Cloning any old Windows boot drive to a newer drive and for sure to a new SSD or M.2 NVME drive.
(lots of ways to fail seen here)

Or do the 
image backup way.

The reason we clone are 3 fold, 
  • A Newer larger HDD or a SSD (smaller ?) upgraded for speed!.
  • or want to  have a cold (parked on a shelf) spare ready to run if the one you spin now, goes belly up?
  • Or reloading W10 from scratch, will kill dead, 100+ applications on said PC and worse all the licensed software APPS are now dead /locked up or crippled in Demo mode.
This page is W10 centric, but W7 is nostly the same rules.
Cloning has been simple and easy for over 25year using simple HDD and simple good ole'  MBR partitions. ($5 for the software to do it cheap and fast)
Then UEFI+GPT+TPM was born, adding huge complexity (can) to such 20 year old simple act, of cloning.

Minitools partition wizard is  good choice.( I do like it)

Many free apps are infected with McAfee or Avast malware loads or game demo , and no  WARNING whatsoever, and is now illegal this practices, by GDPR laws and now USA NIST.GOV rules.
It is true now (thank Deity) that hiding malware or demo preloads is officially illegal. (if the first install page shows an X box for sideloaded McAfee(cle) then ok.)
The software has been evolving fast since 2015 Windows 10 64bit release and UEFI entanglements vast. (read this as buy the newest one or fail)
If MS Bitlocker is on you must turn it off,  or any cloning will fail.
I have special tools I use to find out of some errant application has sideloaded MALWARE loads (seen mostly  on the free versions) and use REVo Uninstaller 4 to erase all this malware crap.
The goal here is for the new disk (target) to boot and run normally.

Good reports   Seen here.

I like this list best at GIZMO's

Steps to take:  ( I use a  LSI-9211 RAID card (HBA mode and flashed)  plugged into a PCI-express slot) I can  clone any disk to any disk,  SATA HDD to SAS too. (or the reverse) (even SAS to SSD or M.2 NVME)
 
After down loading the new CLONING application, to clone we test it first this way before installing it.
  • It Passes the Virustotal.com test.(A MUST do !)
  • Does not ask me for my email ever or address/phone or birth date or other personal information.  ) Is this GDPR safe?
  • Watch out for many or most free cloners, do not work on modern GPT drives, (free version is "crippleware" and more. MBR also limits you to 2TB HDD.)
  • Runs for 30 days free is better IMO , with full features, for sure if your HDD is GPT formatted for over 2TB usage.
  • If your HDD is MBR formatted any  free cloner works.
  • Does not load extra  malware as many do. (more GDPR fodder, I bet)
  • If it can not clone windows 10 64bit UEFI +GPT +TPM boot drives, I have no use for it. (well I avoid UEFI system builds I make for lots of reasons)
If your PC has no data on it why clone at all? (sure lost the license COA keys or the matching install disc's  sure)
I have no lasting recommendation on the best cloner, sorry.  (dispite doing it for 25 years)
I do have one hint on cloning to any smaller drive,  is to use Diskmanager, to shrink the source drive to just below newer drive size, so that first thing.

Pitfalls: Lots: (in no order , just list)   (Most folks tell you to back up data first  from a bad HDD is a whole other non related topic , as seen here)
  • If PC newer?, turn off UEFI, Safeboot and fastboot  now.
  • Disable Bitlocker first. (then clone now) and turn it back on later; if at all.
  • Make sure the HDD is defragged first, then shunk to new SSD size using any partition tool you want. (run CCleaner on too) or you will  see, error "target drive too small"
  • If you Tell the APP the DESTINATION IS C: (you will erase EVERTHING YOU HAVE) GONE, it's ALL GONE ! H3LL HORROR DAY.
  • Having  a GPT HDD and your old old clone program is clueless what to do.? (time to upgrade that cloning program now.)
  • Cloning any bad HDD to anything else. Run Crystaldiskinfo (free) C6 = 0 never higher.   (why clone bad data? or expect the cloning software not to fail?) We can also boot to a Linux demo disk and do full HDD testiing.  
  • Cloning an  infected HDD to anything else like that (why copy pure H3LL anywhere)
  • Not having  128GB or larger SSD as targetWindows 10 does not run on 30 or marginal.60GB drives now ;well not for long.... (bloatware endless and worse every day forward, windows never gets smaller, ever)
  • One more,  the M.2 drive on mine can not be in card slot 1, or SATA 1 port is dead, (mobo limits only)  The cure is simple, move the m.2 to slot 2. and clone HHD port 1 to m2 new,slot 2. (this is  PCI-express lane sharing restriction)
  • Cloned  (backwards?) there are 2 drives, one is source other is target if you mix that up the good source is now erased. (OOPS)!
  • The HDD is UEFI (+TPM chip enabled ) secured, this may fail (to do  this , you must turn off the TPM chip in BIOS) (varies by maker of PC how to do this , ask them.)
  • The HDD is FIP's secure,  encrypted or using MS Bitlocker™  Turn all this off  or read this. All forums of Drive Encryption must be turned off or read the link here. (at left)
  • The Target drive is too small , smaller than the source. so in windows, disk manager go to the boot drive, source and pick shrink drive, to smaller than say that new 128GB SSD target drive.  (do not use disk labels for size, use disk manager)
  • The Target drives is not empty ,so erase it. (not empty or with alient Apple formats or Linux or gawd who knows?.) Some new HDD are not really new ! (but was in fact a RMA sent back drive)
  • The Target drive is bad too? so run the FULL S.M.A.R.T tests in it.
  • The cloning software is old or does not support your mode of cloning, this is very common, for sure on newer PCs,  that run GPT + UEFI HDD. (the free versions love to fail here) I  use EaseUS Partition master.
  • One last pitfall,  if your HP or DELL , Acer or ASUS, PC has the great, hidden 16GB recovery partition, on the source drive, as most do, this recovery is now rendered useless  by design and OS license protection laws.
Size matters:? (Say a new tiny SSD bought too small?)
W10 needs room for all updates possible and restore point space. ( you  need room for lots of Restore points)
32GB is not enough ever,  60 to 64GB is marginal , 100GB up sure runs good. ( What I do is buy a 128GB SSD drive that is SATA-III spec'd and bench marks are super fast)
Or better if you PC can boot to M.2 NVME card, bingo best.
Windows also uses space for regressing windows. (like  back during the free w10 update mess) windows.old   (see below how to erase this folder)
In most cases GPT partitioned drives are never a problem, only UEFI +TPM and drive encryption turned on. "trusted platform module , a chip"


Steps, (all?) (I will assume Source drive is C: and Target is E:, but there is no rule I must be booted to any Source drive to clone it, in fact doing so is the harder way!)
  1. Run CrystalDiskInfo app.,  I do this first, for sure if failing ?,why clone any bad Disk drive.?  I test the old drive for sure and even the new drive and even erase the new or used target drive first.
  2. Backup data you can't lose, most folks with data, are already backed up, right?
  3. Run fee CCleaner done.(a free app)
  4. Remove any applications not needed now.
  5. Remove windows.old  (this is covered and microsoft.com endlessly google that)  "google how to use Disk Cleanup (typed  that in run box)
  6. Defrag done C:
  7. The shrink the C: drive to smaller than target drive.  (eg:  say my source is 500GB and the new SSD is 256GB , I use Windows diskmanager to shrink the source disk to say 240GB or 200GB) Later you can expand the new SSD to full size, same tools.
  8. In the run box type diskmgmt.msc  , or type disk manager.
  9. Go in to your BIOS and  if UEFI then turn off fastboot and safeboot now. (turn back on later if you want )
  10. If you PC does not have 2 working SATA ports, you need to find a PC that does or buy SATA to USB adaptor.
  11. Run your favorite CLONER  applicaion now. C: to say E: ( ok done)  (I can even clone from say disk E to F and not even booted to the Source drive at all.)
  12. Unplug old drive C:
  13. Insert new disk even to same old C: port SATA.
  14.  In BIOS make sure boot orders is like you want,  C: is there, or on top.(faster booting this.)
  15. Boot your new HDD/SSD in your  PC and it's done
  16. No need to reActivate windows 10. (in most case but is covered next and is no big deal at all) I even swap out motherboards, no problems , even radially changed. AMD to Intel !(using 1 trick)
There are 2 classes of cloners,  fast sector  copy that is  dumb and restrictive or the way smarter  cloning way (format and parition level copying)
Keep in mind that UEFI wants to ,
stop cloning dead, by design +TMP, and now to deal with this is mine field of issues. (one way is to regress and turn it all off first so the HDD boots say in GPT mode or old MBR)

Microsoft Activation does not trip dead, if you only upgrade to SSD, if online it trips to activated in seconds at first SSD bootup.(If at all)  "read this section here as what  might happen" I have no inside tracks at MS.
This is what I call a secret, some is what I've learned the hard way some is from MS and some is rumor but we all know MS makes the rules up and can change them like new socks.
Windows trips the Activation bit  when more that 1 thing is changed. (or upgraded)
The hit rate on each device, and weighted importance   is  a MS closely guarded secret. (no  order below)
W10 free upgrade (few years back) failed to warn me, you can never change the MOBO. (note that now w10 is dead, as is my commuted w7pro,  a $120 theft by MS.com) fool me once,.....shame on.....
Note the new rule, you can't challenge the activation lacking a live.com MS account that I will never have. (this one NEW rule will send me back to linux fast)!
I will never use others CLOUDS, I have my own cloud servers. Nor use MS CLOUD ever.

* Processor & Serial Number and even BIOS serial codes.
    * IDE Adapter (chip ICH10? This most times is a new MOBO) (I just swapped and old X99 to Z270 mobo) W10.
    * Hard Drive Device and VSN  or  UUID.
    * RAM Amount Range (gee,  folks don't add more memory?  a true dumb idea if true)
    * Display Adapter (GPU/VIDEO card etc) (my guess it reads the ROM in the Card, using int13 calls.
    * Optical Drive CD/ DVD or BD. ( I think this is not valid now , as many PCs now have no drive here) (flagged as rumors)
    * SCSI Adapter  (SAS) see IDE above, same deal. Can be onboard or added in to PCI-express slot.  
    * Network Adapter (NIC card) Most PCs this is onboard chip (on MOBO) (I'd hope it does not use this or the WIFI MAC address but that too is private serial number inside your PC a fact)
    * Mother board changes, or even some BIOS upgrades? (like going to UEFI BIOS upgrade radically)

Do know that having a HDD mirror backup on the shelf is totally ok, with an identical UUID/GUID, if its identical it will run and stay activated,  ( I dont think MS trips activaton on HDD serial numbers , deep in side HDD internal roms nor with different UUID)
Many folks do that,  want just a backup drive parked, with all apps loaded and ready to rock.  (parked means power off, not used, and motor not spinning and for sure 5vdc/12vdc to the drive OFF)
The lesson here making any large hardware changes, or upgraded, is to change   parts 1 at a time. (reboot each time and check activation ) then change part #1.
I have also moved a SDD S10  from PC#1 to PC#2 100 % all parts inside alien now, but the 1 drive, and it activated. (had to call the hot line) (the old PC was scrapped for parts)

Too many connections with 2  identical drives online at once, and Windows goes mad. (If you ever see this, you will NEVER want to see this again, I PROMISE)

There is no lack of bad cloning failures, on the web.



HPA HORRORS: (legacy Bull or other alien HDD) "the cure is ,so erase    this pig" first.
There is one other cases (horror) that one can run across with GigaByte(tm) motherboards that flat refuse to clone.
It puts on this very hard to remove, alien format for (BIOS Recovery?) or some such rot, and will max. pain if you have it on your HDD,  as seen here, Called The HPA HORROR.
If using used drives as a target HDD this are not from a real Windows PC you can also get in to big trouble, we erase them with a low level eraser program.
Run DBAN. or like me KILLDISK


    Photo 1 is the useless clone box sold like this and in cube form called a docking station for cloning disks. (I do think all boxes like this are all made in one factory in China, that is the circuit board inside and bad firmware)
    The device has on firmware listed version nor does the maker offer a download to upgrade this very buggy firmware.
    My proof is they all work the same , same firmware interactions with the human and same failures and limits.
    It is a SECTOR copying device. (not smart in any way)  I think it goes nuts with 2 or more partitions. (we all know MBR is limited to 4 partitions max so this is not why, and any HDD with bad sectors are never used, ever.)
    The purpose of sector copy features is super fast speed clones. (but has lots of limitations)
    I ran over 25 tests on it and fails to copy even a simple w7 disk. ( Rules: target disk larger, and fully erased with Killdisk.ex and then fully tested with HDsentinel and SMART tests pass and freshly loaded W7-32bit to MBR .)
    The only tests that would pass is 1 MBR parition with 1 movie mkv file 2GB sized) this works, but not w7 nor w10 ever using many disks, even SSD source disk to target 2 times larger 320GB HDD.
    All installs were real microsoft ISO installed windows,  and not OEM with hidden partitions called Recovery or like HP_tools, etc, all are pure simple MBR installs.
    Sector copies get it all even bad data , deleted (marked as) files, the problem is on bad HDD with no more spare clusters the HDD SMART brain, knows the data you are copying is bad, and if you sector copy some programs (clone) will do odd things at the read error flag bad.
    This is why the Police use special forensic pograms that copies it all  sector by sector blind. (What your software really does, who knows?) The other pit fall is 512/bytes against new 4096/byte sectors, this will get you.
    It does work as a simple drive USB interface, no problems but cloning , NO!
    End pain box, above.


    Next up  is Windows 10 image backup , for free! And is round about way to clone, non direct.
    It does a  system image and is an exact snapshot of your entire Windows installation, including app settings and data.
    If you run that MS application dry run you can see how big of space you need to backup. (I like Acronis back up better)
    Click Control panel , then buckup and restore. (then Image) if confused learn what to do at microsoft.com  no need to echo known facts here.

    Should you ever need to restore your MS system image backup, start by making sure that the drive containing the backup image is connected to your computer.

    • From here, insert a Windows installation disc and boot into setup.
    • Once in Windows setup, click "Next," then choose the "Repair your computer" option in the lower-left corner.
    • Next, click "Troubleshoot," then "Advanced Options," and select "System Image Recovery."
    • From here, simply select the system image backup you created, then follow the prompts, and your computer will be fully restored to the exact state it was in when you created the backup.

    Or run this great product.( a more powerful product even allows 1 or some number of files lost only, recovered)


    Below I am cloning an  OS offline, the source is not booted so is off line, if you think about that, the job is 10x more easy.
    I have done this 100s of times since 1995. (using vast numbers of cloning applications)
    What does work and is robust as can be is this software below;
    This is what I use and works on all drives , sas, sata and ssd and hdd. all drives.   This clone was a success.


    With this Puppy:  (for doing OFF line clones, the faster and safer way)
    The best cloning hardware on earth is  this, called HBA , Host BUS adapter. The fan is my invention. So cooling is max.  HDsentinel is the best for testing HDD fully. (does SAS best of best)


    Parting shot:
    It is said to copy encrypted disks (I avoid them like the plague) is to turn off encryption fully on the HDD (wait all day ?) then clone the disk.  (sounds easy, but Is IT?)
    If using full blown UEFI-GPT+TMP-chip systems , talk to your  cloning software maker for help on these difficult systems.

    version 6:  2-19-2019