How to Clone a Boot Drive to Another Drive

by Norm Dickinson

Increase your computer's available hard drive space or replace a slow or failing hard drive with a new high-capacity drive without reinstalling the operating system, programs or data files by cloning the boot drive to another drive. Simple tools and software allow you to transfer all of the settings and files between drives for a complete backup, including the ability to boot. Create a backup drive for emergency use or replace the existing drive with a new energy-efficient, high-capacity drive.

Download and install a hard drive cloning utility (see References).

Connect the USB hard drive adapter to one of the USB ports located on the rear of the computer -- not to a front panel connection or a port on a USB hub. Allow the operating system to load device drivers, and insert any driver disc that came with the adapter if prompted for it by the driver installation routine. Alternatively, connect the target drive to an internal hard drive port inside the computer instead of using the external USB hard drive adapter for the transfer.

Power down the computer. Connect the hard drive to the USB hard drive adapter or to an internal hard drive port. Connect a power lead to the hard drive.

Power on the computer. Cancel any automatic prompts that appear after the hard drive device drivers are loaded.

Launch the hard drive cloning utility. Click "Clone Disk" from the main menu. Click the current system drive, typically drive C, as the source drive. Click the drive that is attached to the USB hard drive adapter, typically drive E or F, as the destination drive.

Check the "Back Up Sector by Sector" box and check the "Back Up Unallocated Space" to copy the entire drive.

Accept the warning that the destination drive will be overwritten and allow the process to complete. Power down the system when the process has finished and disconnect the USB hard drive adapter from the system and from the drive. Disconnect the power lead from the drive, which is now an exact clone of the boot drive.

Tip

  • check It is possible to keep the original boot drive mounted in the system without any cables attached as a backup in case of failure or as an alternative boot drive that can be installed quickly to test new software or play games with. Simply power down the computer and swap the data cable and power cable from one drive to the other to switch between the two drives.

Warning

  • close Hard drives are sensitive devices that can be damaged by vibration or movement while powered on. When cloning a drive, the target or destination drive will be completely overwritten, erasing any information contained on the drive.

Items you will need

About the Author

Norm Dickinson began his writing career in 1997 as a content creator for Web pages he designed for clients. His work appears on various websites, focusing on computer technology. Dickinson holds an Associate of Arts in industrial electronics technology and another Associate of Arts in computer science.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera two computer hard drives image by Elnur from Fotolia.com