NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Quarterdeck's DiskClone
A Review by John M. Hunt, August 98
(click to email author)

In recent years we have seen an almost unbelievable increase in the size and speed of hard drives, accompanied by equally unbelievable reduction in cost. As a result of this economic marvel the typical computer systems advertised in PC Magazine, as well as the computers offered by retailers such as Sams, often offer hard drives as large as 9 gigabytes on very modestly priced systems.

Two common results have been the appearance of software offerings which require very large amounts of hard drive space, as well as an understandable rush by many computer users to purchase and install a larger hard drive in their computer. As an example of software size growth, WIN 98, when installed in an empty C: drive on my system, required about 177 megabytes of drive space. This was without a number of commonly used options which I installed later from Control Panel, using the WIN98 CDRom.

Those still using DOS almost certainly do not face this problem, and probably are totally happy with their existing systems. WIN95/98 users read on!

Superficially it would seem to be a very simple task to simply copy all of the contents and partition/directory structure of the old drive to a newly purchased drive. Among the methods commonly known to computer users of modest skills is the use of the emergency backup diskette, which hopefully was created when a WIN95 backup program was first installed in their old system. These emergency backups, particularly in the last twelve months, have actually developed into reliable and relatively easy to use software. They have a frightful history from the early days of WIN95 backup, and usually only the brave (or those faced with no other alternative) have actually tried using them. If you have a known operative emergency backup diskette and a totally trustworthy backup device then you probably need read no further, unless your time is valuable or you are as lazy as the reviewer.

An obvious method of moving files to the new drive is to install the new drive along with the old drive. The new drive must then be subject to the mysteries of FDISK, which most of us use so infrequently that it is a bit frightening. This is especially perplexing when adding a second drive to the system, as ordinarily one wants to maintain the same partition structure on the new drive as that of the old drive. The mysteries of the drive letter assignments under the two drive temporary system are delightful, as anyone knows who has tried to cope with it.

DiskClone is designed to make the process of duplicating an old drive effortless. It accomplishes this objective in a magnificent manner.

DiskClone comes on a single floppy, a seeming miracle these days. It is not installed on the system, and no evidence of the existence of the program remains on the hard drive following its use. The single floppy must be made bootable before use by using the DOS command SYS A:, which merely installs the three files required for booting. This simple procedure is left to the user of legal necessity, as it is technically improper for an application seller to include these MicroSoft files in a product release. The DiskClone program is always run by booting from the floppy to which the system files were added.

The incredible magic of DiskClone is that one does absolutely nothing to the new drive except electrically connect it to the computer. If the drives are IDE or any of the enhanced IDE variants common nowadays it is necessary to make the necessary jumper setting on the original (master) and new (secondary) drive. On SCSI the two drives must have appropriate drive number assignment settings. The program then can be run without the requirement that the new drive has been subject to user FDISK or format operations of any sort, and operates at a very high speed. If the new drive has any partition information or high level formatting (the latter is the only format operation commonly performed on modern drives by the user) the program politely asks for permission to erase said information. I wasted a modest amount of time innocently FDISK-ing and formatting a test new drive before learning that my efforts would be ignored.

It took me a bit of time to master the user interface, but then I admit to difficulties occasionally with WORD97 and registry editing! The precise consequences of any action that you request are VERY thoroughly explained on the screen and permission asked before any actual writing takes place.

A large number of options are offered to manipulate the partition sizes on the new drive. I did not try them; they are very similar to the partition size operations accomplished by the widely used Partition Magic, a program which is in our software library.

The version of DiskClone we have is called Extra Strength, and is modestly more expensive than the package which only duplicates disks, as described above. The added feature of Extra Strength is a drive image program which is somewhat similar to the reviewer's beloved DriveImage 2. Unlike the latter, which permits making an image of a partition on another partition of the same physical drive, the Image function of the DiskClone family can only make an image of the complete drive, and must, accordingly, be used on a system which either has a second physical drive or has a DOS accessible storage device such as a Zip drive or any of the other removable storage media devices which are becoming common. It will not write an image to a tape drive.

I tried the Image feature, writing to a 640-megabyte magneto-optical drive. The program in a very graceful manner permits specification of the maximum number of megabytes of each portion of the image to be transferred to any single removable media, and very neatly accommodates large images on multiple removable disks. Unfortunately, this procedure cannot be extended to CD writers, as, to the best of the reviewer's knowledge, there are no existing DOS drivers for any CD writer which permit writing to a CD directly (i.e., without using some specialized stand alone software such as EZCD Writer, and under Windows, not DOS). All CD drives of any type can, of course, read CDs under DOS.

Unless the old drive is very much smaller than the new drive, most users may want to add the old drive back into the system to provide supplemental storage space. To accomplish this the old drive is connected as the secondary and the new drive as the primary, a drive jumper option the reverse of which was used when the old drive was copied to the new drive. It is then necessary to use FDISK and FORMAT to create a suitably partitioned supplemental storage device. For those who have forgotten, FDISK will start with a new option line at the bottom which asks which drive to deal with, 1 or 2. (In the duplication operation, DiskClone called the respective drives 0 and 1, so don't be surprised. Select drive 2, then create an extended partition (no primary partition on the second drive). Then use the FDISK option to create one or more logical partitions. Don't forget to format the newly created logical drives.

After one learns the simple procedures required to lure DiskClone into action, it is a truly marvelous and extremely fast method of replicating a disk. The only unfortunate factor is that it does such a beautiful job on something the average end user does not do very often.

Quarterdeck Corporation 13160 Mindanao Way Marina Del Ray, CA 90292-9705 www.quarterdeck.com Product Information 800-683-6696

The list price of DiskClone Extra Strength is $69.99

The list price of DiskClone is $39.99

Undoubtedly the usual discount retailers will offer these products at significant price reductions.

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