Clone hard drives for free: Freeware Clonezilla

| by

Clone hard drive for free: Clonezilla

It suddenly takes much longer to start up Windows and you see a blue screen more often or your hard disk sounds strange? Then it says: Quickly move to a new hard drive before all data is lost. Or is your old HDD too small or too slow for you and you want to switch to a fast SSD with little effort? We will show you how to clone your hard drives for free and conveniently with the freeware Clonezilla.

Detect hard drive damage early

If your hard drive has given up the ghost , it is usually too late to save your data. Then only extraordinary special tools or sending the HDD or SSD to a laboratory that specializes in data recovery can help – both of which are often very expensive variants. Hardware errors often announce themselves long before the final crash.

Most users don't usually worry about what a complete data loss means. Because, as a rule, the operating system and software can be reinstalled more or less quickly, but then private files such as documents, images or videos are finally lost. However, you can protect yourself with a little time and the right free software.

Read out SMART values ​​with the right tools

There are numerous signs that you indicate an impending defect on your hard drive. If the HDD makes loud clicking or scratching noises, it doesn't take long for the final crash. The whole thing looks different with SSDs, since they work differently, usually nothing is heard here. In contrast to an HDD, an SSD actually says goodbye from one day to the next – an indication can be an increased temperature development.

However, there are hints that announce permanent damage in advance for both device classes. These include, for example, that Windows keeps crashing, files are not saved and copied correctly, a blue screen is displayed when starting up or Windows wants to permanently check the hard disk for errors. All of this points to an impending crash.

You can get certainty first by using the so-called SMART values ​​of the hard disk with the help of freeware such as CrystalDiskInfo Portable , GSmart Control or HDDExpert Read out . SMART stands for “Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology” – a technology that monitors the health of the hard drive. The problem is that the values ​​monitored by SMART can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. That is why it is all the more important to be able to either interpret the results correctly or to be presented accordingly by the software.

A tool that works particularly well in this case is GSmart Control. Strictly speaking, this is not a separate software, but only a graphical user interface for the detailed Smartmontools , the handling of which is particularly difficult for beginners. In combination with the graphical user interface, the tools are very easy to use. After you have the GSmart Control – software downloaded, installed and started, the software searches for existing HDDs and SSDs – it also recognizes USB sticks and external hard drives, but these cannot usually be checked. Now select one of the recognized disks from your system and start the information window with a double click.

The tool then gives you detailed information about your HDD in six tabs or SSD. The first tab “Identity” is crucial. The final point here is “Overall Health Self-Assessment Test”. If you read the lettering “Passed” here, everything is fine with your hardware. If you want to be on the safe side, you can subject your hard disks to three different test procedures in the last tab called “Perform Tests”.

Similar to the previously presented GSmartControl, the two other tools CrystalDiskInfo Portable and HDDExpert work. In contrast to GSmart Control, you can also use CrystalDiskInfo Portable to check external hard drives for their health.

No matter what software you are working with, should you find any problems, we will explain it in following chapter, what you have to do to protect your data from possible loss.

Using tools such as GSmart Control, you can read out the S.M.A.R.T. values ​​of your HDDs and SSDs. Picture: CHIP

Clone hard drive: How to use Clonezilla

With the free Linux distribution clonezilla create an exact 1: 1 copy of the entire hard disk with a few settings and in a short time – including all partitions, files and of course the Windows folder. Then unzip the clone on a new hard drive and continue working as if nothing had happened. Incidentally, Clonezilla is also perfect for moving your data from an old HDD to a fast SSD.

The use of the software is – assuming a little training – relatively simple. Depending on the system you need the 32 – or 64 Bit variant and the version for UEFI – or BIOS – computer. As a rough guideline: PCs that are used before the year 2011 were built, usually have a BIOS, while the later computers via UEFI can dispose of. With a little trick you can check whether your system runs via BIOS or UEFI. Press the key combination Windows Key + R and then type “msinfo 32” on. Windows now collects all information about your system and then outputs the relevant information on the first page under “BIOS mode”.

You have downloaded the appropriate version , you have to either burn the ISO file onto a blank or use a tool like Rufus or UNetBootin copy to a USB stick. In addition, you must set the boot sequence in your UEFI settings so that the stick boots first. You can find out how this works in the description of your mainboard. Once you have completed this preparatory work, all you have to do is insert the USB stick and start the PC.

The free Clonezilla looks a bit conservative, but does its job extremely reliably. Picture: CHIP

Acronis True Image 2020 from Amazon

After a short start phase the clonezilla appears immediately Menu. Select the first point here if you want to clone a hard drive or partition. Next you decide on the language, the keyboard layout and start the main functions of the software or work at the shell level. Beginners should stay with the first option in any case, because then you will be guided through a simple text menu.

If you now want to create an image of an HDD or SSD or a partition, then choose “device-device” in the first window. In the following screen, beginners stay with the option “Beginner” or “Beginner”, while power users deal with the second option (“Expert”) and can set all parameters themselves. Next, choose whether you want to clone an entire hard drive or a single partition and specify the source and target drives, the software takes care of the rest.

If you clone an HDD with a Windows system to an SSD, you have to pay attention to some special features. So you can not avoid the expert option here, since you have to make some default settings that are only possible here. Activate the following points:

  • – e1 auto
  • – e2
  • -j2
  • -r and

  • -v

Are faulty B If the reason for the cloning is blocked on your HDD, then you should definitely activate the “-rescue” option. If the hard drives are free of defects, you can skip the subsequent inspection and repair feature. However, in the following window you have to use the first option “Use the partition table of the original disk”. You can answer the following security questions in the affirmative. Now you have to take over the boot loader and then the cloning process is started.

If the new HDD or SSD should be larger than the old one, you must now GParted deploy. The tool can also be started from a USB stick. Select the new hardware here and adjust the size of your new HDD / SSD using the “Change / move” option.

Tip: The two tools MiniTool Partition Wizard 11. 6 and Paragon Backup & Recovery 17 Free in the Community Edition do similar things and work under Windows 10 also during operation.

For those who prefer to buy a professional software s who wants to buy Acronis True Image 2020 contemplate. The software got in our test the grade “very good”. You can also use the tool Try days before you have to make a purchase decision. However, the clone function is not available in the trial version. However, you can make a complete backup of your system and transfer it to another hard drive or partition.

You may still be able to save your data with these tools

But what else can you do when everything is supposed to be too late? Because professional data recovery is expensive and generally only worthwhile for private individuals if irretrievable and valuable files have been lost – because a few hundred euros quickly come together here. However, there are still a few tools that can help you in the event of an accident. At least if the read / write head of the affected HDD is not yet damaged.

One of the must-have tools is the slim Recuva , which is also in a portable version gives. Simply download the current version from us and unzip it on a USB stick. Then start the 32 – or 64 – Bit EXE file from the program folder. Then all you have to do is follow the instructions of the wizard, which will safely guide you through the recovery menu. Depending on the damage, the software can definitely be helpful not only in finding lost files, but also in being able to restore them.

The combination offers a far more complex option test Disk & PhotoRec . Using the software is not as easy as using Recuva, but you will also find a PDF file in the ZIP archive, which explains how to use the tool very well.

With the help of the lean tool Recuva, deleted files can be recovered. Picture: CHIP

The right external hard drives

External hard drives are suitable – regardless of whether temporary or permanent – perfect as data storage. For this reason we have in our test via 40 of these models , As the test winner, we were able to Toshiba Canvio Advance with 2 TB memory fully convince. The external HDD is only 144 grams not only very light, but also offers excellent read and write transfer rates. However, Toshiba has done without any shock protection in this model, so it is not the ideal companion for outdoor activities. The piano lacquer look top is available in the colors white, black, red and blue.

If you are looking for a companion on the go, you can go to the G-Technology Armor ATD 2TB . The external HDD also convinced in the test with excellent performance values. In addition, thanks to its sturdy housing, it is not only extremely robust, but also waterproof and dustproof. This will make you the perfect companion when you go on a trip and are looking for a safe storage space for your photos and videos.

The Toshiba Canvio Advance convinces in all points and is currently our number 1. Picture: Toshiba

Here you store your data securely

External hard drives in the test

Toshiba Canvio Advance 2TB (HDTC920ER3AA) Offer from BestCheck

  • Read Performance (1.0)
  • Performance writing (1.0)
  • Mobility (1.2)

Toshiba Canvio Premium 2TB (HDTW220EB3AA) Offer from BestCheck

  • Read Performance (1.0)
  • Performance writing (1,1)
  • Mobility (1.2)

Toshiba Canvio Basics 2TB (HDTB420EK3AA) Offer from BestCheck

  • Performance reading (1,1)
  • Performance writing (1,1)
  • Mobility (1.2)

Toshiba Canvio Basics 4TB (HDTB440EK3CA) Offer from BestCheck

  • Performance reading (1,1)
  • Performance writing (1.0)
  • Mobility (1.7)

Toshiba Canvio Advance 4TB (HDTC940EL3CA) Offer from BestCheck

  • Performance reading (1,1)
  • Performance writing (1,1)
  • Mobility (1.7)

To the complete leaderboard

Related Articles