How to Clone a Hard Drive

Would you like to transfer data and programs from one PC to another but you don't know how to do it? Would you like to create a backup copy of your computer's hard drive so that you can easily recover data in emergency situations? If you want advice, don't waste time with DVDs and USB sticks: clone hard drive of your PC and create an exact copy on a portable hard drive.

By cloning your computer disk to an external drive, you will have data, settings and even the operating system always available and you can restore them, if necessary, not only on your computer but also on other machines. Too complicated? I assure you that you are very wrong!

Creating an exact copy of a hard disk, even if said so it may seem a very complicated thing intended only for experts, just a few clicks. If you don't believe it, take some time off and find out how to clone a hard drive on Windows, macOS and Linux thanks to the information I'm about to give you. You will be amazed by the simplicity with which you will be able to do everything!

How to Clone a Windows PC Disk

Let's start with the procedure for clone a disk on Windows. In this case, the first step you need to take is to make sure you have a portable hard drive large enough for the amount of data you need to transfer to it. Then open theFile Explorer (the yellow folder icon located at the bottom left, on the taskbar) and select the item What PCcomputer from the side bar of the sinistra.

In the window that opens, right-click on the disk icon C: (or the drive you want to clone), select the entry Property from the menu that appears and check how much the unit capacity is. Your portable hard disk, the one on which the computer hard disk will be cloned, must be at least as large as the disk to be cloned and must be empty, otherwise you will lose all the data stored in it (as it will be formatted).

If necessary, you can buy an external hard drive for your backup by following the advice in my dedicated buying guide. If, on the other hand, it is your intention to clone the hard drive to another one internal disk or a faster SSD, you can consult my buying guides dedicated to internal hard drives and solid state drives.

Having made these appropriate checks, take action by downloading EaseUS Disk Copy Pro. If you have never heard of it, it is a program that allows you to copy entire disks or individual partitions (including operating system and programs) to other disks, even if of a different type (e.g. it allows you to copy mechanical disks to SDD) with 100% loyalty sector by sector. It is also capable of resize partitions when copying data and to create WinPE boot disks, to copy the data from the PC bypassing any problems and restrictions foreseen by Windows.

EaseUS Disk Copy Pro is compatible with all versions of Windows most common (from XP onwards) and all file system, has one interface completely in Italian and allows you to clone drives up to 16TB. It costs 17,95 euros, but you can try it for free in a version that allows you to test its operation without actually copying the data. For professionals working in the tech field, the Technician version of the software is also available that can be used for commercial purposes and to provide technical service to its customers (costs 72,95 euros).

That said, let's take action. First connect to the official website of the program and click on the button Free trial, if you want to download the free trial version of the program; if, on the other hand, you want to buy the full version, click on the button Buy it now And his schermo followed him.

A download complete, avvia il file .exe obtained and click in sequence on the buttons Yes, OK, Accept, forward for two consecutive times e end, to conclude the setup. If you do not want to send anonymous usage statistics, remove the check from the appropriate item.

After the installation of EaseUS Disk Copy Pro, you just have to connect the disco you want to target (if it is an external drive), start the program, answer Yes notice that appears on the screen and choose whether activate license the software or do so later and continue using the free trial.

After that, select the tab Disc mode (if you want to clone an entire disk) or the card Partition mode (if you want to clone a single partition), choose theunit or partition to copy, click on the button forward and indicates thetarget drive. If you want one industry-wide precise cloning, check the relevant box at the bottom left.

Per finire, click on your button forward, confirm your willingness to move forward (by pressing Yesknowing that the data on the destination drive will be erased) and use the drop-down menu Disposition of the destination disk after copying to choose which mode to adopt between Fit to disc (resize the layout on the destination disk according to the size of the source disk), Copy as Source (it does not change the data on the destination disk and the layout is the same as on the source disk) e
Change the layout (to resize / move partition arrangement on target disk).

If the destination disk is aSSD drive, check the relevant box located at the bottom left and then click on the button Proceed, to start copying the data.

Of course, for disk / partition recovery, you can proceed in the same way, swapping the source and destination disks if necessary.

If you want to create a WinPE boot disk, instead, all you have to do is click on the item Create startup disk present in the main screen of EaseUS Disk Copy Pro, top right, and follow the simple instructions on the screen. Easy, right?

Alternative Solutions

As an alternative to the software mentioned above, you can use Clonezilla e Tuxboot. Clonezilla is an open source software - as well as completely free - which allows you to clone / restore disks formatted with all the most popular file systems: FAT32, NTFS, EXT3, EXT4, HFS + etc. It works outside the operating system, in fact it must be downloaded as an ISO image and then copied to a USB stick using Tuxboot, the other free program you need to get.

Here is the procedure you need to follow to download the two software and create your USB key for hard disk cloning. You can use any key, you need just over 200MB of free space. Beware that all the contents of the drive will be deleted.

  • Download Clonezilla by connecting to the program website, setting the option iso in the drop-down menu Select file type e clicking on your button Download.
  • Download Tuxboot by connecting to the program website and clicking on the item first Files on SourceForge and then 0.8Windows e tuxboot–0.8.3.exe.
  • Copy Clonezilla to USB stick using Tuxboot. To do this, just start the software (which does not require installation), put the check mark next to the item Pre-Downloaded, press the button [...] and select the Clonezilla ISO file. Then you need to select the USB stick drive from the drop-down menu Drive and click on the button OK.

Once you have the USB stick with Clonezilla, restart your PC and boot from it. If the computer does not detect the key and starts Windows normally, enter the BIOS and set the USB drive as primary boot drive following the instructions you find in my guide on the subject.

If you are using a recent PC equipped with Windows 8 or Windows 10, the more modern UEFI should be in place of the BIOS. This means you have to disable the secure boot, a security feature that prevents booting operating systems that do not have an appropriate digital signature (basically all systems other than the most recent versions of Windows). In my tutorial on how to enter the BIOS I also told you about this procedure.

In the unfortunate event that you are unable to boot from the Clonezilla USB key, try to create a new key using the free Rufus software (just start it, select the USB key drive from the drop-down menu, click on the icon disk at the bottom right and select the Clonezilla ISO image) or, try to download the file bootia32.efi from this website and copy it to the folder EFIBOOT stick with Clonezilla. This last operation is used to "force" the drive to boot on 32-bit UEFI systems (typical of cheaper convertible notebooks).

Once Clonezilla has started, select the item Clonezilla live from the menu that appears and press the button Submit on the PC keyboard. Then set the language Italian | Italian, select the option for do not change the keyboard mapping and proceed with theClonezilla startup selecting the appropriate item from the screen that opens.

At this point, choose the option device-image if you want to create a disk image (ie an archive containing all the files contained in the hard disk to be cloned) or the option device-device to copy the contents of the hard disk to another disk without organizing it in a single archive. I highly recommend the first option and, in fact, to make the tutorial I used that one.

Now, choose the option local_dev and press the button Sending twice in a row. A menu with the list of available discs will open. Then press the key combination Ctrl + C, select the external drive on which to clone the hard disk of the computer and, if you have chosen to create a disk image, indicate the exact path in which to save it.

Next, select the options Beginner e savedisk save parts (depending on whether you intend to "clone" an entire disk or just a partition), type the name you want to assign to the image file and select theunit o la partition to be "cloned" in the latter using the space bar and then pressing the key Enter on the PC keyboard.

After this step too, choose whether to make a copy of the data without making the checking / repairing the file system or whether to carry out these checks as well (which can take a long time); choose whether to make a checking the image file what are you going to get and if Encryption the latter and finally specify if at the end of the data copy you want to do restart or shut down your computer.

To start the actual copying of the files, you have to press Submit, type the password to encrypt the image file (if you have chosen to take advantage of this option) and answer affirmatively to all the Clonezilla requests by typing the letter y and pressing the key Submit on the computer keyboard. The disk cloning procedure may go on for several hours, depending on the amount of data to be copied.

Once the image file is obtained, to be able to restore it and perform a "reverse cloning" of the disk (thus passing the data from the image file to the hard disk), boot normally Clonezilla as explained above and select the option device-image.

Next, select the option local_dev and press the button Submit for two consecutive times. Close the menu with the list of available hard drives by pressing the key combination Ctrl + C on your computer keyboard and select thedrive where the image file is stored that you want to restore.

At this point, indicate the path where the image file is contained and select the options Beginner e restored (o restoreparts if you want to restore a partition instead of an entire hard drive). So choose the image file to restore, indicate thehard drive on which to transfer the files and choose whether to check before restoring the image or not.

Finally, choose if shut down or restart your PC when finished copying the data, press Submit, Reply y to the confirmation request from Clonezilla and wait for the copy of the data from the image file to the hard disk to be completed. Of course, if you previously decided to encrypt the contents of the image file, you will also need to enter the password of the latter.

How to Clone a Mac Disk

If you use a Poppy, you can clone your computer disk using time Machine, the free backup software included "standard" in all versions of macOS. I assure you that using it is really child's play, but first you have to carry out some checks.

To be precise, you need to make sure you have an external hard drive at least as large as the Mac disk. If you don't know what the capacity of the hard drive installed in your computer is, click on the apple at the top left and select the item first About this Mac from the menu that appears and then the tab Archiving from the window that opens.

The second step you need to take is to format the external drive so that it can be used for backup. Then connect the drive to the computer, if a request for Time Machine appears click on the button Decide later and start theDisk Utility located in the folder Other from the launchpad.

In the window that opens, select the name of the external hard drive from the left sidebar and press the button Initialize which is located at the top. Then set the option Mac OS extended (journaled) on the menu Format and click on the button Initialize to format the drive. If you want to help identify the drive, type a name like time Machine o Backup in the field Name. As schema leave as well GUID Partition Map.

The Time Machine prompt should appear again, which you can now accept by clicking on the button Use as a backup disk. If no message is displayed, go to instead System preference, click on the icon time Machineclick on your button Select backup disk, select the external disk as the destination drive and move to ON the lever on the left.

How to Restore a Cloned Disk on Mac

Time Machine backups can be used, when needed, to restore individual files or the entire operating system (multiple applications and data).

To perform a hard Mac recovery, you need to restart your computer and enter recovery mode by holding down the keys cmd + r of the keyboard during the power up phase. After that you have to select the option Restore from Time Machine backup and proceed with restoring the backup by selecting your external drive as the source.

If you want to restore a single file or folder, all you have to do is click on the icon time Machine in the menu bar (top right) and select the item Entra in Time Machine from the menu that opens. This will open a special Finder window through which you can restore any type of file. To complete the operation, select one date from the right sidebar, choose the file or folder to restore and press the button Restore which is located at the bottom.

The only limitation of Time Machine is that it does not create bootable discs. This means that if you connect a disk used for Time Machine backup to a Mac, you cannot boot the operating system directly from it. If you have such needs, you can use third-party utilities, such as Carbon Copy Cleaner (for a fee) that I told you about in my tutorial on how to clone Mac hard drive.

Articolo realizzato in collaboration with EaseUS.