Operating systems do not provide us with tools to clone one hard drive to another. Therefore, if we intend to carry out this task successfully, it is necessary to resort to advanced tools and programs that allow us to do so.
Why clone a hard drive
Unlike what we would do ourselves, which is to copy all the files one by one (which can take a long time), the cloning process copies all the information to the disk little by little. Same empty space. In this way we have an identical copy on the original hard drive, without losing any data and without risk of error.
The process of cloning a hard drive can be useful in the following situations:
- Replace our old hard drive with a new one.
- Buy a bigger hard drive and stream all the data to it.
- Change from a regular hard drive to an SSD to promote performance.
- Make a literal backup of our PC.
Even though we can do all this without using the cloning functions, installing Windows from scratch, using these programs will save us time and will leave the computer in the same state as before changing the hard disk.
How long does it take to clone the hard drive?
We cannot know exactly how long it takes to clone a hard drive because we have a large number of variables. The truth is that the more data we have, the longer the cloning process will take.
However, the speed of the hard drive at the same time influences the weather. It is not the same to copy from SSD to SSD than from normal hard drive to SSD. And much less from a normal hard disk to another normal disk.
This at the same time can include when cloning the type of operating system used, the hardware of our PC and if we have an antivirus, or other software, which can slow down the copying process.
The best free software to clone hard drives
The following programs focus on creating disk images, but at the same time they will allow us to clone all the data from one drive to another. All of them are completely free and open source, and even though they are very powerful, the truth is that for some inexperienced users they can be complicated.
Clonezilla was born years ago as a free and open source alternative to Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost, and has since managed to maintain its popularity in terms of data backup and cloning. This data recovery program is based, by default, on partclone, although we can use other optional tools, such as partimage, ntfsclone or dd to create images or clone a hard disk or partition. At the same time, Clonezilla contains other programs that can help us to make backup copies and restore complete hard drives.
As part of OpenSource, Clonezilla is one of the most powerful tools you can find. This program is compatible with all types of disks and drives, supports MBR and GPT, and can read and write to any file system. Data is copied raw (RAW), compatible with BIOS and UEFI systems, and even has encryption features to protect our data.
Can download Clonezilla from the following link.
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dd is a command from the Unix family of operating systems designed to copy all kinds of data at a low level. This tool is used to transfer specific data between different units. At the same time it can save raw data (RAW) and perform data encoding.
dd is provided by default in almost all distributions, although using this command can be somewhat difficult for users. Even though it offers many options that we can customize using commands, a quick way to clone all the data from one drive (sda) to another (sdb) would be like this:
dd if = / dev / sda from = / dev / sdb
Rescuezilla (Redo backup and recovery)
Formerly known as Redo Backup and Recovery, Rescuezilla is one of the simplest programs that we can use to make backup copies of data and restore it when we need it. This program has a very easy-to-use graphical interface so that even inexperienced users can use it. As well as being based on partclone, it has different tools that we can use when we load this system, such as a Chromium-based browser.
Rescuezilla is portable, so we don't need to install it to use it, and we can always take it with us on a CD or USB stick. At the same time it supports local and network drives and has file recovery functions.
Can download Rescuezilla from the following link.
For this case, we are faced with a free sheet music editor to graphically manage hard disk partitions. With this tool we can resize, copy and move partitions without data loss and ensuring high compatibility. To clone hard drives just copy and paste partitions. It is suitable for all types of files and allows us to install an operating system on each partition. Its main drawback is that it has an outdated graphical interface in English that can challenge some users. GParted is distributed under the GNU General Public License, which makes it completely free software.
We can download GParted from developer website.
This is a free Windows backup and imaging program. This software allows us to do any basic cloning. In this way it will be feasible clone one disk to another, clone individual partitions and copy the disk to the image. Other functions that we can perform are to schedule automatic backups, examine, view and extract files, as well as restore images on the same drive or on a different drive, supporting FAT 12, 16, 32, and NTFS file systems. DriveImage XML uses a protocol called VSS (Volume Shadow Service) that allows us to create images of the devices in use and restore them without having to restart.
We can download DriveImage XML from your Official site.
Paid programs to clone a hard drive
If we are looking for professional tools, but easier to use, we must resort to one of the following payment programs. Some of them offer us trial versions, and even free versions that we can download without paying. But we recommend that you opt for the paid versions in this case, since the others are generally limited and can cause problems.
Acronis Disk Director
Acronis is one of the most prestigious and well-known brands in data protection and backup. Disk Director is one of the programs of this manufacturer developed mainly to optimize the use of our hard drives and protect our data. As well as having a large number of recovery functions and partition management tools, Disk Director allows us to clone hard drives to easily migrate all the data from one disk to another.
At the same time, with Acronis True Image we can set up an active disk cloning system. This allows us to have an exact and real-time copy of any hard drive that we have on our computer. Thus, if one of them fails, the data will have been saved in the second.
We can access all Acronis software from the following link.
Paragon Drive Copy Professional
Another popular program for backing up data on your hard drive is Paragon Drive Copy Professional. This program is fundamentally designed to allow us to migrate all our data, including the operating system, from one computer to another. It has advanced and secure backup features and offers the ability to copy entire hard drives or individual partitions.
Can buy Paragon Drive Copy Professional from the following link.
AOMEI products are characterized by their efficiency and ease of use. AOMEI Backupper is one of the best products this company has to offer us. This program is designed to allow us to perform all kinds of tasks related to backing up our data.
Among all the functions that AOMEI Backupper offers us, the one that interests us in this case is the possibility of cloning all the data from one hard drive to another. At the same time it allows you to clone partitions and even entire systems.
Can download AOMEI Backupper from the following link.
EaseUS Todo Backup
EaseUS Todo Backup is one of the best options that we can find for those who are looking for powerful software and, at the same time, very easy to use. This program gives us everything we need to process our data, hard drives and partitions and manage backup copies of all your information.
Can download EaseUS Todo Backup from the following link. The free version allows you to clone disks, but if we want a more complete solution with other functions (such as operating system migration), it is advisable to opt for the paid Home edition.
Macrium Reflect is another popular program for backing up files, working with disk and partition images, and cloning entire disks. This program has all the essentials to work with data on any hard drive, being able to create simple backups or clone hard drives.
Can download Macrium Reflect from the following link.
ShadowMaker is another program fundamentally designed to provide users with everything related to making backup copies of their computers. This professional backup program has many functions. And among them we can find the possibility of cloning hard drives. At the same time, this program is capable of recognizing SSDs and adapting and optimizing cloning according to the target drive.
We can download MiniTool ShadowMaker from your website.
This is not goingSAVE
We are facing a disk cloning software that has a wide variety of backing options. With it we can make a backup copy both at the image and file level, leaving quick backups and highly customizable. This program performs its functions absolutely locally without connecting to the Internet and without uploading files to a server. For added security, it has encryption AES-256 bit. Its main drawbacks are its somewhat outdated interface and the lack of some extras such as integration with File Explorer and the lack of protection against ransomware.
Can download a free trial from NovaBackup from its website. If we intend to use it permanently, we have to pay its license from $ 49.95 per year.