A new hard drive can be a great way to improve computer performance but copying data from hard drive to hard drive is not a job for the unprepared. Here’s how to do it!
Eventually, every computer user considers upgrading or replacing their hard drive. At the same time, most people want to avoid the trouble associated with reinstalling the computer’s operating system and backing up all of the old data. For many, copying the data from hard drive to hard drive is the most logical and easiest way to upgrade a computer hard drive. Doing so can be a challenge to those that are unfamiliar with the inner workings of a computer system but luckily hard drives have come a long way in recent years and the process of upgrading and copying files from drive to drive is no longer cause to take the computer into the repair shop.
Preparing To Copy Files From One Hard Drive To Another
The new, blank hard drive must be connected to the computer via an IDE or SATA cable. In order to do this, a user must remove the cover from the computer case and find the appropriate connectors. Most drives will come with SATA or IDE cables included in the package. A jumper may need to be set on the hard drive depending on the system’s overall setup. For most people, the initial setup will require the new drive to be set up as a “slave” or as “cable select.” Check the manual that comes with the hard drive to determine which setting the drive’s manufacturer suggests.
Once the hard drive is connected, check the instruction manual to see if the drive includes a disc of special software to use to duplicate the old drive. If the old and new hard drives are connected properly the next step is to use this software to copy from hard drive to hard drive all of the old data. The software may first ask the user to partition the new hard drive in some way. Partitioning a hard drive is a slightly more complicated topic and is discussed in another article linked to here. Once the new disc has been partitioned the copying process will often begin automatically.
Alternative Methods of Copying Files From Drive To Drive
There are other ways to copy data from one disc to another, however not all will produce a hard drive that can be booted to operate the computer. Simply connecting the new hard drive and drag/dropping the files from the old drive to the new one from within Windows or the Mac OS will not work. In the same vein, external USB hard drives typically cannot be used as a boot drive in most systems. Some system files and the boot sector of the drive will not be copied and thus the new hard drive will not be able to be used as the primary C: drive.
One commercial alternative that can do the job adequately however is Norton Ghost. This software product copies data from hard drive to hard drive by creating an image of the original disc. This disc image can be saved for use as an emergency backup disc should the system become infected with a virus or should the primary hard drive fail in some way or when you hear your Seagate hard drive beeping. Free, open-source alternatives to Ghost are products called PartImage and DriveImage. Using these products is also a great way to create regular system backups.
Upgrading a hard drive is a fairly inexpensive way to give new life to an old computer, but asking someone to copy from hard drive to hard drive can scare even the hardiest computer user. Follow the tips shown above and always read the instruction booklet carefully before beginning any upgrade procedure.