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Within OSX, two great drive cloning utilities are available; SuperDuper and CCC. I'm looking for an equivalent within the Windows world. Utilities such as Ghost, Acronis, and Clonezilla initially look promising, but from what I can tell don't support cloning an active boot drive.

Also, the Mac utilities allow the clone show up as a true clone, not an image file. So, if I plug the backup into a new computer, I'm able to boot from the backup and get my exact environment.

Are there any utilities available for Windows that mimic the functionality provided by SuperDuper and CCC for active boot drives? (meaning, not having to boot from a CD or other disk to back up)

Edit: Thanks everyone, I've decided to try out Acronis to see if it works the way I expect. If not, will move onto Ghost.

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Will Acronis or Ghost create an image file of the boot drive, or an exact copy onto another disk? This is important, since an exact copy to an external drive would allow me to boot from the backup itself, without loading any additional software. (Say, in case the boot drive dies) –  Dave K May 5 '09 at 21:04
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Acronis will let you choose if you want to clone a drive, or create an image. I'm pretty sure Ghost does the same thing. –  Jimmie R. Houts May 5 '09 at 22:03
    
Doesn't Acronis use some weird proprietary format for images? If so, you're better off using something that can save an ISO. –  username May 11 '09 at 10:50
    
ISO 9660 is one of the most popular filesystems for optical disks. If the CD is bootable, the boot part is stored in a separate image (usually a floppy image) which is added to the ISO one. For Windows, nowdays, is NTFS. Besides the image of the partition you need the boot loader and the partition table. –  Mircea Vutcovici Jun 29 '12 at 18:39
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I can confirm that Acronis TrueImage also supports cloning an active boot drive.

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Ghost (I used version 14) supports the cloning of an active boot drive. In fact, I just used it yesterday to do such a thing.

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I can also confirm this. However it should be pointed out that the current version of Ghost and the previous verions have nothing in common (the new Windows version is another product rebranded with the ghost name - the old version, which is still a staple as a drive imaging for mass deployment, was always DOS based with the Windows front end tacked on) –  David May 6 '09 at 1:27
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Technically you could use dd.exe from within Cygwin but anything you use from inside a running copy of Windows will be in an unreliable state (as if you didn't shut down). I've used dd on "live" linux machines in the past, however I've always remounted the disk read-only before imaging. You really need to dump a shadow copy rather than the live disk and that's more of a programming exercise than a sysadmin solution :)

Under Vista and Server 2008, you can use CompletePC to do what you're trying to do.

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