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Working through my Box of Old Drives, BOD, It occurred to me that making an image backup might be a good thing.
Does anyone have a suggestion for a tool to make some sort of readable backup image or virtual disk of an old hard drive? Compression and Mountable are must haves.
@Steve recommended Terabyte Unlimited Image for Windows years ago. Also available for Linux and Dos and maybe as a package of all of them. I use and old copy and like it. I make an exact clone of my hard drive with no compression. If necessary I can just boot the backup. If you end up with two identical hard drives in one system, after a copy, it's hard to tell which one is running the system. Windows may refuse to mount one and you have to bring it online with Disk Manager, which I think changes the serial number. If you were restoring a backup, you have to make sure you don't overwrite the wrong drive.
Windows has the classic Windows backup program. I use it frequently for OS image backup tasks. I do not believe compression is used (it is not a GUI selectable item but maybe yes via command line). The created image can be mounted via Disk Management.
Macrium's Reflect is likely close to prior mentioned TeraByte. Reflect does offer compression and its backup files can be mounted. Reflect and Windows Backup, by default, only backup used space on a volume - not every sector. Reflect does have an option for full sector copy (in addition to compression [none, medium, high]).
Reflect is free for home use - no questions asked. It is also free for business use though they ask for registration which results in a phone call from one or two sales reps. I well enjoy Reflect (solid, reliable, flexible) that I purchased a license.
Macrum Reflect free version might do this.
Veeam also might do this.
Macrium Reflect does bring up and run it's own images using Macrium vBoot. It requires having Virtualbox installed to do it. I did exactly what you asked about. I imaged an old disk with Windows 98 OS, then booted it up using the disk image. I imaged any old disks that had an OS on them since many of them have quite a few years on them. I have a registered/ paid Macrium so I am not sure if the free version has that feature.
I feel for most home users, Reflect's free version will be good enough. For some tech folk, the paid version has features you might want.
I have to say, disk2vhd has advanced a lot since I tried it many years ago. I was able to image a variety of drives, including Novell Netware and DOS. I don't know if I can boot these into a virtual machine but hey I got my old data.