How To forum


What is the best way to clone a hard drive?

by rajbhai87 / March 15, 2012 11:59 PM PDT

I have a brand new computer and I just got it the way I want it. With past experience, I know the computer will crash at some point. I want to spare myself the time it takes to reinstall the operating system and software. I would like to know what is the best program to use when cloning a drive and how to reinstall that image onto that hard drive or another hard drive as back up.

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: What is the best way to clone a hard drive?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: What is the best way to clone a hard drive?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.

All Answers

Collapse -
Cloning and imaging are not the same
by Steven Haninger / March 16, 2012 2:08 AM PDT

A clone is an exact duplicate of a partition or drive and would be useful if you just want to swap one for the other. You're probably looking at imaging which makes a compressed file or set of files which can be restored by the same program. If you're willing to pay for a decent utility, I use and like Acronis. If you want free, some here recommend Clonezilla. I've tested that one and it works but I prefer Acronis for some of it's other features such as allowing one to extract individual files from an image. In any event, these programs work by creating bootable CDs which are used to make images or restore them. Acronis can make an image from within Windows as well. To restore an image with Acronis, you can boot from its original CD or one it can make for you if installed on the hard drive. If you have the image stored on another hard drive...internal or navigate to it and select it as the source. You then select the target drive from a list of what's available and just let 'er rip. It's fairly simple after you've done it a time or two.

Collapse -
I prefer Seagate drives . . .
by Coryphaeus / March 16, 2012 8:03 AM PDT

and their excellent and free cloning software that comes with each new drive. Based on Acronis BTW. Super simple, you install it on the working hard drive. You then attach the new drive either as a slave or by using an external USB case. You run the program from the host PC, it sets up, and makes an exact duplicate of that drive. In case of a catastrophic failure all you have to do is swap drives. Done.

I've done this more times than I can count. I have clones of this PC, my network/web server, and my three laptops. I clone my PC about once a month to keep up with additions or deletions. The other PCs after any major changes or a ton of Windows updates.

To reclone the drive again after changes, you have to do a quick format of the drive to be cloned so that the Seagate Disk Wizard sees a blank drive. BTW, all my PCs are IBM/Levono. The program also clones the hidden restoral partition.

Collapse -
Re: Seagate drives
by Kees_B Forum moderator / March 16, 2012 8:20 AM PDT

Western Digital has a free download of the Western Digital edition of Acronis True Image 2009. That works if you have one of their disks in your PC. I used it to make an image of my Kingston SDD (30 GB used for Windows, Program Files and Users) to my 750 GB internal hard disk, but it can do more. If only the shop had told me about it before I had to do a reinstall of Windows ...

So it's not a Seagate exclusive.


Collapse -
Exclusive? Of course not . . .
by Coryphaeus / March 16, 2012 9:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: Seagate drives

Most of the major brands have their cloning software. I've only used Seagate and it has lots of bells and whistles.

Collapse -
Five Best Back-up Utilities
by sylprose1 / March 28, 2012 2:24 AM PDT

Valuable data stored in your computer may be lost due to several unwanted circumstances. To avoid such disastrous events to happen in your precious files, it is advisable that you keep back-up files in your computer. Below is the best five back-up utilities that you can freely download in the internet to aid you in this matter.

(1) Uranium Tape Backup,
(2) Z-DAT dump Free DLT Backup,
(3) Amanda Open Source Backup,
(4) Retrospect Backup Professional,
(5) Eraseus Todo Backup.

Learn the uses of these Utilities.

Collapse -
Update - 10 Best Back-up Utilities
by luntina / July 12, 2012 5:39 AM PDT
Popular Forums
Computer Help 49,613 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,349 discussions
Laptops 19,436 discussions
Security 30,426 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,308 discussions
Windows 10 360 discussions
Phones 15,802 discussions
Windows 7 7,351 discussions
Networking & Wireless 14,641 discussions

CNET Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for great gifts under $100?

Trendy tech gifts don't require a hefty price tag. Choose from these CNET-recommended useful and high-quality gadgets.