clone hard drive

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How to Clone Hard Drives pt 2

In my last article, I showed you how to clone hard drives using the open source cloning software Clonezilla. This software is my preferred method because I have had the best luck, especially with drives that are dying, using Clonezilla. The problem with Clonezilla, and many other cloning software, is that you can only clone hard drives if you are going from a smaller drive to a bigger drive. What happens, however, if you want to clone from a larger drive to, let’s say, an SSD drive that is smaller? What then? Yes, it’s possible to reinstall the OS, your programs, and then transfer your data; but it takes time to set everything up, and doing this is annoying. Well, here is the solution to clone hard drives that are bigger to ones that are smaller: use EaseuS Todo backup.

Now, if you want to do this, there is a little bit of prep-work that might need to be done first.

Step One: Defrag and Back Up Your Data

Before doing anything that could potentially lead to lots of data loss, it’s a good idea to back up your stuff. This can be done lots of ways, but it should be done just in case things go horribly wrong. one way to back-up your stuff is to make a clone of your current hard drive to a file (like I showed you how in pt 1 of this article). This way you can go back to square one if things go wrong. You can also just copy and paste the stuff you want to an external hard drive. Whatever you do, just make sure you have back-ups of your data somewhere off your computer.

While defragmenting your computer isn’t required (or needed if you are using Linux or an Apple Computer), it is a good idea to do in order to speed up the cloning process (and performance in general on Windows). Personally, I like using Defraggler by Piriform, butusing the build-in Windows defragmenter works too.

Step Two: Slim Down Your Current Drive

The next thing you need to do is delete / move files from your main drive the used space becomes small enough to fit on your SSD. That means if your SSD is 256GB and your current drive has 300GB of data on it, you’ll need to delete / move at a minimum 43GB worth of files before you can migrate. When I migrated to an SSD drive, I slimmed down my drive by moving all the music, movies, documents, and other files out of my “My Music”, “My Videos”, “My Documents”, and other user folders (like the desktop). If you are deleting stuff and not moving them, be carefull no to delete the folders themselves (i.e. the “My Music”, “My Videos”, “My Documents” folders), just delete / move everything inside them. We want to keep the folders intact for later. I recommend moving your files to another hard drive rather than deleting them so you don’t have worry about deleting stuff you still need. You don’t have to uninstall any programs unless you still haven’t taken out enough data to clone to the smaller drive. We want to keep as many of the programs on the SSD so they can benefit from the drive’s speed.

easus todo back-up free

easus todo back-up free

Step Three: Migrate to the SSD

Open up EaseUS Todo backup (or boot up the live cd) and choose “Clone” from the left-hand sidebar. Click “Disk Clone.” Choose your current hard drive as the source disk, and choose your SSD as the target disk. Check the “Optimize for SSD” box to ensure that your partition is correctly “aligned” for SSDs and gets the best performance. Click Next.

easus todo back-up free

easus todo back-up free

EaseUS will begin to clone your hard drive. Check the “Shut down the computer when the operation completed” box, and your computer will turn off when it’s done.

If it tells you the source drive is too big, then you haven’t deleted enough data. Remember that the advertized size of any hard drive is not the same as how much space will be available after formatting. Even if your source drive is bigger, EaseUS should automatically resize the partitions so they fit on the SSD, as long as your source drive isn’t filled with too much data.

Step Four: Wipe Your Original Drive (optional)

Once the clone is complete, you will want to change the boot order so that the computer boots from the SSD drive. You should have an option to press F12, or F10, or something, to get into the bios where you can change your drives’ boot order. Once that’s done, let the computer boot to your desktop from the fast and new SSD drive. Once you see that everything is working properly (as it should when you clone hard drives), you can format your old drive if you want to. In Windows, you can open up My Computer, Right-click on the old drive and choose “Format”. A Quick Format is fine because we just need to clear off all that old data. Make sure you’re wiping your original Windows drive and not your backup; if you’re unsure, unplug your backup drive first; you don’t want to lose any of your data.

Step Five: Move Your User Folders

If your SSD drive is the only drive in your computer, then you will most likely have to leave your “My Music,” “My Documents,” “My Videos,” etc, on your external (back-up) hard drive; that’s ok. If you can, however, have two hard drives in your computer, that will make storing files easy without having to have an external hard drive always plugged in or running out of space on your (comparatively) smaller SSD drive. The trick is making the fact that your  “My Music,” “My Documents,” “My Videos,” etc, are on another drive seamless both to you, and to your operating system. Assuming you are using Windows, and that you are either reusing your “old” internal hard drive or are putting in another internal hard drive to store your data, the first thing to do is move (or copy) your “My Music,” “My Documents,” “My Videos,” etc, from your back-up drive to the storage drive. Once they are there, it’s time to change a few folder settings in Windows.

Step Six: Restore Your Personal Files

Windows doesn’t really care where you store your files, it just happens to make the folders on the same hard drive as where Windows is installed by default. If you want to change that, start by going to your user profile. Click on the start menu, and click on your profile name.

user profile

user profile

In your profile folder, you will see your “My Music,” “My Documents,” “My Videos,” etc, folders. To change the “location” any folder is looking to, do the following:

  1. Right-click on the folder (in this example it’s the “Downloads” folder) and click on “properties” in the menu.
  2. Click on the “location” tab of the windows that pops up.
  3. Click on “move”
  4. Browse to where you want the folder to be (like your d:/ drive or whatever your storage drive letter is)
  5. The computer will prompt you to move all the stuff that is currently in that folder to the new location; say yes
  6. You are done.

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