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General discussion

how do I clone hard drive?

Nov 29, 2005 10:25AM PST

When HD blew in Presario I installed a new one, then a fresh install of XP home - works great. Also threw in a used HD from an old Dell not knowing what I would do with it. Can I clone the new HD with the old one? Is this a good way to back up files or just to keep going if the HD I'm using eventually goes? At this point I don't even know how to write to the old drive. My OS recognizes it but it's just sitting there. What can I do with it?

Discussion is locked

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Retrospect Software
Dec 1, 2005 6:45PM PST
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Norton Ghost
Dec 1, 2005 9:29PM PST

I use Nortons Ghost, it seems to work just fine. To use their words:

Norton Ghost is the fast and reliable software solution to satisfy all your PC disk cloning and copying needs: upgrading hard drives, backing up for
disaster recovery, or rolling out numerous machines of similar configurations.

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Thumbs Up for Norton GHOST!
Dec 2, 2005 11:00PM PST

I would also recommend the Norton Ghost solution. It works wonderfully, and I have used this product for years - both at home & at work (as an IT systems admin).

Just to give a bit more detailed recommendation, I'd suggest doing the following:

(Desktop Solution) - Install 2 hard disks into your PC (NOT a multiple-partitioned single drive, as this won't help you in the event of a hardware failure). Use GHOST, or your preferred software to save an image of the C disk to the D disck, and vice versa. I keep the fresh installed OS image(C) stored indefinitely so that I can always restore the system to that state. I also make a periodic (at least weekly) image which I overwrite. This image will store not only your latest document work, but also the latest Windows security patch levels, system settings, etc... If you ever experience a data disaster on either physical disk, you can quickly boot the system from the Ghost floppy or CD, and restore your image from - -> to the respective disk or partition.

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Norton Ghost
Feb 7, 2008 2:48AM PST

Hi Peter,

Which version of Norton Ghost are you using?


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(NT) Given that 2+ years have passed, do you expect an answer?
Feb 7, 2008 3:08AM PST
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Feb 7, 2008 3:14AM PST

Oups, sorry, I didn't look at the date.

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My answer.
Feb 7, 2008 3:24AM PST

What I'm using today. Not yesterday or tomorrow.

Today's task will be using G4U's copydisk. Found with google it's free and is humming along on the task.


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Clone Hard Drive
Dec 1, 2005 11:06PM PST

I have used Casper XP for couple of years. Simple,fast, auto backup to external drive or internal or both. Works great. Good assistance from company if you need help.


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Dec 1, 2005 11:33PM PST

Acronis works for me.
Western Digital Data Life guard did not work for me.
I use Windows XP-OS

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Copy Commander
Dec 2, 2005 12:05AM PST

I just cloned my (failing) hard drive to a new one using Copy Commander from Vcom ( It was half the price of Norton and worked as advertised. So if you just want to back up your boot drive, this is a good tool for that (assuming there's sufficient space on the target drive to hold all the data on the source).

The other thing you can do, which I do, is use the drive for files storage. I store all my personal files on my secondary drive and use my primary to hold Windows and the applications.

Assuming the used HD is formatted, you can create directories on it the same way you do on your primary drive. And you can change your profile to use that drive as your home directory.

R. Craig

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Definitely Acronis True Image 9.0
Dec 2, 2005 2:06PM PST

If all you want to do is a one-time clone of a hard drive (such as to install a new larger primary hard drive while keeping everything on your old drive), then download the 14-day fully functional trial copy of Acronis True Image 9.0 at You'll be able to make your image for free - I did exactly that. But once you've downloaded it, see how easy it is to set it up to make regular automatic images so you can restore from any hard drive crashes without any lost data and no need to reinstall Windows or any programs. True Image just saved my butt - I installed it three weeks ago and had it making weekly full images and daily incremental images, automatically. My timing couldn't have been better. Last week, my Windows got corrupted and wouldn't boot - I restored the prior image using the Acronis boot disk, and I'm back to normal again with no problem, and no need to reinstall Windows or all my programs (let alone no lost personal files). It's a great, user-friendly program, and you can easily find it for less than half the price of Norton Ghost, which I understand is not as friendly for non-technically oriented people and does not have some of the features Acronis has. Among other things, Acronis handles both disk imaging and individual file backup, and can restore individual files from an image.

Before finding Acronis, I bought VCom Copy Commander, because it was cheap - about $30 compared to about $70 for Norton Ghost. It might work for a single clone, but does not have the automatic scheduling capabilities of Acronis, and does not run within Windows (runs on Windows systems, just not while Windows is booted). I regret that purchase. For the same price, I got True Image 9.0 at (downloadable version). Definitely worth the money. Make sure you get version 9.0 if you purchase -- for some reason 8.0 is more prevalent (sometimes, oddly, for a higher price than 9.0), but 9.0 is more feature-laden. (And don't buy it directly from Acronis, as it is $20 more there.)

No connection to Acronis and no axes to grind against Norton or VCom - just appreciate that this program was reasonably priced, easy to set up, and worked exactly as advertised.

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Another vote for Acronis
Dec 5, 2005 4:53AM PST

I have been using Acronis True Image ver 8 for some time now. I am not familiar with newer versions of Norton Ghost but with Acronis you can:

Back up to a second hard drive containing the ''Acronis Secure Zone'' (a partition created by the software that cannot be touched by any other software...not even by you except through True Image).

Manage/Repartition hard drives.

Do all the partitioning of a new drive easily.

Clone a hard drive.

Back up to CD's or even DVD's (although for DVD you must first back up to files (not more than 2GB per file [the largest filesize recordable to a DVD]on a hard disk and then copy/move them to a DVD)... somewhat cumbersome but useful to have multiple sources of full disaster recovery.

Schedule tasks, Export a drive, Explore Image (to selectively restore a file or folder etc.)

I have no connection to the makers of this product, nor do I sell it.... only a satisfied user.

BTW, I would suggest *at least* an 80GB (using 40GB for the secure zone) second hard drive if you also plan to use that drive for other things, such as small additional storage space. It all depends on how many files you maintain on your main drive. Acronis does compress the backup and you can do multiple full system backups to the secure zone.

In my case I keep any non program files, downloads and any files that are not essential to the operating system and registered programs on the second drive and simply do not back them up in order to limit the backups to a reasonable size.

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How to clone HD
Dec 5, 2005 9:59AM PST

Thanks for all the replies to my original post. I downloaded the trial version of Acronis Sunday night and had made a clone of my hard drive within a half hour. This was all new to me and they make the software easy to use. I booted from my clone by choosing that drive at startup, then removed it and stored it away, putting another spare drive I had in the computer. Maxblast 4, the program I have installed, said I had to set jumpers on both hd's to cable select to copy a drive. Does copy mean something different from clone? I didn't know so I used the Acronis.

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Copy vs Clone
Dec 5, 2005 11:10AM PST

It's my understanding that Cloning a hard drive means that you will have an exact bootable copy. Copying a hard drive means that you will have a copy of all the files, but that it won't be bootable ie: No FAT, boot sector etc.

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Dec 5, 2005 12:21PM PST

Copy is different from clone as the previous poster indicated, but in the Land of Maxtor, they may use copy more broadly. From the Maxtor website,

"If you are trying to copy the operating system and create a boot drive, select the Set Up Hard Drive option, and choose the "Install drive as new boot drive" when the option is available in the program."

So it looks like "copy" can mean clone if you choose the right options. This is pretty much a one-shot deal, though, intended to help you install a new (bigger) hard drive in your computer without having to buy and install another program such as Acronis, but wouldn't be very useful for regular imaging.

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Creating backup disks that are bootable
Feb 3, 2008 12:28PM PST

"If you are trying to copy the operating system and create a boot drive, select the Set Up Hard Drive option, and choose the "Install drive as new boot drive" when the option is available in the program."

Will setting the options to create a bootable disk (or words to that effect) and saving that to the Ghosts .ini file always cause a clone to produce a bootable disk.
Why I ask is I use a floppy with win98 and ghost on it and an autoexec.bat file to automatically set up ghost with command line switches.