Winclone 8 review: Backup Boot Camp the easy way

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

Image: Minerva Studio, Getty Images / iStockphoto

Winclone, developed by Twocanoes Software, is used to back up Boot Camp partitions, including individual data backups of specific files or folders or the entire partition as an image on an external drive or in the network. The company develops many apps for the Apple platform, but the main function of Winclone enters Microsoft territory with the Pro functions that I will discuss later.

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With Boot Camp, Mac users can run a full version of Windows on a separate partition of the Mac’s hard drive with full driver support and use any app that is normally supported on any other computer. This is a blessing for Mac users who must cross the border between Apple and Windows-centered software to perform work tasks. But from the start, users had to rely on the use of a separate set of Windows-specific tools to back up data on the Boot Camp side, which contributed to greater administrative overhead when managing two sets of operating systems.

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

System requirements for Winclone 8

  • Apple computer with macOS 10.14 or 10.15

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

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

  • Internet connection (to activate the license key)

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

Remarkable standard functions of Winclone 8

Built with macOS security in mind

Apple’s latest operating systems have implemented a number of security enhancements that have abolished comparable backup solutions. Tools such as Gatekeeper, System Integrity Protection and the latest Catalina-specific protections, such as protected areas of the operating system and the new read-only partition where macOS itself is stored, are fully compatible with Winclone 8, so you can be confident that your data is correct supported.

Image and restore partitions

The most important feature of Winclone is backing up and restoring 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 makes volume-to-volume cloning possible, so that an exact, 100% digital copy of your partition exists, should you ever need to have another system on board or redesign your existing computer after a malfunction or corruption.

Schedule the creation of images

A redesigned scheduling feature has been included in Winclone 8 that gives you more control over creating images by scheduling the day or time when tasks are to be performed. You can also select incremental imaging, which runs the background backup tasks 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 not normally 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 want to reduce or grow a partition in size, Winclone 8 has built-in tools to perform these tasks directly. This includes options to mark partitions as bootable or to make them EFI compatible.

Key features in Winclone 8 Pro

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

Boot Camp creation

Although the creation of the first Boot Camp partition has already been completed within MacOS, Winclone 8 can perform the same task as part of the business implementation workflow (more on that below). This means that administrators who want to implement a number of Boot Camp partitions on a fleet of Macs do not first have to run a script or create the Boot Camp partitions manually – Winclone 8 will automate this process while performing the workflow task, which saves you time.

Package-based implementations

Just as packages are created by Mac administrators to implement software, Winclone 8 workflows can be exported as packages that can be deployed on Apple computers and installed, with the creation, installation and configuration phases of a Boot Camp partition fully are automated – this includes the implementation of the Windows operating system and drivers. Since packages are standardized by Apple, they can also be imported into deployment solutions such as Jamf, Deploy Studio, and Apple Remote Desktop, and even self-extracting for one-click deployment on Macs.

Gold Master workflow

The path to package-based implementation is the Gold Master workflow. It is within this workflow that administrators plot which points the workflow will touch during the implementation process. Each point or phase performs a specific task, starting with installing Windows and then configuring the operating system, installing applications, naming devices, installing drivers and even adding scripts for the first time to complete tasks perform specific to the needs of your organization.

MDT integration and support

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

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