Drive Cloning

Discussion in 'Storage' started by ugly, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. ugly

    ugly Guest

    So I have a feeling I have a hard-drive that's about to die. I don't like doing clean installs if I don't have to. I've never cloned a hard-drive before, and since this is a SSD forum, cloning is something is probably going to come up a lot. So I thought I'd share my experiences. And maybe some people can find some useful information, or tell me how stupid I am for doing things how I did them:

    First, a little bit about how I have things set up, since I do it a bit awkwardly, and it explains a little bit why cloning took a bit more work than it would in a simple situation.

    I have a 1TB Hitachi with 2 partitions. A 40GB with the OS, and basically little else. Then I have the other partition with my Steam folder, a bunch of mass storage stuff, and I migrated my Win7 user folder (with the Downloads, My Documents, etc.). The reason I did that was so that if I ever did need to re-install Windows, I don't need to worry about losing the important information in those folders.

    Then I have an old 200GB Seagate that I store all my programs, and some of my older non-Steam games. Having a second drive with all your installed programs on it actually works out kind of nice with cloning OS drives. It allows you to update a lot of programs and not have to worry about keeping the cloned OS drives up-to-date. It saves a lot of work.

    The 1TB Hitachi, is the dying drive and the one that I wanted to clone.

    Method 1: Buying a kit.

    The first time I cloned it, I used an identical 1TB Hitachi. I had this old device a DriveWire with EZ Gig III.

    It's a neat little device. It has an adapter for IDE, SATA, and 2.5" IDE. The EZ Gig software was pretty easy to use. You just connect the empty drive to whichever part of the adapter you need (in my case SATA). The drive you want to clone is inside your PC, which will be running. The DriveWire connects through USB. You can pretty much just click through the default settings and you're on your way to cloning.

    It creates a complete clone of the drive. All files, all partitions. It's easy because you just plug it in and go. You don't need to set up the hard-drive in Windows. Like I said, I was using an identical drive. I assume if you had a smaller destination drive it would just cut off the data at the end of the source drive depending on how the drive was organized.

    The big problem is that it is an old device, so it is USB 2.0 (the manual actually advertises USB 2.0 as a hot new feature). This means that the transfer rate is pretty slow. I think it was only something like 20MB/s. To clone the entire 1TB drive was about 6 hours.

    The other problem is that the DriveWire is a bit awkward. It's designed for laptops. So all the wires are kind of short. You need to connect a power cable, a USB cable and you need a place to rest the empty hard-drive. So it's kind of hard to have it hanging from a case with all these short wires. For a laptop it would be easy to find a spot for everything.

    EZ Gig did note I had a few read errors during the process, but like I said, the drive seems to be dying.

    I did have some problems when I was done. I took out the original 1TB drive, and put in the new cloned 1TB drive, and left in the 200GB drive. Windows wouldn't boot. I tried to do a repair using the OS disk and it wouldn't find any Win7 install.

    I don't know why, but the solution was to remove the 200GB drive and just use the new cloned drive with the OS alone. When I tried a repair install like that, it found the Win7 install, did a quick repair and it booted up just fine. Worked perfectly when I plugged the 200GB drive back in.

    Method 2: freeware

    I bought a 500GB Seagate to use as my new boot drive (too poor to buy an SSD right now). I did this because I've become less trusting of HDDs with sizes of 1TB+.

    I decided to use the freeware program XXClone. The paid version has a few nice features, including incremental back-ups, which is nice to keep your cloned back-up up-to-date.

    But the freeware version just offers straight cloning of partitions.

    This program is pretty simple, but it did take a bit of figuring out for me to use it since I didn't really know how it worked.

    For this you need the source and destination drive running in your PC. You'll also need to set up the destination drive in Windows since the program seems to require you to have a partition made with a drive letter to clone to.

    So the first time I tried it I didn't know how to set it up properly. This program is really easy to use if you have your OS all on one partition and you want to clone it. But since I had my User folder on a different partition it caused a bit of problems.

    I found the best way to use this program is to plan ahead. It was best for me to make a 40GB partition for the OS clone, and then the second partition for the rest of it. The program won't set up the partition sizes for you (although, I suppose the other way to do it is to just shrink the partition down to the size you want afterward, but for some reasons I had problems doing that when I tried it the first time).

    Before cloning the OS I transferred the other non-OS partition over to the destination drive. I copied my Steam folder and User folder to that drive. I did that simply by transferring the files in Windows (I could have done it using XXClone also, but just to save time I didn't want to copy all of that partition).

    Then I used XXClone to clone the OS drive. It's tough to compare the transfer speed using this program with the DriveWire since I was only cloning a 40GB partition.

    The program is pretty easy to use. Just select a source and a destination and start it.

    I took out the 1TB source drive and the 200GB drive and booted with only the new cloned 500GB drive. Windows wouldn't boot without doing a repair install. Two repair installs actually, for some reason.

    When Windows booted, there was still a bit of a problem. Since XXClone needs the destination partitions to have a drive letter, and the source drive uses the same partition letters the OS was looking for a letter that didn't exist. OS will be called C:\ but my second partition had a random drive letter even though it was looking for Z:\ So I had to rename that partition, and restart again.

    After that, I was able to plug in my 200GB drive and have everything working properly.

    So, using the freeware can be done to clone your OS and get it working. It did take a bit more work, and a bit of pre-planning since I was using a smaller destination drive. And since if you're using an SSD you'll probably have a smaller destination drive.
  2. Sean

    Sean Guest

    If the replacement drive is the same size or larger than the source drive, a 1:1 clone can also be easily made using a bootable Linux CD or USB flash drive, such as Trinity Rescue Kit as I've booted here:


    1. First, attach the source and destination hard drives and disconnect all other hard drives, including external drives. The two hard disks can be attached either by IDE, SATA or with an external USB adapter or enclosure. Then boot the Linux CD or flash drive.

    2. Type in "fdisk -l" (lower case 'L') as shown for '1' above and take note of the drives returned. In this case the old hard disk with the partitions is 'hda' and the new drive without a partition table is 'hdb'. If the hard disks are connected by USB, SATA (native) or SCSI, they'll show up as 'sda', 'sdb', etc.

    3. Type in "dd_rescue /dev/(source) /dev/(destination)" as shown for '2'. Be careful not to type the source and destination drives in reverse, otherwise you'll erase the source drive!

    Once the cloning process is finished, type in "shutdown -h 0" ('0' is zero) for a safe shutdown and now the new hard drive is ready to use. :)

    If the new hard disk is smaller than the original drive (e.g. an SSD), the OS partition on the source drive must first be reduced to within the size of the new drive, e.g. 100GB to be on the safe side for copying to a new 120GB SSD.
  3. turtlemanmike3

    turtlemanmike3 New Member

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