A simple, but powerful, solution to cloning and imagingDisk imaging and cloning is a practice that has saved many an IT support technician and home enthusiast.There are countless times we’ve build a PC for a friend or relation only to have to come back to it several months later to find that ‘fiddling’ has rendered it unbootable and useless. In these cases an image of the PC before we handed it over to them was a wise move and cut down on wasted build time. Likewise, a new SSD to replace the aging and slow hard drive can be easily cloned across, once you’ve manually sorted the size difference.
We had a similar situation recently, where an SSD from a previous machine was upgraded and the old unit earmarked to become the main system drive of another PC. It’s an easy enough setup, but the task of finding the right cloning software was more difficult than we first anticipated. Thankfully someone recalled using Macrium Reflect, the Free Edition, with some success, so naturally we took a look.
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Macrium ReflectMacrium Reflect Free is a clever and well laid out GUI front-end to the built-in Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service. This makes it a faster alternative to most other third-party cloning and imaging programs, and as a result of utilising the Windows services it also means that the compression of imaging can be reduced up to 40%. As the title suggests the program is free, but is limited to imaging, cloning, accessing created images, scheduling backups and creating Linux and Windows PE bootable media. For most purposes, including the situation in which we needed it, this covered everything satisfactorily. What’s more, it has a rather tiny install footprint and is exceptionally quick in its operation. Thankfully we didn’t need to create a bootable media device. Cloning the volumes on a hard drive to a SSD simply required us to hook up the SSD via a SATA-to-USB cable, give it some power and run Reflect. Both the drives were recognised and it was a simple one-click solution to opt for cloning the main drive and selecting a destination. The entire cloning process took less than half an hour, and several minutes later we had the old drive out and the new SSD in.
Features At A Glance
- Support for UEFI, GPT and RAID
- Uses Volume Shadow Copy Service
- Very easy to use