In this tutorial, you’ll find out how to create full hard drive backups using HD Clone from within Windows.

Keeping your data and files safe is a priority nowadays, and the most sure fire way to do that is by keeping full hard drive backups, that’s why you need a good tool you can rely on e.g. HD Clone

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An introduction to HD Clone and full disk backups

Creating full disk backups, as opposed to just copying the most important files into a folder on another hard drive, has the advantage of saving all of your data. Maybe there is something that you forgot to backup, or maybe you just want an easy way to restore your system drive if your main hard drive fails – having a full backup solves that problem.

It used to be that creating such a backup was difficult and required special software that would only run from within DOS, so you had to create bootable disks or USB drives and mess around with an unfriendly interface. Thanks to HD Clone, however, it’s extremely easy to create (and restore, of course) a full hard drive backup from within Windows – even if it’s the drive the OS is running from! Below you’ll find a step by step tutorial on how to do just that.

Creating a full hard drive backup image using HD Clone

The Windows version of HD Clone is very easy to use. The basic version is free and lets you backup and restore full hard disk images with ease, although the speed is limited. The full version has some advanced features like compression, selective partition backup/restoration and creating virtual disks for use in virtual machines – all great features, but the free version is enough for our needs.

To begin, download HD Clone from the official site, – you can get the Setup version or the Universal Package – the only difference is that the first installs on your computer and places shortcuts in the Start Menu and Desktop, while the second can be unpacked on any hard drive or flash drive (or burnt onto a CD!) and executed on any computer. I recommend the Universal Package, just download it and unpack it somewhere (desirably on a separate HDD/flash drive, but it can be on the drive you want to backup, as well).

Step 1. Now that you have it unpacked, open the folder and run “hdclone.exe”, then press “Start HD Clone”:

Start HD Clone

Step 2. You’ll see a notification of the limitations of the free version – just click “Close”. Now, click on “Store Entire Disk”, then click on the “Next” button in the lower right corner:

Click on Store Entire Disk, then Next button

Step 3. HD Clone will scan for your system and present you with a list of detected hard drives (and flash drives). First, you’ll need to select the source drive – this is the drive that you want to backup. In this example, I selected the first drive, which is my system drive. Click “Next” to continue.

Select the hard drive you want to backup

Step 4. Now you need to select where the backup image will be created. Obviously, you’ll need a hard drive or partition larger in size than the drive you want to backup – let’s say that you want to create the HDD backup on an external hard drive that is connected to your computer – just select it in the list, then give the backup image a name (it can’t have any spaces, so use dashes instead) and click “Next”. HD Clone will automatically create a folder named “HDClone Images”, where the backup image will be stored, so you can’t place it in another folder yourself – it’s best to just leave it there.

Select destination drive/partition and give the backup image a name

Step 5. You really can’t set any options on the next screen in the free version, so just click “Next” again. You’ll arrive at the “Copy Data” screen – the only thing left to do is click the “Start” button, then confirm by clicking the “Start Copying” button on the pop-up window:

Click Start, then Start Copying to begin backup process

HD Clone should start the backup process – after it’s finished, you can just click Quit HDClone. IF the program tells you it cannot gain exclusive read access, click on “Continue without exclusive access”, most of the times that doesn’t cause any errors.

A few tips and closing words

If you are backing up your system drive, it would be desirable not to run any programs while backing up – that may interfere with the process. You can just leave it overnight if you want.

You can run this backup once a month or once a week if you want to keep your data backed up and up-to-date. If the hard drive you backup fails at any point, you can simply install a new one and restore the image using HD Clone – you’ll have an exact copy of your old system in no time!