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Clone a Hard Disk Content to Another Hard Disk
Bit-for-bit copy of hard drive in Windows?

I was just wondering, if you simply using something like gparted to completely copy a partition of a hard drive on another one, can you simply stick either of them into the computer it was copied from and start up like nothing has been changed (With the exception of the obvious hardware change, of course).

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marked as duplicate by Karan, Tog, Kyle Jones, Canadian Luke, Renan Jan 10 '13 at 0:08

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Depends on how - copy/paste, definitely no. Bit for Bit Copy, yes - it should. Since you mention gparted, sounds like you are somewhat open to Linux tools - so you could use dd. Example: dd if=/dev/sdA of=/dev/sdB, of course, be sure you do the correct discs. If is INFILE of is OUTFILE! –  nerdwaller Jan 9 '13 at 17:57
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See Bit-for-bit copy of hard drive in Windows?, Clone a Hard Disk Content to Another Hard Disk and many other similar questions about drive cloning. –  Karan Jan 9 '13 at 18:08
    
Thank to very much, on a side note, would it be possible to do the same with this, except with a external drive, of course I could just plug it into the internal components but if I could use one of the USB connectors to connect the drive via USB would it be possible to boot up just the same. –  user88311 Jan 9 '13 at 18:11
    
See here. In general before Win8 Enterprise with its Windows To Go feature, no version of Windows AFAIK officially supported running from a USB drive. (Certain hacks/workarounds exist, but I wouldn't recommend them for long-term use as your primary OS.) –  Karan Jan 10 '13 at 15:04

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you do a straight copy of the entire partition (not just copy/pasting the files), you still need 2 things afterwards to get a bootable system:

  1. the MBR bootloader
  2. mark the copied partition as "active"

There are commands to install a new MBR from a Windows disk (see Chris's answer), but my favorite is to simply copy the first 440 bytes from sector 0 to the new drive via a hex editor. Download HxD, make sure you run it as Administrator, then manually copy/paste the fisrt 440 bytes of sector 0 on your existing hard drive to the new hard drive (in HxD, each row is 16 bytes long, and each sector is 512 bytes). Don't forget to hit save to commit the changes. Be very careful with this, as you can seriously mess things up if you don't know what you're doing.

For point 2, you can accomplish that using the diskpart utility, or again, using your hex editor to mofidy the correct byte. For the diskpart method, open a command prompt (as administrator), then type the following commands:

diskpart
list disk
select disk #  //pick the new disk from the list above
list partition
select partition #  //pick the C drive
active

Then, go ahead and stick the new drive in and boot it up!

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1. Can you give me a little help on doing that, I'd normally take the time to search that up and scroll through every page on the internet on how to do it, but because of my new job I don't get as much time as I used to. 2. That I know how to do, I've used gparted a few times and I know how to do it from within gparted. –  user88311 Jan 9 '13 at 17:55
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@user88311 If you use GParted or CloneZilla to copy the drive bit-for-bit, then on first run you use Windows built-in Startup Recovery (accessed before Windows actually boots) everything will work (I did this about 3 days ago). –  Kruug Jan 9 '13 at 18:09
    
Thanks, I'll of course try what others have told me, but if what you say is correct, this may be easier than first thought. –  user88311 Jan 9 '13 at 18:20
    
Yeah, it doesn't require you to configure any fancy tools or burn any discs. –  Bigbio2002 Jan 9 '13 at 18:21
    
Well I just found out that gparted doesn't actually do a true bit for bit copy of the the partition for if it did a partition that's 70 gigs and only 3 gigs full would take roughly a hour, not 2 minutes, to copy. –  user88311 Jan 26 '13 at 19:20

You can also use the BOOSECT command at a command line to copy a boot sector over. You will need to have access to Windows Vista or later install media and in particular, the \BOOT directory on the media or install directory.

Locate the install media or directories. Change to the \BOOT subdirectory Then run the following command

c:>bootsect /nt60 ?:

where ?: is the drive letter you want to copy the boot sector information TO.

-Chris

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Thanks, the computer with the drive I'm copying is windows vista, so I should be good, by install media I presume you mean the vista disc, which I don't have as it was a OEM machine, although the computer does have a partition that I can only access via gparted which I will assume is the boot disk –  user88311 Jan 9 '13 at 18:17

GParted is cool and all, but I'd recomend using microsoft's free imaging tool imagex if you're using windows. Use WAIK to build a boot disc, and use imagex to make an image and then apply that image. Safest way to do this.

Download WAIK

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=5753

To copy: imagex /capture d: d:\imaging\data.wim "Drive D" /verify

To apply: imagex /apply d:\imaging\data.wim 1 /verify

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I might try that, but after the many problems I've had come out of microsofts software, I trust gparted and linux based tools better. –  user88311 Jan 9 '13 at 18:00

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