Backup and Recovery: How to clone Hard Drive and boot from cloned drive

How to Clone a Hard Drive and Boot from Cloned Drive

If you have a desktop PC with a main drive (C) and a backup drive(E), and you also use an external Hard drive for recovery and backup then that is a great combination. If you lost access to the main drive(C), then you can go with backup drive(E) although it is a time consuming process.

To get remedy this, you can easily backup all your main drive(C) data to an External hard drive, simply by cloning the Hard Drive. This makes the cloned drive available to use in the future or on other computers by just booting from the Cloned drive. So the question arises, will a cloned hard drive boot? In order to clone a Hard drive and boot from it, you will need to follow some steps. This can be done easily.

In this post, I will explain you on How to clone a Hard Drive and boot from Cloned drive.

Both methods ensure the safety and future use of your computer. I recommend Widows OS, because most of the steps are based on windows PC.
If you are a Mac user, then stay tuned for our Next Update. This process let you easily restore all your data or else get back to your original computer state at previous time based on your cloned image.

You may have some questions and also little knowledge about recovery software. I’ll guide you here with some effective and easy techniques.

What does it Mean to Clone a Hard Drive:

What is cloning?  Cloning is a process that backs up everything on your PC. When backing up data there are many ways to do this which include manual backup or automated backup with software. But among all these methods – cloning of a hard drive can be considered the best. A cloned hard drive can replace your lost or failed drive on your computer.

Cloning involves two methods, clone the drive or make a drive image. Cloning the drive means making the entire backup of your computer as it is, which includes the system files, desktop files, your documents, all the installed programs, program history, etc.  Anything present on your hard drive is copied to clone drive which can be functional as your computer. You can use this Cloned drive on any other computer, which brings back your old PC, but in some cases it may hit with some hardware compatibility issues because the drivers supported on your old PC may be different than the Other PC in which you have swapped the Cloned drive.

The second method is Image, which makes the data on your computer into an image file. This doesn’t include the functional capabilities like cloned drive. You cannot use this image backup to run on other computers immediately because it actually creates a format file that compress all the data into one file, similarly like a Zip file does. You can save these backup images easily to other storage media, and create more than one image where you can include all of your hard disk data. Disk image option is also considered as one of best backup strategies, but the only drawback is that the image isn’t immediately functional.

How to Clone a Hard Drive:

  • Before you Start the process, make sure you have more storage or a Empty Hard Drive with atleast 300 to 500GB space available that can be easy to grab the whole data of your hard drive to backup. If you are not, then try using Disk image technique for your personal files to compress a little. Also ensure a cleaned drive, which means you have to remove all unwanted and unnecessary stuff from your computer that can result in low memory and less time.
  • Once your destination Drive is ready, make sure and sure it has enough space to save your data or you can also proceed with a bare drive. A bare drive already includes into some of laptops or desktops but not yet installed in a machine. Once you have the drive you can use it as a secondary drive or you can connect it with e-sata cable to use as external storage.
  • Get your hands on the Back-up utilities and recovery programs, there are several backup utilities available but among them we have chosen the best ones. One of our choices is Acronis Backup & Recovery. It is a powerful application which is mostly used by small businesses and IT experts. But if you are budget concious, then you can go with these best free alternatives such as CloneZilla, EaseUS Todo Backup Free and ShadowCopy.
  • Now we are on our way to making the Clone! Once you’ve got all of the above steps complete, now it’s time to start cloning. Connect the Destination Drive. Open up your backup utility, and follow the utility’s option on copying your hard drive to the destination drive. As the process starts, it may take time depending on the size and date of the hard drive to be cloned and the speed of original hard drive and backup drive. This process can take several minutes or hours in some cases.
  • Well, after completion of the cloning process, now you’ve the exact copy of original at that moment of time. If the original one crashs, any changes made in the future will only affect on original one. Now it’s important to keep that cloned drive safe and accessible. If you are planning for long term use later, then you have to keep the drive safe from moisture, or any extremes in temperature. A good idea is to place the drive in anti-static bag that is prone to electrostatic discharge.

How to Boot from a Cloned Drive:

When you are ready to restore your computer to original state back with the Clone drive, then it will be easy to make it. You have to boot from an external drive which contains a clone, where your PC should detect the boot from USB mode with having appropriate USB drivers installed.

Modern computers will have this feature, but I suggest you check in the Bios to make sure it have correct settings. Restart your PC, and find a message telling you how to enter into BIOS. In most cases by pressing the F2, F12 or Delete (Del) will take you to BIOS.

Now use Arrow keys and Navigate to BOOT settings tab, like boot order or Boot Priority section. In this select the first boot device and press Enter. If it shows External USB drive listed as an option then your PC is able to boot from it.

If the USB drive contains the Clone of your main drive then it boots your PC as normal. You may encounter that windows may ask you to re-activate your windows, as it finds out the frequent hardware changes. You should also know that your Original computer was using the same license as the Clone does, so completely remove the Original one then re-activate the windows.