How to clone a hard drive on MacOS and Windows

Our hard drives contain so many valuable files like family pictures, homework, digital art, work reports, and more. Losing a computer or experiencing a technical problem can cause you to lose hours of work and priceless memories, and depending on the damage, data recovery software may not be useful. Cloning your hard drive is an easy way of preserving essential files.

You can create copies of all your files and clone your OS, software, and more to fully restore your computer. Here are the steps you should follow to clone a hard drive on Windows 10 or MacOS.

How to clone a hard drive on Windows 10

Step 1: Download Macrium Reflect 7 Free Edition

Grab Macrium Reflect 7 from the official website. While there are many great cloning applications you can grab, this one is our current favorite. It has everything you need to clone a drive for the home or business, and it costs you nothing but time. You’ll download a stand-alone downloader from Macrium’s server so you’re not installing hacked software, which provides added security, but the delay can be frustrating. Once the installer is on your PC, locate and install it like any other desktop program.

Step 2: Ready your drives

Your source is the drive you want to clone. Your destination is the drive where the clone will reside. Make sure both are plugged into your PC and recognized by the system. You can connect them internally or externally, or a mix of both. For instance, if you’re backing up a laptop’s drive, your destination drive would connect via an external USB-based adapter.

Open Macrium Reflect 7.  The landing page shows a collection of all drives connected to your PC and their respective partitions. Make sure Reflect 7 lists both drives.

Now is also a good time to make sure the destination drive has enough space. It requires more free space than your source drive in order to receive all of the new information. If it doesn’t, you can use the native cleanup tools in Windows or those provided by third-party developers.

You can learn more about how to free system space with our guide, How to Clean Your Bloated Hard Drive in Windows 10.

Step 3: Manage partitions

To start the cloning process, select the source drive and then click the blue Clone this disk link listed underneath the drive in the main window.

A new window prompts you to select a destination disk. Click the area that says Select a disk to clone to and select your destination in a list of drives that appear in another pop-up window.

It should be noted that Reflect 7 will erase any existing data on the destination drive as part of the cloning process, so be sure to back up any information before proceeding further.

You can manually delete existing partitions, but it’s not necessary. If there are any partitions on the source drive that you don’t want copying, untick them using the relevant boxes. When you’re ready, click the Copy selected partitions link.

Alternatively, you can drag and drop specific partitions you want to be cloned to the new drive. If you’re unsure, just clone all partitions and work out what you don’t need later.

If you are moving to a larger drive, increase the main partition’s size to take advantage of the additional space. Just select the largest partition on your source drive (usually C:) and select Cloned Partition Properties. On the subsequent screen, select the box that says Maximum size and then click OK.

Step 4: Start the cloning process

Once you’re ready to begin, double-check everything one more time — it never hurts. When you’re doubly sure, select Finish and then OK to start the cloning process. Depending on the size, speed, and usage of your drives, this process can take quite some time.

When it’s finished, your new drive should be just as functional as the old one.

How to clone your hard drive on MacOS

Cloning a hard drive on MacOS is a little easier than Windows because you can use its built-in Disk Utility tool to perform the same function. There are plenty of third-party alternatives, however, like the popular Carbon Copy Cloner, but Disk Utility does the job just fine. You don’t need the latest version of MacOS Mojave, but it’s never a bad idea to keep your Mac current.

Step 1: Boot to a different volume

The only downside to Disk Utility compared to some third-party tools is that it unmounts all drives to speed up the copy process. That means you can’t perform a drive clone from the currently booted volume. You’ll either need to boot from another drive or volume with a functioning MacOS installation or use the Recovery HD volume.

You can access the Recovery HD volume by restarting your Mac while holding down the CMD + R keys simultaneously.

Step 2: Ready your drives

Your source is the drive you want to clone. Your destination is the drive where the clone will reside. Make sure both are plugged into your PC and recognized by the system. You can connect them internally or externally, or a mix of both.

Once the MacOS Recovery loads, click the Disk Utility option listed on the MacOS Utilities pop-up window, followed by Continue.

On the next screen, you should see the source and destination drives listed on the left. If you don’t see all connected drives, select View in the top-left corner, followed by Show All Devices in the drop-down menu.

Step 3: Select your drives

Choose your destination drive from all of the volumes listed on the left-hand side. This volume is the one that will receive your cloned data.

Reflect 7 erases all data on the destination drive as part of the cloning process. Before you get started, make sure you back up any vital information.

Once you complete the backup, find the toolbar, and select the Restore button (the circular arrow). A pop-up window will open. Choose your source drive from the Restore From bar.

Step 4: Start the cloning process

Before you start, ensure that you have correctly selected the proper final destination drive and source drive. Ensure that the destination drive and the source drive are not in the reversed positions.

Tap the Restore button after you’ve confirmed, and then the cloning process will start. Depending on the drive’s size and speed, you may have to let it run and wait for a little while.

Once the cloning process is complete, you can use your computer, just as you were before.

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