Windows 7 Forums

Welcome to Windows 7 Forums. Our forum is dedicated to helping you find support and solutions for any problems regarding your Windows 7 PC be it Dell, HP, Acer, Asus or a custom build. We also provide an extensive Windows 7 tutorial section that covers a wide range of tips and tricks.


Windows 7: A cloned external hard drive to replace an internal HDD

26 May 2016   #1
sunsetlover

Win 7 Ultimate 32-bit
 
 
A cloned external hard drive to replace an internal HDD

Hi all,

I have a simple question, and first off a disclosure, I haven't done any system imaging before.

If my purpose is to clone an internal HDD (Fujitsu 120 GB with about 80 GB used) on an old Compaq laptop to an external hard drive (WD Scorpio Black 320 GB), so that I can actually SWAP them when the need arises (ie. install the WD in the laptop), should I expect:
a) an exact copy of the internal drive, including OS, programs, data AND boot files?
b) the above to be done with either Acronis, as provided by WD, or Macrium Reflect?

Also, since I have extra space on the WD drive, should I use it as a plain back up of data as well on a separate partition, or restoring an image works best on one simple partition?

Now, here's the kicker, I read on this and other forums about perfect Image Creations, but definitely not perfect Image Recoveries! Is there a way to test it? Testing it, as in disabling the internal hard drive (thru BIOS?) and starting Windows from the external drive, is that possible? I think not

Thank you.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
26 May 2016   #2
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Yes to both of your A and B questions. I'm not positive about the Western Digital version of Acronis, but the standard Acronis and Macrium Reflect Free do it.

Windows can be cranky about being run from an external. I'd try to avoid that.

You could make a "clone" of your internal to some other drive and then simply replace the internal with the other drive if the internal failed.

But I wouldn't do that either. That's cloning. It can work, but I'd guess the experience around here is that it doesn't work as well as imaging.

And a clone quickly becomes out of date due to continued Windows Updates and continued new programs you install, configuration changes you make, etc. You'd have to make new clones and hope each new one works.

Cloning and imaging are noticeably different processes, but can be used for similar purposes.

Cloning typically clones the entire drive. Imaging typically images only the chosen partitions. C, D, and E. C and E. D and E. C only. Whatever partitions you specifically choose.

Imaging just makes a file that you store on some other drive, just like any file. If disaster strikes, you go through a formal "restore" of the image file to an internal drive, and that restoration makes the drive bootable again, in the same state it was on the date the image file was made.

Image files can be made at will, might take 10 minutes to an hour at most on the average machine. You might make one a week or one a month, whatever suits you.

Cloning makes an exact copy of drive A onto some other drive B. If it works, the B drive is usable right then, without a "restore". You can do an immediate swap. Remove drive A and replace it with drive B.


Imaging requires a restore, but does not tie up a drive. You don't "swap". You restore the image file. Image files occupy perhaps 1/2 the occupied space of the imaged partition.

There will always be some doubt in your mind about whether the restore will work. You can't know for 100% certainty. But Macrium is probably 98 or 99% reliable.

You could do a full test of a restore after swapping in a new internal drive. You can also make a test image of a data only partition and restore that.

You've got a lot more nerve than I do if you would try to restore an image to a known good and working system. You're taking a chance of over-writing a good system with a failed restore that won't work.

At a minimum, you should certainly test your rescue media and make sure it will boot your PC. And you should "pretend" you had a drive failure and walk through the first few steps of an image restore---stopping before the final step where the restore would actually kick off. You should do this because you need to know what menu choices you will be faced with and what you would actually do when the heat is on and you are in a bad jam.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 May 2016   #3
RolandJS

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
 
 

You are probably safe if you make two or more full images of your OS and data partitions onto at least one if not two external HDs. At home, I have two usb external 1TB HDs for each computer; I average close to weekly or bi-monthly backups; often keeping at least 2-3 OS [C] partition backups and one data partition [D] backup. Fireberd [sevenforums] does full images of the entire HD, I've recently adopted that idea, added it to my current routine.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

27 May 2016   #4
sunsetlover

Win 7 Ultimate 32-bit
 
 

Thank you both.

If my purpose is to upgrade or replace an internal drive, then cloning is the way to go. Of course I could do both cloning and imaging and keep and update an image as back up.

And yes Ignatzatsonic, testing these can be tricky. I guess testing a cloned drive would be easier, just swap it in the laptop and see. I'm under the impression that cloning does not require anything extra, but an image restore will require a bootable media, correct?


About the specifics of cloning, does Macrium or Acronis take any external target drive and partition and format it according to the source drive, or I can specify, correct? ie. basically the target drive only needs to be initialized?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 May 2016   #5
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by sunsetlover View Post
If my purpose is to upgrade or replace an internal drive, then cloning is the way to go.
I don't believe this is correct. A full system image using a reliable program like Macrium should be fine. I have carried out this procedure on a number of occasions. You can get a replacement HDD and try it out.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 May 2016   #6
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

see comments in bold

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by sunsetlover View Post
Thank you both.

If my purpose is to upgrade or replace an internal drive, then cloning is the way to go. Of course I could do both cloning and imaging and keep and update an image as back up.

I would say imaging rather than cloning. Either can work. It seems to me that imaging is less likely to be problematic, but try cloning. If it fails, try imaging.

but an image restore will require a bootable media, correct?

Imaging typically requires bootable media, but I think the current version of Macrium lets you boot directly into the Macrium interface and do a restore---but this would only be an option if your hard drive was still functioning. I haven't checked that functionality and still just use bootable media--either DVD or USB stick.


About the specifics of cloning, does Macrium or Acronis take any external target drive and partition and format it according to the source drive, or I can specify, correct? ie. basically the target drive only needs to be initialized?

As far as I know, the target drive can be in any state when you begin the clone---it just needs to be in good operational order--not defective. And large enough. I think the formatting is done by the cloning application. If the source is 500 GB and the target is 1 TB, I'm not sure if you end up with 500 GB in partitions and 500 GB unallocated--in which case you could add the unallocated to the partitions after the fact. Or you might end up with all 1 TB in partitions, where the cloning app automatically makes the partitions proportionally larger.

I'm not sure you can specify partition sizes before or during the clone--you may have to do it all after the fact.

I've never done a clone personally.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 May 2016   #7
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

All the comments in bold does not justify the statement:
"If my purpose is to upgrade or replace an internal drive, then cloning is the way to go."
I don't agree with the statement as a generalization but accept the OPs preference of course.

Other people read these posts and all I'm doing is refuting the comment as a generalization.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
Reply

 A cloned external hard drive to replace an internal HDD




Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search




Similar help and support threads
Thread Forum
RAW external hard drive after making it internal
So here's what happened. I've decided to make my 1TB WD My Book external HDD to an internal one, I connected it internally using SATA, booted up Windows, and found it wasn't displayed in my computer. I tried to assign a drive letter and initialize it, make it active but it stays at a RAW format....
Hardware & Devices
Missing files from external (internal) Hard Drive
I don't know if I'm going crazy or something, this is not the first time happened to me. For transferring large amount of data from a desktop to a laptop. (80GB - 100GB). I would usually pulled out the internal 2.5 HDD thru USB to the desktop and transfer the files directly. This is like the third...
Hardware & Devices
Can't replace internal d>drive
Hello everyone...I have a older system with win 7 pro 64 bit upgraded from xp pro. I have 2 internal drives C and D drives. I was prompted by windows to back-up and replace d>drive because it was failing. This is were my problem lies. For whatever reason there is a folder on this drive titled...
Hardware & Devices
External Usb 3.0 hard drive used as internal affect performance?
Hello all. I need some more space and I have a extra 1tb external hd. I want to turn my usb 3.0 external into a sata internal. Will this be the same performance as a regular internal drive with same specs(like if both are 7200rpm). Isn't it the same thing? Or external not made to be as good as...
Hardware & Devices
how to make your internal hard drive into and external hard drive ?
I have an internal hard disk not in use ,and I would like to make it as external disk ! I looked on the net and I found I should have the " encelsure " butt I think I wont find it here in my city . So is there another way ? like usb -esata cable ?
Hardware & Devices
Internal Hard Drive acting like an External Hard Drive
Hi guys, I'm new on any sort of forums so go easy if it's a stupid question..but here goes. Me and my brother built me a new computer from scratch (he did the building - i did the watching). To cut a long story short - I purchased an internal hard drive from Overclockers UK. It's a Samsung...
Hardware & Devices


Our Sites

Site Links

About Us

Find Us

Windows 7 Forums is an independent web site and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Microsoft Corporation. "Windows 7" and related materials are trademarks of Microsoft Corp.

Designer Media Ltd

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:35.

Twitter Facebook Google+



Windows 7 Forums

Seven Forums Android App Seven Forums IOS App