How to Clone Your Hard Drive on Windows and macOS

While technology has several obvious benefits, your data is always at risk whether it’s stored online or on your home computers.

Hackers aren’t the only threat to your data and information security — hard drives fail, floods and hurricanes destroy computers, and thieves can steal your stuff right from your home or car.

person using black laptop computer to clone their hard drive
Clone your Windows or Mac. Photo by freestocks.

Internet service providers (ISPs) often give away antivirus software free with your paid data plan. For example, Charter Spectrum allows its customers to download antivirus software to protect their data while browsing online.

However, a data disaster may come without warning and happen overnight. Antivirus software doesn’t typically back up your data — it only protects you from viruses — so you need a separate data backup and recovery plan.

How to Secure Your Data

There are several options to backup your data. Most users simply copy all their data from one place to another using flash drives, a second internal hard drive, or online services like OneDrive and Dropbox.

But, if a disaster destroys your computer, you want to get up and running as fast as possible, right?

You could buy a replacement computer and manually restore your data, but that takes a lot of time. And, restoring your data doesn’t recover your software, apps, settings, or preferences. You have to reinstall and configure all of those by hand.

A better way to handle a data disaster is to clone your hard drive ahead of time.

By cloning your hard drive, you make an identical copy of your data, your software, and settings that you can quickly restore in the event of a disaster.

Cloning a Hard Drive

Cloning a hard drive can be a long process; however, it’s not complex or cumbersome.

To keep your clone as small as possible, you should remove any data that you don’t want on the cloned hard drive. Delete duplicate pictures, multiple backups, old Zip files, etc. Uninstall any applications or software that you don’t need.

Next, open your cloning software to begin the process.

Depending on the amount of data on your hard drive, the process may take a few minutes to a couple of hours.

Thankfully, most cloning software comes with scheduling options so you can start the clone at night or while you’re away from your computer.

Below are the two ways you can clone a hard drive on Windows and macOS.

Cloning a Hard Drive on Windows

To begin the cloning process, you need to connect your secondary hard drive to your computer with an external USB cable. You can also install your secondary hard drive inside your computer case if you have enough room, power, and SATA/SAS connectors.

If you’re cloning a laptop hard drive, use an external hard drive and connect it to the laptop’s USB port.

In either case, remember to safely disconnect the external hard drive from your computer or laptop the Windows USB system tray icon.

When cloning your computer, laptop, or hard drive, ensure your secondary drive has enough storage.

Macrium Reflect Free

Macrium Reflect Free is one of the best cloning tools for Windows that you can download for free.

Install the software using their wizard and launch it by right-clicking it when the installation is complete.

Macrium Reflect Logo - Cloning Software

Select the source drive, then choose an appropriate destination folder for your destination drive to begin the cloning process.

In Macrium, you’ll see an option to create an image of the existing files. Imaging is different from cloning, and cloning is more reliable, so ignore this option and open the source drive once the cloning is complete.

Check the source drive and open some files to see if they are working correctly.

With Macrium Reflect Free, you can also schedule the cloning process later or start it right away.

Cloning A Hard Drive On macOS

So, for people who want to clone the data present on their Mac OS hard drive, SuperDuper is an excellent option.

SuperDuper has been around for years, and the application is free to install. Once you install it, a user-friendly interface will welcome you. On the user interface, select the source disk to transfer the data to the destination drive.

SuperDuper cloning software for Mac (macOS)

Next, select the destination drive you are going to transfer the data to. Remember that the tool will erase all the data present on the destination drive. Therefore, make sure that you do not have any critical data on it. Formatting the destination drive takes some time. The software will begin cloning the drive after formatting completes.

Like Macrium, SuperDuper can also create images of your hard drive, but cloning is more reliable.

Summary

By following the detailed steps above, you can clone your hard drive to keep your data safe. If a data disaster occurs or your hard drive becomes corrupt, you can use your cloned hard drive to access all of your files.

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