I've been using Norton Ghost since 2004 for this purpose. I do a system backup to an external hard drive, install the new drive, restore from the external hard drive; and it's always worked for me. This gives you the added protection of an external backup you can use to retrieve any of your files if needed.
So what I want to know is will the duplicator I am looking at (Startech.com USB to IDE SATA Standalone Hard Drive Duplicator http://www.rakuten.com/prod/startech-com-usb-to-ide-sata-standalone-hard-drive-duplicator-dock/213024954.html) duplicate my hardrive to another hardrive, then let me plug in the new hardrive and have it run like nothing ever happened. That would mean duplicating the operating system and all other programs. Help appreciated.