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I am looking for a disc cloning tool that can create and restore a bootable disk image of a windows PC with boot sector, MBR, recovery partition, etc.

However the disk image should be as small as possible, and therefore should not contain all the GB of user data on the disk. Therefore it should be possible to exclude certain folders from the backup manually.

I am aware that this exclusion of folders is contrary to the classical concept of "cloning" a drive. However all modern clone tools already have options to exclude empty space from the image, and I believe Clonezilla even has an option to exclude the windows page and hibernation file.

(I am also aware of possible workarounds, such as moving the excluded data to a different drive before cloning, or repartitioning the drive so that all excluded data resides on a different partition. I am looking for a tool that allows me to avoid this workaround)

Is there any software that can backup a whole disk with the option to exclude certain folders?

  • the backup would be started manually; automatic scheduled backups are not required
  • A free or not too expensive solution would be preferred
  • an open image format would be preferred
  • only Windows 7 disks need to be supported, other OS are not required
  • "I am aware that this exclusion of folders is contrary to the classical concept of 'cloning' a drive. However all modern clone tools already have options to exclude empty space from the image, and I believe Clonezilla even has an option to exclude the windows page and hibernation file." Well there you go. If you're excluding folders, it can't really be a byte-for-byte image, as they are inherently independent of the actual file system. I may be wrong, but I don't think what you're asking for is possible. – Wowfunhappy May 20 '16 at 0:47
  • That's why I added the part you quoted. A byte-for-byte copy is not what almost any current cloning tool does by default. Most can skip empty space, Clonezilla presumably can skip the page file and hibernation file, and the result is still an image that can be restored as a bootable Disk. There was an answer here earlier that claimed Acronis True Image and o&o DiskImage were capable of skipping folders, but apparently it has been deleted. My research on Acronis seems to confirm this, thought I am not sure I interpreted the manual correctly. – HugoRune May 20 '16 at 6:57
  • Clone and disk image is 2 different things. – Moab May 21 '16 at 3:50
  • I use Acronis TI 2011 and you can skip any folders you want when making a disk image, I do this regularly. – Moab May 21 '16 at 3:52
  • You can skip empty space without knowledge of the underlying file system. You just trim HEX padding. As Moab said: what you're looking for is less a disk "cloning" tool and more a disk "imaging" tool. If you search for the latter, you may be able to find what you're looking for more easily. – Wowfunhappy May 24 '16 at 6:32
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Acronis True Image might be something for you. I'm using it since years and it works fine.

  • it costs ~40 EUR
  • it can exclude folders from the backup (see screenshot below, sorry it's German)
  • you can start backups manually
  • saves in TIB file format, which is a True Image proprietary format.
  • supports Windows 7 through Windows 10 (they even list XP, but that might be dropped soon)

Screenshot of True Image folder exclusion

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