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What do you recommend for gratis (free of cost) software to clone a Windows boot drive?

The same software must be able to restore the cloned partition as well as the boot record.

I would strongly prefer software that can skip unallocated (unused) sectors. In other words, have the software be intelligent enough to recognize that a sector is unallocated and not add the bytes of that sector to the image. This is not a requirement, but if your recommendation can do this, please indicate that it has this feature.

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    You write that you want to clone your image, but you have tagged this question as "backup". Can you please clarify/remove the tag?
    – UrOni
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 9:41
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    @UrOni Good point. I thought about creating a new clone tag, but since a clone is a type of backup, I chose to use an existing tag instead of creating a new one. If you think we need new clone tag, it would be good to introduce that idea in meta, because we will need to retag all questions involving software recommendations for cloning operations. Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 14:21

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Clonezilla fits the bill

Clonezilla is a free (licensed under GPLv2) disk imaging software that supports all common file systems, including NTFS used by Windows. It can also restore the previously cloned partitions along with the boot record. Additionally, it only clones allocated blocks. Quote:

Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the hard disk. This increases the clone efficiency.

I also found a video tutorial on YouTube where the process of cloning and restoring is demonstrated. Here is the link to part 1 of 3

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