Submitted by Kevin Derby
Although Win08/Win7 has now changed the backup routine to do this same thing, I hadn’t found any imaging program (for free) to be quite as good as DriveImage XML.
I haven’t added this submission to the list of free of admin tools because the program isn’t free for commercial use. Essentially, this means that Windows administrators can’t use the tool at work. I have, however, posted this article, as I find this tool useful.
To be honest, I am not sure what “commercial use” actually means. If you use your PC at home to do some work, is it then considered a commercially used computer? There are certainly clear cases of commercial use, but there are also many cases where it is unclear. I leave it up to you to decide about your own environment.
Lately, I have been looking for a free imaging solution that I can use to back up my laptop, as I dislike Vista’s system-backup tool. My main problem with it is that I can only use the backup image to restore the complete Windows installation, but I can’t browse the image to restore individual files. I have already, several times, found myself in a situation where I desperately needed an individual file from a backup image, and so ended up quite annoyed that Microsoft doesn’t offer a simple solution for mounting a VHD image. In Windows 7 this has been changed. However, I don’t plan to use Windows 7 in a productive environment until the final version is out.
I have tried using DriveImage XML myself. It is, indeed, an interesting alternative to Vista’s backup tool. What I like about DriveImage XML is that you can browse the image and restore individual files and folders. I also like that the image can be split into multiple files. This is useful if you want to store images on DVDs.
However, for a commercial tool, it lacks one important feature. To restore a system drive, you have to create a BartPE CD. DriveImage XML comes with a plugin for BartPE, but if I pay for a piece of software I expect everything I need to already be included. Moreover, as outlined in my post about BartPE, it only supports XP-based Windows PE images, which is a problem with modern hardware, especially laptops.
If you know of another good backup imaging tool, in particular one that has everything you need to restore system drives already on board, it would be great if you could post a comment below.