Make an Exact Copy of My Hard Drive

Make an Exact Copy of My Hard Drive

By Bob Rankin

Increase your chances of surviving a hard drive disaster by cloning your hard drive.–PC Pitstop

To clone a hard drive means to make an exact copy of it. This is more than simply backing up data files; even hidden, protected operating system files are copied in a clone operation, and the exact position of every file on the original drive is preserved. Hard drive cloning (also called imaging) is useful for backup, disaster recovery, and other applications. Read on to learn more…

How To Clone a Hard Drive

A hard drive clone or image is often stored as a single, huge file called a “disk image” file. Think of it as a snapshot of your hard drive. A disk image can be stored on a hard drive, or offline media such as DVDs. It can be stored on a network drive, a web server, or in cloud storage. Wherever the disk image is stored, having access to the whole disk image or just individual files in it is an excellent safety net against hard drive crashes.

The “rescue disk” that comes with some computers is a clone of the computer’s hard drive as it was at the time it was shipped by the manufacturer. Restoring the contents of the rescue disk returns the hard drive to its factory-new state. Of course, all your personal settings; user-installed software; and personal data files are not restored. But at least you have a working system that’s not fouled up with malware or registry errors.
Hard Drive Cloning

This is one good reason to make your own backup image copy every now and then. If something goes wrong with your hard drive, a clone copy (disk image) can restore its exact contents at a certain point in time to the same or another hard drive.

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Excerpt shared with permission from Bob Rankin.

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12 thoughts on “Make an Exact Copy of My Hard Drive

  1. I strongly endorse this article and its significance to all users. If you are very unsure about using the various Disk Image software packages out there, you can have a professional at Staples or Best Buy or other major chains quote you. Actually, the software (I use Acronis Pure Image) is very user-friendly as is Norton's Ghost. As this article tries to point out, a disk image (digital recreation of your disk drive structure and it's contents) makes sure all your original and any new software or file additions are preserved up until the point of image creation. Once done, a simple schedule like once every three months or so will guarantee that should a catastrophic occurrence that "destroys" your hard drive will not be a catastrophic loss to you in data, and financial investments. You can save the disk image to a flash drive, removable hard drive (all of ample size – software user manual usually shows how to determine this). If you have something like Quicken or other financial applications, your living trust documents, etc….this practice is absolutely a "MUST"!

  2. You have mentioned hard drive cloning. I am new to computer technology. Could you explain in layman terms how to do this. Thank you.

    • @cyrus: i explained it as simply as i could a couple of comments down if you decide to get software to clone feel free to email me and if i can help i will . have a great day and good luck

  3. Use ‘Apricorn’ lets you copy/clone 2.5″ or 3.5″ drives. The best backup you can make.
    I clone my HD every 3 month, just to be save.
    When your main HD collapses, just connect your cloned version HD and you are ready to go. With prices as low as they are for HD’s., that I the only way to go

  4. The link to this was “how to clone your hard drive”. I didn’t see any instructions, just an explanation what a clone is. I would like to clone my drive, make a disk image, and was anticipating simple instructions or suggestions.

    • @layne: making a clone of your hard drive can be very simple or kinda complicated depending on the software you use first of all your gonna need some were to put this copy so figure out how much data you have to backup/clone most software will only let you clone to a drive equal to or greater than the existing drive you can also use dvd`s but this is a very long process an external drive is ideal so you have a place to put your clone now you need software cloneing software can be expensive and some of it is very complicated nortons ghost is an option but a little confusing i lost an entire hard drive full of my personal data learning i now use imgburn it is very simple and works like a charm i can burn any kind of cd dvd clone whatever its fairly cheap and definatly worth the money ive lost alot of important data and programs and it is so not cool so you get imgburn and download it to your desk top once you click on it you will see how simple it is it will ask you what do you want to do? 6 choices #1 write img file to disk (img/clone same thing) obviously we wont pick that one yet #2 create img file from disk this is the one you want to make a complete clone of hard drive once you click this button it will begin making your clone its gonna make a huge file basically the same size as the data being cloned and store it on your drive temporarily once it is done it will take you to option #1 write image to disc once you click this it will look for a disk to store it on youll need to hook up external drive it will recognize it and write to the disk once that is done option # 3 comes into play verify disk this option checks to see if it was successful walla your done option #4 is write files/folders to disk basically backup option #5 create image file from files/folders creates image/clone of files/folders you pick and 6 is discovery not sure what that option is never used it so i hope this helps good luck feel free to email me with other questions or comments if i can help i will. steve 🙂

  5. How does one chose the hard drive to scan to
    DVD or external hard drive. For a body that is fairly new to a computer, it is mystifing.

    • @Bill Whiters:
      Seagate Maxtor has a Program on a Disk where
      you can clone your entire HD from one to an other. Very simple procedure. One of the disk, either source or target has to be a Maxtor/Seagate.
      The is a Gadget ‘Apricorn’, gives u USB cabels and adabter for SATA&PATA drives, 2.5″ or 3.5″ drives, plus Program how that lets you do it. Simple to operate.

    • @Bill Whiters: Usually, for PCs the main hard-drive where your operating system “lives” is typically the “C:\” drive. I would guess that for most persons new to computing on PCs, this drive is the drive you “image” or “clone”. If your computer system is more complex in its setup, you really should seek professional assistance. I have confidence you will do the right thing. Enjoy!!!

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