One way to protect the data on your storage drive is by performing a backup. But sometimes, that isn’t enough. Such as when you would also like to make a copy of your Windows installation.
Fortunately, there’s another option available to you. And that is disk cloning.
Note: Disk refers to a physical storage drive on your computer. It could be a Solid State Drive (SSD), Hard Disk Drive (HDD), or any other media that is mounted as a writable volume.
What Does It Mean to Clone a Disk?
Cloning creates an exact, byte-for-byte copy of an existing disk (the source). The data is written on a new drive, referred to as the destination.
Cloning is useful when you want to replicate the disk that contains your operating system in case something goes wrong and the disk fails.
Everything in the source is copied: the partitions, configurations (including low-level data like the master boot record required for booting Windows) as well as all your documents, files, and installed software.
NB: Any data that was previously contained in the destination will be wiped once the clone is written. And there is no way to undo it. Therefore, create a backup first or use an empty disk.
Let’s now go ahead and look at how to clone a hard drive and the requirements.
How to Clone a Disk in Windows 10
Microsoft has not provided any built-in Windows tool that will allow users to make an exact copy of a disk. You can only transfer files from one disk to another.
Thus, special software is required to make a clone. There are many good tools available online (like Clonezilla and Macrium Reflect). You will find both free and pro versions.
How to Clone an HDD:
- First of all, you have to make sure that the destination drive has as much capacity as the source drive. It is preferable that the capacity be larger.
- Next, if both drives are installed internally, then you are good to go. But if your computer has only one drive bay, then you’ll have to connect the bare drive using an external SATA-to-USB adapter, enclosure, or dock.
- After you’ve connected the drive to your computer, run the cloning software. The wizard will guide you through the entire process:
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- The tool shows you the disks that are connected to your computer so you can select the source and destination for the clone.
- You can either create an image of a disk or directly clone one disk to another. Imaging is useful if you’d prefer to back up some parts of the source to the destination. But cloning ensures that you can boot from the destination disk.
- You may choose to leave out some files and folders you wouldn’t want to clone.
- Keep in mind that any data on the new disk will be wiped once you choose it as the destination.
- Once the cloning process starts, it will take some time to complete, depending on the size of your source drive.
- After it’s done, you can boot from the new drive by selecting it in BIOS. But first, it’s advisable to choose to verify the integrity of your data. This is important in making sure that the cloning process was successful before you try using the new drive. It’s wise to run the verification although it takes additional time.
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