Create an image of a partition or physical hard drive in Windows (the easiest way ever)

I needed a way to image one of my partitions for backup, transport, and mirroring purposes.  Yes I'm familiar with various partition software, RAID, and Live CDs (System Rescue CD is a good one) out there that will do the job just fine but I'm extremely anal when it comes to doing the right thing for the right job.

  • For one, the partition that I want to image is not a system partition so I do not want to reboot my PC and use a live CD/USB (too much work besides I still want to be able to use my PC while imaging).
  • For two, RAID requires at least one more hard drive.  Money and space are out of the question.
  • For three, I don't want to install a partition software that will install drivers and mess up with the registry (I barely install any software, all portable over here).
  • For four, I don't want to image the entire physical drive but only one partition so forensic tools will not suffice.
  • For five, I want a tool that is portable, free, mature, does the right job, stable, easy to use, and gets maintained often.

After testing a few tools (WindDD, dd, FTK Imager Lite, and other useless ones), I downloaded an updated version of a disk utility that I haven't used in a long time.  Meet TestDisk.  Simply meets all my requirements.

  1. Download and extract the zip file to a folder of choice.
  2. Run testdisk_win.exe (requires admin privileges).
  3. Choose [No Log] and hit Enter.
  4. Select the media that you would like to work with (i.e the physical hard drive).  Select [Proceed].  Hit Enter.
  5. Select the partition table type.  If it's a Windows partition, select [Intel  ] Intel/PC partition then hit Enter.
  6. Select [Advanced ] Filesystem Utils to choose the partition that you would like to image.
  7. Choose the partition you would like to image.  If you are not sure which partition to choose, select [   List   ] from the menu to list the files in the partition to help you choose the right one.  Hit Enter.
  8. Now that you know which partition, select [ Image Creation ].  Hit Enter
  9. Select where to store the image file.  The image will be called image.dd.  Once you've select the target destination, hit C.
  10. TestDisk will now create the image.
  11. To exit, select OK.  Hit Enter.  Hit Q three times to exit the tool.