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Mini-Review – HDClone 4

by Alan German

As it says in the OPCUG Free Software Guide, “If you try one of the listed items, you are encouraged to share your experience, good or bad, by providing a brief review of the program for a future issue of the newsletter.” So, here's my experience with HDClone 4 Free Edition from Miray Software.

A friend was given an old Compaq desktop machine but found that it ran really slowly. Could I do anything to help? Well, I could remove all the bloatware, patch the OS and the security applications, defrag the disk, clean out the registry, and see what effect all of those steps might have. But first, I wanted to make a backup of the entire disk – just in case things went south.

I wanted to use a free disk imaging program, and recalled the listing for HDClone that appeared in Part 19 of the OPCUG Free Software Guide (Ottawa PC News; p.6; March 2011), so I thought I would give this program a try.

One and a half hours later, I had a 38 GB disk image of the 38 GB hard drive, that had only 8GB being used. The free version of HDClone has a few small limitations. It doesn't ignore empty disk sectors, it runs slower than the paid version(s), and it will only restore the image to a bigger hard disk. Three strikes – it's out!

To be fair, the program's description indicates the major limitation, i.e. that the program “clones an entire hard disk to another, larger medium”. (Note that this means that the free version is useless for normal backup purposes since the image can't be restored to the original disk.)

Also, the version overview indicates that the free edition doesn't produce compressed images, doesn't have a fast copy mode, and has the slowest copy rate of any of the available (for purchase) versions.

It beats me why a developer would provide an obviously crippled version of a program hoping that, after a trial – that is evidently going to be a less than stellar experience – a user would upgrade to a paid version.

So, sorry guys. There are better options in the free and open-source software world. And, for me, it's on to the next!

Bottom Line:

HDClone 4 Free Edition (Freeware)
Miray Software

Originally published: May, 2011

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