Cloning Software & the Ultimate Backup Solution

I own a small business where all the employees dock their laptops and we backup to "the cloud". We also backup locally using Thermaltake Blac-X Docks with 500GB Laptop drives inserted.

I would like to find a backup/cloning solution that would allow me to simply pop in the laptop drive in the Thermaltake dock in the event of a drive failure in the attached laptop.

The cloning solutions that I have seen only allow for clones to be made when the system is rebooted with a startup CD/DVD (you cant use the computer during the clone). I have looked at Arconis/Windows Image, Clonezilla, etc.

Is there a solution that would allow a clone to be made while using the laptop (like backing up in the background while working)? And have the awesomeness of being able to simply pop in the drive from my Thermaltake dock in the event of a drive failure and get right back to work?

The submitter with the best answer gets a bucket of chicken and my eternal gratitude.
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  1. There are cloning solutions that "say" they work while the system is running. I would not use them though. What if they skip a file because it's in use, your drive dies, and you find out when you try to restore your backup is useless?

    Cloning is not a "backup" solution, it's a disaster recovery one. What you do is you combine cloning with daily/weekly backups.
  2. The reason cloning appeals to me is that I have had a drive fail recently and the backup Image did not work. It took several days to reinstall all our applications correctly and resulted in a lot of lost time and money.

    The reinstalling of the software is not too bad but much of our software has to be configured for our server and that takes days of troubleshooting. And... we are a small company with no IT department and a limited budget/time. I do accounting work, a far stretch from an IT guy, but we have to work with what we have.

    Is there a backup solution that would save all the app data/etc so I don't have to go through a painstaking software configuration when we have drive failures? I'm really trying to do my best to avoid the downtime.

    Thanks for your help!
  3. Setup one PC for your environment, software and all. Run Sysprep on it, clone that system. Use that clone to image crashed PCs. Run backup software to capture changes/local user files if any, things like that. Unless you have several different PC models you can use one image for all the systems with tools like sysprep.
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