You might be replacing a broken drive, or thinking about upgrading to a faster solid state drive Whatever you plan, it can often be inconvenient to switch from one hard drive to another, especially if it’s the drive containing your operating system or important documents and media files.
Instead of slowly and manually copying files, it’s easier to clone your hard drive. There are several ways to clone a hard drive in Windows 10, including creating a Windows 10 system image for system drives using third-party drive cloning software for other types of drives.
Create Windows 10 System Image
If you want to clone the system drive that you have Windows 10 installed, one of the best ways to do so is to create a Windows 10 system image. This built-in method, originally developed for Windows 7 PCs, clones your drive entirely, allowing you to copy it to a new drive later.
You can do this, for example, if you are switching to a new disk with more memory.
- To create a Windows 10 system image, right-click the Windows Start menu and select Settings.
- From the Windows Settings menu, click Update & Security> Backup> Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
- The backup and restore window will open. To get started, click “Create System Image” in the left menu.
- The Create System Image window will open. Select a location to save the disk image from the options provided. You can save to another hard drive, multiple DVDs, or a network drive on your local network. When you’re ready to proceed, click Next.
- If you have multiple drives connected to your PC, you will need to choose which drives you want to add to the system image first. The confirmation step will indicate the minimum amount of storage you need. When ready, click “Start Backup” to begin creating the image.
This process may take some time, depending on the size of the system image and disk or the file location you are using to save the image. Once the process is complete, you can use the new system image to restore your Windows installation to the new disk.
Using third-party cloning software
If you are looking for other ways to clone your hard drive in Windows 10, you may prefer third-party disk cloning software. There are many options available, from paid ones like Acronis Disk Director to free ones like Clonezilla, depending on your budget.
However, one of the best tools is Macrium Reflect Free As the name suggests, it is free software capable of backing up disks on a regular basis and also creating single clones to move from one disk to another. You can also upgrade to the paid version with additional features.
You will need a second drive, ready and installed or connected to your computer, to be able to clone the drive. Alternatively, you can create a complete image of your disk, which will allow you to copy the files to another disk later.
- Open Macrium Reflect Free to get started. Select your disk from the list of Macrium disks, then click either Clone This Disk or Create Image This Disk, depending on how you want to clone the disk.
- If you decide to clone or create a disk image, you need to confirm the source (the disk you want to clone) and the destination (the place to save the image or the disk to clone files to). The options will differ slightly depending on whether you choose to clone the disk or create a disk image instead.
- Confirm your choice and click Next.
- You will need to confirm your options before starting the cloning or imaging process. Check if the settings are correct and click Finish.
- Macrium will ask you if you want to start the backup process now. Click OK to confirm in the Backup Options window, after making sure the Run this backup now box is checked.
It will take time to complete the process. Once this is done, you can safely use the cloned disk, and move or deploy the cloned disk image elsewhere.
Using Hard Disk Burner
If you’re having trouble cloning your hard drive securely using software, you can use a hard drive duplicator instead. These devices allow you to clone the drive yourself, which makes them a good option if you don’t have the ability to connect a second drive to your computer or laptop.
Many hard drive duplicators support both USB and SATA connections, which allows, for example, copying a standard drive to an external USB drive. They also usually allow you to erase data from the disk. If you copy files to a new drive, this will allow you to quickly remap the old drive afterwards.
If you choose a duplicator with multiple disks, you can clone your disk to several other disks at once. This will allow you, for example, to deploy the same Windows installation across multiple computers.
In a sense, a hard drive duplicator is probably the easiest way to try. If you’re having trouble with cloning software tools, connecting hard drives to a duplicator will allow you to clone drives without any additional settings or input.
Transfer files in Windows 10
Whether you are cloning a system drive or switching to a new external hard drive, keeping your files safe is essential. The system image feature is a great way to clone a hard drive in Windows 10, but it’s only useful for system drives. For other types of connected storage, software such as Macrium Reflect will help you copy the files.
With the right backup system, you might not have to worry about cloning your hard drive in Windows 10. Setting up an automatic backup system for Windows can make switching hard drives easier, but if you want to be sure your files are safe, there are many free ones available. disk cloning utilities for Windows 10.