A friend emailed me yesterday asking about her computer. Apparently her computer hard drive was throwing errors left and right and she was concerned about the situation. I do work in IT and so sometimes friends ask me for help and I actually kind of enjoy doing it. I do not get paid for it, but if I can help a friend with some simple stuff it is fun.
I asked her a few questions and then determined the best approach would be to replace the hard drive. But then concerns popped up about re-installing everything and so I suggested to clone the old hard drive and not to do a complete reinstall of the operating system. My only concern was that the old hard drive would either die on us while doing so or would have so many bad blocks and sectors already that the cloning process would fail.
My friend bought a new hard drive and I stopped by in the evening to get this taken care of. I do have a licensed copy of a cloning utility from Paragon Software. The software is called “Hard Disk Manager Suite” and comes with a whole bunch of hard drive related utilities – including a disk to disk cloning/migration utility. It will create a one to one copy of a hard drive to a newer one and even adjusts the clone to different hard drive sizes.
I installed the software, connected my Thermaltake hard drive docking station, and connected the new hard drive. The easy to use wizard of the Hard Disk Manager Suite guided me through the different steps and then the software went to work. First it prepares the target hard drive and then copies everything over. At the end of the process it requires a reboot because the operating system locks some files which then can only be accessed by the software during the boot process. A message popped up that the cloning process was completed and then the machine rebooted back into Windows 7.
I shut down the system, swapped the hard drives and the new hard drive booted up just fine and all her data was where it was supposed to be. Windows installed an updated driver for the new hard drive, we rebooted one more time and it was all good. The process took about 2 hours – mainly due to a slow USB connection between the system and the new hard drive. While the Thermaltake Hard Drive Docking station supports SATA, the computer in this case did not.
My friend was super-happy and I had the feeling all this work looked a bit like black Voodoo to her.
I really like the Paragon software. It helped me last year to migrate my laptop from a normal SATA hard drive to a new SSD without the need to re-install any software. It also helped me to pro-actively replace hard drives in 2 of my other computers.