OS Drive Cloning Query

Sam25

Golden Member
Mar 29, 2008
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Hello,

I wanted to clone and backup my currently running Windows 7 (x64, Ultimate) from my main rig to a separate drive for backup just in case my primary drive (120GB Samsung EVO SSD) on which I have my OS and programs installed suddenly had any issues. I would like to create a clone of the drive and then power down the cloned drive and keep it. Refresh cloning will be done once in 3 months. I might power up the drive once in a month just to run it to check if it's ok.

I have a spare 1TB WD Blue drive which I don't use otherwise and so I thought of using it for the said purpose but wanted to know if mechanical HDD's are suitable for storing data on them and then powering them down for 3-5 months straight? Also, cloning the drive a few times a year, will this harm the drive in any way? If mechanical drives aren't suitable for the purpose, then I could invest in another 120GB SSD for the purpose.

Kindly provide some insight into this.

Regards,
Sam25
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
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Nothing wrong with mechanical drive for backup. You do need to test your backup regularly though.
 

Sam25

Golden Member
Mar 29, 2008
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Nothing wrong with mechanical drive for backup. You do need to test your backup regularly though.

Thank-you for the reply, appreciate it!

Now, by testing do you mean powering the HDD a couple of times a month? Also, say I clone my OS on the drive and after about a couple of months I decide to re-clone it again what process should I ideally follow?

Should I connect the drive to the system, format the drive fully through Windows disk management and then clone it again? This seems like the most clean way, right?
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
94,869
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Thank-you for the reply, appreciate it!

Now, by testing do you mean powering the HDD a couple of times a month? Also, say I clone my OS on the drive and after about a couple of months I decide to re-clone it again what process should I ideally follow?

Should I connect the drive to the system, format the drive fully through Windows disk management and then clone it again? This seems like the most clean way, right?


So you clone it, then try to boot off the hard drive to see if it works. You can overwrite the hard drive every time you want to backup the main drive. The cloning process typiclaly erases the target drive so you don't need to do it before hands.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,707
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All previous advice is good.

However, if cloning, a caution. Not sure how this changes with GPT partitions and BCD, but suggest you power down the system immediately after cloning and disconnect the drive you don't want to test. Once satisfied, re-connect the drive you're keeping to make your system boot. Store the clone in a safe and accessible place.

Also. You do not need to make clones to do this. Instead, keep an HDD connected to your system in addition to boot-system physical disk and any second data-disk.

Download Macrium Reflect Free v6 or v7. Install. Make bootable Macrium Rescue Disc for your system.

Then, setup Macrium to do image backups on the third HDD. You can set it up to do a "Full" backup and several "Differential" backups in between at a scheduled time. Macrium can notify you when it starts to backup; it can manage the backup files and purge the oldest when drive capacity has only so many X GB available.

If you make less frequent backups, you can pull the HDD offline between them and connect it when scheduled, or do manual backups each time.

To make a "bare-metal" restore (but the target will probably be an SSD), boot from the rescue disc to the Macrium GUI after connecting the drive of image files. If the target still has the partitions intact from the working installation, delete them, then drag and drop all partitions/volumes defined in the image to the target. The program will then complete these operations with your permission.

Ordinarily, I would've leaned toward a clone. I had little experience with image backups other than those made by my WHS-2011 server (I know -- ancient. It will be replaced by 2012 R2 Essentials or later on new hardware.)

This time, I had to manage a successful clone -- a single clone -- of a dual-boot dual-system-volume physical SATA SSD to an NVMe M.2 SSD. Drivers had to be pre-installed in the Win 7 installation. And the dual-boot menu together with the power-related features of the two systems such as Sleep and Hibernate had to work perfectly.

Add to that the Build 1703 and other possible catastrophes, and I had to restore my system image about three times between January and April. Easy restorations. Now -- I still have the old backup, I still have the ongoing new backup, and everything is tip-top and flyin' high.

That gives me the option of restoring the very latest, restoring last week's or last month's. Or I can go back to Build 1607. But no need for that -- and I'll eventually purge those backup image files.

Of course Macrium will do the cloning, allows for volume resizing. But you don't need to wait long to complete an image update as compared to re-cloning an entire drive.

You could use Windows own features to do this. And you have to pay for the Macrium license "Home" or "Workstation" to provide the option of Incremental backups -- which take less time and add smaller files. But the Free version allowing Full and Differential is adequate.

Beyond simple cloning, the only thing necessary with imaging and restoration is to prove that your rescue disc works properly -- getting familiar with what's needed to boot from that optical disc.
 

Sam25

Golden Member
Mar 29, 2008
1,717
28
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Thank-you so much for the replies and much needed advice @sdifox and @BonzaiDuck, much appreciated. :)

I think managing one HDD and cloning will be easier for me. I will be keeping the cloned HDD in an accessible, safe location and will be connecting it to the system when I clone on it. In case my SSD (OS drive) dies or problems creep in suddenly, I can put the cloned HDD into the system and I will be set. I can then at a later point, buy a new SSD and have the OS switched to it for daily use again.
 

Ratman6161

Senior member
Mar 21, 2008
616
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91
Here is another option. Use an imaging product (I use Acronis TrueImage) to do regular backup images to the disk drive. Doing incremental, you could do daily backups. The disk drive would store many many days worth of incremental of the 120. Keep a flash drive or CD with the bootable recovery media. In the event of a failure just replace the boot drive, boot from the recovery media and image the new drive from the backup images. the regular backups can all be automated and zero effort once its all set up.
I've recovered systems this way many times.