Cloning any HDD, (hard disk drives)
           This is for HOME PC's, only

The reason we clone are 2 fold,  A Newer larger HDD or a SSD (smaller ?) or want to  have a hot spare ready to run if the one you spin goes belly up?
This page is W10 centric, but W7 is the same rules.

There are many pitfalls,  and over 20 cloner programs sold now  (even disk imaging software can do this)
There are some programs that work that are free of cost.
Some new SSD come in the  box with a free license key to a famous brand clone software.
Most freeware programs are crippleware.  (Best is to own  full blown Backup and recovery  and cloning tool.)
  1. In all cases backup your data first !
  2. The clone method is not just a simple copying of files, it is true that some files must be in the orginal locations. 
  3. Some clone software are so crude the operatator can not tell what drive is source nor destination and if you make an error here, you will copy the empty drive to the full data drive and erase all data there, ouch !
  4. Do not copy data from any bad drive to a new drive or bad to bad. (a hopeless path that is) learn to run full disk diagnostics first, like Crystaldiskinfo,     see here for the 2 rules on errors C6 and 05.
  5. If you copy from large to large and larger disk,  there are no problem , but if the newer disk is smaller you may have to shrink partition, W10 disk manager does that. (right click "shrink volume")
  6. The last pit fall is if you run GPT disks, If you do then only (mostly) paid for programs works to do this. MBR copy software works ok and is free mostly.
  7. If using a modern PC, be sure to  turn off SAFEboot in BIOS.   (UEFI rules can get in the way)
  8. Do not forget to move the drives, when done. (put the new drive in the Disk 0 slot or cable port.)

Farstone Drive clone free 11 the makers site is now off line. (my link here is the free version still online)   ( when done remove Farstone or it will nag you with "buy me now messages", (in the startup files)
The other program that can work is
MINI-TOOLS Partition Wizard.(direct link to maker)  use Copy +  Disk Image.

I always run on all applications I down load, (utilities )

If you want to use the fast sector copy method,  you need to Defrag the drive first then use  Windows Disk manager  (+right click shrink volume) next. (but will only work if you can get total sizes below the SSD size)
There are disk IDs and system IDs and GUID/ UUIDs. ( W10 seems to not worry this, or corrects it so fast I can not see it do that)

Make sure you do not mix up , source and destination. (okay?)

I have used this many times (20?+), with no issues, even on w10-64bit.
The key fact here is do not check this box above in red.
 For most folks just copying a HDD to SSD above, and then removing the old drive, and bingo the new drive boot perfectly.  (fast copy (sector) only works if target drive is same or bigger size)
Be sure to swap drive 0 and 1 before booting the PC.
Or try it first with the new SSD drive 0 , then add the old drive as drive 1 (2nd drive) and erase it later. (or just park it for back up, on a shelf)
Took me about 1 hour to clone 24GB W10 disk (zero added data, it was clean fress disk and OS to test it)

There are many products (programs) to run now. Seen here.

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)
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)
* Processor & Serial Number
    * IDE Adapter (chip ICH10? This most times is a new MOBO)
    * Hard Drive Device and VSN  or  UUID.
    * RAM Amount Range (gee,  folks don't add more memory?  is this Silly or what?)
    * 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)
    * 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)
    * Mother board changes, or even BIOS upgrades?

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 is change (upgrade) parts 1 at a time.

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.

The only hard part, of Cloning, is issues with SSD. I will list them and the cure for each. (in order)
EXAMPE: Given an old HDD is size 500GB, and new SSD is 120GB (w10 only needs 22gb fresh, load) (spec. is 20)
In all cases I make sure the new drive is blank, if not I run DBAN on it, I also test both drives running smart utilities for errors,  (crystaldiskinfo)

  1. Defrag  the HDD old first,  the run the version that has consolidate empty space at end of drive.
  2. Next get Minitools  free,  Partition Wizard , directly from them (MS diskmanager shrink my  not up to this task), even with W10)  run the program and resize the parition to 110GB or less.  This app moves the MFT , too. (as boot command mode).
  3. Next run the free Drive clone, program..Farstone Drive clone free 11 (pick normal cloning , never fast) (It will take hours to do that, expect it) if tons of apps there, more longer.)
  4. If it can do it , (space must be there) and it will work. (best when the new SSD is 100% erased first) Yah some come pre-formatted to APPLE trash. (I boycott Apple for life!)
  5. That is it, but do remove the old HDD before the next boot. (so they do not get in a BOOT WAR !) (some newer PC can have 2 boot drives ok, but not my 2006 server, 2 drives with same UUID can be nasty)
To tested the above, worst case I think,  500GB drive to 30GB, new W10 on old drive flesh loaded) IT WORKED, later moved it to my new 120GB SSD.  (the 30GB is only for testing)

HPA HORRORS: (legacy Bull or other alien HDD) "the cure is erase  this pig" first.
There is one other cases (horror) that one can run across with GigaByte(tm) motherboards
It puts on this very hard to remove, alien format for (BIOS Recovery?) or some such rot, and will be only 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 Windows PC you can also get in to big trouble, we erase them with a low level eraser program.

version 2 .  5-9-2017  (all my opinion, no body pays me to spam there products ever.) revised 7-3-2018 for web links dead.