There's a whole host of ways you can pretty much backup and restore data these days whether that be restoring via the inbuilt features of your OS in the event of moderate failure or simple off system storage by keeping copies of files via external storage devices. However backing up a complete drive image to create an exact working copy of your original hard drive (including functioning OS) to another hard drive was something that you had to pay a premium for or possibly get a dodgy pirated copy of the drive replicating software to do it with if you couldn't afford it. However in using the pirated copy of the cloning software you did run the slight risk of inadvertently using something that had additional altered malicious coding in it that could potentially screw up your system anyway thus pretty much defeating the point of making a working cloned backup copy of your original hard drive in its entirety.

Then of course there will be those who use such cloning software for more malicious purposes to which I can only recommend that you use encryption on your original hard drives to help reduce the chances of such copies being used in any inappropriate way. Some protection features even include an auto wipe feature to destroy the data that someone else might be trying to tamper with/clone.

In some instances with more recent technology cloning a singles instance of an OS to use on another machine of the exact same specification could also inadvertently cause problems for the user of the original copy when using something like Windows Vista onwards. Too many instances of the exact copy being used at the same time confuses external systems and could screw up the original portable client system in the process too. This wasn't such an issue before Vista and more specifically machines specifically built for Vista.

Anyway back to its more useful applications for your own personal purposes...


If you haven't started using virtualisation yet for all your none core applications and want to backup and manage your bare metal installs of your main host operating systems then try this...

Bought yourself a larger capacity and faster hard drive? Maybe you want to use it as your main system hard drive but are quite happy with the way things are when using your computer with your old hard drive? At the same time you maybe can't be bothered setting up a whole new instance of an OS and porting all your settings and files to it?

Well if you don't actually want to take the opportunity to start fresh and get rid of all the crap on your system by installing a brand new instance of an OS you can just clone your long time used old hard drive and OS to your new larger capacity and faster hard drive that you just bought and maybe want to use as your main system hard drive.

However I might point out doing a fresh install will purge your system of unwanted and unnecessary registry entries as well as other hidden dependencies and apps that didn't originally come with it that you've collected over time. It might be a little more effort but by selectively porting the things that you want to keep should help make it run a little more efficiently. Anyway, back to the point...

Fortunately for you help is indeed at hand as some manufacturers of hard drives are now offering legit free cloning utilities for doing just that which you can download directly from their official websites absolutely free. The cloning software is essentially just Acronis but with the hard drive manufacturers branding on it. All those familiar with a Acronis will know that its a very good drive cloning and management application that usually comes at a premium. However now you can get it for free. Check your hard drive manufacturers website to see if the have a free to use manufacturer branded version of it. Maxtor is owned by Seagate so the same utility should work with no issue.

Get the free Seagate branded version of Acronis disk cloning software called Disk wizard here.