Byword cloning, it is absolutely clear what is the purpose of hard drive cloning software in both free and paid categories. Such kind of software allows users to create an exact copy of their whole hard drive or individual portions which not only includes files and folders even the operating system. For example, if you have cloned or created an image of your Windows 10, 8 or 7… or Linux such as Ubuntu installed partition then in the future if something happened to your current OS partition, say a hard drive failure, then you can restore the disk image on your new hard drive to get exactly the state of the OS partition when you have created its image.
(For links to all of the downloads in one convenient list, see our '10 Best Free Hard-Drive Utilities' collection.) Partitioning.
After creating a hard drive copy, we can transfer the image to removable devices such as USB drives, hard drives, NAS, or DVDs for more security and protection. This avoids the hassle of installing the whole OS and software over it. Furthermore, we can also use to copy the OS its installed software and content to multiple machines simultaneously.
What is the difference between disk cloning and disk image?
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The difference between these two techniques is- the Disk Image is the process in which we use some software to create an exact copy of the whole drive or certain partition in the form of a file. That you restore later using the same software to get the exact state of OS, files, and folders. The major benefits of the Disk image we can store it on the cloud or external drive. Whereas the size of the same will be a downside because if you have large data then the image will also be large in size.
On the other hand, Disk Cloning is also offered by third-party software, in which we replicate or let’s say copy the whole drive to another drive. Thus, you will have two hard drives with the exact same data and OS. Therefore, in case of hard drive failure or OS gets corrupted, just switch to another drive without having significant downtime in your working hours.
However, unlike backup, in both Disk Imaging and Disk Cloning, there will not be any incremental or differential backup facility. Thus, the data generated on the hard drive after cloning will not be on the cloned drive or image.
Best disk cloning software to download in 2020
Most of the best cloning software mentioned here can easily be installed on Windows 10 0r 7, however, those are looking to clone or create a disk image using a Linux system they can go for bare metal hard drive cloning software such as CloneZilla or R-Linux given in the list.
Note: We are not affiliated with any of the mentioned software in this article. The list is compiled on the basic features and availability.
1. Macrium Reflect
Macrium Reflect 7, which is the current version of this software. It is a paid one but for the Home user, the free edition is enough to complete daily requirements. Yes, the free version of Macrium Reflect is not only capable of proving disk imaging and cloning solution but can be used as a free backup tool.
It is available for Windows 10, 8 & 7 and the installation is super easy just any other software. The thing which is really good about the software is its interface, it reflects Windows “My Computer” drive representation, thus, even a beginner can easily comprehend how to use it.
The free version comes with various features such as it allows the Disk cloning and later restoring the same in case the system is not bootable or hard drives crashed; let’s boot cloned image of Windows in Hyper-V as a Virtual Machine; we can schedule backups with flexible templates; differential images backup; create images of a Live/running Windows OS; allows users to browse the backup images.
Download Free Disk cloning to Macrium Reflect from its official website. You can also see our guide on how to use Macrium Reflect to clone drives.
2. Clonezilla- Free and Opensource bare metal Disk Cloning
Clonezilla, the best disk imaging and cloning software that is not only free but opensource as well. However, it is a Linux (Debian or Ubuntu) based software thus you cannot install on Windows to use it like any other software listed in this list. Nevertheless, the best thing is its capability of booting as a LIVE Linux which makes it a bare metal Hard disk cloning platform. Thus, it doesn’t matter you are using Windows, Linux, macOS, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, VMWare ESX, and Chrome OS/Chromium OS or any other operating system. The user can simply boot the PC or Laptop using Clonezilla and this will clone the whole disk drive of the system without modifying internal files or folder.
It supports a nice range of file systems such as ext2, ext3, ext4, brtfs, FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, and more. However, to use Clonezilla, users need to have some knowledge of computers, file systems, and how to work with them.
Download Clonezillafree of cost from its official website.
3. AOMEI Backupper
Are you looking for the best disk cloning software for Windows 10 along with a backup features in the free category? Then try out AOMEI Backupper. Just like Macrium Reflect, it is also available in two versions one is free and the other for paid users with extra features. However, the backup options it provides in the free version are more than what we can expect. The software is not just limited to Disk and Partition clone, one can also take System, Disk, Partition, File/Folder backup to restore later. File/Folder sync, Automatic, Incremental, Differential, Sector-by-sector backup are some other useful features.
Even after generating a backup image, the browsing of the same is possible in case you just want to extract some particular folder or file from it rather extracting all files. Last but not least is the ability of its to create Windows PE & Linux bootable media.
Furthermore, the interface AOMEI Backupper is way simpler than any other program. Therefore, if you want to protect your data then get the free copy of it, here is the official link.
4. EaseUS Todo Backup
EaseUS is another free Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP disk cloning software with backup and restoring features. Well, this software is not different than others mentioned in this best list of disk imaging software. However, just another tool for those who have already used the other software available in this category but didn’t this one.
It facilitates the users with options to take a full backup of the Windows OS running systems with provision to have incremental, differential, and schedule backup methods.
In terms of disk imaging, it uses block-level technology to backs up the entire HDD/SSD or partition and volume. Here is the official download page.
5. R-Linux or Windows Disk Imaging and Recovery
R-Tools is the company that proving different solutions related to storage and recovery; the R-Linux or Windows is a free recovery utility that is available for both Windows and Linux operating systems. If your goal is a data recovery and Imaging of disk partitions then R-Linux is the free one to go for. However, unlike Windows which has multiple solutions available above, the availability of this software for Linux gives it an upper hand. Thus, those are using open source distros and looking for some recovery solution that can be used without issuing commands, they should try out R-Linux.
In terms of features, it helps in recovering the partitions that collapsed due to virus attack, power failure, or system crash. Even, if you have accidentally deleted or formatted some partition this R-tools free solution can scan and help you in finding existing partitions and restore files from the same. However, the thing is to be noted that partitions should not be overwritten.
Apart from these, creating image files for an entire hard drive, logical disk, or its part, and compress images are some other features.
For more details and to download the executable files of R-Tools for Linux and Windows see the official page.
What is OS cloning?
When we create an exact copy of the operating system installed on any PC, Laptop, or server hard disk using backup and restore kind of software, some of them mentioned in this article, that process is called OS cloning. It is beneficial, in the case, your one drive gets crashed then the other drive where you have cloned your OS can immediately be used. Or want an exact copy of OS in multiple systems.
Does Windows 10 have cloning software?
By Default, there would not be any cloning software in Windows 10, however, we can install third-party tools such as Macrium Reflect or AOMEI Backupper.
What is the fastest way to clone a hard drive?
There is no fastest way rather a convenient one. Although you can use any of the free hard disk solutions given here in this list, the speed of the most well developed and coded software depends on the system we are using. The good configuration systems and high read and write speed of the system drive will decide how fast the cloning would be.
Does cloning a hard drive copy the OS?
Yes, if we are cloning a drive that has a working operating system then indeed it will copy the OS as well. That can be restored later to get the same OS with the installed software. One can try Macrium Reflect for Live cloning of OS drive partition.
Does cloning a drive make it bootable?
Yes, if a drive that one wants to clone is bootable then the cloned one will also bootable with the same operating system and files.
The best disk format tool in 2021 comes out. They are third-party EaseUS format tool, HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool, HDD Low Level Format Tool and the built-in HDD formatter like File Explorer, Disk Management and CMD in Windows 10/8/7. Choose one of the six to format a disk, HDD, SSD, USB flash, pen drive, and SD card with ease.
Best Hard Drive Format Tool in 2021
- 1. EaseUS Partition Master Format Tool
- 2. HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool
- 3. HDD Low Level Format Tool
- 4. Windows File Explorer
- 5. Windows Disk Management
- 6. Windows Command Prompt (CMD)
Each hard disk format tool in the list can be used to format any drive in Windows 10/8/7/XP/Vista and Windows Server operating system. Some of them are free to use, while some are for commercial use. Next, you'll learn the details of the product description, advantages and disadvantages.
*Back up Data Before Formatting a Disk*
In general terms, we format a disk using the quick format, which erases data completely but the data is recoverable by some third-party data recovery software. The other disk formatting manner is called low-level format, which erases the whole disk surface and makes data restoration impossible!
No matter which way you'll need to format a disk, to protect important data from completely erasing, always create a backup in advance.
- Method 1. Open the target hard drive and manually copy useful files and documents to another device.
- Method 2. Use Windows backup software to automatically back up the whole disk/partition or target files and folders to another device at one time.
#1. EaseUS Partition Master - Best Hard Disk Formatting software, free download for PC
- Supported file system: NTFS, FAT16, FAT32, EXT2, EXT3, and EXT4
- User interface: simple, graphical, clean and user-friendly to beginners
EaseUS Partition Master Free is an all-around disk & partition management tool that includes but not limited to a disk formatting feature. It's placed on the top position of the best hard drive format tool due to the facts of the following:
- Free to download and format a disk
- Support all Windows operating systems and servers
- Format a drive that is RAW, not showing up or not recognized by Windows
- Format a disk even when the Windows was unable to complete the format
- Allow you to create a bootable hard drive format tool
- Format 64/128/256GB USB hard drive to the FAT32 file system
- Convert FAT32 to NTFS without formatting or losing data
- Build with other powerful features: resize, move, create, merge, delete, wipe, or recover lost partition
- Some advanced features are not free, such as migrate OS to SSD
Guide - How to format a disk with EaseUS format tool:
Step 1: Run EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the hard drive partition you intend to format and choose 'Format'.
Step 2: In the new window, set the Partition label, File system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3), and Cluster size for the partition to be formatted, then click 'OK'.
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Step 3: Then you will see a warning window, click 'OK' in it to continue.
Step 4: Click the 'Execute Operation' button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click 'Apply' to start formatting the partition on your hard drive.
#2. HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool - Windows XP Disk Formatter
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- Supported file system: FAT, FAT32, and NTFS
- User interface: kind of outdated but relatively easy-to-use
HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool is a Windows-based disk format utility to format any drive. It should work on all the older and newer Windows OS versions, but viewing from the formatting speed and performance, it stands out on usually the Windows XP operating system. With HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool, you can format any USB Flash drive, hard drive, or memory card in FAT, FAT32, and NTFS file systems. Moreover, create DOS startup disks that can help boot a PC after it dies.
- It is best used on USB drives and it strips and re-formats your drives
- The GUI is very familiar because it looks just like the Windows XP formatting tool
- It may cause crashes on modern computers with newer operating systems
- It needs you to run it under Administrator
Guide - How to format a hard drive with HP Disk Storage Format Tool
Step 1. Connect the USB drive to your Windows XP computer, click Devices and select the USB drive you want to format.
Step 2. From the File System menu, select a file system and enter a name for the reformatted disk in the Volume Label input box.
Step 3. Click the Quick Format option to enable a quick format. If you leave this option unchecked, a slower, low-level format will be performed.
Step 4. Click Start to begin the USB formatting.
#3. HDD LLF Low Level Format Tool - Best Low-level Hard Disk Drive Formatting Software
- Supported operating system: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2008R2
- User interface: kind of outdated and complex to use
HDD Low Level Format Tool is a utility exclusively designed for low-level hard disk drive formatting. After running this low level format tool, the whole disk surface will be erased. As a result, data restoration is impossible after using this utility! This HDD Low Level Format utility is free for personal/home use, but the speed is restricted at 80GB per hour, which is 50 MB/s.
The only disk format tool for a low level format
Almost paid software. Personal license without speed limit is $3.30 while the commercial license is $27.00 per seat (PC)
Guide - How to format a disk with HDD Low Level Format Tool:
Step 1. Download and run HDD LLF Low Level Format Tool on your computer.
Step 2. Plug your HDD or USB drive into the computer and launch the low-level format tool.
Step 3. Select the desired drive and click Continue. Confirm the option by clicking Yes.
Step 4. Select Low-Level Format in the tab to start the low-level formatting process.
#4. Windows File Explorer - The Simplest Drive Formatting Option in Windows 10/8/7
- Supported operating system: NTFS, exFAT and FAT32
- User interface: Simple design and operation throughout the formatting procedure
It's the first native Windows disk formatting choice we'll introduce. Press Windows + E keys so we can easily evoke the File Explorer. The local disk drives and the externally connected drives will appear there. As long as the drive you tend to format is visible, you can use the Format option to start a quick format with a few simple steps.
- Works on all Windows computers
- Applies to Windows beginners
- 3-step formatting
- Doesn't work when the hard drive is not showing up
- FAT32 is not available for a storage drive over 32GB
Guide - How to Format a Hard Drive in File Explorer
Step 1. Open Windows File Explorer, locate and right-click on the target hard drive which you need to format, select 'Format'.
Step 2. Rename the hard drive, reset its file system to NTFS or other formats.
Step 3. Click 'Start' to begin the formatting.
#5. Windows Disk Management - Free Built-in Disk Formatter for Advanced Use
- Supported operating system: NTFS, exFAT and FAT32
- User interface: Designed with a couple of useful disk management features in the clean organization
Windows Disk Management is a free Windows built-in tool, which means you can easily open it on your computer without downloading. It comes to use when you're trying to format a drive that is not showing up in the File Explorer. It's good at formatting some storage devices that have something wrong, like file system corruption, not formatted error, not accessible, etc.
- Available to all Windows operating system
- Be able to format a RAW drive
- Doesn't support to format a Linux drive
- FAT32 is not available for a storage drive over 32GB
Guide - How to Format a Hard Drive Partition in Disk Management
Step 1. Right-click 'This PC' and choose 'Manage'.
Step 2. Go to 'Disk Management'.
Step 3. Right-click the target hard drive partition and choose 'Format'.
Step 4. Set the volume label, file system and click 'OK' to start formatting the drive.
#6. Windows Command Prompt - The Most Capable Built-in Formatting Tool for Professionals
- Supported file system: NTFS, FAT16, FAT32, EXT2, EXT3, and EXT4
- User interface: Very unfamiliar to beginners
Windows Command Prompt, for average computer users, is a hidden but powerful computer troubleshooting program that is able to solve most of the computer and hard drive problems. You can apply a variety of command lines to examine, check or repair computer issues. For example, to format a disk drive, you'll use the diskpart command lines.
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- Format any drive to every file system that is available to use on Windows, macOS or Linux
- Applies to experienced users only
- Any false operation will cause serious computer problems
Guide - How to Format a Hard Drive with DiskPart command
Step 1. Open Command Prompt by right-clicking on Windows icon, select 'Search' and type: command prompt.
Right-click on Command Prompt and select 'Run as administrator'.
Step 2. Type diskpart in Command Prompt and hit Enter.
Step 3. Hit Enter each time when you type below command lines in DiskPart to quick format hard drive:
- list disk
- select disk 2(Replace 2 with your disk number)
- list volume
- select volume 10(Replace 10 with the volume number of the partition that you want to format)
- format fs=ntfs quick (If you need to format a hard drive partition to FAT32 or other file systems, replace ntfs with fat32, exfat, etc.)
- If you accidentally input format without fs=ntfs quick or fs=fat32 quick in DiskPart command prompt, it will execute a full format on your selected hard drive partition.
- This command will erase all saved data sector by sector. In other words, you'll permanently lose all erased data on the drive with no recovery chance.
Step 4. Type exit and hit Enter to close the program when DiskPart reports it has successfully formatted the volume.
Conclusion: What To Do with Hard Drive After Formatting
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Some of you may have the same question about what to do after formatting the hard drive. Here is a list that you can follow to make full use of your formatted hard drive:
# 1. Re-partition hard drive to make full use of space on your hard drive.
To do so, you may need a reliable partition management tool like EaseUS Partition Master Free to partition hard drive on your computer for free. You may also use this tool to merge partitions or extend hard drive partition based on your needs.
# 2. Save files to the formatted hard drive.
# 3. Recover lost files due to formatting.
If you didn't back up data before formatting and lost valuable files, you may apply professional data recovery software to recover data after formatting.