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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Most of the relative threads are ~8+ years old.

What is the easiest way to ghost/clone/image an internal HDD to another internal HDD in Windows 7 x64?

Ideally, I would be able to boot/load Windows from either disk.

Original internal HDD:

WDC "Caviar" Blue WD6400AAKS (~2009 product), SATA II, 7200 rpm, 640 GB

Additional internal HDD:

WDC WD Blue WD10EZEX (~2014 product), SATA III, 7200 rpm, 1,000 GB

Motherboard:

Gateway (Foxconn) RS780 (~2009 product; fabricated from ATI/AMD 780G chipset [~2008 eng./arch.])

Processor:

AMD Phenom II x4 @ ~2.8 GHz/IC

If necessary, more info available.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

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Acronis is very reliable cloning software. It will accurately and easily clone your primary drive to a second drive. Windows does not have the ability to clone drives.

Now, let's make sure you are asking for the right thing. Cloning software is for imaging one hard drive to another, while offline. It is not MIRRORING software, which mirrors two drives actively while using the PC.

If you are talking MIRRORING, that's a whole different ball of issues. Windows can mirror boot drives, but recovering from this and booting from the secondary drive isn't just a matter of unplugging the primary and booting off the secondary.

For your solution, it may make sense to do weekly clones. It is simple, and you can walk away while it is cloning.

And yes, there are other solutions out there, most of them aren't cheap, if mirroring is your goal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Acronis is very reliable cloning software. It will accurately and easily clone your primary drive to a second drive. Windows does not have the ability to clone drives.

Now, let's make sure you are asking for the right thing. Cloning software is for imaging one hard drive to another, while offline. It is not MIRRORING software, which mirrors two drives actively while using the PC.

If you are talking MIRRORING, that's a whole different ball of issues. Windows can mirror boot drives, but recovering from this and booting from the secondary drive isn't just a matter of unplugging the primary and booting off the secondary.

For your solution, it may make sense to do weekly clones. It is simple, and you can walk away while it is cloning.

And yes, there are other solutions out there, most of them aren't cheap, if mirroring is your goal.
Thanks, again.

I've never made a distinction between "cloning" and "mirroring", but I'll read these...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disk_cloning

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disk_mirroring

...and return later.
 

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I've used this a few times recently http://www.backup-utility.com/free-backup-software.html

I use the free version. It only clones a system drive if you copy and paste a public post (advertising for them) from a Google+, Facebook, or Twitter account. I never use Google+ publicly (only for photo backup and have no friends list on it) so I just put the post up and activated the system clone feature. I've taken the post down, but I haven't seen whether or not the feature was deactivated. I don't do this often, but I cloned my server C: ssd to another ssd. It has a good "align for SSD" feature built-in that works well in my experience. I also connected my wife's old laptop HDD and a new SSD then cloned/aligned the HDD to the SSD. If you can, I'd recommend checking the "shutdown when complete" checkbox then try the cloned disk immediately by unplugging the old one and changing your boot order
 

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+1 for Acronis. It came with a SSD I once bought and I've used it ever since. I've cloned dozens of drives from bigger to smaller, smaller to bigger, etc. The version I have doesn't do GPT drives but the latest versions do.
 

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I was supposed to get acronis free, but the key they had was only for the 2012 or 2013 version or some nonsense like that. Whatever version it only installed on 7 and the installer wouldn't work on 8. Since I don't have any useful w7 machines to use it on I got screwed along with many others. OCZ didn't care of course

No problems with the free alternative though
 

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If you're cloning the Windows 7 disk all you need to do is run Windows Backup and create a backup image. You'll need another drive to write the backup image to since it shouldn't be on the disk you intend to clone. Create a Rescue Disk after making the backup image. Install the new drive, boot from the Rescue Disk, and point it to the backup image. The new disk will be overwritten with the backup image and you'll end up with an exact copy of the original drive that is bootable.

In order to boot from a specific drive with both of them installed, you could install a boot manager program or simply hit F11 to display the boot menu at startup. This will allow you to choose which disk to boot from. Otherwise, whatever disk you have configured in BIOS as the first boot disk will be the one that boots. IIRC, there used to be an issue with Windows trying to boot when there were more than one primary active partitions that would either cause it to hang or simply not boot at all. I don't believe this is the case anymore. If it is then you'll need some sort of boot manager that prompts you for the disk to boot from.
 

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If you're cloning the Windows 7 disk all you need to do is run Windows Backup and create a backup image. You'll need another drive to write the backup image to since it shouldn't be on the disk you intend to clone. Create a Rescue Disk after making the backup image. Install the new drive, boot from the Rescue Disk, and point it to the backup image. The new disk will be overwritten with the backup image and you'll end up with an exact copy of the original drive that is bootable.

In order to boot from a specific drive with both of them installed, you could install a boot manager program or simply hit F11 to display the boot menu at startup. This will allow you to choose which disk to boot from. Otherwise, whatever disk you have configured in BIOS as the first boot disk will be the one that boots. IIRC, there used to be an issue with Windows trying to boot when there were more than one primary active partitions that would either cause it to hang or simply not boot at all. I don't believe this is the case anymore. If it is then you'll need some sort of boot manager that prompts you for the disk to boot from.
This is way easier and it's free. Make the boot CD, run it and select the clone option and Bobs your uncle. I just used it to swap the mSATA card in my WMC7 DVR and it worked fine. Plus it does the sector optimization for SSDs

http://www.backup-utility.com/download.html
 

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This is way easier and it's free. Make the boot CD, run it and select the clone option and Bobs your uncle. I just used it to swap the mSATA card in my WMC7 DVR and it worked fine. Plus it does the sector optimization for SSDs

http://www.backup-utility.com/download.html
Which is easier, WMC Backup or the link you posted? The nice thing about using Windows Backup instead of some cloning software is that you can create a backup image of a working system that you can restore if something goes south. The cloning software only works if you have a stable drive to clone from. It's useless if the drive fails or gets corrupted. WMC Backup can restore your system and have you back up and running in about 15 minutes or so.
 

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Lol there's an echo in here ;)

The link that we both posted to AOMEI is more useful when you have to clone a laptop drive, and I personally prefer to just drop an entire new "cloned" drive in place of an old one rather then running a rescue disk and pointing to an image
 

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Lol there's an echo in here ;)

The link that we both posted to AOMEI is more useful when you have to clone a laptop drive, and I personally prefer to just drop an entire new "cloned" drive in place of an old one rather then running a rescue disk and pointing to an image
Well, when you get right down to it, there's not much difference between the two. It's just two slightly different methods to achieve the same end. Both require a working hard drive and an optical drive. The main difference being that Windows Backup is already included in Windows and doesn't require a third party app. You have to boot from a CD in either case to run the restore software.

I've used similar apps in the past and found that Windows Backup is just easier to use (I still use EaseUS Partition Master for cloning partitions. They have an older app for cloning drives, but I believe they have a newer version available.) I don't need to insert a DVD or CD to perform a backup and I can schedule automatic backups whenever I want. I tend to make backups anytime I do something major to my PC, like reconfigure or install several new apps. It really comes in handy if I inadvertently take a Windows update that doesn't agree with my PC.

If you happen to have a spare drive handy that you can clone and keep on hand as a backup then it's not much different than restoring a backup from an image other than the fact that it's been done ahead of time. In my case, I use an SSD for the OS and a large standard drive for my recordings. I keep a backup image stored on the large drive so I can easily restore it in the event of a main drive issue.
 

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Actually I just pulled the drive from the laptop and put both it and the empty ssd in my hot swap enclosures and ran the aomei software on my server. My point was that it would be difficult to do any other way with a laptop, at least it would for me. I used the easiest method. The windows backup method could work with the pulled drive but I'd have to boot from it, I thought cloning was easier. Plus I had to pull the drive no matter what to replace it with an ssd. There is no optical drive caddy for our laptop model
 

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I was supposed to get acronis free, but the key they had was only for the 2012 or 2013 version or some nonsense like that. Whatever version it only installed on 7 and the installer wouldn't work on 8. Since I don't have any useful w7 machines to use it on I got screwed along with many others. OCZ didn't care of course

No problems with the free alternative though
I've never installed. I boot using the CD which is a form of Linux and then do the cloning from the utility.
 

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Actually I just pulled the drive from the laptop and put both it and the empty ssd in my hot swap enclosures and ran the aomei software on my server. My point was that it would be difficult to do any other way with a laptop, at least it would for me. I used the easiest method. The windows backup method could work with the pulled drive but I'd have to boot from it, I thought cloning was easier. Plus I had to pull the drive no matter what to replace it with an ssd. There is no optical drive caddy for our laptop model
Doing any sort of cloning on a laptop is a PITA due to the fact that most of them can only accommodate a single drive. External USB drive bays work well for this purpose. Either method on a laptop requires two drives and either an optical drive or a USB flash drive configured as a boot drive to work. The cloning method requires the original drive plus a new drive to clone it to. The Windows Backup requires the original drive plus a drive to store the image as well as to restore it from. You'll have to swap out the original laptop drive using either method. The main difference is that the backup and restore method requires two steps and may take a bit longer whereas the cloning method is done in one step. The amount of physical drive swapping is the same for either method.

The main difference is that you can create a backup image at any time and always have it on hand in case of an emergency to get your PC or laptop up and running in short order. The cloning method is only viable if your source drive is still alive and well. If it croaks and you don't have a backup then you're screwed. Ideally, you should create a backup in any case, but you can use either method to make as many drive copies as you want. Both methods work equally well.

The OP asked what was the easiest method to clone a drive. I offered the Windows Backup solution because it's already part of Windows and doesn't require a third party app download.
 

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Can you use the windows method without an optical drive? Like when there's no optical in a laptop (becoming more common on newer models). Actually asking

Obviously not everyone has a windows server to go plug two drives into and run cloning software either . . . but they should ;)
 

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Can you use the windows method without an optical drive? Like when there's no optical in a laptop (becoming more common on newer models). Actually asking

Obviously not everyone has a windows server to go plug two drives into and run cloning software either . . . but they should ;)
You only need the optical drive to boot from the Rescue Disk. If you can create a bootable USB thumb drive with the Rescue Disk image then you won't need an optical drive. Portable USB optical drives are dirt cheap these days so it's not a bad idea to have one on hand for situations like this. I've bought several for as little as $10 apiece.

You don't need a Windows server to clone a drive, or even a Windows PC for that matter. Any PC will work for that purpose as long as it has SATA ports to attach the two hard drives and an optical drive.

This utility works great for creating a USB boot drive using any iso file:

http://rufus.akeo.ie/
 
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