Well, lets start with I don't know much about the topic of the thread, but I have a sufficient knowledge when comes to building a computer.
I just recently reformatted my hard drive and re installed win7 pro x64 along with programs and softwares i use daily including games from steam.
And I am now resorting and looking into cloning my current hard drive to a new hard drive. A small insurance policy to save me from reformating and re-installing just in case my hard drive fails or gets bombarded with unwanted junks.
I also decided to dedicate 1 hdd for OS/Programs/Games only and 1 hdd for Docs/Music/Videos only.
I don't know if I should go with cloning/ghosting or imaging or backing up. What do you think is best and a wiser move? If so, which program do you recommend?
Windows 7 Pro x64
Asus M4A79XTD EVO
AMD Phenom II x4 955 BE
GSkill DDR3 1600 8GB
2x EVGA 9800gtx+ (not sli)
1x 500GB WDC Black
1x 1TB WDC Black
1x 500GB Seagate Barracuda
p.s. Thanks for any help! I am also trying to do a little reading on it. Getting kinda late
If you use Acronis True Image, you won't have to choose between cloning/ghosting or imaging or backing, because they are all in effect the same, in that you can take an image of a drive, then access it like it was a backup (i.e restore individual files if needed).
It's a great product, have a look at the eval version and see if you like it.
P.S I am in no way affiliated with Acronis, it's just a product I use and like.
The backup program built into Windows 7 lets you do a "system image" backup and restore. You can use it to clone your OS drive as follows:
1) Use the "system image" backup option to create a backup to an external drive.
2) Use the "Create a System Repair Disc" to burn a bootable DVD. This DVD can be used to restore the backup.
3) Shut down the system. If necessary disconnect the old system drive and/or connect the new one.
4) Boot the system from the DVD you burned and use it to restore the backup to the new drive.
I've successfully used this procedure to move a running Windows 7 system from a hard drive to an SSD. The one thing to watch out for is your "System Recovery" partition - it's the partition that the system actually boots from. If that partition isn't on the same drive as the OS then this procedure (or any other procedure that simply clones the drive) might not work.
I've used Acronis True Image several times to clone Win7 C: drives, including going to and from a SSD. I had no trouble, not even having to do repair installs afterward (some people have, probably for the reason Sminlal described).
A complete clone, such as you can make with Acronis True Image (I do it) is a complete backup of a drive. In fact, if you have a multi-Partition HDD units, a clone can actually clone all of those Partitions.
Backup software does this job somewhat differently, and can do some other things that are useful. For one thing, backup systems often will compress your data for you so that the files take up much less space on the backup device. However, that means they are NOT readable directly on any system - you need to have the backup software working to Restore from those compressed files. And you cannot boot and run from compressed backup files - they need to be restored to another drive first.
The other almost-universal feature of good backup systems is that they use two types of backups. You start by backing up EVERYTHING which takes a long time - just like the Clone operation does. But then for the next several backup sessions you make copies NOT of everything. You copy ONLY the things that have changed. This is called an Incremental backup. It stores much less data and hence is much faster to do, and this encourages regular and frequent backups. The downside - and not much of a downside - comes when you have to Restore (hopefully rarely). To completely restore a system you must repeat the process in reverse: you restore the complete backup image, then restore several incremental backups over that to get all the changes in place. This takes longer than restoring just one clone copy. But you have control over how many times you make incremental backups before you break the chain and start all over again with a FULL backup. For individual file restoration (say, after you accidentally deleted one or two) you can do that without doing a complete backup of all files, just as you could do from a clone.
The other huge benefit of good backup software is that you can pre-program it to do its thing in the middle of the night or whenever you choose. You just have to be sure the receiving medium is available and the machine is left running, and all the work is done or you. Cloning software, at very minimum, requires that you be there to start it up because it is not pre-programmable.