Is Resetting Your PC a Good Idea?

A question I get asked a lot, “I’ve managed to mess up my Windows PC to the point of no return. I give up, and now I just want to reset it to its factory-fresh condition and start all over. How do I do that?” Read on and I’ll tell you how, and why you might NOT want to do this…

How To Reset Your PC To Factory Defaults

Most Windows PCs can be restored to their fresh-out-of-the-box condition. The very rare exceptions are systems cobbled together in the basement of someone who takes shortcuts without regard for the long-term welfare of his customers. If you didn’t buy your system out of a car trunk in a Walmart parking lot, it’s safe to say you can restore it to factory defaults.

A properly configured Windows system contains a hidden, protected hard drive partition that holds an image of the factory-fresh system settings and software. Restoring that image to the main drive partition resets your system to its factory-fresh condition. Windows includes a special software routine that does system resets automatically, eliminating human error. It’s that simple, in theory.

But think about what’s missing from a factory-fresh system: software or digital products you’ve paid for, free software you’ve downloaded, irreplaceable documents, photos, videos, and more that you created or stored on that drive; all the registry settings that have been tweaked and tuned over the years to make your system “just right” for you.


In practice, you probably don’t want to lose everything that you have added to your hard drive since you acquired that system. So before resetting to factory defaults, be sure to copy documents, photos, and anything else you want to keep to another location. That could be an external hard drive, a USB flash drive, or cloud storage. Popular cloud storage options are Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive, Apple iCloud, and Dropbox.

Another consideration, which looms larger the older your system is, is that of Windows Updates. The factory-default image file contains the version of Windows that was the latest as of the date Windows was installed on the hardware. That date may be months or years before the system was sold to you. You will need to spend many hours downloading and installing perhaps hundreds of Windows updates after resetting to factory defaults,

But Wait, There’s More… (a lot more)

A factory reset of your Windows computer is a drastic last resort. A better option in almost every case is to repair or optimize.

All of the third-party application software (paid or free) you now use will vanish when the system is reset. Be sure you have the CD or installation files for any apps that you want to re-install, and the registration keys if necessary. If the installation files you have are old, plan on spending time downloading and installing critical updates specific to that app. Don’t forget that your printer and other peripherals will need to be reinstalled as well.

Once that’s all done, you can restore your documents, photos and other personal files from the backup you made. Finally, redo all of the system settings to your liking. This includes your Windows theme, mouse settings, display settings, and any customization’s or extensions you’ve applied to Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and other software.

Hit The RESET Button?

If all of these caveats don’t deter you, here is how to reset your Windows system to its factory defaults:

Windows 10 has a straightforward “reset” button. To find it, press the “Win” button plus the A button on your keyboard. Click “All Settings” on the resulting screen, followed by “Update & Security” and then “Recovery.” Choose “Reset this PC.”

A new window will appear, offering options to “Keep files” or “Remove everything.” The first option keeps your documents, images, etc. The second option removes them. Both options remove all installed software except Windows itself. The “Keep files” option, which gives you a fresh copy of the Windows operating system, minus the software (or malware) that was causing problems may be just the ticket.

Similarly, on Windows 8, you’ll find Refresh and Reset options by going to Settings > Update and Recovery > Recovery.

Restoring a Windows 7 System

Yes that’s right some are still using this dinosaur and refuse to change. I must encourage you to get the latest Windows 10 so you will be on the right page. When Windows 8.1 was released in October 2013, Microsoft made it clear to Windows 8 customers that they had two years to upgrade. Microsoft said then it would no longer support the old version of the operating system by 2016. Windows 8 customers can still use their computers. However Windows 7 you are not that lucky.

Windows 7 does not have a “reset” button. Instead, you must re-install Windows manually. There are two ways to do this.

Option 1: Your Windows installation or recovery files may be on a CD that was supplied with your computer at the time of purchase, or you may have purchased a Windows installation CD. Insert the CD, restart your computer, and follow the instructions to begin the process.

Option 2: Many OEMs (computer vendors) create their own customized versions of Windows, including with the operating system any “enhancements” they add to their systems. Such customized versions of Windows may be called “recovery disks” and reside on a hidden hard drive partition. OEMs also create their own customized recovery apps to manage re-installations exactly as they want them performed. Here is a list of OEMs and their recovery apps:

  • Acer: Acer eRecovery or Acer Recovery Management
  • ASUS: ASUS Recovery Partition or AI Recovery
  • Dell: Dell Factory Image Restore, DataSafe, Dell Backup & Recovery
  • Gateway: Gateway Recovery Management
  • HP: HP System Recovery or Recovery Manager
  • Lenovo: Rescue and Recovery, ThinkVantage Recovery (on ThinkPads)
  • Sony: Sony Vaio Recovery Wizard

Running the appropriate app on your system will launch a controlled restoration of Windows and any other software the vendor originally installed on your system. As I described earlier in this article, restoring your computer to “factory fresh” condition can involve a lot of work after the fact to get back to good, because all of your software, personal files and settings must be restored. I recommend it only as a last resort.

Of course, there’s always the option of restoring from a recent backup, if the problems you are experiencing are recent. A “system image” backup makes it relatively easy. I encourage you to read this ebook Everything You Need to Know About BACKUPS, where you’ll learn about backup strategies and how to protect the data in your computer, tablet, smartphone and online accounts.

Have a great week from all of us at ZI

Five-Point Tuneup For Hacker Defenses

The online world gets more dangerous every day. The AV-TEST Institute reports over 350,000 new malware samples are discovered DAILY. Thousands of social media accounts are hacked per day; and untold millions of consumer records that were compromised in data breaches are used by hackers in increasingly clever attacks. Your defense systems must be kept in tip-top shape. Here are five ways to harden your system against hackers…

Beef Up Your Security Defenses      

You take your car for preventive maintenance on a regular basis. Engine oil, spark plugs, filters, wipers, and tires are five important things that need attention in order to stay safe on the road. But most people don’t give a second thought to staying safe online. Here are five things you should keep in mind to “tune up” your computer against malware, hackers and data thieves. Failure to do so is like rolling the dice, and hoping to beat a set of odds that are stacked against you.

1: Update all of your software, from device drivers to applications to the operating system. Automatic software updates are the easiest, most consistent way to go. Activate it in Windows Update, and in every application software package you have that offers automatic updates. Then install a “universal” software updater, such as Patch My PC. It catalogs all software on your system, and finds your stuff in its database of several thousand developer sites that it monitors for new updates. When a new update that you need appears, PSI downloads and installs it automatically.

2: Activate two-factor authentication everywhere you can, on your devices and on all sites that offer 2FA. It may seem to add another layer of complexity that slows you down, but the opposite is true.

Here is a riddle whose answer will seem heretical: When is it safe to use “password” as a password? No, I have not lost my mind or been paid a bribe by the hacker community. The answer is, when you have two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled! Even if a hacker guesses your password on the first try, they can’t get into your account without the second authentication factor – a code sent only to your phone number, or a USB key in your pocket, or your fingerprint, or a scan of your retina, or whatever. Another mind-blowing observation: it is safe to use the same, simple password on all sites where you have 2FA enabled; again, because the second authentication factor will be unique and unavailable to a hacker. I’d still advise against doing that, as a best practice, though.

Google and Facebook call 2FA “login approval,” while Twitter and Microsoft calls it “login verification.” Your bank may call it something else. Inquire about 2FA and use it wherever you can. For other things that need passwords but don’t offer 2FA, use a password generator/manager such as RoboForm, LastPass, or Dashlane. It not only generates strong passwords for you, it stores them in an encrypted database and changes them regularly. All you need to remember is your master password.

Shutting Down Other Attack Vectors

3: Encrypt your storage devices so that even if your laptop or phone is stolen, its data cannot be read without the encryption key. Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 include Bitlocker encryption. VeraCrypt is the free, open-source successor to the popular but now defunct TrueCrypt. Android and iOS have encryption enabled by default.

Just remember that if you don’t have a screen-lock pin or password, all the encryption in the world won’t help you when your computer or mobile device is lost or stolen.

4: Reduce the “surface area” that exposes you to potential attacks on your privacy and security. Start by uninstalling of programs and apps that you really don’t need or use. Most software has at least one vulnerability; why leave openings for hackers lying around? Windows 10 offers finer control of app permissions. Type “privacy” in the Search box and open Privacy Settings from the results. The General tab lets you toggle broad categories of app permissions. On mobile, be careful to check the permissions that apps want (or already have). If you have the Android 6.0 or later operating system, you can open Settings > Apps, tap an app’s name, then tap App permissions. From there, you can toggle individual permissions on or off.

Don’t neglect all the apps that you have given permission to access your Facebook, Google, Twitter, or other “identity” accounts. Go through the “app permissions” sections on each of your social media accounts and disallow apps you no longer use. Make use of the privacy and security checkup tools provided by Microsoft and Google,Tweak Your Microsoft and Google Privacy Settings.

5: Upgrade your security software. Last fall, I ditched Avast Antivirus and started using PC Matic’s SuperShield. SuperShield uses a whitelist approach that allows only known-good programs to run on your computer. This is in contrast to other security tools that rely on blacklists of known malware. Did I mention that 350,000 new malware samples are discovered daily?? It’s nearly impossible for traditional anti-malware tools that rely on blacklists to protect you from all existing and emerging threats. So far, PC Matic has caught several things that slipped past Avast.

Have a great week from all of us on the ZI Staff

SSD Drives: How Long Will They Last?

Solid-State Drive (SSD) technology has been taking over the hard drive market rapidly, as economy of scale results in lower prices. But there’s always been uncertainty about the useful lifespan of a solid-state drive, as compared to a traditional magnetic drive. Will your SSD conk out suddenly, or will it last for years? Read on…

SSD Drives Keep Going and Going

SSDs (also called solid-state drives) are an alternative to the standard magnetic, spinning disk hard drives we’ve all been using for decades. You can think of them as USB flash drives on steroids. With no moving parts, an SSD offers more speed, greater reliability and decreased power consumption than magnetic drives.

SSD capacities keep rising, prices keep falling, and SSDs show up in everything from phones to desktop gaming PCs, high-end workstations, servers, and any place where magnetic hard drives have dominated for decades. It’s easy to understand the enthusiasm for SSDs.

SSDs are still expensive compared to magnetic hard drives. But here’s something to consider… right now, a 1 terabyte (1000 gigabytes) magnetic hard drive costs about the same as a 256 GB SSD drive — roughly US$50. But if you’ve only got 100 GB of data, the SSD is obviously a better buy, even though it has less capacity.

An SSD drive is much faster than a magnetic drive; that means faster boot times and more responsiveness in applications, particularly when dealing with large data files. With no moving parts, SSDs are silent and less subject to mechanical failures.

But rumors persist that SSDs won’t last as long as magnetic drives. Manufacturers provide warranties ranging between 3 and 5 years, but that doesn’t satisfy the skeptical. A warranty won’t replace your irreplaceable photos, videos, music collection, and so on. Everyone wants to know, “How long will an SSD last?”

The uber-geeks at Tech Report decided to answer that question once and for all by continually writing 100 MB blocks of data to six consumer-grade SSDs until all of the drives die. The SSD torture test started in August 2013 and ended in March 2015.

The six drives tested were nothing special, just off-the-shelf consumer SSDs that you can pick up at Best Buy, Tiger Direct, or even Walmart. The line-up included: the Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB, Intel 335 Series 240GB, Samsung 840 Series 250GB, Samsung 840 Pro 256GB, and two Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB.

Megabyte, Gigabyte, Terabyte, Petabyte…

Each of the drives was warranted to last for at least 200 terabytes of data writes. That’s a lot more than the typical home or small business user will write in 3 to 5 years. Usually, manufacturers tend to over-promise on such things, but these SSD drives surprised everyone.

The first fatality, a Kingston HyperX 3K, wrote 728 terabytes before giving up the ghost. The second SSD to die was the Intel 335, at 750 TB. The Samsung 840 Series gasped its last at 900 TB. Note that all of those drives lasted at least 3-4x longer than warranted.

Three SSDs made it past the 1 petabyte milestone. A petabyte is 1,000 terabytes, a nearly incomprehensible number normally found only in NSA or NASA IT projects. The first three seasons of the HBO hit, “Game of Thrones,” in 1080p MP4 format, would occupy 9,285,418,071 bytes (9.3 GB). One petabyte equals about 107,695 copies of that data set.

The last two survivors (the Kingston HyperX 3K and Samsung 840 Pro) met their doom on the road to 2.5 petabytes. It’s noteworthy that NONE of the SSDs failed until they were 3.5 times past the manufacturers’ data-writing warranty, which is about 9-15 years’ worth of normal home use.

So if anyone suggests that SSDs don’t last as long as magnetic drives, point them to this info. If you really want to bury them in excruciating details about the Tech Report testing methodology, SSD data storage techniques, and other geekiness, point them to the results of this SSD Endurance Test.

Some Notes on SSD Reliability

A research paper published at the Usenix 2016 conference argued that SSD age, not usage, affects reliability. And high-end drives based on SLC technology are no more reliable than less expensive MLC drives. So outside of a “torture test” environment, you should not have to worry about your SSD failing in the first 3 to 5 years.

However, the study also found that the uncorrectable error rate for SSDs is higher than for magnetic drives, which means SSDs are more likely to lose data. So ironically, backing up SSDs is even more important than it is with magnetic disks. So if you are currently backing up *TO* an SSD, you should consider having a backup or your backup, preferably on a traditional magnetic spinning disk.

Here are some signs that your SSD might be starting to fail:

  • A error message indicating that a file cannot be read or written, or that the file system needs to be repaired.
  • Programs freeze up and crash.
  • Errors that occur while booting up, which go away after retrying.
  • Slow performance while accessing large files.
  • If you notice any such symptoms, check out Crystal Disk Mark for Windows, or Smart Reporter for Mac OS X systems. Both apps can help you diagnose disk problems.

The SSD endurance test I discussed above concluded in 2015, but I’ll still wager that any of the latest crop of consumer SSD drives is likely to outlive your computer, and will probably last as long or longer than a magnetic drive. But don’t use that as an excuse to avoid doing regular backups. Are you prepared for a data disaster?

Have a great week from all of us at ZI

Darn Teleport Disconnects

Entry posted by Linden Lab

Many Residents have noted that in the last few weeks we have had an increase in disconnects during a teleport. These occur when an avatar attempts to teleport to a new Region (or cross a Region boundary, which is handled similarly internally) and the teleport or Region crossing takes longer than usual. Instead of arriving at the expected destination, the viewer disconnects with a message like:

Darn. You have been logged out of Second Life.
You have been disconnected from the region you were in.

We do not currently believe that this is specific to any viewer, and it can affect any pair of Regions (it seems to be a timing-sensitive failure in the hand-off between one simulator and the next). There is no known workaround – please continue logging back in to get where you were going in the meantime.

We are very much aware of the problem, and have a crack team trying to track it down and correct it. They’re putting in long hours and exploring all the possibilities. Quite unfortunately, this problem dodged our usual monitors of the behavior of simulators in the Release Channels, and as a result we’re also enhancing those monitors to prevent similar problems getting past us in the future.

We’re sorry about this – we empathize with how disruptive it has been.

The Best Upgrades for Old Computers?

So you have an older computer that’s struggling to keep up with modern apps and operating systems. Maybe it’s bogged down with the weight of cosmic crud that’s built up over the years. Should you junk it and buy a new one, or upgrade its capabilities? If you can afford only one upgrade, which will give you the most improvement for your money? The answers are highly dependent upon your specific circumstances, but here are some general guidelines…

Should You Upgrade Your Old, Slow Computer?

First, ask yourself whether your computer is too slow for you, or for someone else. Did you think, “Gee, my computer is slow” before your spoiled nephew with the brand new computer said, “Gee, your computer is slow!”? If you’re getting done all you want to get done, and fast enough for you, you may not need to upgrade. But if you’re not satisfied, read on!

Some upgrades do get more work done faster, while others just make work more pleasant for you. A bigger monitor may be just what your tired, watery eyes need. A more ergonomic keyboard or mouse is another comfort upgrade; not that comfort doesn’t improve performance, but it’s mainly the comfort that counts. Twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. My doctor suggested both drugs and surgery, but switching to an ergonomic keyboard with the split/curved key layout completely eliminated my pain. When I type on a “regular” keyboard (the cheap, rectangular ones that usually come with new computers) I feel that familiar wrist pain again.

Upgrading a monitor is a significant investment. But if you’re often using two programs at once, or find your limited screen real estate is slowing you down (switching from one app to another, or always scrolling), a larger, higher resolution monitor may be a good investment. But you should also consider ADDING a monitor. Consider the potential benefits of adding a second screen to your desktop setup.

Amazon has a selection of 24-inch monitors (rated 4-stars or higher) starting at $89.99. This Sceptre 24-inch LED Monitor has both HDMI and VGA Ports, Full HD resolution built-in speakers, and tiltable stand. If you want something larger, this Dell D-Series 31.5-inch monitor is on sale for $164 with free shipping. Two of those would make an awesome dual-monitor setup! Keep in mind that you may need a better graphics card to match the capabilities of a modern monitor, or a dual-monitor setup. A dedicated graphics card can take some computing burden off your CPU, making actual computation faster; but the increase in CPU performance won’t be very large.

Upgrading Memory and Hard Drive

More RAM memory provides significant performance boosts at reasonable cost, up to a point. If you have too little RAM for the types of applications and the size of data files that you use, a lot of time and CPU power is wasted swapping data from RAM to disk and back again in “pages.” On the other hand, excess RAM just sits there idle, a waste of money that makes no discernible difference in performance.

A rule of thumb is that general home users need a minimum of 4 GB of RAM; business and power users, 8 GB or more; and only the busiest video editors, database administrators, or gamers need 16+ GB of RAM. But modern versions of Windows can work with up to 2 TB (terabytes) of RAM memory. The operating system you have is very important when considering buying RAM.

Increasing the size, thoughput and access speed of hard drive storage is a tempting upgrade option. A traditional magnetic hard drive that spins at 7200 rpm is much better than one spinning at 5400 rpm. Solid-State Drives (SSDs) are the bleeding edge of mass storage technology, but they are still expensive compared to magnetic hard drives. But here’s something to consider… right now, a 1 terabyte (1000 gigabytes) magnetic hard drive costs about the same as a 256 GB SSD drive — roughly US$50. But if you’ve only got 100 GB of data, the SSD is obviously a better buy, even though it holds about one fourth as much data.

If you’re thinking about a new hard drive because you’re running out of space to stash your stuff, first try a little spring cleaning, and see how many gigabytes of garbage you can eliminate. Unwanted software, temp files, and duplicate files can chew up a lot of space. A careful pruning of music, photos, and video files may yield big gains as well.

A word about Windows 7 seems appropriate here. You may have read articles in the tech press that Microsoft will end support for Windows 7 in January 2020. If you’re running a computer with Windows 7, that does not mean that it will stop working next January 14th. Nor will you be forced to upgrade to Windows 10 at that point. It does mean that you will no longer receive Windows updates for security issues that arise after that date. Probably. Microsoft has extended these “end of support” dates in the past, but there’s no guarantee they will do so. When the end of support for Windows 7 does arrive, you’ll need to decide of you want to stick with a 10-year-old operating system, or move to Windows 10, which is arguably more secure. If, between now and then, you end up retiring your old computer and purchasing new, your choice will be made for you.

Deciding whether to upgrade or buy a new machine can be difficult. If you can install upgrades yourself, just add up the costs of planned upgrades and compare it to the price of new machines. But that simple cost analysis ignores half the cost/benefit ratio. You really don’t know how well an upgraded computer will perform until after you buy and install the upgrade(s), so it’s impossible to compare it to a new machine.

Generally, I would buy new rather than spend more than a third of new’s cost on upgrades. What upgrades have you done on your computer? Are you glad you did? Have a great week from all of us on the ZI Staff

[FREE] Tools to Tune and Optimize Your Hard Drive

One of the best things you can do to maintain or improve the performance of any computer is keeping your hard drive in tip-top shape. When things go wrong, the source of the problem is often in the hard drive. Here are some of the most common tasks that must be done with hard drives, plus some nifty (and free) software utilities that make getting them done a breeze…

Tune Up Your Hard Drive With Free Software

Clean-up of unnecessary files and folders helps to keep your Master File Table nice and lean; with fewer files and folders to index, it’s easier for the system to find what it needs at any given moment. File inventory reporting utilities such as JDiskReport can find duplicate files so one can be deleted, or sort files in order of size to help you figure out where all that disk space is going. I use JDiskReport several times a year, and I always find gobs of files that can be deleted. Backups will also be faster if unnecessary files are eliminated. Another option is WinDirStat, if you prefer a tool that’s not Java-based.

Optionally, clean-up can include deleting traces of your computing and online activity to preserve your privacy. In Windows, “recent files” history lists are kept by default, and every Web browser maintains histories of the URLs you have visited. If your computer is shared or you’re worried about spies, enabling this clean-up option will cover your tracks. Privazer is my favorite utility for clean-up and privacy purposes; it leaves a computer running like it’s fresh out of the box.

If you want to get rid of everything on a drive, in order to donate, sell, or safely dispose of it, try Eraser, a free utility for securely erasing data from a Windows hard drive. It works with all versions of Windows, from Windows 95 through Windows 10. Eraser has a simple name but it erases files completely in several complex ways. It’s a good alternative to using a 16-lb steel sledge hammer and a drill (both of which I have gleefully employed on occasion).

Defragmenting (defragging) and file optimization are related functions that keep data on your hard drive physically organized for the most efficient reading and writing. Generally, the less distance the drive’s read/write head has to move, the faster data will be read and written. Optimization finds the pieces of fragmented files on your hard drive, re-assembles them, and places the most frequently used files in places where they can be more efficiently accessed.

Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 10 include a defragger which runs automatically. But word on the street is that it’s not exactly best of breed. I recommend Defraggler from Piriform, which can defrag entire hard drives, individual files and folders, or the free space on your drive. Defraggler will report on the health of your hard drive, and is SSD-compatible.

t’s been widely reported that SSDs (solid state drives) should not be defragged, because they do not have mechanical moving parts accessing files on a spinning magnetic platter. The concern was that SSDs may wear out due to the high level of write activity that defrag operations require. However, Windows 8 and 10 both perform defrags on SSDs, and my understanding is that modern SSDs are not prone to wearing out like some older models did.

Data Recovery and Other Utilities

So-called “undelete” utilities can find and restore files even after the Recycle Bin has been emptied, or recover usable parts of files that have been partially overwritten. Undeletion is a simple example of “data recovery,” a term reserved for major catastrophes such as a hard drive that will not boot, or even one that has suffered physical damage. Recuva can find and undelete files on hard drives, SD cards, MP3 players, and other devices.

TestDisk is an open-source partition recovery tool intended for situations where a drive cannot be booted. Testdisk saved my bacon once when other tools reported zero files on my C: drive. It scanned the disk, found the partitions and file access table, and patched things back together.

Catching minor read/write errors and “weak spots” on a hard drive before they turn into major disasters is the province of error-checking and testing software. Early warnings of such flaws include a hard drive the “takes forever” to open or close a file, and an unusually hard-working cooling fan that is trying to chill the drive motor. HD Tune is a free utility that checks for errors, measures drive performance, securely erases data, and much more. There’s also a paid Pro version that does more extensive testing. HD Tune has been updated for Windows 10.

For a quick look at your hard drive’s S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring And Reporting Technology) status, try the free Speccy utility. In the Hard Drives section of the Speccy results, you’ll see some technical gibberish under the S.M.A.R.T heading. If it says “Status: Good” at the bottom, that’s about all you need to know. The only other info there you might want to check out is the Reallocated Sectors Count. If that’s greater than zero, you may have some defective sectors on your hard drive.

A good benchmark utility can tell you how well your drive performs compared to its factory specs, or even against drives of identical make and model in use on other computers worldwide. Running benchmarks before and after maintenance chores can show how well a maintenance tool does its job. Novabench has been the leading free benchmark package since 2007.

Dividing one physical drive into two or more logical drives (denoted by letters, i. e. C:, D:, etc.) is called drive partitioning. One use for partitions is to install all of your application software on one partition and use the other to hold ever-changing data. Some users swear by this approach, but I find it simpler to put everything in one large partition. Of course, there’s an exception. If you want to run two different operating systems on one computer, each will need its own drive partition. Paragon Partition Manager Free is a well-established, reliable partitioning tool.

Disk cloning is the process of making an exact, bit-by-bit copy of everything on a hard drive, including hidden system files, boot records, and all else. You should be able to swap a cloned drive for its original and never see any difference. Cloning is a straightforward backup strategy used by many home and business users. Macrium Reflect Free is a popular cloning utility. It also does disk imaging, which stores the entire or selected contents of a disk in a compressed file that cannot be booted, as a cloned drive can, but is easier to maintain for incremental backups.

How many of these tools have you used? Do you have an alternative you like?

Have a great week from all of us on the ZI Staff.