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Cloning Software - SSD's - Best Backup Solution

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April 7, 2011 9:19:17 PM

I own a small business where all the employees dock their laptops and we backup to "the cloud". We also backup locally using Thermaltake BlacX Docks with 500GB Laptop drives inserted. The laptops have SSD Drives and use the Thermaltake's SATA connection, so backups are quick.

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.
a b D Laptop
a c 116 G Storage
April 8, 2011 3:11:33 PM

Cloning is the process whereby an exact copy, sector by sector, of the hard disk is made. Some cloning software include even the blank spaces. Because of this, the hard disk is 'locked' during the cloning process. During this constant read process, other operations cannot be done on the same disk. Currently there is no software that will do what you are asking.
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a b D Laptop
a c 289 G Storage
April 8, 2011 4:43:06 PM

Believe it or not, I am not entirely sure what you are doing. With both of the above posts, I'm a little confused. But please bear with me, because I have experience in what I think that you are trying to do.

Do you backup the drive in your laptop (hereinafter Drive One) to a drive in the dock (hereinafter Drive Two), and want to put Drive Two into the laptop if Drive One fails?

What is it that you need to do "while using the laptop?" Is it running off Drive One, the original system disk, while creating Drive Two, the backup copy (and do you use a different Drive Two for each PC)? If so, that can be done.

If your goal is to back up Drive One to Drive Two while the PC is being used,and be able to pop Drive Two into the laptop in case Drive One fails and go on from there, it can be done. <Here comes why you put up with my confusion>

There are well-proven solutions to backing up entire system drives while the system is running, and creating backups that can be used to image a new hard drive in the system. Acronis True Image doe a very good job of this. It surprised me; I had tested live-backup of system disks before and failed to get consistently bootable backups. Acronis does work. However, it's a two-step process.

Step one: Do an Acronis image backup of your system drive while using the system. After the first one you can do incrementals; I did this yesterday.

Step two: This is the one that doesn't give you exactly what you wanted. You have to use a computer to restore the Acronis image to the drive in your external dock. I don't know if Acronis can do this in one step instead of two; I have never tried it.

You would do this restore either when Drive One fails, if you are not in a hurry, or after every backup, if you want to be able to pop in Drive Two as soon as Drive One fails (but you'll need a whole box of Drive Twos, one for each PC).

But if you do steps 1 and 2, you will find that you have in your dock a drive that can be used to boot your computer to the state that it was in when you did the last backup.

If this is not what you wanted to do, either provide a narrative showing what steps you want to happen (backup, backup, drive fails, put X into Y) or I'll butt out and let someone else get the chicken.

Edit: Despite my confidence in Acronis, I actually use the 2003 version of Norton Ghost to do my image backups, with the machine booted to DOS. Once I found something that I could depend on for bootable backups, I stuck with it. I really have tested Acronis and had zero failures to boot from its backups, but my habits are fixed in stone by now. I probably won't change until I get drives over 2.13 TB, and then I will use the EASEUS bootable clone software.
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