How to clone your existing Windows (or any) partition to a new drive

Cloning the existing Windows, Linux or any other partition is often a necessity and most of us aren't sure where to begin. Well I've got good news! It's free and it's easy as pie! Cloning an operating system partition allows to move all data and applications along with the OS to a new drive or a bigger drive. This saves a lot of time compared to installing the operating system, applications and personal data from scratch.

There are many other free and paid applications that can be used for disk cloning, we will be using Clonezilla, which is free and open source. Clonezilla provides a Live boot CD/USB image, which can be used to clone from:

  • Disk to disk: if you have both the new and old drive connected to the system via SATA or USB. This is often the most hassle free & time efficient method, just remove the old drive and reboot once cloning is complete and you're done.

  • Disk to image: if you have only the old disk, and for some reason you don't have a way of connecting both the disks together, use this option. Keep in mind, that this option often requires another disk with enough free space to hold the image. The ideal scenario would be backups.

  • Image to disk: as the name implies, this option is used to restore a saved image to a disk.

Which ever method you chose, go ahead and download the Clonezilla Live CD/USB image from its website linked above. Burn the image to boot from CD/DVD, otherwise download Tuxboot and create a bootable USB disk from the Clonezilla image.

For demonstration, we would be using Clonezilla to clone from disk to another disk, the steps would be similar if you choose any other methods as well.

Once booted Clonezilla shows the following screen, choose the option that says "To RAM".

Choose your preferred language and select "Don't touch keymap". Wait for the boot process to complete and then choose to start Clonezilla.

Choose source disk and destination disk. Be careful here! I repeat DO NOT choose the wrong source drives! If you are unsure reboot in to windows and check exact disk name/model or partition names. Hint: Disk size is usually a good indicator.

Skip checking/repairing source file system unless you think the filesystem is bad. Hit Enter to continue and Clonezilla will ask you again to verify whether the source and destination disks are correct.

Hit y and Enter to start the cloning process. Wait until the operation completes, the duration depends on the amount of data on the source drive (not it's capacity). Once the process is complete, power down and remove the Clonezilla bootable media and the old OS drive.

Modify your BIOS to boot from the new disk (if necessary). That's it, you're done.