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#371104 - 12/07/2018 22:56 System Drive Cloning
tanstaafl.
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/07/1999
Posts: 5383
Loc: Ajijic, Mexico
After having to nuke and repave my C: drive (my fault - don't ask!) I would like to set up a system where I could keep a cloned C: copy on an old but serviceable hard drive that I can keep in a drawer somewhere. Should the need arise, I would just pop that clone into an external dock and restore my C: drive.

Or is it that simple? Would I boot from the cloned drive, and then use that drive as my source to clone to the C: drive? My cloned drive's size would be about two and a half times larger than my SSD C: drive, which might be a problem.

What is the best easiest way to go about this? What are the pitfalls to avoid?

tanstaafl.
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"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"

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#371106 - 13/07/2018 02:53 Re: System Drive Cloning [Re: tanstaafl.]
Attack
addict

Registered: 01/03/2002
Posts: 578
Loc: Florida
I use CloneZilla https://clonezilla.org/ to move to new drives, so you could use it to make a bootable clone of your current drive. I would recommend booting once from the new backup drive just to confirm that it worked correctly as I've seen the clone complete but something went wrong and the clone drive wouldn't boot.

I just restored a backup that was created with the backup tool included with Windows 7 after I installed some updated drives caused Windows BSOD on bootup. The built in backup tool is nice as it allows you to keep multiple backup images, but you can't confirm that the backups will work like you can with using a cloned bootable drive.

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#371111 - 13/07/2018 17:05 Re: System Drive Cloning [Re: tanstaafl.]
pca
old hand

Registered: 20/07/1999
Posts: 1091
Loc: UK
I would add to that, once you've checked that the cloned drive works, if you need to restore it for any reason, clone it AGAIN onto a third drive and use that one.

There's nothing worse than having your machine eat itself, thinking "Aha! I have a backup!" then watching THAT one eat itself too...

At that point you generally burn the house down and go do something else smile
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#371113 - 13/07/2018 23:15 Re: System Drive Cloning [Re: tanstaafl.]
JBjorgen
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/01/2002
Posts: 3501
Loc: Guadalajara, MX
If you don't want to bother with making a boot USB or DVD to do Clonezilla, DriveImage XML is also free for private use and can hot image your drive while you are still booted and using it. UI is a bit clunky, but not too difficult.

Our household is exclusively Mac these days, so I use Carbon Copy Cloner, which has the advantage that it can automatically clone the hidden rescue partition that most of the others miss.
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#371145 - 25/07/2018 19:07 Re: System Drive Cloning [Re: Attack]
tanstaafl.
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/07/1999
Posts: 5383
Loc: Ajijic, Mexico
Originally Posted By: Attack
I use CloneZilla https://clonezilla.org/ to move to new drives, so you could use it to make a bootable clone of your current drive.
I am still a little confused about the actual mechanics of making the clone and more importantly, restoring it if necessary.

To make the clone seems straightforward enough. Choose the source drive, choose the destination, and tell CloneZilla to do its thing.

I will be cloning from a 110GB SSD drive to a 330GB external, removable hard drive in a USB dock. I know I can clone from a smaller drive to a larger physical drive, but will I have trouble restoring from the 330GB drive back to the 110GB SSD? Do I need to partition the 330GB drive into three 110GB partitions first? I think I would do that anyway, to have "A" "B" and "C" clones to give me more than one option for restoring. Do the partitions have to match the SSD size exactly to the byte?

My system drive (the SSD) is only about 36% full at the moment. Since the SSD is only partly filled, can I clone it to a smaller partition (say, 100GB instead of 110)?

When restore time comes around, how to I convince my computer to boot from the cloned drive, which will be drive letter H, or maybe I or J? From there, do I just tell CloneZilla the source and destination drives and let it do its thing? I assume that CloneZilla will already be on the newly booted cloned drive.

I imagine the procedure isn't as complicated as I am making out here, but I want to have a good idea of what is ahead of me before I start.

tanstaafl.
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"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"

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#371151 - 26/07/2018 00:10 Re: System Drive Cloning [Re: tanstaafl.]
Attack
addict

Registered: 01/03/2002
Posts: 578
Loc: Florida
It has been about a year since I last used CloneZilla, but I believe when cloning with a larger disk it will give you the option to expand the partition to use all of the available drive space. Doing a quick Google search CloneZilla doesn't clone to a smaller disks. I did see some other programs that can be used to shrink the partitions on the disk before cloning. I don't see how disk to disk multiple times would work since the cloning usually wipes everything from the backup disk before cloning.

If you want multiple backups to the same disk you will need to use the disk to image option https://clonezilla.org/show-live-doc-content.php?topic=clonezilla-live/doc/01_Save_disk_image but as I mentioned before unless you also restore the image to another disk you won't know if the backup will restore correctly.


Edited by Attack (26/07/2018 00:12)

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#371152 - 26/07/2018 02:54 Re: System Drive Cloning [Re: tanstaafl.]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12053
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: tanstaafl.
When restore time comes around, how to I convince my computer to boot from the cloned drive, which will be drive letter H, or maybe I or J?

If your internal drive fails, you can swap for the external drive and most likely it'll boot like normal if you use the same connections. If not, just go into the BIOS and select the former external drive to boot first. Or hit the F12 key at boot and select the external drive. I don't think you'll have to do all that though. Just swapping the drives should do it.

And yes, you can clone a larger drive to a smaller one as long as you shrink the partition first. Preferably smaller than the smaller drive and then you can increase it once you're up and running with the new one.

How often are you planning on doing these clones? Personally I wouldn't do them very often. The data backup is the more important part that should be done constantly.
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#371156 - 26/07/2018 12:34 Re: System Drive Cloning [Re: Dignan]
tanstaafl.
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/07/1999
Posts: 5383
Loc: Ajijic, Mexico
Originally Posted By: Dignan
If your internal drive fails, you can swap for the external drive and most likely it'll boot like normal if you use the same connections. If not, just go into the BIOS and select the former external drive to boot first.
"...swap for the external drive..." That involves dragging my computer hutch away from the wall (a two-person job) so I can go around behind it and disconnect about a dozen cables, then dragging the tower case out the front of the cabinet, disassembling the case (tools required) and then removing the SSD (more tools). Then reverse the procedure when I am done restoring the system.

It just might be easier to hold the F12 key after pressing the power button. smile

Can I partition the destination disk when making the original clone before the cloning operation? I'm guessing not, the cloning operation probably erases the partitions the moment it begins. But after the clone is complete, then I can partition the cloned disk to a size that my SSD will be happy with should I need to restore it. Is that how it works?

I would only be recreating the clone a few times a year, generally after significant changes to the system drive (the SSD). Like major Windows updates, or software updates or additions that require a lot of configuration. For example, it takes me hours to get Excel and Word looking and working just the way I like them. And, sometimes, Windows just goes tits-up, like mine did when it would no longer index and search the hard drives. My research into that told me that it is not an uncommon problem, and that nobody has found a general solution. What worked for one person didn't work for anyone else type of thing.

And, SSDs are known to just cease working with no warning, irrecoverable. I want to be prepared for that [inevitable?] eventuality.

My data is very well backed up, with backups of the backups in the external USB docks, and then backups of those backups kept off premises. Redundant copies of the really important data are kept on the hard drives that have the multiple backups.

tanstaafl.
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"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"

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#371157 - 26/07/2018 12:58 Re: System Drive Cloning [Re: tanstaafl.]
andy
carpal tunnel

Registered: 10/06/1999
Posts: 5759
Loc: Wivenhoe, Essex, UK
I've probably said this before, but...

This was one of the things that sold me on Macs. You can easily create a clone of the system drive to any drive, internal or external, and then boot from the clone without unplugging anything. Once you're booted from the clone you wouldn't know* you weren't running from the original drive.

I believe Windows has improved in this area a bit now though ?

* there can be some oddities with DropBox, but that is about it
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