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How to move your operating system to another hard drive

Easier than it sounds

Hard drive, but easy
Hard drive, but easy

You bought a new hard drive and you, like me, are lazy and do not want to rebuild your Operating System (OS) install. It’s a long and tedious process that involves assuming you have the correct drivers downloaded on a USB drive (or that you can download them after the install), installing all your applications, and making sure your system settings are right. It is just a huge mess. Or, you find out that your hard drive is in the early stages of dying and you decide to replace it.

Well, the best way to migrate your information onto a new drive is to move your entire OS onto a new drive. This is not as simple as copy and paste, but it will be pretty painless.

There are a ton of tools you can use to do this, and many different ways, but I will cover the ways I do it in my home for my PC.

Now, before we begin, I want to point out some important prefaces: make note that if your computer has a virus then that will copy over. If your operating system is corrupt, then you run the risk of your information not being accessible or being corrupt on the copy (sometimes it won’t be a problem but it depends on the damage of the hard drive). Make sure that you are moving to either the same size drive or bigger to ensure that the copy will not fail.

What you will need:

  • A USB Flash Drive (with no data on it or one that is expendable)
  • Maybe an hour (depending on how big your hard drive is)
  • A storage disk to save a backup image (always do this - follow the instructions here)
  • Both hard disks installed
  • TuxBoot
  • CloneZilla

Once you have installed all the programs, settings, and have all the data you want, do the following:

1. Go to Windows/My Computer, and right-click on My Computer and select Manage. Once the window opens, choose Disk Management, and usually Windows will acknowledge a new disk has been located and that it needs to be initialized and formatted. Click OK and choose NTFS quick.

2. Download Tuxboot and CloneZilla. CloneZilla will be the application we will use to create an image of the hard drive, and Tuxboot is what we will use to mount it to the USB Flash Drive so that we can boot to it.

3. Once these applications are downloaded, plug in the flash drive that you will be using and format it clean, as we will be using this Flash Drive for CloneZilla. Go to Windows/My Computer, and right-click on My Computer and select Manage. Select the disk (making sure you do NOT select C: drive or another drive you are using) and right click and format it to NTFS Quick, and give it a Drive Letter.

4. Open Tuxboot. Once Tuxboot opens, click on the bottom and choose ISO and click the button to find the location of the CloneZilla live .ISO file. Once that is complete, make sure that the drive you are mounting CloneZilla to is the USB Flash Drive. Hit OK.

5. Reboot the computer and boot off of the USB Flash Drive. Go into BIOS. I don’t know what key that is for your computer but it is either F2 or the DEL key by default. Once you are in, go into your BOOT section and manually boot off of the USB flash drive. This will start CloneZilla.

6. Choose the default CloneZilla Start option, choose your Language Keyboard, choose Do Not Touch KeyMap, and choose the first option: “Start CloneZilla Live.”