How to clone a harddrive?
May 9, 2007 6:25 PM   Subscribe

I want to install a bigger hard drive to my laptop. How do I clone the current hard drive to the new one so I don't have to reinstall windows on the new disk?

I have an external USB enclosure that I can put the new HDD in. I have the new HDD. I'm assuming I can use Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image to do so. Thing is, I'm not sure if there's an obvious option to use. Recommendations on software and the process to do so? I'll probably only use the software a couple of times and am not interested in bits and pieces of the disk. I just want a simple one shot deal that will copy the entire disk (including OS) without major hassle. Providing it costs under $50 not too worried about price, although free is obviously better.

Side notes: I will obviously back up all important data on the laptop first. Also, my laptop does not have a built in CD drive, only an external USB one. (I do have 2 USB ports available though). Finally, I've read these previous AskMe threads:
1. How to install old OS on a new laptop harddrive This thread is from a year and half ago - are Ghost and True Image still my best options?
2. Disk imaging utility Ghost wasn't mentioned - True Image was. Should I take a hint?
3. Ghost has given up the ghost.

Thanks for all your help!
posted by Mave_80 to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This is a great opportunity to re-setup everything. I'd install the new one, rebuild your computer, then copy the most important stuff back from the old drive. That way, you get a clean, nice, freshly installed laptop to boot.

My $0.02.
posted by wflanagan at 6:26 PM on May 9, 2007

Response by poster: Should have mentioned this - I just bought the laptop (used) about 3 weeks ago. As such, I completely reformated the HDD when I bought it. Really don't want to do this all again given I've put a fair amount of software on there. Just wish I realized I wanted a bigger HDD beforehand (also, don't want to be tied to an external drive on a day to day basis)
posted by Mave_80 at 6:35 PM on May 9, 2007

Best answer: You've pretty much already answered your own question. The trial version of Acronis should solve your problem. There's no statute of limitations on drives you clone using the trial version. There's just a limit on how long you can use the software.
posted by sockpup at 6:47 PM on May 9, 2007

Many hard drives come with software to do just this.
posted by caddis at 6:50 PM on May 9, 2007

I did that with one of the acronis demo packages about 9 months ago. I think I ended up using an extra computer and enclosure to do it though, because when I tried to install it on the system I wanted to clone, their validation server was down or something. Whatever I used, it was really easy and painless.

It looks like they have a product specifically for drive migration for $40.
posted by Good Brain at 6:52 PM on May 9, 2007

Best answer: Second Acronis. I notice you linked to my previous question, and Ghost just... well, it screwed everything up for some reason. It has a hard time dealing with bootable drives and having multiple bootable drives in your computer (I had two HDDs in my desktop, but the situation will be similar). If you're going to do it once, get the free trial of Acronis.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:53 PM on May 9, 2007

Best answer: I did this a few months ago. I used Acronis True Image. I purchased the downloadable version from their website.

I put the new drive in a USB 2.0 enclosure and plugged it into my laptop. Ran Acronis and cloned my laptop HD to the external one. Then I removed the drive from the enclosure, opened up my laptop, and installed the new HD. I took my old HD and put it into the enclosure for external use.

Worked like a charm. Flawless. Nothing confusing, no weird glitches. From the moment I rebooted, my new drive was EXACTLY the same, just with more free space. One of the "smoothest" hardware changes I've ever experienced, and that's saying a lot considering it performed the equivalent of a heart transplant.
posted by Alabaster at 6:55 PM on May 9, 2007

Just fwiw, I also tried the acronis trial and it didnt work for me. The copy went fine but when I plugged the new drive in, windows wouldnt boot. It just got to the blue welcome screen and stayed there forever. I contacted support but by the time I got a reasonable response, my trial was over.
posted by missmagenta at 11:33 PM on May 9, 2007

I have successfully used HDClone
to do the same thing, just a bit more involved using a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter for the laptop harddrive in my desktop, copying the image to a 3.5" HDD, then putting the new 2.5" drive in, and copying the image back. Sounds horribly complicated, but it worked like a charm. (The free version is excruciatingly slow btw, which I know you don't want to hear)

Good luck.
posted by defcom1 at 5:48 AM on May 10, 2007

Seconding HDClone. Its just a simple free disk image copier. The free version is limited to a certain speed, but it works fine.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:56 AM on May 10, 2007

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