I have a computer with only one harddrive but I have a spare harddrive that I can temporarily use.

I can't format my computers harddrive because I still need to use the operating system every day and to setup, install and update all my works programs it would take over 24 hours so to prevent downtime I want to install the operating system and programs to a second harddrive and then once it's setup correctly I need to wipe the first harddrive and copy the entire os, files...etc back over to the first, now clean drive.

Is there a way to do this or is it better to do it with partitions or something?

Any ideas?

marked as duplicate by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Tog, Heptite, Kevin Panko, David Jan 22 '14 at 2:15

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Your best bet would be to clone the original HDD to a spare. You'll want a drive that is IDENTICAL to the source disk, and something like Clonezilla. Workflow should follow:

  1. Prepare live CD/USB Drive.
  2. Attach secondary drive to system.
  3. Boot to live CD/USB Drive. Choose "ToRam" option in the Clonezilla boot
  4. Choose Language & keyboard layout Choose "Start Clonezilla", then "disk to local disk"
  5. Choose source & target disk.
  6. Clone away!

Depending on the drive capacity, it could take anywhere from an hour upwards. At the end, you'll have two drives with identical data. Good luck!

  • The drives aren't identical so I guess I can't do this option :( – Hyflex Jan 20 '14 at 18:33
  • @Hyflex The drivers do not need to be identical. The target hard drive just has to be the same or larger capacity than the source. The make and model of the hard drives are not important. – cybernard Jan 20 '14 at 18:37
  • Default HD = 300GB, Temporary HD = 500GB – Hyflex Jan 20 '14 at 20:00
  • if i were to do an operating system how would transfering the licence keys work? – Hunter Jan 20 '14 at 22:53
  • Just get a license key reader and then when you install type it in, if you purchased the computer from a store then they normally do volume licensing which they have a builders version of windows (kinda complicated, not sure how to explain) however if your key is on the back/underside or inside the case then you should be fine :) – Hyflex Jan 21 '14 at 4:50

It's possible to do a portion of the Windows installation from another running system - the part where formats the destination drive and applies the .wim from the Windows disc to the hard drive.

The second part, where Windows goes through first time setup, must happen on the hardware it's going to live on.

If you want to clone your existing installation just to have a second working copy of it to later run on the exact same hardware, @xanderos's solution will work.

If you want to clone your existing installation to have a second working copy of it to run on different hardware, you have to run sysprep first. When you boot the drive off of another machine at a later time, it will go through the first time setup, scanning hardware, configuring the registry for the first time, and present you with the first time login. This is a good place to start looking into sysprep.

  • Your answer made me think of creating a custom dvd but I have no idea how to do this correctly. It would be awesome if I could put office 2007, 2010, my custom programs, dropbox, copy...etc all onto an installation pre-setup. – Hyflex Jan 20 '14 at 20:02

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