Copying a full HardDisk

Discussion in 'Computing and Networks' started by Willen, Jun 30, 2016.

  1. Willen

    Thread Starter Member

    Nov 13, 2015
    Is there anyone who experimented like this way- We know that Windows restrict its system files to copy or to move or to delete. What happens if I opened Linux (lets say Ubuntu) and copied whole contents of C: D: E: F: into the another HardDisk's C: D: E: F: accordingly? Lets say C: drive has a Windows with many programs installed. I think linux system copies EVERYTING (even boot loader files) about Windows.

    Do I get two Operating System clones? :)

    And some programs in the system were installed with a password and the password was not applicable to install same software to another computer (One software One PC). What happened to them to the copied system?

    Just curios, to do this I have no more hard-disks. So asking here if some people tried it already.
  2. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
    You wouldn't get two clones since it would have to install different drivers for other computer.
  3. MaxHeadRoom


    Jul 18, 2013
    I use Acronis, I have both 'Disk Director' and 'True Image' versions.
    I can set up a HD for multiple operating systems, including DOS 7.1 to use selectable boot up.
    absf likes this.
  4. BobaMosfet

    Senior Member

    Jul 1, 2009
    The way around such difficulties is VMWare or an alternative.
  5. MrSoftware

    Senior Member

    Oct 29, 2013
    If you want an exact copy of a physical disk, you want to access it at the low level, at the sector level. Drive letter access is high level, that's not what you want. You want to start copying at sector 0 and blindly copy the data, sector by sector, through the last sector on the disk.

    The easiest free way to do it is use the utility "dd", which is included with most Linux distros. You can also use the "cat" utility. You can use a Live Linux boot CD to get into Linux. This thread will explain the details:

    In general; on Linux the device files point to either the physical disk, or the various partitions. For example, if you have a single hard disk that has 3 partitions, on Windows these might show up as C:, D: and E:. On Linux they would be /dev/sdc1, /dev/sdc2 and /dev/sdc3. What you also have on Linux is a file handle to the device itself (not the partition), which would be /dev/sdc. If you copy from /dev/sdc, then you can start copying from sector 0. Similarly to write the data to the new disk, for example /dev/sdd, you would write to /dev/sdd to start writing at sector 0. The thread linked above should get you going.

    The same thing is possible in Windows too, but I don't know of any utilities off the top of my head that do it for free. I hope this helps.

    Edit --> A more risky but easy way out when it works; you can install a second hard disk then tell Windows to set it up as a mirror to your current hard disk (or if you have a chipset that supports RAID then do it with the chipset drivers instead of Windows). Allow time for the two drives to sync, then remove one drive from the mirror. You will be left with 2 hard disks that are basically exact copies of each other.
    Willen and absf like this.
  6. shteii01

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2010
    You are right.
    However, if OP does not mind a bit of clutter, the modern Windows (98?, 2000, Xp, 7) would detect new hardware and load generic drivers. Once generic drivers are loaded, OP can go in and download and then install the manufacturer's drivers.

    I have done the above when a pc died on me. I really really really really did not want to reinstall everything, so I just moved hd to another pc, let the Windows boot and see new hardware, and install generic drivers. Instead of spending two days downloading and reinstalling everything, I spent maybe a couple of hours.
    MrSoftware likes this.
  7. MrSoftware

    Senior Member

    Oct 29, 2013
    We've done the same here; move a hard disk to a different PC and just let it install the new drivers for the new hardware. It might not always work, but I have seen it work and save a ton of time.

    Also some Symantec backup products have the "Restore anywhere" feature that will allow you to restore a complete backup to new hardware. I think they adjust some of the windows stuff during recovery to try to make it work better when it boots for the first time on new hardware (make it load windows generic drivers, etc..).
  8. BReeves


    Nov 24, 2012
    Both Segate and Western Digital have free versions of Acronis HD backup available on the web. They will only work if you have the corresponding manufactures drive in the computer but most computers these days have one or the other. They allow direct cloning or making a backup image to a USB boot drive.
  9. Willen

    Thread Starter Member

    Nov 13, 2015
    If anyone made it possible then probably Microsoft or other application softwares would label it as an illegal attempt of making a clone windows or apps. Isn't it?
  10. tom_s


    Jun 27, 2014
    this is a working BACKUP copy for the current hardware. not illegal unless your intent is to make many of them and put into multiple identical hardware machines
    cmartinez likes this.
  11. BR-549

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 22, 2013
    I would advise against it, except for one condition.

    Only if the copied drive, is replacing the drive it was copied from.

    I wouldn't clone an OS even if the hardware was identical.

    Just from my experience. I am not an expert, I just play.