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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    Recommend Free Utility For Cloning Hard Drive

    Using Windows XP Pro SP3, 32-bit. Moderately experienced with computers...

    The current hard drive of my desktop is slowly deteriorating, so I'd like to take the opportunity to install a new, bigger one. What I would like to do is hook up the new hard drive to an external USB port of my desktop (via an external hard drive enclosure) and clone the old hard drive, including the operating system and MBR. The final goal would be to remove the old hard drive, install the new one, boot up and be back in business without having to re-install OS and all other software/drivers!

    Can anyone recommend a free, easy to useutility that would do the job?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    Have a look at the free v4.2 version of Macrium Reflect, or use the 30-day trial of the full version 5.
    With the latter (at least) you can, on the target drive, reorder the partitions (if more than one, and if you want) and increase their size.
    You may find that after using it, you might want to buy it for disk imaging backups (say)...
    BATcher

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  3. #3
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    You could also try the free trial of Acronis True Image Home. Acronis has a special price if you like it.

    By the way, I would consider Imaging rather than just cloning your HD. I would also recreate my Images when ever I change the system. Check the many discussions on Imaging in the Security and Backup Forum.
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  4. #4
    Gold Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by tb75252 View Post

    Can anyone recommend a free, easy to useutility that would do the job?
    tb,
    Hello... If your not into just doing a complete system image,(and restoring to a new HD)... like the free program from Macrium Reflect...Macrium FreeYou can use a free program called "clonezilla" Clonezilla Free It's not "pretty" and is somewhat "harder to use than Macrium" but it will do what you want.Suggest you give it a good read before you try this one and make a "Backup " using Macrium first. Regards Fred
    PlainFred

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  5. #5
    Lounger
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    Free, easy, does the job ... hmm pick two ...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Myers View Post
    You could also try the free trial of Acronis True Image Home. Acronis has a special price if you like it.

    By the way, I would consider Imaging rather than just cloning your HD. I would also recreate my Images when ever I change the system. Check the many discussions on Imaging in the Security and Backup Forum.
    Hi Ted.
    If I image the old hard drive as you suggest, I will end up with a single compressed file of it on the new drive. I think that this would make it impossible to boot up the desktop with the new hard drive. Am I misunderstanding how the process of imaging works?

    My understanding of cloning (as opposed to imaging) is that the old hard drive gets copied, byte-by-byte, to the new hard drive, thus making the new hard drive immediately ready to be booted up.

  7. #7
    5 Star Lounger
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    Hi tb,

    Why not check the website of the manufacturer of your new drive for cloning software. I picked one at random (WD) and found this Acronis True Image WD Edition Software.

    Also, as you seem confident in replacing drives, why don't you plug in the new drive to the motherboard and then perform the cloning operation? Not only will it be faster, it will save the expense of an external drive enclosure (assuming you don't already have one that is.)

  8. #8
    New Lounger
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    Try a free program called "Easeus Todo Backup". I have used this many times without a problem. You can make a perfect copy of either a whole disc or a partition on a disc. The program is easy and simple to use. There is also an associated program called "Easeus Partition Master" which will allow you to adjust partitions.

  9. #9
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    You misunderstand how Imaging works. You create an Image on a separate HD or partition on the old HD (I store my Images on an Ext HD), then install the new HD and restore the Image to the new HD. Works like a champ. I would also suggest creating new Imges regularly as a part of your back up scheme.

    Images are the gold standard for back up of an entire HD. When I recreate an Image (I create new Images when something changes on my system, ie updates, added or removed apps, etc.) I Image both my C Drive (OS and Apps) and my D Drive (data). This way when something bad happens, I will be back up and running in less than 10 minutes.

    Cloning does make an exact copy which takes up the exact same amount of space as the original HD. You can only keep one copy at a time, whereas Imaging allows you to store many Images from various times. For just duplicating your HD, cloning is fine, but for creating back ups of your HD, Imaging is much more efficient.
    Last edited by Medico; 2011-08-15 at 05:01.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Myers View Post
    You misunderstand how Imaging works. You create an Image on a separate HD or partition on the old HD (I store my Images on an Ext HD), then install the new HD and restore the Image to the new HD. Works like a champ. I would also suggest creating new Imges regularly as a part of your back up scheme.

    Images are the gold standard for back up of an entire HD. When I recreate an Image (I create new Images when something changes on my system, ie updates, added or removed apps, etc.) I Image both my C Drive (OS and Apps) and my D Drive (data). This way when something bad happens, I will be back up and running in less than 10 minutes.

    Cloning does make an exact copy which takes up the exact same amount of space as the original HD. You can only keep one copy at a time, whereas Imaging allows you to store many Images from various times. For just duplicating your HD, cloning is fine, but for creating back ups of your HD, Imaging is much more efficient.
    I see... I was under the (obviously mistaken!) impression that I could clone/image my old hard drive to a new one directly, i.e. without first creating a file on my old HD (or external HD) and then restoring such file to the new HD that I want to install. That way, if my old HD is full and my only external HD is the one that I want to install, I would not run into a complicated situation.
    Thanks for the explanation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tb75252 View Post
    I see... I was under the (obviously mistaken!) impression that I could clone/image my old hard drive to a new one directly, i.e. without first creating a file on my old HD (or external HD) and then restoring such file to the new HD that I want to install. That way, if my old HD is full and my only external HD is the one that I want to install, I would not run into a complicated situation.
    Thanks for the explanation.
    You are not mistaken. Cloning will allow you to do just that, but it seems only paid apps allow cloning. Get one of the suggested trials (probably Macrium 5, since True Image 11 is not the best imaging app around) and clone your drive with it.

    Once you get the new disk working, imaging will be a better backup strategy than cloning.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    Software supplied with a new hard disk will also allow cloning of your old had drive. If you didn't get a CD with it, check your hard disk vendors site to download cloning software.

    Jerry

  13. #13
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    Lounger,
    I refer you to my earlier post. You do not have to pay for software to do the job you require. The programs which I suggested will do exactly what you require. Todo Backup will clone your hard drive to a new one and then you can use Partition Wizard to increase the size of your partition if you have installed a larger hard drive ( I do not know if XP has the ability to alter the size of a partition). As I said, the programs are free and easy to use. They are also very effective. Good Luck.

  14. #14
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    Yes, it does seem that EaseUS Todo Backup is quite feature complete and allows cloning. Must say I never used it, but the feature specification is better than some (actually most) paid apps.

  15. #15
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I guess I am not making myself clear, cloning will indeed work. You have to attach both the old hard drive and the new hard drive simulataneously to perform the clone. In instances where this is difficult (i.e. laptop PCs) this becomes very difficult. That's where Imaging works better.

    In a continuous back up scheme, Imaging is the way to go. You can only create one clone at a time, whereas you can create multiple Images and store them side by side., as many as will fit in the available space, and each will take up far less space than the one clone you can create.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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