Cloning vs. backing up disk

15 pts.
Operating systems
I'm not really clear on the difference, or why I might want to clone a disk that I am planning to replace. One particular question I have is, does cloning eliminate the need to reinstall the OS? This is always a pain, setting up the operating system, especially if you can't find the product key. If I were to clone my current disk, with a working OS, to a new disk, would that new disk be immediately usable, or without first installing Windows on it? Thanks, Mark

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Cloning a disk means that you make an exact copy of the disk; a backup may be very different. Typically backup software will copy the contents of a drive and story that data in a proprietary format. It may also compress or deduplicate the data as well. If you want to clone a disk including the OS so that it’s bootable, it’d probably be best to use a product that’s designed specifically to do that–like Symantec’s Ghost, Acronis’ software or Paragon Software’s backup app.

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  • AjitK29
    A good way to have both things taken care of at once is to create an image of your hard drive. By creating an image, your entire system state, including the OS and data files, is captured like a snapshot and can be reloaded at any time. It’s the best way to protect your data and is the fastest solution also.
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  • jfklas
    Thanks for that reply Ajit, most of the results that come up when I search for information on cloning is related to programs that image a drive, I guess that is what I need to do.  I'm about to put a 25G  SSD in a MacBook Pro, this will be easy, just restore a backup and the upgrade of the OS is automatic (no playing around with som product key).  That drive will probably end up holding the OS and a couple other programs in my Windows machine before long so I want to be sure I  know what I'm doing at that time (there is a 128GB SSD in there now, which was state of the art when I bought it a few months ago, somehow all sorts of other crap is finding its way onto this drive and it is filling up).  I guess after I clone/image the disk that is in there now I have to connect it as an external drive for that image to be available to the new drive - I'll but an imaging program and figure the rest out, just wanted to know what I have to do in order to have a working drive, without playing with Windows and their product key. and resetting up the whole thing (such a pain).
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  • TheRealRaven
    If that's all that's been done to the system, the product key probably won't be needed because of the use of a cloned disk.

    If other hardware upgrades have been done in the past, the replacement HDD might be enough to cross into needing the product key and full reactivation.
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  • Harisheldon

    When you clone an image of a system, it is the exact copy of what has been installed on the system. This will include all programs, updates, and any configurations that may have been made to the OS at the time it is on that system. 

    Now, when you make a clone it and put that clone into a system that is completely different than the system that created the clone, you may run into some issues, especially if there is a difference in hardware. That is why it is best to go with the same brand of computing system when you use clone hard drives.

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