How to Clone a Hard Drive {Complete guide}

If you’re a person who is very attached to your files and always makes sure all your data is backed up, we’re sure you’d like to keep all your data even the data present on the hard drive safe and secure.

This is just in the case of any unforeseen accidents. There are two main reasons why one would clone their hard disk.

Firstly, the most obvious reason that is to have a backup when your main drive files. A backup is the best way to pick up from where you stopped, and you lose no time in this process.

Second, if you’re upgrading from your local disk to a larger drive to increase your speed.


What is Cloning?


Cloning is basically the process of copying the contents of the computer’s hard drive. They are usually stored in the form of disk image file.

These files can be transferred to storage, or it could be part of another computer’s hard drive. It could also act as a removable media device, like a DVD or a USB drive.


Importance of Cloning


As they say, prevention is better than cure. Hence it is always suggested to have a backup or a clone of your hard disk at all times even if you think nothing can ever go wrong with your PC or Laptop.

There are many ways one could duplicate their hard disk. You could either pay for hardware to go through this process or use software and complete the process internally.


Can Windows 10 clone a hard drive?


 

Sadly, Microsoft has not yet come out with any software that can make an exact copy of all your data. But they do give you the option of copying and moving files from one location to another.

This is of absolutely no use! These files will not include any Windows installation file, and that’s why you need to clone your hard drive and not just copy and move files.

So how to clone a hard drive? You can do this in two ways. First, you can use a hardware or Second, and you can use the software.


Hard Drive Clone Makers


One of the best and the easiest ways to clone a hard drive is to buy a device that does that for you. These devices are called duplicators.

The duplicator lets you plug in two SATA drives, and then you can copy contents from one device to another.

The drawback of buying hardware for this process becomes expensive. The hardware will connect to a standard 3.5in or 2.5in that you normally connect to a SATA connector. You can also buy a SATA to IDE adapter just in case you have an old IDE!

One thing to keep in mind is that the duplicator will only work when the driver that you’re transferring to has a larger or same capacity. This will be a problem if you’re using an SSD.


History of Disk Cloning


 

The history of cloning can be traced back to the time before Windows 95 was launched. In the start, they used to use the disk copying machine.

But that solution had a lot of defects like it could not be used to detect structures of HDD, and this would require two drives that have the same geometries.

Companies would usually partition and format the drive before copying files with archiving tools like tar. This solution is definitely not effective especially when you have boot files which cannot be separated from your system.

These problems became intense when Windows 95 was launched. Because Windows 95 had a larger processing system than the previous versions which means it took longer to complete the installation.

Windows 95 also introduced longer files names to the FAT system and this did not support copy tools. This soon increased the growth of the PC market, and a disk copy solution was due.


Using an application


You can clone your drive directly using one among the many tools available. Few of the best applications that you can use are the Acronis Backup & Recovery 11.5.

Both the software’s are extremely powerful and is suitable to be used by an IT manager. These software’s might seem difficult to use and comprehend by a layperson like a consumer or a small business owner.

The process of using the software is extremely simple all you need is in an instruction manual that you can download online.

But if you’re looking for applications that are free, you can try out Macruim Reflect Free, Clonezilla, ShadowCopy, AOMEI and obviously EaseUS.


 What is Acronis Disk Director?


They have three major options that they offer:

  • Partition Management: where you can create, customize and also organize partitions your hard disk’s structure without losing any data.

  • Volume Recovery: This lets you quickly recover data partitions even when your operating system fails to run.

  • Disk Cloning: This will instantly move all your old disk’s operating system and applications to the destination disk.

Acronis Disk Director has 12 set of powerful tools, these tools together optimize your disk usage and protect your data. These 12 powerful tools are Manipulate, Partition, Format, Recover, Clone, Install, Convert, Span, Access, and Boot.

Few additional features of Acronis are:

  • You can browse through detailed information about file systems and partitions.

  • They also have the option of exploring partition data even before processing the partitioning operations.

  • You can hide or make visible partitions

  • You can also format partitions

  • Acronis also gives you the option of previewing the changes made in the partition before applying them to disk.

The best feature of this application is that it is compatible with Windows 10 and all the versions of Windows before Windows 10 and it is completely certified.


How to Clone a Hard Drive Using EaseUS?


 

  1. Install and open the EaseUS disk cloning software and then click on the “clone” option.

  2. Select the source and the hard disk you to want to clone.

  3. Now, select the final destination of the disk

  4. The next step is relatively simple, after looking at the layout, select the proceed option to start cloning one hard drive with another.

  5. Once you’ve completed all these steps, you can check the cloned disk. You can do this by right-clicking or selecting “my computer.” Look for the manage option under which you’ll be able to find the “storage” tab. Under this look for “Disk management” and you’ll be able to see all the details.

NOTE:  The destination file there could be a hard disk or an SSD, as long as it has enough space, anything smaller than the existing file can cause a lot of trouble.

You can use the sector by sector clone option. This lets you ensure that the destination hard disk and the source is exactly alike. This option will clone everything under the ticked option, even if the file is empty!


How to Clone a Hard Drive Using AOMEI Backupper?


The AOMEI backupper is known for its ability to Live disk clone, which means it can clone a device without interrupting programs that are running.

Basically, it can clone a disk to another without interrupting the running program. In any unforeseen circumstance, the default function of the software clones the existing data on the disk by using the sector by sector method.

Steps to clone disks by AOMEI backupper:

The first and very basic step is to download and install the program. Once that is done, you can launch the program. We will be referring to two disks, that is Disk 1 and Disk 2.

Open the application and select the “disk clone” option which you will find under the “clone” tab.

Select the disk that you want to clone. In this case, Disk 1. And then select the “next” option.

Now, select the destination disk, or in this case Disk 2. This is where the data will be stored. Select the “next” option.

Once you confirm the settings and the files that are the source and destination file, click on “start clone.”

Select the “finish” option once you are done.

And this should complete the process and keep all your data safe and cloned.


TIPS:

The sector by sector option can be used here as they provide the option, but if you’re planning to clone a large hard disk to a smaller SSD, please do not use this option.

If SSD if the destination disk, please do tick the box for “again partition to optimize for SSD.”

If you’re cloning a small disk to a larger disk, you can select the “edit partition on the destination disk.” This will give you three options to resize your partitions, and this helps in maximizing capacity.


IMPORTANT:

When you are cloning data from a source file to a destination folder, it is important to remember that all the data on the destination disk will be overwritten.

Hence, it is important to make sure and looked into the file and copy any important data from the destination folder.

If you’re using the AOMEI Backupper with the native Windows settings, you must keep in mind that system disk can only be selected as the source disk and can not be set as the destination disk.


How to clone a hard drive: Everything you need to know.


Clean up your files

Just like everything around us needs to be cleaned once in a while, it is very important to do the same with your files.

A digital spring cleaning session is always appreciated. In this way, you won’t have back up of things you do not require, and you won’t run out of space for the actual, important files.

Few of the things you look into and delete are programs that you don’t really use, drivers of past computers, media files that don’t matter anymore and so on.

One of the best ways to decide if files need to be deleted is, if you haven’t used it in the last six months, it has to be deleted. This makes the process faster.


Caring for your clone

Once you’ve completed your clone successfully, you must remember that what you have on your destination file is the exact copy of the source file.

Now, any changes made on the source file will not be reflected in the destination file. That will remain the same.

If you swap to the cloned disk, it will be like going back to the data you backed up your files. Hence, it is important to update your clone regularly and refresh it.

We suggest you set a date monthly or annually and this will automatically refresh your cloned files.

Another thing to keep in mind is to keep your cloned drive in a safe and accessible place. It is very important to keep the cloned hard drive away from moisture, static electricity, extreme temperature and powerful magnets.

We suggest you buy an anti-static pouch and store the hard drive in it. You must care for it as you would care for your important documents.

And if the data you have is extremely important, you can put it away, somewhere safe and bring it out only when needed.

This would also be helpful if you’re stuck with any unforeseen circumstance like fire or any natural disasters.


Conclusion


This brings us to the end of the article on How to clone a hard drive. You could either use a hard drive to complete the cloning process or use software for the same. In the end, it is up to you to pick the method that suits your needs the best. Have fun cloning!

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