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25 May 2022

Cloning a disk with Macrium Reflect 8

Using Macrium Reflect, it is possible to clone an entire drive or specific partitions on a drive. This is useful if you are upgrading to a larger drive and can often be faster than imaging the source drive and restoring to the destination drive. Cloning your drive will create a bootable copy of the source drive with the state it was in at the time the clone took place. You can clone to a drive installed in your computer or to a drive that is attached using a USB caddy.

Macrium Reflect is available to trial free for 30 days, to enable you to follow the steps below and simply clone a disk. You can start your trial here, where you can create a Macrium account and download the trial. Your trial will end after 30 days, or you can purchase Macrium Reflect to schedule routine backups of your data and safeguard against future hardware failure.

It is important to note that Windows cannot boot using a USB connected drive, this is a restriction that is imposed by Windows. If you use a USB connected drive as a destination for the clone, to boot using the cloned drive, the drive will need to be removed from the USB caddy and connected to the system internally.

First, select the ‘Create Backups’ tab, then select ‘Local Disks’. This will show a graphical representation of the disks that are attached to the system locally. Select the disk that you would like to clone, then select ‘Clone this disk…’ which is shown under the selected disk.

This will open the ‘Clone’ wizard. Select ‘Select a disk to clone to…’ to select a destination for the clone. 

Individual partitions can be selected and deleted from the destination disk, or you can select ‘Erase Disk’ to delete all the partitions from the destination disk. 

Although cloning is a destructive process, nothing will be deleted from the destination disk until the clone has started. This gives you the freedom to reposition and edit partitions without making the changes permanently. 

Individual partitions can be dragged from the source disk to the destination. The partitions can be dragged to the destination in any order. 

Alternatively, you can select ‘Copy Partitions’ and then select ‘Exact partition offset and length’ or ‘Shrink or extend to fill the target disk’

Selecting ‘Exact partition offset and length’ will copy the selected partitions from the source disk to the destination with the exact same partition offset and length. This means that the partitions will be copied to the same location on the destination disk and they will be the same size.

In the example above, since the destination disk is larger than the source disk, there is 50GB of unpartitioned space at the end of the destination disk. The last partition can be modified to fill the unpartitioned space if necessary.

Once the partitions have been dragged to the destination, the partition properties can be modified to extend or shrink the partition. 

Selecting ‘Shrink or extend to fill the target disk’ will resize the partitions on the destination to make use of all the available space on the disk. This option is perfect when cloning from a smaller disk to larger disk, as all the space on the destination disk will be used automatically.

The partitions that can be resized by this option are all non-system partitions, and the C: drive, that are formatted with either the NTFS of FAT32 file system. 

Once you are happy with the partitions that you have copied to the destination, select ‘Next’.

The second page of the clone wizard can be used to create a schedule for the clone. If a schedule is created, the clone will be performed automatically without further user interaction when the scheduled time is reached. 

The final page of the clone wizard is a summary of the clone that will be performed. This gives you a chance to check the options that you have specified before the clone starts. You can use the ‘Back’ button to navigate back to the previous pages of the wizard to make changes. When you are happy with the options that you have specified, select ‘Finish’. 

A window will be displayed, with options to ‘Run this backup now’ or ‘Save as a Backup Definition File’. Saving the clone as a backup definition file, enables the same clone to be easily run again in the future. If you choose not to run the clone now, you can run it at any time in the future using the definition file.

It is important to note that cloning is a destructive process. Any partitions that you have specified to delete in the ‘Clone’ wizard, will be deleted from the destination disk when the clone is performed. Any data on these partitions will be lost. Care should be taken when performing the clone to ensure that the correct destination disk has been selected, and that any data you want to keep has been moved from the partitions.

Once the clone has completed, the partitions we specified have been copied to the destination disk.

Dynamic Disks

The process of cloning a dynamic disk differs slightly from cloning a normal disk. If you are not using dynamic disk(s), then this section can be ignored. Dynamic disks are shown in the Reflect UI with a pink partition color instead of blue. Selecting the dynamic disk will show ‘Copy dynamic volumes’ instead of ‘Clone this disk…’. This is due to dynamic disks being a logical abstraction of the underlying physical disk, the volumes may even be striped or extended over multiple disks. As a result, dynamic volume file systems are copied to the destination, and not the partition itself.

To copy source dynamic volume(s) to destination dynamic volumes, the destination dynamic volumes must be prepared in advanced, this can be done using Windows Disk Management. The source volumes can then be dragged and dropped onto the destination volumes. 

Prepared destination disk:

Partitions copied to the prepared destination disk:

Alternatively, you can select an MBR/GPT basic disk, and drag the partitions from the source to the destination. When this is done, the dynamic disk will be converted to a basic disk when the restore is performed. The destination disk can then either be left as a basic disk, or converted back to a dynamic disk.

Try Macrium Reflect for Free

Cloning disks is made easy with our backup software, Macrium Reflect, which has been named among the top disk cloning software solutions for 2024.

Purchase Macrium Reflect for home or business use or try it for free with a 30-day trial.

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