How to Duplicate a Hard Drive: A Complete Guide

It is very useful to clone a hard drive, but how do you do it? This complete guide shows the steps of how to duplicate a hard drive.

We are lucky to be in the day and age where people can travel with their computers, surf whatever websites they like, and have the luxury of being on the computer for hours at a time.

With new technology comes new risks though. If you own a laptop, hard drives fail from constant movement. If you own a desktop, hard drives are at risk of viruses and various hackers.

One of the top ways to protect your data from a calamity is to have a clone of your hard drive. Knowing how to duplicate a hard drive is a major step to ensuring you are disaster-proof.

Everyone wants to be disaster-proof right? To learn how to keep reading!

What Is Duplicating A Hard Drive

Duplicating a hard drive is also referred to as cloning a hard drive. When you duplicate a hard drive, you are making an exact copy of the drive.

When you duplicate a hard drive, you are copying all the data from one hard drive to another. This method is great for people who travel a lot or have an at-risk computer.

Having a backup for your at-risk computer means that you can just plug the drive into a new computer and start where you left off!

This has also become extremely common since the popularity of SSD hard drives has risen. More and more people are moving from the old, slow disc drives to the new, powerful SSD hard drives.

It is important to keep in mind that this is different than having a backup of your files on your computer. A clone can run programs and boot up a fully functional operating system like Windows.

A backup, on the other hand, is just the files that are on your computer. Those files aren’t accessible unless you have an operating system to open them.

When duplicating a hard drive, you are creating a snapshot of your computer at that moment in time. Something to keep in mind is that it isn’t intended as a continual backup of the system. A cloned hard drive is an identical carbon copy of your hard drive.

Prepare For a Hard Drive Duplication

The first step in this process is obtaining an additional hard drive. With a new hard drive, almost everyone recommends buying an SSD hard drive. SSDs are insanely faster than your typical disk drive and they don’t break as easily.

You’ll also want to consider the size of the hard drive and ensure that it is large enough to store the same amount of data your original hard drive has. Additionally, you’ll want the hard drive to be empty. All previous data on the cloned hard drive will be overwritten.

With a Mac computer, you will need to buy equipment to connect the hard drive externally since you most likely won’t be able to connect it directly.

Next, you will need to download software to clone the hard drive. No one manually clones a hard drive anymore because there is free software on the internet that speeds up the whole process.

Free products we’d recommend are Marcrium Reflect Free or AOMEI Backupper Standard for Windows. If you clone a Mac hard drive, you’ll want to use Disk Drill. These products will simplify cloning hard drives for you.

Finally what you’ll want to do is backup your hard drive. Cloning a hard drive can be stressful on your original hard drive, so you want to ensure you have a backup in place for your files.

How to Duplicate a Hard Drive

Knowing how to duplicate a hard drive isn’t nearly as difficult as it used to be. Now cloning a hard drive takes a few minutes if you have a clean hard drive.

Steps To Duplicate a Hard Drive When Using a Windows Computer:

  1. Ensure that both hard drives are connected to your computer via USB or SATA cable
  2. Verify that Windows is detecting the hard drives by using the disk utility tool. You can find this by going to the start menu and typing in “Disk Utility”
  3. Launch the software that you’ve chosen to clone the hard drive
  4. Select which partitions you’d like to clone in the software
  5. Choose to clone the hard drive

Steps To Duplicate a Hard Drive When Using a Mac Computer:

  1. Plugin the external hard drive to your Mac Computer
  2. Verify that Mac is detecting both hard drives using the Finder tool
  3. Open the disk duplication software you’ve chosen
  4. Select which parts of your hard drive you want to clone over to the new hard drive
  5. Select to clone the hard drive

Cloning the hard drive will take some time, so you may want to have the software run the clone overnight. Once the drive is done cloning, you should have a complete duplication of your hard drive.

Now if you run into any issues or your previous hard drive fails, you’ll have a solution to just plug into a new computer and get going again!

The More Backup Plans the Better

With computers, nearly everything can fail at any time for various reasons. If you have a laptop, your hard drive is especially likely to fail sooner than later.

Once you know how to duplicate a hard drive and keep a backup of your files is the first step to ensuring that nothing catastrophic happens. Having the proper software in place, backups created, and caring for your computer will all help keep everything running smoothly.

For more articles about caring for your computer read our other blogs! We are here to ensure that your systems keep running smoothly.

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