A hard drive upgrade is now a common upgrade undertaken on both desktop and laptop computers. Usually it is recommended that you completely reinstall the operating system on the new drive for the cleanest of installs but this is not always wanted or possible and in these case you can clone your current hard drive to your new drive. The benefits of this are
- There is no need to reinstall software
- No need to reinstall the operating system
- Your drive is cloned but the space available increased
There are a few things that should be noted.
1. You can’t clone a larger drive to a smaller drive. For example if your current drive is 250GB you cannot clone it to a 200GB drive for obvious reasons.
2. There are many free software programs out there that let you clone like for like (250GB to 250GB) but those that do let you clone from a smaller drive to a larger drive can be more complex.
Free Software Vs Non Free Software
There are a number of free tools out there that can clone your hard drive but many of them can be complex to use or don’t clone the smaller drive to a larger drive they only do like for like copies. You can find tools like clonezilla or easeus disk copy will do a disk clone very well.
In my experience there are a couple of non free programs out there that I have used in the past that makes this task easy and pain-free without having to have a wealth of technical knowledge.
Acronis True Image Home
True image is not only a tool you can use to clone your hard drive it is also a fully featured backup suite.
The clone tool in the program allows you to make a duplicate copy of your drive to a drive of equal size or a larger drive. When cloning to a larger drive the software adjusts the free space to use all available space on the new drive.
Another tool that is very popular and effective when cloning a drive is Norton ghost which can be purchased from Norton website. Norton Ghost has a feature called copy my hard drive which clones an exact copy of your current drive.
Cloning Vs Reinstalling
I believe if you have the windows installation disks and product keys for your software your best option is always to reinstall the operating system rather than clone your hard drive.
The reasons for this are simple. You will get a lot cleaner install from a re-install then you will from a hard drive clone. While cloning the hard drive with some software is easy and works great they are never 100%. By installing a clean version of your operating system you are giving your computer and new hard drive a fresh start.
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