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Step by Step Guide - How to Clone a Hard Drive

written by: Steve McFarlane•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/31/2010

This article is a step-by-step guide that explains how to clone a computer hard drive.

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    Hard Drive Cloning

    Cloning a hard drive is a very efficient way to transfer files, including the operation system and its settings to another hard drive. The procedure is normally used to upgrade a hard drive, move an installation, or install an OS on multiple computers. Creating a mirror copy of a hard disk can be done with third party software packages such as True Image and EASEUS.

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    Some Precaution to Take Before Cloning Disks

    Creating a hard drive clone is a simple and straightforward process that can usually be completed without a problem. However, to prevent data loss, there are some precautions that one needs to take before proceeding with the disk copy procedure.

    The disk cloning software will normally erase all data on the destination disk, so be careful to correctly specify the destination and source disks. If an error is made in this step, it could result in valuable data being overwritten and lost forever. However, if the computer is booted from the source disk, the disk cloning software will usually prevent the source disk from being overwritten.

    In addition, while the destination drive can have a smaller capacity than the source disk, it must have enough space to take all the files that are being transferred from the source disk, or the disk copying process will fail.

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    How To Clone a Hard Drive

    The steps for cloning a hard may vary a bit depending on the software solution being used, but in general the process is the same. This step-by-step guide assumes that the hard drives are properly installed and are working, and that the required software is acquired for you to complete this disk copy process.

    The disk cloning process should proceed as follows: How to clone a hard drive 

    • Start the disk clone software (i.e.True Image)
    • Start cloning wizard
    • Identify and set the destination and source disks and partitions

    Press the start button and wait for the process to be completed.

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    Advantages of Cloning a Hard Drive

    Cloning a hard drive is a very efficient way to copy an existing hard drive and all its content to another drive. This method eliminates the need to reinstall the operating system and copy user's files to the new drive, as everything is done in one step, the copies, the OS, user files and applications along with their configurations.

    Once the process is complete, the computer user should notice no difference in the way the computer looks or behaves, except for performance gains/loss from using a different drive.

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    Summary

    Creating a copy of a hard disk or transferring an OS installation, user files and applications to a new disk can be easily accomplished by cloning the hard disk. However, users must be careful to properly set the correct source and destinations files, and backup all essential data prior to starting the disk copy process to ensure that no data is lost in the process.

    Credit Image: "How to clone a hard drive." William Hook.