I am after a way to automatically schedule a disk image backup of Windows Vistas x64 systems.

Required features

  • Ability to run on nightly schedule with no user involvement (so this takes out things like CloneZilla I think)
  • Easy way to restore using LiveCD or similar

Nice to haves

  • Open source / free, even for commercial use
  • Store image on network
  • Compression of disk (just missing out unused sectors is OK, preferably some compression)

Any recommendations - as far as I know the auto scheduling requirement means that I am limited to commercial solutions such as Ghost, Acronis TrueImage or http://www.drive-image.com/?


3 Answers 3


I'm currently using a combination of Bacula and Clonezilla.

Bacula for day-to-day backup and restoration of files as needed, Clonezilla for full disk (or partitions of the disk) imaging.

As with any backup solution, your backups are only good when you can actually use them to restore - I haven't found a good way to restore Bacula files on Windows yet to where I can only use Bacula.

With Clonezilla, you can setup a Clonezilla server, which handles DHCP by default (although this can be disabled if you already have a DHCP server in place). The Clonezilla server provides images which the clients can PXE boot off of, and then after booting from the image can run scripts to back up the entire disk, or just partitions of the disk. These disk images can be saved on the local disk or on the server, using ssh or samba.

Here are a few resources for Clonezilla Server: Ubuntu Community Documentation Clonezilla Server

Restoring the images are a snap because you just need to load up the livecd and point it at your remote server for the disk image (or external usb drive).

+1 for DriveImage XML - I've used it for Windows machines and had great success restoring the images. Just make sure that you verify the images before you need them. DriveImage XML has command-line switches allowing for scripted backup (and Task Scheduler) so that it can happen automatically. It also handles saving to remote samba directories.

  • I've marked this as correct as its closest to what I asked but for my purposes I will end up going with something like Acronis/DriveImage/Macrium as I fear the learning curve for Clonezilla server/pxe boots is just too high for a small network.
    – Ryan
    Jul 3, 2009 at 10:12

The free country has a list of free backup utilities There are 2 options I see there that appear to fit your needs.

  • Macrium Reflect Free that sounds like it could do the trick with a scheduler, though you may have to purchase the full edition to get compression. It appears to be reasonably cheap $40 or in that range.

"This software is able to image your currently running system (using a facility known as Microsoft Volume Shadow copy Service) to another local hard disk, to the Network, a USB or Firewire drive, and DVD. It has a built-in scheduler, so that you can schedule it to back up your system at a convenient time by itself, has 32 bit and 64 bit versions, comes with a Linux-based bootable rescue CD as well as a BartPE plugin, etc. (The commercial full version includes the ability to automatically verify images made, password protection of your images, a Windows PE 2.0 rescue CD with RAID support, etc.) "

  • Bacula Appears to be the open source enterprise version

"Bacula is a set of Open Source, enterprise ready, computer programs that permit you (or the system administrator) to manage backup, recovery, and verification of computer data across a network of computers of different kinds. Bacula is relatively easy to use and efficient, while offering many advanced storage management features that make it easy to find and recover lost or damaged files. In technical terms, it is an Open Source, enterprise ready, network based backup program. "

  • Looks exactly the thing, but as far as I can tell it isn't for commercial/business use - maybe I shouldn't be so cheap;) Seriously though at £40 for the full version it's then in the same price range as Acronis but with less features.
    – Ryan
    Jul 2, 2009 at 13:55
  • Should also say that it doesn't look like Bacula by itself can do disk imaging of windows so I don't think that fits the requirements.
    – Ryan
    Jul 2, 2009 at 14:01

DriveImage XML has received praise from several sites, including LifeHacker. They have the ability to run an automated backup from Scheduled Tasks within Windows. Look here: DriveImage XML

  • I have used DriveImage XML on Windows Vista (32 bit) and found it very reliable.
    – Tangiest
    Jul 2, 2009 at 14:01
  • Its $100 (or €119 - WTF?) for a 5 user license for commercial use which is pretty cheap. But statements like this turn me off "Images are stored in XML files, allowing you to process them with 3rd party tools. Never again be stuck with a useless backup! " hmmm
    – Ryan
    Jul 2, 2009 at 14:10

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