If I have a 500GB SATA can I clone that to a 256GB SSD?
What is the procedure involved to do that correctly.
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This depends on what cloning software you're using to an extent, but as a general rule:
Is there a single partition of 256GB or less on the HDD? You can clone it across. If the HDDs partition is larger or there are several partitions that total greater than 256GB, the clone is liable to either outright fail, prevent you from initiating the process, or it may have unexpected results.
You could use PartedMagic to resize the partition on the HDD to fit on the SSD successfully and then clone it across. This won't work, of course, if there is more than 256GB of data in the partition.
Is cloning truly necessary in this situation? Cloning will bring across any baggage your OS installation has accrued, and you are presented with an opportunity to clean the cruft here.
If there is more data on the 500 gig than 256 gigs, then yes it does matter.
There are many pieces of software out there to clone drives, such as clonezilla, norton ghost, etc.
I prefer to use gparted and dd though.
Download and burn a gparted iso to disc, start up the live OS, check what the names of the drives are such as sda, sdb, sdc, sdz, etc.
Then open the terminal type in sudo bash to gain access to root.
Then type in dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=1M
Substitute sda for the drive your clone and sdb for the drive it goes to, if and of mean input and output, bs is the size of chunks of data that transfer, 1M being a decent speed with low chance of errors reoccurring causing dd to go longer.
For each 100 gigs of space you're looking at a hour or so.
You can but you would have to partition your 500GB drive to be under the 256GB limit of your SSD.
Refer to this question