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If you’ve ever wanted to clone your Windows 10 drive, you might’ve found that it takes some know-how. There are many things that you need to keep an eye out for in this process, and many of them, if set-up the wrong way, might leave you with a cloned drive that doesn’t work like you intended it to. Fortunately, we got your back here, with detailed instructions on what to do.
Click on these links to jump to the different parts of the article:
- Why clone your drive?
- What is Clonezilla and why it is the tool that you need
- The downsides to Clonezilla
- The actual cloning steps
Why would people want to clone their drive?
There could be many reasons. They might want to do it…
- As a simple backup strategy: so they could have a clean installation in case their computer gets infected with a virus, or malfunctions.
- So they could have a faster version of their operating system on an SSD.
- So they could have all their files and preferences immediately on somebody else’s computer.
And to do all those things, I wholeheartedly recommend Clonezilla.
What is Clonezilla and why is it the only tool you need for cloning
Clonezilla is an open source software. It is basically a combination of multiple packages which give you an extremely efficient piece of software that you can use to clone from one to forty machines simultaneously. For a personal user one is enough, but for an enterprise IT pro, this advanced functionality can be priceless.
Clonezilla comes with support for numerous file systems such as ext2, ext3, xfs, jfs, GNU/Linux, HFS+, NTFS, FAT etc. There’s also Multicast and LVM2 support. The software comes from the NCHC (National Center for High-Performance Computing) software labs and gives you plenty of flexibility. You can clone anything from a single drive, to a single partition within the drive, to be able to recover it later. Storing the cloned data can be done as a duplicate copy, or as an image file, it is your choice, and it’s also up to you whether you store it on an internal/external drive, CD/DVD drive, or even on a networked drive.
Are there any downsides to Clonezilla?
It’s worth mentioning that there are two potential caveats to using Clonezilla, but they’re both pretty easy to deal with.
- The first one is the user interface. Many users aren’t really used to the cursor-based, DOS-like interface, and this might be a brick wall for them. However, one, the UI is nonetheless fairly intuitive, and two, we’ve outlined all the steps down below, so all you need to do is read them through.
- The second one is that Clonezilla isn’t really backed up by a large company that has your back when something goes wrong. It is, however, backed up by an open source community that is huge, and that has a lot of skills and knowledge – and to us that feels like enough.
Now that we have the details of what it is, why you need it, and why you need Clonezilla rather than something else, let’s jump into the cloning.
Let’s clone! Follow these steps:
- Download the Clonezilla ISO. Clonezilla works from a live CD or USB, so you’ll need to make one for the purpose of using it. The easiest option is to use something like Rufus or UNetbootin for this, as both are lightweight tools that are practically made for this. Once you have your live CD, or USB, ready, it’s time to get to work.
- Next, either attach the USB, or insert the CD, in the computer whose drive you want to clone. Afterwards, you will want to reboot the device. Interrupt the booting process (unless your boot order is set to boot from USB/CD first, and hard drive second), and boot from the Clonezilla media, instead of your boot drive. What you’ll see here is the Clonezilla boot screen. Choose Clonezilla Live, and let’s get started.
- Choose a language and continue. You’ll be asked to choose a keyboard layout, and you’ll be presented with two options. The default one is the US keyboard, so if that’s what you want, or are using, choose “Keep”. If you’re using a different one, choose “Change”, and select the layout you want accordingly.
- Here you can either go with a console, or start Clonezilla. Unless you’re someone who knows their way around both Clonezilla, and a console, go with the “Start Clonezilla” option.
From this point on, be extra cautious
- This is where you get to choose between doing the copy directly, device-to-device, or creating an image. The better option is to create an image, especially if you’re cloning or backing up for the first time.
- Next, you need to choose where you want Clonezilla to save your image. If you are someone who knows what they’re doing, you can choose SSH, NFS or Samba, but they all require setting up. Usually what you’ll be using is the local_dev option, which saves your image to an external drive. Note though, that since the image is pretty big, you’ll want the external drive to be at least as big as the drive you’re imaging. This might be obvious, but still, it’s important enough that it’s worth mentioning.
- Next, you should choose which repository holds your image. You must be careful here, as selecting the wrong partition might mean that your primary, working partition, gets overwritten. For example, in Linux, you have partitions labeled like “sda”, “sdb”, “sdd” etc. The partition that ends in a is the primary partition, and you must not overwrite it. Give your image a name, and let it work. A good idea here is to include a date, especially if you’re doing this often. That would help you to easily determine which backup it is.
After this, it’s time to let Clonezilla do its thing. As far as imaging tools go, it is actually pretty fast and snappy. That means that it would take take anywhere from half an hour to three hours. This depends on your drive’s size, how much data it has, as well as the interface you use to transfer the data. Once it completes, you’re good to reboot your machine. In case anything happens, you now have a fully working backup of your drive.