Here is the situation: You want to clone (or copy) a hard drive to a new drive, however, you do not have a hard drive of equal or bigger size to restore the image to. This has happened to me many times, and many times I have wondered what to do. Norton Ghost does this seamlessly, but I had to purchase it and I was not going to make the same mistake most of us do, “just throw money at the problem”, specially in this era of open source software. I knew there had to be a free solution out there to clone my hard disk and after a little bit of research and testing, this is what I came up with. Resize the partition using GParted and clone the partition using Clonezilla, which is in my opinion the best hard drive cloning software available.
In a nutshell, this method will involve resizing the partition of the original hard drive using GParted, then running a filesystem check on the resized partition and using Clonezilla to copy the reduced image to the external hard drive. Finally we are going to transfer the reduced image to the computer with the smaller hard drive.
- Reduce partition of big hard drive using GParted. - Let operating system boot so it can do a file system check. - Save reduced partition using clonezilla's "saveparts" option. - Restore partition using Clonezilla's "restoreparts" option.
What’s Needed for This Project:
- Clonezilla live CD (free, open source) - Gparted live CD (free, open source) - External Hard Drive or Slave Drive (just to copy the compressed image to)
Step 1: Donwload the GParted live CD
Step 2: Once GParted has finished booting, follow the steps in the picture down below.
1 – Click on “Resize/Move” and a new window will appear.
2 – Drag the right side of the partition bar to the left until the desired size is reached.
3 – Click on “Resize/Move” (the one on your current window)
4 – Click on “Apply” when done.
Now that we have finished resizing our partition, let the computer boot so it can check the filesystem and fix any possible errors before we start to clone hard drive.
I am displaying detailed Clonezilla instructions because some people tend to panic when they see text based menus.
Step 1: Download the Clonezilla Live CD and boot your computer with it, click on “Start_Cloenzilla” at the first screen of the wizard and click “Ok” to continue.
Step 2: Choose “Device-Image” and click “Ok“
Step 3: Choose “local-dev” and click “Ok“, make sure you have your USB external hard drive plugged in. If it was not, then plug it in now.
Step 4: Select you external hard drive from the list of available ones and click “Ok”
Step 5: Choose “top_directory_in_the_local_device“, this just means that you do not want to save your image inside any of the directories already created in the hard drive. Clonezilla will create a directory and store all image files there. Click “Ok“
Step 6: Select “saveparts” to save only the desired partition and not the entire drive. Click “Ok“
Step 7: Give the image a name and start cloning.
To restore the image, follow the same steps as in the “Clonezilla Backup” section in this tutorial and when you get to “step 6” select “restoreparts“, choose the hard drive image containing the partition you would like to restore and start the process.
So far this is the easiest method I have found to clone a hard drive into a smaller one. It only involves one extra step over Norton Ghost, but everything is done with open source software. Not only Clonezilla is one of the best hard drive cloning software, but also it is free, same goes for GParted. This Means you have the programs at your disposal 24/hr and day 7 days a week no matter where you are. You can backup your hard drive without having to worry about licensing fees or carrying CDs around with me. They are always there at the click of a button.