Choosing the best best free hard drive cloning software is a difficult task, especially if you’re a total “noob,” but don’t worry, because today’s article will help you with the basics, as we’ll provide you with the “tl;dr” version; additionally, we’ve already scouted the “interwebz” and brought you the best disk cloning software of the current year. Let’s start with the obvious: let’s take a crash course on best free hard drive cloning software 101.
What exactly is it?
Best free hard drive cloning software is the simplest technique in the universe to create an exact clone of your hard disk/SSD by producing a 100 percent identical and uncompressed/unarchived replica of a specified drive, whether it’s your system’s HDD/SSD or another/unrelated drive.
However, don’t confuse cloning software with disk imaging. best free hard drive cloning software maintains all of your installed software/system data intact, so you won’t have to re-install everything when, say, upgrading your SSD to a larger one, and so on and so forth. This function is very useful if you’ve misplaced (expensive) software/game keys/licenses.
Disk cloning is similar to disk imaging in that both will copy your hardware contents, but they do so in different ways, i.e. the latter creates an archived version of your HDD/SSD contents (you’ll also need to install a fresh OS to use it), whereas the former creates a 1 to 1 exact and fully functional copy on a different hard drive.
How to Select the best free hard drive cloning software
To be honest, this isn’t an “exact science,” but to keep it simple, you’ll need to consider a few factors such as speed, the convenience of use, pricing, and security. In terms of speed, everyone wants their software to operate as rapidly as possible, i.e. to copy the contents of your HDD or SSD to another disk in the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of fuss (the same goes for defrag software by the way). Most crucially, if you’re going to perform disk-cloning procedures on numerous workstations at the same time, search for software that allows you to do so rather than being obliged to do it individually, which is time-consuming and tedious.
When it comes to user-friendliness, keep the “noob factor” in mind: the easier the “cloning method,” the better, especially if you’re not extremely tech-savvy. A help-wizard tool would undoubtedly be beneficial in this sense, as would a clear UI (user interface), especially when dealing with complex software such as cloning software. Whether we’re talking about disk partition software, games, or cloning software, price is always an important consideration.
For example, it would be a blunder to waste your money on pricey cloning software when freeware like Clonezilla would perfectly meet the “bill” (pun intended). Aside from that, there are times when premium (as inexpensive) software is required, particularly in business/corporate contexts when everyone is searching for the best gadgets money can buy. And this is where security comes into play: enterprise-grade cloning software includes data protection features such as encryption and anti-malware protection (read ransomware protection). With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best free hard drive cloning software available right now, in no particular order.
Best Hard Drive Cloning Software
Clonezilla is the Godzilla of cloning software, and the best thing ever produced in the backup software sector, due to the fact that it is completely free, making it extremely popular in Nerd World. This free and open-source cloning program also supports disk imaging and is extremely resource-efficient.
The software is offered in two versions: Clonezilla Live, which is aimed at home users and works well on a single computer, and the business-oriented SE version, which can clone software on more than forty machines at the same time. In terms of pure speed, some users have reported restoring rates of up to 8 GB/min, which is rather astounding. Clonezilla can clone a variety of operating systems, including Minix, NetBSD, and Chromium, and supports different file systems and GPT/MBR partition formats. If you’re already familiar with Debian/Linux, you’ll adore this venerable best free hard drive cloning software
Acronis Disk Director
Acronis Disk Director is a high-quality piece of software, but it comes with a major caveat: it is a Windows-only product, which means it can only be used on Bill Gates’ farm. If you can live with it, Acronis is a fantastic disk cloning package that also allows you to format, create or label partitions, resize, split, and merge volumes, and perform disk recovery.
You can format your disk (s) in almost every format known to man, such as FAT32/16, NTFS, Ext3, Exts, Linux, Reiser3, or SWAP. All “current era” Windows versions are supported, beginning with Windows XP and progressing through the virus known as Windows 10. Unfortunately, neither the Linux nor the Apple ecosystems are supported.
Unlike Clonezilla, Acronis will set you back nearly $50 for a single PC license, or $80 for three computers.
The workstation license, which retails for $80 and includes free upgrades and 1-year tech support, is ideal for business environments.
Paragon Drive Copy
If you’re seeking the pinnacle of the best free disk cloning software, go no further than Paragon Drive Copy (pun intended). Aside from that, Drive Copy is yet another great cloning tool that is a minor part of Paragon’s full disk management utility suite, namely the Hard Disk Manager. However, if you only want to clone your drive, purchasing Drive Copy instead of the entire suite will save you money.
Disk Copy allows you to clone the entire drive or simply a partition, which is a pretty great tool to have; and speaking of cool features, Paragon’s brainchild also allows you to create a virtual clone of your operating system, which can be operated stand-alone/independently on a different PC. The best free hard drive cloning software suite also includes a recovery media builder, which allows you to construct a recovery operating system that may be used to start a non-bootable machine, for example. The bad news is that a license for one PC will set you back nearly $40.
MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro
You know the cliché about the best things in life being free and all that, but the truth is that if you want the best free hard drive cloning software, you’ll have to make a small investment. Minitool Partition Wizard Pro, a professional disk partition manager, comes to the rescue. The Pro, as opposed to the free edition, is the ultimate tool for cloning software, as well as disk conversion, data recovery, and system migration.
Minitool Partition Wizard Pro works on both basic and dynamic disks and, being a professional-tier partition manager, helps you to optimize the performance of your hard drives. Create/delete/format partition, move/resize partition, copy disk/partition, wipe disk/partition, merge/split partition, disk/partition check, migrate OS to SSD or HDD, convert disk/partition, dynamic disk management, data recovery, partition recovery, and even create WinPE bootable media to fix boot issues are all included in the $129 price tag.
PS: The greatest is saved for last. With the Pro Ultimate version, you’ll get a free lifetime upgrade as well as a license for three machines.
Macrium Reflect is a popular cloning solution for both personal (particularly the free version) and commercial/enterprise use. In addition to cloning, Macrium Reflect’s free edition for home users includes disk imaging and free backup, as well as thirty-day trial editions that allow you to test all of the amazing features available in the commercial version.
Essentially, Macrium Reflect is a very simple and high-quality direct disk cloning program, and the free license also includes business use, which is fantastic for small businesses. The free version allows you to fully recover non-booting computers, schedule backups, and make live images of your operating system. Furthermore, you can pay extra for security services like as backup encryption and ransomware protection. In terms of file systems, Macrium Reflect supports FAT 12/16/32, exFAT, NTFS, HFS+, and ReFS.
Daemon Tools Lite is a well-known disc emulation software that is primarily intended to assist you in creating virtual drives on your PC. In terms of our issue, Daemon Tools is not technically cloning software, but it can function similarly, as it allows you to imitate up to four DT + SCSI + HDD devices and mount nearly any form of image.
Since we’re discussing the best free disk cloning software, possibly the nicest feature of Daemon Tools Lite is the Virtual HDD feature, which produces a VHD backup (virtual HDD) of an actual HDD sector, allowing you to keep your contents secure. You may also generate a bootable image of your operating system and put it onto a password-protected bootable USB drive. You also receive an iSCSI Initiator capability, which allows you to view distant images (virtual and physical drives, including VHDs).
EaseUS Disk Copy Pro
Here’s another example of professional-level cloning software, EaseUS Disk Copy Pro. You could be wondering what it’s for. Well, the answer is simple: a user-friendly, speedy, and feature-rich software that will save you from the agony of having to reinstall your operating system.
EaseUS Disk CopyPro will assist you in creating a full copy of your SSD/HDD/whatever and migrating/moving your data, programs, or system to a different storage space. You can also clone a source drive to a destination disk or partition, or even resize it proportionally; additionally, Disk Copy allows you to clone a larger CD to a smaller one, and it can be launched from a live OS or a bootable disk.
The following are the main features of EaseUS Disk CopyPro: Clone a disk, clone an HDD to SSD, one-click OS migration, built-in burning capability for creating bootable USB/DVD/CDs, replace a failing SSD/HDD by cloning disk sectors one by one, skipping the afflicted parts and copying data to a new drive, and clone to restore data.