Cloning Windows to a new drive

May 24 2022

My grandpa has been using his current computer for about 10 years now. After such a long time, the system has become quite slow and bulky. Back then it was relatively normal to use a HDD as a primary hard drive, which adds to the slow experience. It was time for an upgrade!

TL;DR: Use Clonezilla on a live usb stick to create an exact copy of your old drive onto your new one.

I got him a 512 GB SSD, which, conveniently, is the same size of his current HDD. While installing the new drive alongside his existing one, I thought about how to copy the existing Windows-installation.

Naïvely, I thought that I could just dd the contents of the HDD onto the new drive would work, since, every byte is copied as is, or at least that's what I thought. Turns out it wasn't that easy. I'm sure it would've worked if I was more careful, but by default, dd just wipes over each byte, not caring if it made a mistake. After very long 5 hours, I came back to the PC to see that it finished copying the 512 GB (yes, it's not just copying the data, it's copying the entire partition!). In a super excited mood, I restarted the PC and selected the SSD as a boot medium. Aaaaand... nothing. Windows tried to repair some stuff but it wasn't successful. I fiddled around with the boot partition a bit, but I had to give up after an hour or so.

The second attempt

After researching a bit (I should've done that sooner...) I stumbled across Clonezilla, a Linux distribution custom-built for this purpose. I flashed it onto a usb-stick and started the cloning process. After just 20 minutes (!), it was done cloning the existing data. The process is extremely simple!

Before rebooting, I disconnected the old drive to make sure that there's no funny business going on. Apparently, Windows had to self-adjust UIDs of the drives, but after a short "Preparing Windows" animation, the system started up as expected. Success!!

The performance of the new hard drive is amazing, at least compared to the HDD my grandpa had before. Plus, we can use the existing HDD to take full system backups every now and then, using the same process.

This is post 031 of #100DaysToOffload.


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