Are you backing up what’s most important to you? Between ransomware, sudden drive failures, and accidental deletion, there are plenty of ways data can get lost or destroyed. In this article, we’ll dive into some of the best disk imaging software solutions, and review how each one can make creating backups a simple and reliable task.
Here’s our list of the best disk imaging software:
- Acronis Cyber Backup Cloud-based backup for enterprise environments
- StorageCraft ShadowProtect Robust on-premises backups for enterprises and MSPs
- Acronis True Image 2021 Simple cloud and local storage backups for both home and business users
- EaseUS Backup Includes a free version, but also offers simple backups for business environments
- Clonezilla A disk imaging media that can back up single machines as well as batches of computers at once
- Active@ Disk Image Simple disk imaging software with the ability to write automation via scripting
- Minitool Partition Wizard Ideal for sysadmins looking to resize images as well as recover data from specific partitions
- Paragon Hard Disk Manager Solid option for both home and business users with access to perpetual licensing
The Best Disk Imaging Software
This article contains both free and paid tools for Windows, Linux, and macOS. Our focus is to share disk imaging software that prioritizes full-disk backups, image cloning, and incremental backups that provide the most convenient redundancy for ease of recovery.
1. Acronis Cyber Backup
Acronis Cyber Backup is a disk imaging software tool primarily for larger businesses and enterprise environments. Backups are stored across multiple servers in the Acronis cloud and are secured through AES-256 bit encryption.
One of the primary reasons Acronis tops our list is due to its ease of use and a vast amount of backup and recovery options. Entire images can be set to back up along with ESXi or Hyper-V hosts, which makes it a great option for businesses that own their own hosts.
Individual files and folders can also be backed up via incremental backups, which makes it a great tool for cold and hot backup storage. The process for recovering files is simple and just requires you to know the encryption key, location of the file, and a rough estimate of the last time it was in a certain location. This is great for helpdesk staff who get tickets from users who lose or accidentally delete files.
Management is done elegantly through a centralized dashboard that displays vital information such as backup health, current status, and last backup date. Internal role-based permissions allow you to set up accounts in Acronis more granularly and are perfect for larger environments that might need to have certain techs or teams recovering different types of information.
Lastly, the disk imaging software includes a universal restore feature that allows you to restore backups to hardware that is different from where it was initially backed up from. This includes bare metal backups across different operating systems as well.
Acronis Cyber Backup is worth looking into, especially if you’re a larger business that is looking to include remote cloud backup services as a part of its disaster recovery strategy. Pricing currently starts at $99 (£78.05) per year and is available for Windows and Linux systems.
You can test-drive Acronis Cyber Backup through a free 30-day trial.
- Easy backup for virtual environments
- Hardware agnostic
- Full and incremental backups
2. StorageCraft ShadowProtect
ShadowProtect is an on-premises full Backup Disaster Recovery (BDR) solution that can back up system-wide images, barebones and virtual environments, and incremental system snapshots. For businesses that manage their own IT department and servers, ShadowProtect is a great option that keeps you in control of your data.
The entire platform is storage agnostic, meaning that almost all disk-based storage is supported across physical and virtual environments using Windows or Linux. Full disk images can be made of virtual environments using VMWare ESX/ESXi, Hyper-V, and many hypervisors.
The entire platform offers IT teams a full BDR platform that covers the server level, all the way down to individual files. The software works by taking an initial snapshot of the target that needs to be backed up and then provide smaller incremental backups based on your needs and configurations. These snapshots can be taken during working hours and don’t interfere with production, making it a great tool for larger environments or MSPs reselling backup services.
Backups are stored securely via AES-256 bit encryption and can be moved to another backup host over the network, or sent to another site through the robust replication feature. Replication of backups can be scheduled for after-hours daily, or at specific times you set.
A built-in testing tool can help you rest easy that your images are actually working once they are backed up. A simple testing tool verifies file integrity and gives you the option to ‘quick mount’ images for fast file retrieval.
Lastly, if disaster does strike, ShadowProtect can move data or images to a new PC or host via its migration tool. Even if your replacement host doesn’t match the exact same hardware specs, ShadowProtect will still work regardless of the hardware it’s being migrated to.
There are multiple pricing options available including both perpetual and annual licensing. For an accurate look at the current price of ShadowProtect see the company product page.
- Incremental and full disk backups
- Fast image mounting
- Site-level replication
3. Acronis True Image 2021
Acronis makes its second appearance on our list, this time offering simple and reliable cloud backups for smaller businesses and home PCs. Acronis True Image 2021 offers full disk imaging as well as backups of individual files and folders. Through a simple interface, you can select which disks or files you want to backup, and then choose a destination.
Unlike other backup solutions, you can actually continue using your PC as it works in the background to perform a clone of your disk, or copy of specific files. Backups can be set to occur on a schedule, or move data over continuously ensuring all your files are secure and safe.
Acronis True Image also offers dual replication, meaning that you can keep a local backup on a drive for recovery, and then replicate that backup to the Acronis cloud. While this level of replication is usually reserved for enterprise tools, it’s refreshing to see more advanced features that are easy to use for non-enterprise software.
Restoring images directly from the Acronis cloud is simple, and just requires a few clicks. Alternatively, you can save these images and files to external hard drives or bootable media for offline recovery.
Additionally, Acronis also features ransomware protection that can detect malicious encryption activity on the system, and automatically replace the file that was damaged or modified. This feature almost acts as a completely separate anti-malware tool bundled right into the backup software.
Pricing for Acronis True Image 2021 starts at $49.99 (£39.02) for an annual subscription and is available for both Windows and macOS.
You can test out True Image free through a 30-day trial.
- Ransomware protection
- Continuous cloud backups
- Dual replication
4. EaseUS Todo Backup
EaseUS offers multiple backup solutions for both home users and larger companies looking to secure their data and build in backup disaster solutions. EaseUS is incredibly flexible with its offerings and includes three tiers of products: Free, Home User, and Business User.
All paid tiers include automatic cloud backups that can be restored in mere seconds without the need for additional steps or reboots. While the home version focuses on simplicity, the enterprise version has a host of features that make it attractive to IT teams who manage larger networks.
Images can be backed up and clones to cross-platform operating systems, and full, incremental, and differential backups can be taken and scheduled through a simple scheduling tab. EaseUS does a great job living up to its name, truly making it easy to manage and restore backups for both enterprise and home users.
For sysadmin who might not want their data in the cloud, EaseUS Todo Enterprise does offer the option to move files over to another network drive, allowing you to move that backup to a different physical drive, or to a secondary site over a VPN.
EaseUS is currently for Windows only and can be thoroughly tested through its freeware tier.
- Sector level and complete disk backups
- Migration capability
- Option to create bootable devices
Clonezilla is a recovery tool that allows you to perform full disk, partition, and bare-metal data recovery. This free and open-source tool works to offer disk imaging, cloning, and backup to both Windows and Linux environments.
Currently, there are three versions of Clonezilla for download, Clonezilla Lite, Clonezilla Live, and Clonezilla SE. The Live version is ideal for smaller businesses or home users, as it allows backup and data restoration for a single machine. The other two versions allow for the cloning of over 40 machines at a single time.
For RAID recoveries, drivers can be easily included in the bootable recovery media. This is a simple one-time procedure and doesn’t require you to use another bootable media to navigate to the proper drivers.
Clonezilla is a great option for tech-savvy home users or a small budget-conscious IT department. While its features are simple and powerful, it can be easy to get lost or struggle to navigate its interface, especially when there are more elegant tools available.
Since Clonezilla cloning is done manually, you won’t be able to rely on an automatic cloud backup to do the work for you. But for the price of free, it’s tough to beat.
- Supports Linux and Windows
- Can clone multiple machines at once
6. Active@ Disk Image
Active@ Disk Image is free software that can be used to clone disks, create disk images, and schedule backups. The software is simple to use while still offering advanced backup features, which makes it a great choice for both home users and small businesses alike.
Creating or restoring a backup can be done via a software Wizard, which makes the entire process easy to follow along with. Here you can choose which partitions, disks, or files you want to back up, and pick a location to where you want them stored.
The Standard version can perform differential and incremental backups, as well as providing email notifications for alerts regarding the status of your backups. Images can be secured through AES 128-256 bit encryption and offer image compression which helps cut down on storage space for stored data.
Detailed log reports can quickly be exported to XML or plain text files to verify the success of the backups, or identify any issues that occurred during the backup process. A unique feature regarding Active@ is its ability to support scripting. Admins can script Active@ to automate certain backups or replications to meet their exact needs.
The paid tier currently starts at $39 (£30.43) for the Standard licensing. The disk imaging tool is currently only available for Windows and can be tested through a free trial version.
- Email notifications
- Scheduled backups
- Scripting options for backups
7. Minitool Partition Wizard
Minitool Partition Wizard is a free backup and partitioning tool for Windows that is great for quickly coping partitioned disk images. For administrators, Minitool helps modify disk partitions when needing to move data between disks.
Partition management is often needed when manually restoring data from a larger disk, to a smaller disk. While this process can sometimes be confusing, Minitool Partition Wizard does an excellent job at streamlining this necessary backup process.
The tool can display information about multiple partitions at once and highlights key details such as disk space, number of partitions, free space, type of drive, and file system. While the free version of Partition Wizard is powerful, more features are available with the Pro version.
Pro features include the ability to migrate whole operating systems to SSD and utilize a data recovery utility that can automatically scan and recover files from a drive that may have been damaged. Additionally, the Pro version includes a bootable media version that allows you to recover machines via flash drive while on the go.
Partition Wizard has features that benefit both home and office users alike. Currently, the Pro version starts at $59 (£46.06) for a single-year subscription. The freeware version can be used and tested indefinitely.
- Partition management
- Data recovery
- Bootable media recovery
8. Paragon Hard Disk Manager
Paragon Hard Disk Manager provides both incremental and differential backups across servers and individual PCs alike. With that said many features in Paragon Hard Disk Manager favor larger business environments and support Hyper-V technologies as well as many different containers such as pVHD, VHD, VHDX, and VMDK.
A built-in partition management section allows you to shrink, create, and modify disk partitions both during and after the recovery process. All backups are secured through AES-256 bit encryption, while a robust data sanitization feature gives the option for disk formatting prior to destroying old drives.
New images can be created directly from a machine without the need to reboot or interrupt file usage, making it both convenient and a reliable tool to use in an ‘always on’ environment. Outside of scheduled backups Paragon, Hard Disk Manager offers a recovery media builder. This builder gives a tech the option to create USB, uEFI, or ISO recovery media for future restorations.
This is all performed through an elegant and modern interface that makes navigation simple and helps users visualize the backup process, as well as the current status of their disk imaging, or replication.
Pricing for Paragon starts at $99 (£77.24) for a single workstation perpetual license. For multi-workstation support and access to the media building features, you’ll need to purchase the Technician plan that starts at $599 (£467.35).
Currently, Paragon Hard Disk Manager is only available for Windows. You can test out the full version with a 30-day free trial.
- Can erase and sanitize drives prior to destruction
- Restore to a virtual environment like Hyper-V
- Partition management
In this article we’ve highlighted the best disk imaging software available, but which is right for you?
For larger businesses who want reliable and convenient off-site backups, Acronis Cyber Backup is your best choice. Acronis Cyber Backup has powerful backup features that are made convenient through a cloud-based platform.
For smaller businesses and home users, Acronis True Image 2021 offers incredible backup capabilities that allow you to ‘set it and forget it”.
Businesses that do not want to store backups in the cloud will find StorageCraft ShadowProtect an ideal solution, with plenty of migration options and replication features that IT departments can use to take full control over their data.
Lastly, if you’re just looking to simply clone a machine manually, Clonezilla provides a free way to do exactly that.
Do you have a favorite backup solution that didn’t make the list? Let us know about it in the comments below.