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Do I copy, clone or image?

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Punkyfish 1 month ago


I am nearly ready to format my HDD after setting up a new system with SDD as OS and programs. My question is this, I want to back up the data on the drive before formatting it and I'm not quite sure what the difference is between clone, copy and image if there is one?

I need all of the data and am seeking advice as to the best way to do it!


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mroshaw 1 Build 1 point 1 month ago

Cloning technically means creating a like for like HDD "clone" from your old HDD. Imaging involves taking a sector by sector copy of your HDD and storing it in an image / file, from which you could create a clone later if you wanted. If you do a straight forward file copy within the OS, from one device to another, there's a chance you might miss something, though there are ways around that, using switches on the XCOPY or ROBOCOPY commands, for example. IMO, imaging is "safer" than copying files, in that you'll get a copy of everything that was on your HDD, including system and hidden files and any other bits and bobs, and you can mount that image any time in the future and copy stuff off. You will, of course, need storage free somewhere to store your image!

Punkyfish submitter 1 point 1 month ago

Thanks that’s really helpful, imaging it is as I can’t find some stuff. Thanks for your help!

yawumpus 1 point 1 month ago

clone/imaging will allow you to boot the drive after you reload the backup. Simply copying won't let you do that (but should save all the files). Also windows might be picky about letting you run programs without reinstallation, expect some system file somewhere to be needed that doesn't want to be backed up normally.

But the big question is where are you going to store the backup? Typically HDDs are larger than SDDs, so unless your HDD is quite empty (and you compress the backup a lot), I'm not sure where you will fit it.

Note that if you image (and probably clone) a drive, you will most likely want to fill up any unused space with actual lank space. Imaging will copy any old deleted (emptying the trash isn't enough) data, and take up space on your backup (unlike copying). Doing this with "all zeros" blank space means it compresses to almost nothing.

Punkyfish submitter 1 point 1 month ago

Thanks, I’m going to make an image, do I need specialist software or is there anything in Windows 10 or Samsung magician that would help?

TheShadowGuy 1 point 1 month ago

A bootable Clonezilla USB would work very well for this.

Punkyfish submitter 1 point 1 month ago

Will have a look at that thanks

pcbldragain 1 point 1 month ago

I just did this with clonezilla on a USB, though I had to use an older version to get it to work. Just to detail; clone makes a clone of a disk or partition. An Image makes that clone of disk or a partion into a file you can restore later. You have to put the image file someplace. You have to have empty space to put a clone also. An image file you can make to an external disk, you can move that file around just like any other. Image can be nice to back up a whole drive or partition 'as it is'. Clone is often used to copy an existing drive to a new one that will work the same as it did.

I cloned a 1tb HDD to a 500gb SSD. I had to suffer through shrinking process to get it to 450 or so, then it worked great. Then you enlarge the partition in windows to get all your drive. I left the old drive as it has plenty of room on it, and it can be booted so it is a backup of sorts. I did have to change a disk ID on it to make windows happy.

Punkyfish submitter 1 point 1 month ago

Very helpful thanks!