Once you've set up a Windows PC with all the applications and utilities you need in order to get your work done, it's a pain to have to redo it all when you upgrade your hardware. It's even more of a pain to have, say, a hard drive failure and lose your system. Paragon Drive Copy 12 Professional aims to guard against both these events and handles virtualisations of your systems into the bargain.
The Paragon Drive Copy 12 Professional Windows program is structured as a small selection screen and a series of wizards. There are five options down the left-hand side: Copy & Migration, Virtualisation, Backup & Restore, Tools and Support Contacts. It's a little disconcerting that the main screen disappears each time one of the wizards runs – we'd rather see an overlay of the wizard dialogue, as in most utilities of this type. See all Software reviews.
Within Copy & Migration, you will find volume copy tasks, such as copy a hard disk or partition and migrate to an SSD. Virtualisation offers a physical-to-virtual copy (P2V) and you can create an empty virtual disk, while Backup and Restore is self-explanatory. Tools provides for file transfer, creation of logs to send to Paragon support and the preparation of a start-up disk.
There are not one but two different start-up disks you can make with the program: one uses WinPE and the other Linux. They're direct substitutes for each other and you can use whichever you find more convenient.
WinPE (Windows Pre-install Environment) is likely to be more familiar to Windows users but, because of a change in Microsoft's licencing requirements, you have to download a separate utility and run it to create a start-up disk with the WinPE operating system. The wizards take you through the tasks step-by-step and are straightforward to use. For example, to create a virtual machine, you're lead through screens where you select the type of virtual machine – VMware, Microsoft and Oracle are supported – define its size and give it a name.
To then copy a physical drive into this virtual machine you select the physical drive, the operating system to use and again the size of the virtual machine. You can then set the properties of your virtual disk and Paragon Disk Copy 12 Professional starts the process of creating the virtual machine.
In our test, creating a virtual machine from a partition with 35GB of data took just under 20 minutes. Preparation before copying took quite a while and Paragon provides a series of encouraging little messages, to show work is still progressing. Virtualisation is increasingly used where more than one operating system needs to be run on a PC and it's easy to set up virtual versions of Windows, OS X or Linux.
You can now copy these virtual images to other physical drives or to other virtual drives. We also backed up the 50GB of files we scan in our anti-virus software tests to an external SATA drive and it took just over 35 minutes. Oddly, with standard compression, the program estimated the back-up would be 39.8GB, when it actually resulted to be 48.2GB – quite a large discrepancy.