In this fast paced world of IT we often take things for granted. While none of us operate in a truly perfect OS world, some give us utilities that have saved our bacon on numerous occasions, or allowed us to recover those lost items that are so dear to us.


dd, jokingly referred to as Disk Destroyer, is a very powerful tool that can, if used improperly, do serious damage to data. You may ask “Why would I want to use a tool that could possibly wipe the data from my drive?” The answer is simple. Most applications that do a similar function as dd are

  •             Costly
  •             Ineffective
  •             Just plain don’t work

While this little utility is from the Linux/Unix side of the fence, we have used it to clone entire drives of Windows machines. Even when the Windows drives have encryption enabled on them, dd has been proven to copy the drive over and the new clone is fully functional (Take that Encryption fans).

While using command line can be daunting to some users the advantages of this utility makes it worth it. Some of these include:

  • Exact clone of your data
  • Convenient
  • Small footprint
  • Free

An example of the command would be:

  • dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb

What the above command would do is clone the data located on /dev/sda (Drive 1)  to /dev/sdb (Drive 2).

With Windows 7 Operating System a direct clone of the existing drive will only work if you are placing the new drive in the same machine, or one with an almost identical hardware configuration. This cloning process is a good way to make a backup of your system after you have it setup exactly the way you need it, or even before you make any changes to the OS that could render it inoperable (Botched Service Packs anyone?).

In this example, after you have cloned your trusty hard drive you would simply need to remove the OS drive and insert your newly cloned drive and be up and running within a matter of minutes. While the cloning process can be quite lengthy it is still a good idea and within best practices to keep an up-to-date copy of your drive for these types of emergencies.

dd is not limited to creating only clones of your entire drive, this powerful utility can also be used to create images of your drive making them available for deployment to machines with the same hardware configuration, reducing the need to buy expensive server license software to run other utilities. dd can also be used to create ISO images of CD and DVD media, as well as copying a single or multiple partitions from one drive to another.

Never let it be said that free software is not as powerful as their for pay brothers, though the good ones might require a little more understanding than just the point and click variety the mainstream have grown accustomed to today.

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