Disk cloning is a process of copying the entire information in one storage drive to another storage drive be it an HDD or SSD. The cloned hard drive can be used as the primary drive in case your original hard drive crashes.
Extracting your valuable data from a crashed hard drive is a gruesome and time-consuming task. Plus, there is a high probability of data corruption as well.
Hence, cloning your hard drive is the best way to safeguard your important files. In case your original drive crashes you can easily switch your hard drives.
Cloning vs Backups
Cloning is performed as an extreme step for keeping a secure copy of your files. It is a one-time process designed to copy the entire drive and create an identical drive. Pro users prefer cloning to change their drive with a higher capacity or the older drives with the latest generation storage devices such as SSDs.
Backups are created to secure data. They can be scheduled as well i.e. the system will automatically backup your data as per pre-decided pointers from the user. After a preliminary back-up, subsequent backups take lesser time as data is stored incrementally.
How to Clone Hard Drive on Windows?
You obviously know by now that you need another storage drive, an SSD or HDD, to clone the data from your existing hard drive.
Next, make sure you have a cloning software installed on your PC as well. You can use the Mini Tool Partition Wizard Free Edition. You can alternatively find other best cloning software here as well and make your choice.
Proceeding with the Mini Tool Partition Wizard, download it and run the installation file.
Go through the basic steps as shown below.
After successfully installing this software, connect your storage device with the help of your SATA adapter cable. Open your mini tool partition wizard. You will find the list of all your partitioned drives and any other storage device that might be attached to your personal computer.
The software will show detailed information of all your disks, their partitions, capacity, used and available space, etc.
Select Migrate OS to HDD/SSD. You will get two options –
- The first option will let you copy data including all the partitions on your storage disk to the new hard disk.
- The second option will allow you to migrate your Operating System and related system files to another hard disk. Keeping the original hard disk in your computer.
Select the first option to clone your entire hard drive with all the files, application, Windows operating system as well as your Windows settings to another storage drive.
After selecting the first option, you will need to select the destination drive and initiate the cloning procedure.
But before initiating the procedure, make sure to kill all applications rooted from C:\Program Files.
If in case any software is running in the background, the drive might become inaccessible to the cloning software causing failure of the operation or worse, corrupted data.
It might require restarting the entire process again. After the completion of the transfer processes involved your device will automatically reboot. The cloning procedure will take a few minutes to hours depending upon a few factors, viz. –
- Amount of data being copied
- Transfer medium
- Read and write speeds of your old and new hard drives respectively
How To Swap The Storage Drives?
You need to configure the BIOS to boot from the destination disk. The default BIOS setting in the latest generation Windows is set to boot from your main drive i.e, the C: drive of your existing/old hard drive.
If you are replacing your Hard Disk Drive with a Solid-State Drives or with a higher capacity HDD, you wouldn’t need to change the BIOS settings. Your new drive will automatically boot from the drive your computer finds the main disk connection.
The second step is to take care of your Windows License. Cloning your storage drive implies that you have the same copy of your Windows on two different drives. Both Windows will be activated with the same Digital License. This doesn’t imply that you can run the authenticated Windows on two different devices.
In case you want to keep a mirrored device, meaning upgrading your current device while keeping a separate device with the same settings, you will have to buy a new Windows Digital License for it along with membership for paid applications in case the original purchase was for a single device.
How To Clone A Hard Drive To SSD?
You can clone your hard drive to a new SSD using the Mini Tool Partition Wizard. Choose to either transfer all data to the new SSD or only the OS. It is always advisable to shift to SSDs if you intend to run the best new games or if you intend to multi-task with a dual monitor setup. SSDs are substantially expensive but they are also noticeably faster than HDDs. Make sure to follow the steps as mentioned above.
How To Clone a Hard Drive on a Mac?
Cloning a Mac hard drive to SSD or another HDD is simpler than on Windows. Primarily, you need to connect a new storage device to your Mac using a SATA interface cable. There are a few ways of cloning your storage drive on a Mac. You can either use Disk Utilities or other cloning software for Mac alternatively as well.
To clone the hard drive on your Mac using Disk Utilities, follow these steps –
- Keep pressing CMD + R key and press the power button once. After the display shows Apple logo, release the CMD + R keys
- The above step is to reboot your device and open the macOS Utilities dialog box. Select the Disk Utility option and press continue
- The disk utility will display your drive name and details on the screen. It will display all the internal and external drives connected to your Mac along with system details including total and available space
- Your new drive will be displayed under the ‘External’ menu on the left-hand side. Select your external storage drive, it will display all your device specification on the screen
- Select the ‘Erase’ option under the Disk Utility title. It will open a new pop-up screen. Here you will get two options, the first one to change the name of your external device. The second option will prompt you to select the type of format. Here, select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) option and then on the Erase option on the pop-up screen
- This step will format your external storage drive into the Mac compatible version and prompt you to click on the ‘Done’ option
- After formatting your external storage device, the name will change to ‘Untitled.’ Right-click on the storage drive and rename your cloned drive
- After renaming, select the external device and go to the title bar. Now click on Edit and then Restore. A new pop-up screen will be displayed. Select the internal drive and click on Restore
- This option will begin the cloning process and all your files and applications from your internal drive will be cloned to the new drive. After completion, click the Apple logo at the left-hand corner, click on system preference, and then select the Startup Disk option from the menu
- Select the cloned external drive. It will be displayed with a USB icon (as highlighted above) and press Restart. The system will ask for confirmation and click on Restart option again
After completing these steps, your new storage device will be ready to use with all necessary data available on it.
To clone your hard drive with a dedicated software on macOS, follow these steps –
- Download and install the Carbon Copy Cloner software.
- Go to Disk Utilities and format the newly connected USB drive
- Format the new storage device that you have connected. Select the Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and select Scheme as GUID partition Map and click on erase
- After the external hard drive is formatted, open the Carbon Copy Cloner and move it to the Applications folder
- In the Source, select your primary disk which you want to clone. Make sure not to delete or install any application, file, or document during the cloning process.
- Click on the cloning button and wait for the cloning process to complete. After the cloning procedure is finished, the application will ask you for the Clone Recovery Partition. Skip this part and close the application
- Press and hold the Option (Alt) key after rebooting your Mac, release the option key when Startup Manager Windows. Here, select the Startup Disk and the cloned external drive and press enter
If your macOS boots into the cloned disk and the system works fine, your new cloned storage drive is ready to use. Turn off your computer, disconnect the charger and remove all the screws to change your hard drive.
However, if you get a message ‘Missing operating system’, you will have to boot the drive again in macOS and on the cloned disk you will have to install Bootloader.
Despite being a lengthy and time-consuming task, cloning will help you easily transition from one storage disk to another without having to reinstall all the files and applications. These are the best ways to clone a hard drive, on Windows 10 or Mac. Also, it is always advisable to upgrade to an SSD from an HDD. If you are on a budget, try cloning the new SSD as your C drive and enjoy better multitasking speeds. If you are into gaming, you may want to clone the drive where the games are installed into the SSD instead!