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Cloning one’s computer hard disk would be a wise choice

By Jean-Claude Elias - Aug 12,2020 - Last updated at Aug 12,2020

Have you cloned your computer’s hard disk yet? It would be a wise thing to do and may prove to be a precious time saver in case of unexpected, unrecoverable major crash of the machine itself and/or of its hard disk.

There are two types of backups computer users would do.

The first concerns data. These are user files, images, sound, videos, e-mails, documents and all such digital information you may have created, received or saved yourself. By now, after all these years of personal computing, since circa the late 1980s, most of the population has learnt — sometime the hard way, at their own expense — that data must absolutely be backed up, one way or another, so as to be able to recover it from the so-backed up copy in case of accidents or mishaps such as hardware failures, or simply human errors in manipulating the data.

Most people take care of such backup. Some do it locally, on external devices like USB hard disks for example. Others rely on the fact that their data is saved in the cloud in the first place and therefore is automatically backed up by the service, be it Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, Dropbox, Amazon AWS, or any of the countless other similar, excellent cloud subscriptions.

However, this first type of backup takes care of data only. The operating system (Windows, Mac OS or other) and the many software and applications you installed, and use are not considered as data and therefore are not backed up in the above scheme. In case of a major failure you have to re-install them all, which is neither a simple nor a quick task. Not to mention the various settings you have to remember and redo. In the typical case this takes a full day of work, when not longer.

In some instances you even do not have the original installation CDs, DVDs or software copy to start from. And even if you do, you may have lost or forgotten the activation codes or keys that validate the software.

This is where the second type of backup comes. It is the cloning of the hard disk and is about making a full, entire and exact copy of its contents, including all programmes, software, data, files, settings, etc. — absolutely everything. The operation involves connecting an additional, an external hard disk, at least as big in storage capacity as the one inside the computer, and then running a cloning programme.

In case of a major computer or hard disk failure, you just have to replace the computer’s hard disk with the cloned disk and you’re back to work in a snap, not just with your data but also with all software and applications.

Among the good cloning applications available to download, install and run, we find AOMEI, Acronis Disk Director, Clonezilla, EaseUS Todo, Macrium Reflect and Paragon Drive Copy, to name the most popular ones. Prices are reasonable, given the importance of the job. For personal, private use the average is a mere $40. For larger systems and servers, the price is higher, understandably.

The good news is not only the price of the personal edition but also the simplicity of use. It is intuitive and can easily be handled by most.

Whereas cloning your disk definitely is a good thing to do, it is interesting to note at the same time that software you use as online subscriptions, such as for example Microsoft 365 or Adobe Suite Online, contribute to make you less dependent on locally installed programmes. Still, and as the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure.

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