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Theory of Operation                              

We mentioned a few competing products at this site, Norton Ghost is probably the most notable example of XXCLONE's competitors.   Some of the usages of XXCLONE shares the common objective --- to clone a Windows disk.

However, XXCLONE has one very significant difference in its approach to the problem of cloning a Windows disk that makes it a class of its own.

XXCLONE views a Windows disk as a collection of files and directories and with a few exceptions, its access to data on the disk is carried out as a logical (file) access operations using the standard Windows file I/O Application Program Interface (API).

Whereas, nearly all of competing products on the market that are designed for disk cloning operations access the disk using physical, low-level (sector to sector) device I/O technique.

In short, XXCLONE is a special purpose file-copy utility with extra features to make the target volume self-bootable (this portion of the operation still requires low-level disk I/O).   It is not a disk-imaging tool that treats a disk as a collection of sectors.   Much of XXCLONE's advantages is a result this fundamental difference to its competing products.

Here is a list of contrasting characteristics in the two approaches in the disk cloning problem.

  • When a clone operation is performed for the first time, all the files created on the target volume will be stored in a contiguous region.   Therefore, the clone operation in full backup mode automatically performs the so-called "de-frag" operations.

    The competing products that are based on a sector-to-sector duplication principle propagate the same degree of fragmentation found in the source volume to the target.

  • When the same clone operation is repeated for regular volume backup, XXCLONE can skip files that were unchanged since the previous backup.

    Disk-imaging products typically cannot perform an efficient backup operation in incremental mode (Note: some products do claim to skip unchanged sectors).

  • You may operate XXCLONE in a regular Windows session without stopping your routine use of the computers, since XXCLONE acts as a regular Windows applications for most of its operations.

    Disk-Imaging tools typically force you to terminate a Windows session and run in DOS mode.

  • XXCLONE can clone a volume into another with a different file system.   That is, you may clone a FAT volume into an NTFS volume or vice versa.

    Disk imaging products require the same type of file system between the source and the target volumes.

  • With XXCLONE, the target volume's size need not match that of the source.   As long as the target volume has the capacity to hold the files, it can even be smaller than the source volume.

So far, we paraded the advantages of the logical access technique used in XXCLONE over its competing products that are based upon the physical (sector-to-sector) access.   Obviously, an objective comparison cannot be complete without mentioning the drawbacks of one product.

  • XXCLONE does not currently employ a brute-force optimization in the cloning operation other than the good programing technique of coding the program as efficiently as any conscientious engineer does.

    As a consequence, one may find a competing product outperforming XXCLONE in the first full volume cloning operation.   However, XXCLONE's ability to perform the incremental backup will more than compensate for it.

  • XXCLONE currently does not support a Dynamic Disk as the target volume. If your target disk has already been configured as a Dynamic Disk, you must reinitialize the target disk as a Basic Disk.