0Inside HDD LogoCloning a system disk

The next job on my fest­ive tech­nic­al sup­port rounds was to upgrade my old man’s laptop HDD to a new SSD. In the past such upgrades have usu­ally involved oth­er com­pon­ents and neces­sit­ated a fresh install of win­dows, but with this upgrade being just one com­pon­ent, to a Win­dows 7 PC, I decided time was ripe for a fresh invest­ig­a­tion of the pos­sib­il­ity of clon­ing the old drive onto the new

There are vari­ous paid products out there, but I have almost always found free or open-source altern­at­ives which are often more power­ful, bet­ter doc­u­mented and bet­ter sup­por­ted. I found a range of free options, and after read­ing a few com­ments settled on a choice of 2. CloneZ­illa, which runs from a bootcd, and Mac­ri­um Reflect, which runs under Win­dows. As I had a spare PC which was already run­ning Win­dows I decided to use the latter.

The install­a­tion includes win­dows PE com­pon­ents which made it a size­able down­load but it all installed without any prob­lem. Run­ning the pro­gram presen­ted an option to clone the disk which I selec­ted. I cloned an full 320Gb 7,200rpm WD Blue HDD onto a 480Gb SSD. By full I mean the HDD had around 2Gb free, so there was a lot to copy. This took 1 hour 21 minutes. After clon­ing I used win­dows disk man­age­ment to expand the main sys­tem par­ti­tion on the clone to fill the remain­ing 150Gb.

The upgrade was com­pleted by slot­ting the SSD into the vacant HDD space in the laptop. The sys­tem booted flaw­lessly first time, request­ing just one reboot after detect­ing the new hard­ware. The laptop in ques­tion is no hap­pily in use, with lots more free space, and with a huge increase in per­form­ance. A very good result.

Update July 2018

If you need to first shrink the par­ti­tion that is mostly empty, but is too large to fit on the new drive this can be done with the built-in “diskmgmt.msc” tool. First you will need to defrag the drive to move all the files to the start of the drive. This can be done with a pro­gram called “Per­fect Disk” which has a free tri­al (fully func­tion­al) available.

Update Sept 2018

Sev­er­al sys­tem files may show up as “excluded” and may refuse to move. This can be fixed. You must run “Per­fect Disk” on the sys­tem the drive is ori­gin­ally from. You need to turn off and delete vari­ous things as follows…
1. Run clean­m­gr, select to clean up sys­tem files, tick all the options and do a clean. Amongst oth­er things this removes tem­por­ary inter­net files
2. Turn off hiberna­tion in power management
3. Turn off the page file
4. Turn off and delete all sys­tem restore points
5. Run services.msc and turn off the win­dows search service

Finally, and only if you still can­’t fully shrink, run a disk check

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