Cloned my hard disk drive

Over the weekend, I spent some time to upgrade the hard disk drive in my notebook computer to one with a larger capacity. This hard disk is the system disk, containing the Windows XP operating system installation. In previous upgrades that involved the system disk, I would do a complete new installation of the operating system, the reasons being that generally it is the cleanest and it avoids moving the junks accumulated over the years to the new hard disk drive.

This time round, I wanted to save some time and decided to try a disk cloning program. Although I have heard of programs such as Norton Ghost that helps you clone a hard disk, I have never used one. I need to find a program that can do this job. My main criteria was that it had to be “cheap” (aka free) since I am not willing to shell out money for a program that I perhaps will use only once in every two to three years.

I went to Snapfiles and look up their freeware program. I decided to try Xxclone. It was a very small download (1.2MB) but to my pleasant surprise, it worked very well.

Here are the steps I took to upgrade the hard disk drive in case anyone is interested:

  1. Connect the new hard disk drive to my computer through an external USB 2.0 drive enclosure.
  2. Partition and format the drive using the Disk Management tool in Windows XP under Administrative Tools > Computer Management (in Control Panel). If this is the first time the drive is being formatted, I suggest NOT using “Quick Format” to check and make sure that there are no bad sectors.
  3. After the drive is formatted, assign a drive letter to it.
  4. Install and run Xxclone.
  5. Select the source disk and the target disk.
  6. Use the “Backup the entire volume by copying all the files form scratch.” (/backup1) option. This is the only option if you are using the free version.
  7. Click “Start” and then go have a coffee or something while Xxclone does its job.
  8. After the cloning is completed, use the “Cool Tools” to make the new disk bootable (“Make Bootable”). Also duplicate the volume ID if you like.
  9. Power down the computer, swap out the old drive with the new drive.
  10. Power up the computer, and … viola, the new disk boots correctly with the same Windows environment.

For me it was a painless experience, and all this for a price of $0. I couldn’t help but write this post to recommend it. 🙂


  1. Jonathan

    That’s pretty cool… Does it allow you to synchronize the drives later? That way you could have a ready-to-go backup at all times.

  2. indexfundfan (Post author)

    Jonathan, the free version only allows you to copy the entire disk each time. The paid version lets you do backup incrementally — but I have no idea how well that works.

    Another free disk cloning program worth mentioning is DriveImage XML. But the free version does not allow you to clone to a smaller disk — even if the space occupied by files is less than the free space on the target drive.


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