Clone a hard disk to a smaller drive?

I just bought a new computer, it's a refurb and doesn't come with any recovery disc. So before I start using it, I want to clone an image of the hard drive, so I have a "restore" if I need it. The hd is 640gb, but only about 25gb is used for the OS (Vista) and whatever Dell puts on their computers. I have an external hard drive with 120gb worth of space. In the past to make images of hard drives, I have used Clonezilla, but it requires the destination hard drive to be bigger than the source, so I'd have to have a 640gb hard drive or bigger for it to copy 25gb worth of data.

Does anybody know of a good free cloning software that will make an image to a smaller hard drive as long as the used space is smaller than the other hard drive? I've seen one that will copy your drive to a smaller one, but I don't want a copy, I want an image I can keep for backup/restore.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

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More about clone hard disk smaller drive
  1. you dont need a bigger HDD for back, only need is the little bit higher thar datas,, for 25 Gb of datas it hardly need 30 Gb which is more than enough

    get hirens boot cd from here

    use Norton ghost
    and select "partition to image " option then select you C: Drive as source & destination as your portable HDD
  2. Thanks for the suggestion. Norton Ghost isn't freeware though. I'm looking for a freeware/open source solution.
  3. Does that do imaging? When I read up on it, it looked to only do disk copying
  4. Seagate's Disk Wizard and WD's Acronis True Image WD Edition will do a clone to a smaller drive, but ONLY if the destination disk is one of theirs. That is, you can make a clone TO a Seagate drive using Disk Wizard but it won't make the clone copy to a Hitachi drive. etc. Whose external drive do you have?

    By the way, the clone can only be made to a chunk of Unallocated Space on a hard drive. That is, space that is NOT assigned to be part of a Partition. You can't make a clone to some Free Space inside a Partitioned and Formatted drive. So if your external drive is all one large Partition with 120 GB of Free Space, there's work to be done. You would have to Defragment that drive, then Shrink the Partition by at least 30 GB to create the Unallocated Space. THEN you could start to make a clone on it. Cloning is not quite the same as Imaging or Ghosting.
  5. I haven't looked at todo backup. Will check that out. Clonezilla doesn't need unallocated space to do a dump, it just makes an image file of the hard disk to any drive (of equal or greater free space). So when I bought a new hard drive for my laptop, I first did a dump of the 80 gig drive to an external (about 50 gig used), and it created an image folder on the hard drive where it put the dumps. The image was only the size of the used space on the source drive (so 50 gig vs 77). Then I copied the image back onto the new drive (320gb) and Clonezilla did some magic to make it work w/ the full 320gb of space vs the 80gb space).

    That's what I want. I don't want a bootable drive copy. Just an image I can use to restore the original at some later date if necessary.

    Worse comes to worse I can partition the drive down to 60gig and then make the image, but I don't really want to do that.
  6. Try hard copying all your data of one drive to another.
    Then use your Windows CD, to recover the boot sectors.
  7. Thanks for the suggestion, but there's no Windows CD or recovery disc. There's no data on it yet besides what came stock. I use an online backup solution so I'm not worried about my data, just making sure I have an image of the drive as I bought it.
  8. I tend to like the Clonezilla / GParted option it has always worked for me and it is free and open source, meaning I can have it available at any time. Here is basically how it goes.....

    1) You reduce the partition first using GParted
    2) You let the computer boot so it can fix any possible filesystem errors.
    3) You clone the partition using Clonezilla, which is free and open source.

    I got it from this article:

    Hope it helps.
  9. Partition the drive on the pc that needs to be cloned. Then back up just the partition that has all the os info and what not. Then when imaging the new pc, it will see that it came from a drive less than 650GB.
  10. Clonezilla only needs a same size hard disk for uncompressed images... boot from the Clonezilla Live disk and use the Partitions to Disk option with default compression. Empty disk space compresses to just a few bytes, so the resulting image should contain all the partitions and be slightly smaller than the disk space currently occupied.

    Dell typically uses at least 3 partitions - utility, restore and data - with some (mostly notebooks) also having a 4th partition for MediaDirect (a customized CyberLink PowerCinema), and MediaDirect prior to v3 uses a 'hidden' partition. If your computer has a MediaDirect button, but pushing it boots you to windows, either the Dell MBR has been replaced or there is no MediaDirect partition (a regular fdisk session will not remove the hidden partition... Seagate, WD, et al, have special utilities that can detect and recover that lost space, if e.g. you want to upgrade to v3 or higher).

    The Dell MBR will put a blue bar across the screen that says DELL.COM on it... if you press Ctrl+F11 before that blue bar appears during bootup, you can access the restore partition (if it exists).

    If someone fdisked your machine's hard drive, or replaced it with a new one, and were not clued into how the Dell Restore partition works (see here for a technical explanation of how the Dell MBR detects Ctrl+F11 and redirects to the restore partition... it's really beyond the scope of a single message), then it probably no longer has a restore partition.
  11. Paperdoc said:
    Seagate's Disk Wizard and WD's Acronis True Image WD Edition will do a clone to a smaller drive, but ONLY if the destination disk is one of theirs. That is, you can make a clone TO a Seagate drive using Disk Wizard but it won't make the clone copy to a Hitachi drive. etc.

    Cloning is not quite the same as Imaging or Ghosting.

    I'm about to buy a SSD and would like to transfer my current system drive to that. I'm a bit confused as to whether that is cloning or imaging or if it makes much difference.

    I've also pretty much decided on True Image but is it definitely true that I would have to buy a WD SSD to make that clone/image work?

  12. I just followed Elperrillo's link to the GParted/Clonezilla procedure and that looks doable & free, so I might ditch the Acronis option.
  13. As far as I know, PC Disk Clone X could clone to smaller drive.
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