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Free way to clone HDD to SSD?

I have bought a new laptop and there is an original HDD which I replaced with the SSD one. I do want to make an image of the original hard drive just in case of any future issues. My problem is that when creating a copy with RAW processing option the time needed to complete the whole task is over 13 hours (and still rising after an hour from starting the operation).

The disk contains such elements:

  • first track obviously, MBR
  • hidden rescue partition
  • hidden utilities partition
  • main OS partition of size close to 470GB

Do I really need to read the last partition sector by sector? Is it enough to just make a copy of the first three partitions? I am also not sure if having the MBR only would be enough to recreate the last one, OS partition size and type?

Please notice that there is no valuable (private) data in the last partition I am interested in. The only need is to be able to recreate the system if I decide to sell the laptop with it's original OS configuration. If I can restore the HDD content and install OS on the last partition using a backup of only first three partitions, it's the answer I am looking for.

As I have quite a few machines to back up every now and then I would like to keep the process fast and the images as small as possible.

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slhck: This question is in no way a duplicate to cloning HDD to SSD drive question. I don't want to clone disk, just know exactly whether I need to clone the last partition, which contains OS data, to be able to reproduce the content in the future. –  qlf00n Dec 25 '12 at 13:38
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marked as duplicate by slhck Dec 24 '12 at 12:11

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2 Answers

No need to do raw at all. I recommend using driveimage.xml as a perfect free drive imager that can be used whilst running windows. http://www.runtime.org/driveimage-xml.htm

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If you take a raw image of the whole disk, this will include copying sectors of the disk drive that have been marked 'deleted', that is all that free space indicated on your hard drive is being copied. Presumably you have a very simple requirement and that is that you backup all the information you're actually using.

There are free tools out there that can achieve this level of backup, for example http://odin-win.sourceforge.net/ which is open source and supports only backing up used data.

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