as well. Offline imaging is nicer when you have multiple OSes, specific needs or media thats got issues.

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Thanks for the feedback. – OverTheRainbow Oct 16 '13 at 11:58

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