How do you clone hard drives from other machines?

  JumpingJack 15:50 24 Apr 2008

How would you make a hard drive cloning machine?

I need a machine that will copy other hard drives without loosing any information or changing volume labels etc.

It must be possible for the clone to be inserted in the original machine and for that machine to boot up as normal.

Its important that I find a solution because I need backups in case of hardware failure and I dont want to loose any work. As the discs stand, all are in pristing condition and now is the ideal time to copy them.

I tried installing one of the hard drives in my home Pc with and using Norton Ghost 14, but its clear that Norton is unable to make the correct copy because Windows allocates and changes the Volume Label of any hard drive as soon as I install it in the caddy!! I could instal Norton Ghost on all the PCs, but with 6 PCs that is too pricey and I dont want Norton Ghost on my business music discs.

What do you think?

  Ditch999 15:57 24 Apr 2008

Thats what RAID1 is for. It is an exact copy of your C: drive in case of hard disk failure. Of course all your PCs need a RAID controller and 2 identical hard disks.

  JumpingJack 16:20 24 Apr 2008

I want to store the drives in a different location to avoid theft, virus and power issues that could arise.

But I see where you are coming from..

There is RAID1 support on all the motherboards abr one, so insert the blank hard drive, turn Raid1 on. Will I need to format the Blank Hard drive? It will copy the Master Hard drive exactly - its not something I need to set up right at the outset of a fresh install is it?

Once the copy is complete, remove the copy and turn Raid1 Off when i next reboot.

Everything will work as before, except that i now have a perfect backup in case of need. Is that how you would do it?

Anyone see any problems with that... sounds to easy to me.

One machine doesnt have any scope to attach a second hard drive.. Raid1 is not an Option. I assume though that I could take it out of the old machine and attach it to a machine with a Raid controller and the Mirror would be created before it trys to boot into Windows? I have never tried RAID before so I am in your hands!

  Ditch999 16:38 24 Apr 2008

Have a look at this piece of hardware for RAID click here
and read the second page of this article click here
I dont know what your setup or budget is, but what price is redundancy??

  DieSse 17:36 24 Apr 2008

I wouldn't do it like this.

I'd do Compressed Images, and do them on the machines the original drives are installed in.

I'd use an external (USB, eSATA or Firewire) drive.

I'd have my backup images all on a single drive.

I'd re-image periodically to make sure I always had an up-to-date image.

If it was commercially important I'd do the traditional three generation images.

  Ditch999 17:43 24 Apr 2008

JumpingJack said "It must be possible for the clone to be inserted in the original machine and for that machine to boot up as normal."
Would a compressed image be able to do this?
What SW would you use?

  DieSse 20:07 24 Apr 2008

I do use Acronis.

I said I wouldn't do it the way he wants to. No a compressed image can't do that.

I don't consider that a drawback. The number of times a fault might cause you to need to re-install a backup is minute (I've never had to do it in over three years.) So the small amount of extra time to install an image file is outweighed by the other advantages (to me.)

  Ditch999 20:26 24 Apr 2008

Each to their own!
JumpingJack has 6 PCs and depending on use a hard disk could fail after 3 years (the HD in my nephews Dell PC died after 6 months) and swapping one hard disk for another is a straighforward enough solution, as is making an image file. You never know whats best until you actually need to use the image and using the RAID1 system it is easy enough to test the copy disk as you put it in and see that it works.

  JumpingJack 21:58 25 Apr 2008

Thanks Ditch, DieSse.

The Acronis solution worked perfectly in the end (I dont think i was doing the Raid correctly to be honest, but i see that it should work - just pressed for time and couldnt afford another failure!)

Downloaded Acronis (bought it for about £20-25). this gave me the option to create a bootable disc (it did all the work I just had to put the CD in the drive!). The optical drive was then chosen as the boot device and I was able to make the perfect copy I needed. I didnt even need to format the new hard drives.. no idea why or what the implications of that are. Hopefully it means that I can still store work on it!!

Thanks for your help everyone.

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