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Windows 7: Best way to 'clone' failing HDD to new HDD

27 Sep 2017   #1
Hoggy Dog

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
Best way to 'clone' failing HDD to new HDD

The HDD (on another machine) has begun to sound like a coffee grinder and I need to replace it. Fortunately, it is still bootable, readable and writeable, but I'm afraid it won't be for very much longer. I have nosed around the forums here and encountered terms like "image the drive" and "clone the drive" but I'm not sure what either of those semantically identical terms actually means in any way that I feel proficient to accomplish. I'd prefer to avoid reinstalling Windows 7 x32 from the Windows DVD because that would mean I would have to spend the next 6 months watching Windows Update do its thing.

So rather than spending hours looking under the hood trying to see how fuel injectors work when the car may be completely wrong for me, I'd like to ask a higher-level, hopefully simpler question: What is the best (easiest, fastest) way for me to replace the system HDD in my computer without losing anything? My new HDD will be larger than my old one.

In a perfect world, the answer would be something along these lines:
  1. Install the new drive as an additional internal drive
  2. Download the "Utility For Migrating Absolutely Everything Including The OS And All 3,000 of Its Updates From A Failing Drive To A New One"
  3. Create a bootable CD/DVD then copy the above utility onto it
  4. Boot the machine from the CD you just made
  5. Push the big red "DO EET NAOW" button on the above software interface
  6. Go watch the Science Channel for 2 hours so you don't have to listen to the grinding noise
  7. Use BleachBits on the failed HDD
  8. Uninstall the wiped HDD from the machine and beat it with hammers
  9. Profit
Thanks in advance for any help, or links to what I need to do.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Sep 2017   #2

Linux Mint 18.2 xfce 64-bit (VMWare host) / Windows 8.1 Pro 32-bit (VMWare guest)

"Clone" means a sector-by-sector exact physical copy of the hard drive -- errors and all.
"Image" means that the contents of the drive are copied, file by file. Physical drive errors won't be in the image, although if a file is corrupt, that error will be in the image.

It is normally recommended that you do an image backup rather than a clone backup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Sep 2017   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit sp1

If your current HDD is still working, download Macrium Reflect Free & install it. Once you have done that install the new HDD to the computer & make sure it is recognised & then you can clone your old HDD to the new one. This should give you an exact up to date version of your existing HDD & preserve all your installed programs as well.

Macrium Software | Your Image is Everything

Cloning is the easiest way to do it if goes to plan & I have used cloning on number of occasions & it has worked perfectly, but if your old HDD has major sector failures & other problems, then imaging is preferred. You can try either with the Macrium Reflect Free if needed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

28 Sep 2017   #4

win 8 32 bit

A clone of image will copy bad sectors to the new drive some imaging has a setting to not copy bad block but if you don't turn that on it will copy bad blocks this varies with each software. It's a bad idea to clone a bad drive even if you skip bad blocks you don't know what is corrupted
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Sep 2017   #5

Linux Mint 18.2 xfce 64-bit (VMWare host) / Windows 8.1 Pro 32-bit (VMWare guest)

Actually, there's no reason why you couldn't make a clone backup and an image backup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Sep 2017   #6

Windows 7 HP 64

Don't boot from the failing HDD. Take the failing HDD and install it on the other desktop.
With Macrium Software | Your Image is Everything clone it to the new HDD or make an image (save it) and then restore it on the new HDD.
The main difference of Clone and Image
- When you clone you transfer from one disk to the other. Unless you choose to clone sector by sector, it will read and write.
- When you make a disk image, it will read the source disk, compress and write to a disk as a file. To save space, some programs skip to save temporary files.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Sep 2017   #7

win 8 32 bit

We have been through this before clone or image with MR will copy bad sectors or abort with error code 23 unless you follow specific procedure failing to do that can give you a new disk with bad sectors in my view its not worth the risk the correct procedure is here Imaging disks with bad sectors - KnowledgeBase - Macrium Reflect Knowledgebase
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Oct 2017   #8

Windows 7 Professional

Just installed a new SSD into an old machine with a 40Gb hard drive. I'm not exactly the most clued up of people but I managed it ok.

I bought a Kingston UV400 240Gb drive with upgrade kit, which contains "everything you need" - not quite - the cradle adapter didn't actually fit the bay so I had to drill extra holes for it to line up, and the Sata cable was only just long enough so I bought a new longer one so I could route it around the box better.

The supplied software needed more space than was available on the old hard drive so I uninstalled some programs, deleted some files but it was only happy when I had 2Gb of free space. Once that was installed the cloning feature of the software worked really well. I just had to go into the BIOS to alter the boot sequence, and this is where I have an issue which I will ask a separate question about so I'm not hijacking this thread.

I just wanted to say it was much easier than I expected for my relative inexperience.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Oct 2017   #9
Hoggy Dog

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit

I installed a new 500GB HDD as Drive 2 on the machine with the occasionally-noisy-but-still-working-fine System drive, and started the Clone process. Yes, I read everything here about Image vs. Clone, but after reading it I concluded that Imaging creates a compressed file containing only the System files and Boot Sector (basically backs up Windows but no other programs or user files) and since I can't boot from a compressed file, I decided to go with the Clone option.

I had questions as I initiated the process, chief among them: do I format the new drive first? Since neither you kind responders nor Macrium suggested it, I skipped that and pushed the Clone button, which is running now.

Assuming that the cloning completes successfully (16% in ~10 minutes, so confidence is high), I have the following questions:
  • Since cloning is a sector-by-sector operation, how do I 'enable' the part of my new drive that exceeds the size of my source drive so I can actually use the extra storage space?
  • After the cloning, will my new clone-destination drive be bootable? Can I just uninstall my old drive and the machine will miraculously 'know' to, and be able to, boot from the new (and only installed) drive? As info, I already set the new drive as boot priority #1 (since it was empty and not even formatted I knew the boot process would skip it) so when I uninstall my old drive after the cloning I will be uninstalling Boot Priority #2.
Thanks for the responses so far, and the discussion, which have been educational for me.

  • No, it's not necessary to format the new HDD before cloning onto it.
  • Yes, the newly cloned HDD is immediately bootable.
  • Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Managerment > Disk Management let me expand the new 265GB partition to fill the entire 500GB new drive.
  • Do NOT delete all the duplicate Desktop icons that suddenly appear after you clone your drive! They are duplicated because at that moment you have two system drives in your machine, each with its own record of what desktop icons you should have. When you delete one icon, the other one goes too, leaving you (for a hypothetical example) with no Computer icon at all. Don't ask me how I know this.
Marking this solved with thanks to all who helped!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Oct 2017   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit sp1

Thanks for getting back & glad to hear all is working well.

Disconnect the old drive from the motherboard, so there is no confusion on which disc is booting the computer.

Also check if the new Hard Drive is showing up as C:.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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