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Replacment hard drives and cloning/backing up

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August 15, 2010 2:16:30 PM

I have a number of questions about cloning and replacing our family computer's current and aging C: drive with a new and considerably larger one, as well as cloning and copying the contents of the new C: drive, to safely duplicate it, to another new, additional drive, externally connected via USB 2.0.
We run XP Pro, SP3, on a Dell Optiplex GX280, which has been upgraded to 3 GB of RAM, and we hope to get perhaps another year or two out of it before replacement.
While I would like to upgrade to Windows 7.0, we can manage with what we currently have.

I understand that I need to use cloning (not backup) software, such as Acronis Migrate Easy 7.0, or other, in order to copy EVERYTHING (O/S and all files, folders, settings, etc) to a new hard drive.
I've no interest in restoring from backups; that's too tedious and time consuming, so the cloning approach, plug and play as it were, makes to me a great deal more sense.

I'm currently in the process of shopping online for the 2 drives, external enclosure and software. If I find free or open source software which does the trick - fine. Otherwise I'll purchase.
My intent is to complete the following in the next week or so, BEFORE the 5 year old C: drive and an external, USB connected drive, which is now a couple of years old - go belly up.

Here is my plan:

First I want to clone and copy everything from the current 160 GB Maxtor SATA C: drive to its external, USB connected replacement, likely to be a Western Digital Black Caviar, perhaps 640MB or 1 TB in size.
Once done, I'll remove the old C: drive and replace it with the new larger 640 GB or 1 TB unit.

Then I'll mount the new "backup" drive (also likely to be a WD), 1 or 1.5 TB, possibly a GREEN drive, since it needn't be as fast as the main C: drive, into the external enclosure.
I'll next clone and copy the contents of the new C: drive to the external drive.
Next will be to clone and copy all desired files from the old, USB connected 320 GB drive to the new external drive, in a separate partition. These are mostly music, photos, videos and
some archived program files.

Then, should there be a failure of the C: or old external drive, I will have the ability to just remove it, clone everything from the new external drive to a newer replacement and connect it. Since a replacement of the C: drive will contain a copy of everything, including O/S, when I boot up, all should (I hope), be working as it was.

After I've achieved these things, and assuming all is running as it should be, I will want the ability to make nightly incremental backups.
Will Acronis Migrate Easy or other software accomplish this or will I require additional software to perform these backups?
And once I have what I need to do these things, will I have to reclone everything, perhaps weekly, so that the the cloned externally connected drive incorporates all subsequent incremental backups?

I realise this has been rather long winded, but I've taken considerable care trying to clearly explain my aim and questions.
I would be most appreciative if you could be of help to me with this process.
a b G Storage
August 16, 2010 2:38:53 AM

UK_newbie said:
I have a number of questions about cloning and replacing our family computer's current and aging C: drive with a new and considerably larger one, as well as cloning and copying the contents of the new C: drive, to safely duplicate it, to another new, additional drive, externally connected via USB 2.0.
We run XP Pro, SP3, on a Dell Optiplex GX280, which has been upgraded to 3 GB of RAM, and we hope to get perhaps another year or two out of it before replacement.
While I would like to upgrade to Windows 7.0, we can manage with what we currently have.

I understand that I need to use cloning (not backup) software, such as Acronis Migrate Easy 7.0, or other, in order to copy EVERYTHING (O/S and all files, folders, settings, etc) to a new hard drive.
I've no interest in restoring from backups; that's too tedious and time consuming, so the cloning approach, plug and play as it were, makes to me a great deal more sense.

I'm currently in the process of shopping online for the 2 drives, external enclosure and software. If I find free or open source software which does the trick - fine. Otherwise I'll purchase.
My intent is to complete the following in the next week or so, BEFORE the 5 year old C: drive and an external, USB connected drive, which is now a couple of years old - go belly up.

Here is my plan:

First I want to clone and copy everything from the current 160 GB Maxtor SATA C: drive to its external, USB connected replacement, likely to be a Western Digital Black Caviar, perhaps 640MB or 1 TB in size. Attach your new HDD to a regular SATA port internally. Then use Acronis True Image WD Edition Software to clone the current C drive. Download Partition Wizard to extend the cloned drive's partition to its entire capacity.
Once done, I'll remove the old C: drive and replace it with the new larger 640 GB or 1 TB unit.

Then I'll mount the new "backup" drive (also likely to be a WD), 1 or 1.5 TB, possibly a GREEN drive, since it needn't be as fast as the main C: drive, into the external enclosure.
I'll next clone and copy the contents of the new C: drive to the external drive. Again, connect the backup HDD to internal SATA and clone it with WD Data Lifeguard Tools, and then extend the cloned partition to its entire size with Partition Wizard. Then install the new backup HDD into the enclosure.
Next will be to clone and copy all desired files from the old, USB connected 320 GB drive to the new external drive, in a separate partition. These are mostly music, photos, videos and
some archived program files.

Then, should there be a failure of the C: or old external drive, I will have the ability to just remove it, clone everything from the new external drive to a newer replacement and connect it. Since a replacement of the C: drive will contain a copy of everything, including O/S, when I boot up, all should (I hope), be working as it was.

After I've achieved these things, and assuming all is running as it should be, I will want the ability to make nightly incremental backups.
Will Acronis Migrate Easy or other software accomplish this or will I require additional software to perform these backups?
And once I have what I need to do these things, will I have to reclone everything, perhaps weekly, so that the the cloned externally connected drive incorporates all subsequent incremental backups?

I realise this has been rather long winded, but I've taken considerable care trying to clearly explain my aim and questions.
I would be most appreciative if you could be of help to me with this process.

above
a b G Storage
August 16, 2010 3:22:37 AM

I use (and recommend) Acronis TruImage Home 2010 for exactly this stuff. It will clone and create the larger "C:" drive in one step.

One way:

1) Put new "C" disk in external enclosure (or inside your PC as a second drive), and clone/expand to the new disk.
2) Remove the old "C" drive and replace with the cloned drive using same cable and power lead. (You will need to re-activate Windows, it will react to your "system change").
3) Begin your backups to the large, eternal drive (depending on what you did in step #1.)
4) When all is working, you will be able to use your old C drive as a D drive if the optiplex allows space and connectors for it.

There are other ways - the Acronis software will tell you your choices, and their recommended way.
Related resources
August 16, 2010 12:45:21 PM

treefrog07 said:
above

Thank you very kindly for making the effort to send me such a reply. It is most appreciated.
I must say, however, though Acronis True Image is very popular, I have serious misgivings about using it, after having read many negative user reports in forums.
I will admit that I am more inclined to give Casper 6.0 a go.

Re the computer, the Dell GX280 is somewhat of a small form factor case, and so allows installation of only a single hard drive.
That is why I plan on employing the externally connected USB approach, after having cloned and replaced the C: drive.

As for the hard drives - I've decided to spend the extra and get what I perceive to be one of the best (possibly the best) choice currently - 1 TB Western Digital Black (WD1002FAEX) - a pair of them - one of them to replace the original 160 GB SATA 1 Maxtor 6Y160MO drive, which, it must be said, has performed brilliantly these past 5 years +, though I am beginning to see what are likely early signs of its impending demise.
The other new WD will be used for external backup, containing a copy of what will be on the C: drive, and copies of all my media, etc. files which reside on my present Seagate 320 GB external drive.
From what I have gathered, it is robust and highly dependable and I figure it can't hurt that it has only 2 platters instead of 3, found on some other models (less moving parts). And, since this drive has a 5 year warranty, not 3 years, which has become more the industry norm, it appears that WD have greater confidence in its longevity.

Now I realise that my current system cannot fully utilise the Caviar Black's SATA 3 speed - the bottleneck will be in the controller, but when we do decide to upgrade to a new Windows 7 machine, it will be up to making use of its capabilities.

Again - thank very much for your reply and suggestions.

Cheers! :hello: 

Michael
August 16, 2010 12:55:44 PM

Twoboxer said:
I use (and recommend) Acronis TruImage Home 2010 for exactly this stuff. It will clone and create the larger "C:" drive in one step.

One way:

1) Put new "C" disk in external enclosure (or inside your PC as a second drive), and clone/expand to the new disk.
2) Remove the old "C" drive and replace with the cloned drive using same cable and power lead. (You will need to re-activate Windows, it will react to your "system change").
3) Begin your backups to the large, eternal drive (depending on what you did in step #1.)
4) When all is working, you will be able to use your old C drive as a D drive if the optiplex allows space and connectors for it.

There are other ways - the Acronis software will tell you your choices, and their recommended way.

Thanks very much for taking the time to reply and offer your suggestions. I am taking all of it on board and each suggestion helps me to evaluate and come to what will be my solution.

Nodding - I won't be able to use the old 160 GB Maxtor drive as an extra internal HD, as the GX280 is a small form factor case allowing the installation of but a single hard drive. That is why I'll use the USB connected external approach for saving copies of everything.
Hey, I think a hard drive might make a somewhat geekily appealing door stop, though my wife might disagree. :p 

Cheers! :hello: 

Michael

a b G Storage
August 16, 2010 5:18:30 PM

You are welcome. Your plan is sensible.

Of course you are free to choose your own cloning software. The link I provided is free, and I have used successfully used it on WD HDDs. Let us know your experience with cloning to an external HDD, I've heard of varying degrees of success.

a c 342 G Storage
August 16, 2010 8:21:50 PM

What you propose is do-able, but I'll comment on a few of your reservations and on some tricks to watch for.

I understand why you want to make clones TO a drive in an external enclosure since there's no space in the computer for a second HDD. BUT there is a clean way to do the "internal" drive mounting anyway, just because the cloning process is temporary. The Destination (new) drive does not need to be permanently mounted in the case. It can be sitting on the desk or on top of the case, preferably on a paper or plastic sheet to insulate it from any metal. You just need power and data cables long enough to reach the drive from the mobo port. You can make a clone that way, and it will be a lot faster than using USB. When done, swap clone in place of old unit (for the first cloning step), or clone into external USB case (for the second).

Since you're buying WD units, I do recommend the Acronis True Image WD Edition free software to make your clones TO WD units. Make sure you get and read the manual - this software is good and powerful and does a LOT more than just cloning. Now, here come some "tricks" to watch for, including a small disagreement with treeefrog07. When you clone from a small HDD to a larger one (160 GB to 1 TB), by default Acronis will make the destination drive's first Partition (to which the clone copy is made) the same size as the Source unit, which is rarely what you, the user, wants. Much more commonly, you want the clone to use ALL the big new unit's space. Or sometimes (as you may do when making the second "backup" clone) you want to use a specified portion for that first bootable Partition, and leave some Unallocated Space for the later creation of a second Partition to hold something else (like, another clone from a different drive). If you read the manual and look through the menus, you find that you can set the Partition size yourself manually at the start before the clone is made. Do that and you will not need a second software utility afterward to expand the clone Partition - it will already be the size you set. Make sure that the Partition being created is a Primary Partition and Bootable, with the NTFS File System - all normal default settings.

When you go to making the clone to the second new disk, you really have two clones to make. The first is a clone of the new C: drive, but you will want to set its Partition size to less than the full space of the new HDD, to allow space to make the other clone. Once it is done you connect (as you said) the old 320 GB external USB drive and run the cloning application again. This time you make sure the Source and Destination drives are set right (ALWAYS do this and double-check when cloning!) and the Destination is the Unallocated Space you left for this purpose on that second new HDD unit, with its size adjusted as you choose. This Partition also can be a Primary Partition, BUT it is NOT a BOOTABLE Partition - it's just for data storage. Once that is all done you will have your two backups as clone copies on the second new 1TB unit, as you said.

For ongoing Backups, one simple way is just to repeat what you just did. Hook up the second 1 TB unit and use the tools within Acronis to delete ALL the Partitions on that unit. Then successively make clones of each of your current active drives (1 TB internal, 320 GB external) with specified sizes on that unit. This is not the usual system of full and partial backups. This is Full Backups only (as clones, really). You can do that with the software you have, nothing additional required.

I do see a sticky point, though, in your plans for using the backup clones. IF your internal C: drive fails and you need to boot and run from the clone on the second unit, your machine may NOT be able to boot and run from an external USB drive. You may have to actually remove the second 1 TB unit from the USB enclosure and mount it inside as an internal drive to boot from (entirely do-able). Then you make the clone to the newest replacement unit as planned (adjusting the destination Partition size as before to the full space), and swap drive units around again.
August 16, 2010 11:57:56 PM

treefrog07 said:
You are welcome. Your plan is sensible.

Of course you are free to choose your own cloning software. The link I provided is free, and I have used successfully used it on WD HDDs. Let us know your experience with cloning to an external HDD, I've heard of varying degrees of success.

Hmmm... despite the horror stories I've read in other forums regarding Acronis True Image 2010 and their alleged abysmal support, it is apparent that you feel it is nonetheless worth pursuing, particularly because they offer a free trial version, and one written for WD drives. What I read about Casper 6.0 suggested it to be very user friendly and comprehensive as well. Perhaps, however, as it is much less well known, it is more of a mystery to many. I'll see about the free Acronis WD version, and if it does the trick to my satisfaction, it would certainly be worth making a fair exchange for it and purchasing.

As an addendum, I must say I'm relieved to be back online tonight, as my system came to a crawl and I couldn't shut it down without pulling the plug. When trying to reboot, it would not load my user profile. Finally I managed to get things going again with system restore and reverting to a restore point a few days old. Recently I've occasionally had a low battery warning and had to hit F1 to bypass that warning at boot. SO I guess I'd better install a new CMOS battery :sarcastic: 
Having run the system diagnostics and chkdsk (from command prompt), nothing failed - and chkdsk showed 0 bytes of faulty sectors, though a recent use of it repaired some found. Still, I am getting a tad anxious to get this cloning/drive swapping successfully completed. The new drives should be here by Wednesday.
Yes - I'll certainly let it be known how things work when attempting to clone to an external HDD.

Cheers! :) 
August 17, 2010 12:33:52 AM

Paperdoc said:
What you propose is do-able, but I'll comment on a few of your reservations and on some tricks to watch for.

I understand why you want to make clones TO a drive in an external enclosure since there's no space in the computer for a second HDD. BUT there is a clean way to do the "internal" drive mounting anyway, just because the cloning process is temporary. The Destination (new) drive does not need to be permanently mounted in the case. It can be sitting on the desk or on top of the case, preferably on a paper or plastic sheet to insulate it from any metal. You just need power and data cables long enough to reach the drive from the mobo port. You can make a clone that way, and it will be a lot faster than using USB. When done, swap clone in place of old unit (for the first cloning step), or clone into external USB case (for the second).

That's very cool - thank you! I HAD rather wondered if I could do that, but until I take a closer look at the innards of our computer case, I remain uncertain if it offers a second SATA connection which I can use in this way.

Since you're buying WD units, I do recommend the Acronis True Image WD Edition free software to make your clones TO WD units.

Okay then - there does appear to be something of an Acronis concensus here and as stated in my previous reply to Treefrog07, perhaps I'll give the free trial version of True Image WD a go, especially as it appears to have been designed for WD drives.

Make sure you get and read the manual - this software is good and powerful and does a LOT more than just cloning.

Yup - I got it - that all important acronym - RTFM. :D 

Now, here come some "tricks" to watch for, including a small disagreement with treeefrog07. When you clone from a small HDD to a larger one (160 GB to 1 TB), by default Acronis will make the destination drive's first Partition (to which the clone copy is made) the same size as the Source unit, which is rarely what you, the user, wants. Much more commonly, you want the clone to use ALL the big new unit's space. Or sometimes (as you may do when making the second "backup" clone) you want to use a specified portion for that first bootable Partition, and leave some Unallocated Space for the later creation of a second Partition to hold something else (like, another clone from a different drive). If you read the manual and look through the menus, you find that you can set the Partition size yourself manually at the start before the clone is made. Do that and you will not need a second software utility afterward to expand the clone Partition - it will already be the size you set. Make sure that the Partition being created is a Primary Partition and Bootable, with the NTFS File System - all normal default settings.


NO KIDDING! Well! That was another concern of mine - that I'd have to use separate partitioning software. I had no idea that Acronis provides the option to specify that. COOL!

When you go to making the clone to the second new disk, you really have two clones to make. The first is a clone of the new C: drive, but you will want to set its Partition size to less than the full space of the new HDD, to allow space to make the other clone. Once it is done you connect (as you said) the old 320 GB external USB drive and run the cloning application again. This time you make sure the Source and Destination drives are set right (ALWAYS do this and double-check when cloning!) and the Destination is the Unallocated Space you left for this purpose on that second new HDD unit, with its size adjusted as you choose. This Partition also can be a Primary Partition, BUT it is NOT a BOOTABLE Partition - it's just for data storage. Once that is all done you will have your two backups as clone copies on the second new 1TB unit, as you said.

For ongoing Backups, one simple way is just to repeat what you just did. Hook up the second 1 TB unit and use the tools within Acronis to delete ALL the Partitions on that unit. Then successively make clones of each of your current active drives (1 TB internal, 320 GB external) with specified sizes on that unit. This is not the usual system of full and partial backups. This is Full Backups only (as clones, really). You can do that with the software you have, nothing additional required.

I do see a sticky point, though, in your plans for using the backup clones. IF your internal C: drive fails and you need to boot and run from the clone on the second unit, your machine may NOT be able to boot and run from an external USB drive. You may have to actually remove the second 1 TB unit from the USB enclosure and mount it inside as an internal drive to boot from (entirely do-able). Then you make the clone to the newest replacement unit as planned (adjusting the destination Partition size as before to the full space), and swap drive units around again.

Now you've hit on another point I had considered - that of being able to boot, should my new C: drive fail. So, as long as I create a bootable primary partition on the external backup drive, and of course make sure that the BIOS settings are changed to allow booting from an external USB device, which I think is an option, I may then have a more convenient recovery solution.

I'd like to heartily thank you for your efforts to offer this info which will probably prove highly useful to me and others who read it! I'm printing it for reference. :) 

Now for a point that even you haven't mentioned, though I am quite you're aware of it.
Let's face it - one can see obvious advantages to cloning. But, even though I very frequently (more than daily) run disk cleanup, getting rid of temporary files and such, and I also very frequently defrag (using Diskeeper 10), one still acquires detritus on a hard drive the more it is used.
So I can also see (once safely cloned and backed up), why it might be an idea, if a tediously laborious job, to reinstall Windoze, etc., once in a blue moon, and in doing that, one isn't going to wind up cloning the the old data "litter" as well, each time one reclones
No doubt each approach has its benefits.
When I am done with this process, I DO hope to set up some kind of regularly scheduled incremental backup, perhaps one that would run in the wee hours while we sleep.
That's almost another subject in itself, I suppose.

Cheers!

Michael

!