Thus was born invaluable products such as Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image which provide incredible disk cloning backup protection. These types of solutions save a tremendous amount of time and work by allowing you to skip the tedious and painful process of reinstalling and restoring everything you had on your computer. For example, if you don’t have a cloned image of your system then you would have to done the following tasks:
Install operating system (Windows XP, Vista, etc.)
Install all applications such as Microsoft Office, Adobe products, email client, etc.)
Install antivirus tool
Customize all applications and register products if you have the serial numbers
Restore all bookmarks/favorites if fortunate enough to have them somewhere (delicious if very lucky)
Restore documents if saved elsewhere
Restore any music files if backed up
Restore all photos again if smart enough to have backed them up
and so on…
Thankfully, a cloning tool can take a snapshot of EVERYTHING on your system and allow you to restore everything in a matter of minutes! Thus saving you countless hours and heartache. Trust me, I’ve done this many times and I am eternally thankful every time.
The bad news is that these solutions are not cheap, especially if you need to purchase hundreds or thousands of licenses for a corporate environment. The price tag can make it extremely tough to get approved for many IT budgets that have been slashed due to the current state of the economy. If it’s for home users, the price isn’t all that much better. Ghost costs approximately $70 per user and True Image $50.
Enter CloneZilla! The open source (FREE!) cloning solution. I’ve been using it for a year now and absolutely love it. I have images for five different types of computers including laptops and desktops and they save me and my staff countless hours of work! I can restore and rebuild a system with all licenses and special configurations in under 10 minutes thanks to a bootable CD loaded with Clonezilla.
The best thing about CloneZilla, besides the price, is the fact that it supports not only all flavors of Windows, but also Linux and even the Mac OS (Intel-based for now). You just create a bootable CD and follow the on-screen prompts to either create a disk image or restore an image. You can save the images to an external USB drive or a network server.
Note: I have to be honest and admit that the commercial over the counter brands (Ghost & True Image) are MUCH easier to use because of their more graphical user interface but all that comes at a premium. The slightly more difficult to use CloneZilla sure is a small price to pay when you consider the incredible cost savings.