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You just bought a brand new shiny SSD and want to throw it into your aging mid-tower PC. But wait, the horror of having to reinstall Windows again and all of your applications begins to set in. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of reinstalling Windows, you can use a simple cloning utility to clone your old drive to your new SSD. We’ve rounded up three free cloning utilities that are easy to use so you don’t have to go through the effort of reinstalling your OS and applications all over again.
Note: Before you attempt to clone your hard drive or SSD, we highly recommend backing up all your data first. In addition, make sure the drive you are cloning to has enough storage space to take all the cloned data. For instance, you wouldn't want to try and clone a 2TB HDD on to a 256GB SSD now would you?
Before we walk you through the steps, let's first explain some of the terms we will use so you don't get confused.
Cloning: Cloning is defined as copying the contents of one storage drive to another storage drive or to an "image file."
Source Disk: The drive that will have its content cloned to another hard drive or SSD.
Target Disk (a.k.a. Destination Disk): The drive that will receive the cloned image from the source disk.
The first data copying method we'll go over pertains to Samsung Data Migration. So make sure you plop that new Samsung SSD in along with your old OS drive you want to clone from.
Note: You will need a Samsung SSD installed on your machine for this software to work.
Step 1: Download the installer from http://www.samsung.com/global/business/semiconductor/samsungssd/downloads.html
Step 2: Run the installer and click "I accept" at the end of it to agree to the terms and conditions.
Step 3: Once the software is installed, it will launch and ask if you if you want to update to the latest version. Click on Update and you will begin downloading the newest patches for it.
Step 4: After the update is complete the software will have you install patches and will have you agree to the Samsung terms and conditions again.
Step 5: From this window, you will select the Source Disk and Target Disk. The Target Disk must be a Samsung SSD, but the Source Disk can be any C: Drive you currently have your OS on. Once you’ve selected your disks, you can start cloning by clicking Start and the cloning process will begin. Note: Leave your computer alone while you're cloning the OS, as you may corrupt the clone if other processes are being run at the same time. This goes for the other cloning utilities as well.
After the software is done cloning, you can shut down your PC and boot from your newly-cloned SSD.
The second method we will discuss uses the program Macrium Reflect and will work with any drive, regardless of brand. So before you begin, make sure you plop in that new drive along with your old drive you want to clone from.
Step 1: Go to http://download.cnet.com/Macrium-Reflect-Free/3000-2242_4-10845728.html?part=dl-&subj=dl&tag=button and click on the green Download Now button.
Step 2: Click on the download button in the Macrium Reflect Download Agent and then run the software’s installer.
Note: Make sure to read the fine print throughout the installation process to not install any adware. Cnet's Download.com has become infamous for sneaking it in (Here are some general tips to avoiding installing malware/adware).
Step 3: Open up the software and click on Clone this disk… Once you do this the software will let you choose which disks you want as your source and target disks. When you have selected your disks, click next to start cloning your drive.
Macrium Reflect useful tips:
Creating bootable rescue media: Macrium Reflect can also help you make bootable rescue media. This tool is located under Other Tasks. We always recommend making recovery media, just in case your hard drive or SSD fails on you.
Creating an image of your hard drives: Under Backup Tasks, you can also create a disk image of your hard drive or SSD too.
The third cloning method involves using Acronis True Imaged WD edition software. You will need a WD storage drive for this to work. So make sure you plop that new WD drive in along with your old OS drive you want to clone from.
Note: You will need to have a WD hard drive installed on your machine for this software to work.
Step 1: Download the Acronis True Image WD Edition Software from http://support.wdc.com/product/downloaddetail.asp?swid=119
Step 2: Run the installer
Step 3: Launch the software and select Clone disk.
Step 4: Select which cloning option you want from Automatic or Manual. The Automatic option clones your entire disk, while manual lets you pick and choose what data you want cloned over to your new drive.
Step 5: Select your Source Disk and Destination Disk and then you can begin cloning your drive.
Know of any other free cloning utilities? Let us know in the comments below!