How to Clone a Hard Drive The Ultimate Guide

How to Clone a Hard DriveFollow this guide about how to clone a hard drive.There are lot of alternatives to choose from if you are really up to backing up data.For you some of the methods can be straightforward and simple like cloning the best external hard drive.Get yourself a functional copy of hard drive immediately if you want to safeguard against a corrupted or a drive that’s physically damaged or need to copy all your data to some safe place.Cloning a drive is bit uncomplicated affair common backup strategies that require regular attention or convoluted tools.

How to Clone a Hard Drive

Either Clone or Image

Clone : A clone makes a direct copy of data bit for bit.The data that is stored on the cloned drive is literally identical to the original  drive data.All your desktop data, device drivers,operating system and all other hidden directory files are copied identically.Now you can  swap the old drive with the fresh clone drive and there won’t be much functional difference.When you will use the cloned hard drive for  another PC there may occur some potential missing drivers due to hardware differences, but it will work like your old system like an ideal  backup in event of a damaged pc. The negative is that direct bit-for-bit there will be the only clone on the hard drive.

Image : The second way is to create disk image which keeps data like a snapshot copy of complete drive contents in a single compressed  file.You can say a big .zip file containing your entire drive data.The good side is that you can make multiple images, which allows you  save the entirety of you drive the many times you want and save them locally to a backup partition or a separate drive.The negative is
that you can’t immediately make the image functional. For creating disk images and how to use it see this guide.

Tools and Utilities

To clone directly the drive you can also use several tool and backup utilities like Acronis available for you.This backup application is amazingly powerful and most common in consumers, small business or in the expert IT managers.The manual is available with it which allows you how to use it’s features and do anything.

If you are convenient for paying the price for your ease and comfort it’s fine but there are many popular free alternatives that can also handle the job like Macrium Reflect Free, ShadowCopy, and EaseUS Todo Backup Free.Cloning a hard drive is not possible with Disk Management which is an internal software so above mentioned third party software will be helpful.

Destination Drive

When you are looking for saving backup images or cloning a drive then a destination is required to save your data.The backing up a complete drive you will need a drive with same size or larger capacity set for backup.And for that can have bare hard drive or a best external hard drive from our list.

The drive already in your desktop or PC is called bare drive an actual drive not installed in a machine.After getting the drive install it as a second drive or purchase a drive enclosure compatible to it.These drives are available in different physical sized, for laptops and dekstops, and both solid-state drives(SSD) and spinning hard drives are viable options.

For cloning must select a drive with enogh memory to hold the data you’re cloing from original drive. Let’s say if you have 500GB hard drive and data stored on it is of 200GB , some tools will allow you clone data on a smaller drive than 500GB, till there is 200GB space of data.An internal drive which can be swapped with already in your PC, you shall be looking for a same size and connector type of original.

The second option for you is to buy a best external hard drive.These self-contained drives of spinning trays are connected through a USB connection.They can be available in pocket-sized portables or larger deskbound drives.But are perfect for backup medium, few of them offers additional features like automted backup sofwares or encryption.For better understanding about desktop or portable drives see our buying guide about best external hard drives.

Clean Up Your Files

So after getting a drive for backup and a backup utility it’s time to clone your drive, but a good habit is to do some digital spring cleaning.In that plenty of data you are going to backup ther can be drives for old devices, no longer needed programs, media files you don’t care about more etc. all that you don’t want to be duplicated.So it’s better to clone only your selected and important data.

Making the Clone

After cleaing the digital detritus, let’s start cloning with your backup drive and backup utility.Connect your original drive with your destination drive and open backup utility,Follow along the utility’s directions to copy contents into the backup drive from your hard drive.This process of cloning can take several minutes to several hours depending upon the drive size to be cloned and the amound of data copied and the speed of backup and original drives.

Protecting the Clones

When you are completely done cloning, now you have an exact copy of original data.While you make any changes in files, programs or anything in future that will be only in the original drive.One you swap the clone it’s like stepping back when you cloned the original drive.For up to date backup you may schedule time for a fresh clone in regular intervals.Believe me life is very hard in this world:P just kidding.

Keep the drive somewhere you can access easily and also it’s accessible.You should be specially careful to keep the drive safe from static electricity, powerful magnets, temprature and moisture for long term use.The safest way is to put the drive into an anti-static bag and put that bag at your secret place or where you keep your vital documents or in a fire box or safe.If you are not in favor of immediately accessibility then storing the drive off-site will be option for you and you can use it incase of flood, fire or any disaster.

Check Out How To Wipe A Hard Drive if you are starter with hard drive and want to start storing your data in it.

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Adam Barton. A Tech geek and hardware engineer.Started 17oxen to provide unbiased reviews in the form of Top 10 Lists.

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