CloneDisk is a compact portable tool with a lengthy list of drive-related functions. It's an image backup and disk cloning tool, for instance. The program can format and partition a drive, extend or shrink a volume. And you get options to securely wipe a drive, edit the partition table, save and restore the master boot record/ boot sector, run drive speed tests, and carry out various operations with VHD, RAW, VMDK and ISO images.

Sounds appealing, right? But beware. This isn't some mainstream backup tool for regular PC users. There's no colorful drive map here, no helpful wizards. Not even a Help file. CloneDisk is aimed squarely as PC experts who already know what options like "Close handles", "Set Volume Offline" and "Delete Disk Layout" are going to do, and everyone else should leave the program very much alone.

Even if you know what you're doing, CloneDisk isn't always straightforward. If you forget to launch it as an administrator, for example, the program doesn't clearly point that out: instead we saw misleading "handle is invalid" error messages. And the "Change boot code" option just crashed the program, every time we tried it.

Despite this, there's a lot to like about CloneDisk. It's packed with powerful features everywhere you look, and most of them work just as you'd expect. To back up a USB drive, for example, we selected the relevant partition, clicked "Backup to image", and chose an image name: the program handled everything else itself.

Version 2.3.5 changes:

changed : use IOCTL_DISK_GET_PARTITION_INFO_EX to retrieve part size when backuping/restoring/cloning
changed : common code for prep source and prep dest when backuping/restoring
added : vdh informations
modified : copyfile uses xcopy only if psexec not in the folder
added : get boot sector work with \\.\PhysicalDrivex syntax
added : reach boot sector from partition table
modified : get_bs and set_bs now get an offset optional parameter (to possibly skip asking the user)
modified : can create more than one gpt partition
added : can modify a gpt partition type
added : can modify a gpt partition attributes
added : can create a virtual disk (raw) in mb/kb/byes
fixed : taborder in mbr and bs form
fixed : config called later in formcreate
added: enable_advanced=1 option in config
fixed : _restore_bs to work with \\.\PhysicalDrivex syntax
added : lock & dismount volume(s) when writing BS to physicaldrive
todo : prep drive before cloning
modified : getdrive works will all medias
modified : _get_infos will not crash on GetDriveLayoutEX (x32)
modified : increased getdrivelayoutex buffer size (x32)
added : extra partition types in part editor (x32)
modified : grayed out menus based on gpt/mbr in part editor (x32)
modified : check on total size in wipe (x32)
modified : change backup_drive signature (mode parameter removed) (x32)
modified : backup_drive signature now accepts offset parameter (x32)
modified : restore_drive signature now accepts size & offset parameters (x32)
added : can backup/restore from part editor (x32)
added : disks in gray in main window (x32)
modified : disks and parts are displayed by default (x32)
added : can create ISO disc images (x32)

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CloneDisk provides a host of hard drive manipulation functions in a tiny portable package. It's not always easy to use, and has a bug or two, but regular updates are helping it to improve, and on balance the program deserves a place in every geek's technical toolkit.