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Winclone 8 review: Backing up Boot Camp the easy way

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Winclone 8, is the easiest, most secure way to back up and restore Boot Camp on your Macs.

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Image: Minerva Studio, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Winclone, developed by Twocanoes Software, is used to create backups of Boot Camp partitions, including individual data backups of specific files or folders or the whole partition as an image to an external disk or across the network. The company develops many apps for the Apple platform, but Winclone’s main feature treads into Microsoft territory with the Pro features I’ll discuss later.

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Boot Camp allows Mac users the ability to run a full version of Windows on a separate partition of the Mac’s hard drive with full driver support and use any app normally supported on any other computer. This is a boon for Mac users who must straddle the line between Apple and Windows-centric software in order to accomplish work tasks. But since its inception, users had to rely on using a separate set of Windows-specific tools to back up the data on the Boot Camp side, adding to greater administrative overhead when managing two sets of OSes.

More about Windows

Winclone offers a level of simplicity–it has a number of granular and holistic backup approaches to safeguard data on the Windows side. It even goes so far as to provide image creation of Boot Camp partitions and the ability to create Windows PE versions of images for use with the enterprise’s Microsoft Deployment Toolkit or Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) deployment solutions for seamless rollouts.

System requirements for Winclone 8 

  • Apple computer running macOS 10.14 or 10.15

  • Boot Camp partition with Windows 7 (64-bit), 8.1, or 10 installed

  • Twocanoes Winclone 8 (or legacy versions for older versions of macOS/OS X)

  • Internet connection (to activate the license key)

  • Switched network (only for backing up data and images over the network)

Notable standard features of Winclone 8

Built with macOS security in mind

Apple’s latest OSes have implemented a number of security-forward enhancements that have deprecated similar backup solutions. Tools like Gatekeeper, System Integrity Protection, and the newest Catalina-specific protections, such as protected areas of the OS and the new read-only partition that stores macOS itself are fully compatible with Winclone 8, so you can trust that your data will be backed up properly.

Image and restore partitions

The main feature of Winclone is to create and restore backups of data or the entire Boot Camp partition from the source system to a target, such as an external drive, cloud-based storage, or network share. It also allows for volume-to-volume cloning so an exact, 100% digital copy exists of your partition should you ever need to on-board another system or re-provision your existing computer after a failure or corruption.

Scheduling image creation

A redesigned scheduling feature is included in Winclone 8 that allows for greater control over the creation of images by scheduling what day or time to run tasks. You can also select incremental imaging, which runs the backup tasks in the background and identifies only data sets that have changed since the last backup and updates the existing image to save time and bandwidth.

Supported formats

Windows volumes come in a number of formats, just like Apple volumes. And while they’re normally not very interoperable, Winclone 8 supports FAT32, ExFAT, and NTFS formatted partitions on the Windows side, and supports HFS+, APFS, and Core Storage volumes on the Apple side–including GPT and MBR partition types to cover all your possible configurations.

Partition management

If you need to move a partition to another device, or perhaps shrink or grow a partition in size, Winclone 8 has built-in tools to accomplish these tasks on the fly. This includes options for marking partitions as bootable or making them EFI compliant.

Key features in Winclone 8 Pro

The Pro version of Winclone includes all of the features in the standard version, as well as the following.

Boot Camp creation

While creating the initial Boot Camp partition is something already accomplished within macOS, Winclone 8 can perform the very same task as part of its enterprise deployment workflow (more on that below). This means that admins seeking to deploy a number of Boot Camp partitions to a fleet of Macs won’t have to first run a script or manually create the Boot Camp partitions–Winclone 8 will automate this process as it executes its workflow task, saving you time.

Package-based deployments

Just like packages are created by Mac admins to deploy software, Winclone 8 workflows can be exported as packages that can be deployed to Apple computers and installed, fully automating the creation, installation, and configuration stages of a Boot Camp partition–this includes the deployment of the Windows OS and drivers. Also, since packages are standardized by Apple, they may be imported into deployment solutions such as Jamf, Deploy Studio, and Apple Remote Desktop, and even made self-extracting for one-click deployment to Macs.

Gold Master workflow

The path to package-based deployment is the Gold Master workflow. It is within this workflow that admins plot what points the workflow will touch during the deployment process. Each point, or phase, performs a specified task, beginning with installing Windows, and then configuring the OS, installing applications, naming devices, driver installation, and even attaching first-run scripts to complete tasks that are specific to your organization’s needs.

MDT integration and support

Arguably the killer feature of the Pro version is the integration with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)and SCCM. By using Microsoft’s WIM format and ISO, admins can create an MDT workflow that uses the WinPE environment to deploy Windows, drivers, and virtually any custom tasks that might reside on your MDT deployment shares to Boot Camp. This means all your Windows-related deployment tasks, even if they’re being deployed to Macs, can be managed centrally without the need for a separate Apple-only solution.

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