I subjected my hard disk (C drive) to a disk scan and found that there was 12 KB of bad sectors. I now consider that disk to be unreliable, and am looking forward to transferring all my data to another file.

The problem is, I want to clone the complete drive (including the apps, OSes, files and everything, verbatim) to another drive. I know there would be some crazy software activation issues, like Windows Not Genuine problem and so on. But I wonder whether is there a tool powerful enough to do the cloning and at the same time maintain the OS and apps?


Did I understand you correctly, that you want to use the same PC but just change the harddrive? In this case, you shouldn't get "crazy software activation issues".

You can simply use a backup software like

Acronis TrueImage

Acronis True Image Home 2011 assures that all your important data, including photos, videos, music, documents and applications, are fully protected and can be recovered quickly in the event of any disaster.

Or if you're looking for a free alternative:

Macrium Reflect

The only free XP, Vista and Windows 7 compatible disk imaging software with BartPE and Linux based recovery options.

  • Create a disk image whilst running Windows using Microsoft Volume Shadow copy Service (VSS).
  • Image to Network, USB, FireWire drives and DVD.
  • Built in scheduler.
  • 32 bit and native 64 bit versions.
  • Industry leading compression levels and speed.
  • Linux based Rescue CD with Network access and full GUI. Only 6.5MB in size!
  • Built in CD/DVD packet writing engine. Supports packet writing to DVD DL media with Windows Vista.
  • HTML log files.

Create a clone of your harddrive, use the Rescue CD to copy the backup to a new drive. Everything will be copied 1:1. Most programs really just give you a hard time with the licenses if you change multiple aspects of your hardware at once.

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  • 2
    Acronis's free trial version does not allow cloning. – AgA Jan 30 '14 at 4:59


I'm a fan of clonezilla which will do copy disk to disk and disk to image. It's free to use but the only thing it can't do is clone to a smaller drive.

As the others have said you may be unliekly to boot first time, unless you use it in the same computer with the same hardware.

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  • I think it is not for Windows. – AgA Jan 30 '14 at 4:59
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    @AgA, I have successfully used Clonezilla in the past for Windows syestems. – tombull89 Jan 30 '14 at 9:01
  • @AgA As tombull89 says, it works just fine for cloning a Windows drive. I transferred data from a platter to a SSD drive no problem just a couple of months ago. – Heptite Mar 5 at 4:43

I' ve used EASEUS Disk Copy (free) in the past. It worked very well, even with a disk that was so corrupted that it could not be recognised by Windows.

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  • it does not detect two SATA disks in my Windows 7 but Acronis trueimage works fine. – AgA Jan 29 '14 at 15:02

Macrium Reflect Free

Make sure you create a boot CD so you can get the image back onto the new drive.

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Cygwin is one of the solutions - if you want to do that from inside the backed up system. There are dd and pv commands which would help you. Also you can use live CD/DVD of unix-like system and then also compress the image. But you also have some trash from the disk (deleted files) in the backup.

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    The problem with that kind of backup is, that you have to have the same volume of new hard drive as the old one. If the new would be larger then you will have to expand the partitions. – pbies Nov 15 '12 at 0:44


Currently I would (1) make a bootable linux USB and boot from it, (2) install gsmartcontrol and make the long analysis of the old hard disk (sudo gsmartcontrol). (3) Then, install ddrescue and ddrescue-gui; in ddrescue gui, select the option "do a soft run" in "Settings". Selecting the input and output units, which you can know with gparted or sudo fdisk -l.

Alternatively, you could use a gparted live USB, which already comes with gsmartcontrol and ddrescue, run sudo gsmartcontrol - long analysis -, and then:

sudo ddrescue -f -n -r0 /dev/[baddrive] /dev/[gooddrive] /root/recovery.log

-f, --force              overwrite output device or partition
-n, --no-scrape          skip the scraping phase (preventing the utility 
                         from spending too much time attempting to recreate heavily 
                         damaged areas of a file) 
-r, --retry-passes=<n>   exit after <n> retry passes (-1=infinity) [0]

See also: https://datarecovery.com/rd/how-to-clone-hard-disks-with-ddrescue/

When cloning to a smaller drive, I would use clonezilla, first shrinking partitions to fit the size of the new HD, etc. link1 link2

enter image description here

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