I currently have 2 computers in my house that are quite old, but are working just fine. One is a Dell E4200 Workstation that I bought 6 years ago. Currently my wife uses it as her main computer. 2 Years ago I removed Windows Vista and installed Windows 7 on it. The second computer is a Dell OptiPlex workstation that runs Windows Server as the main OS. It is my main file and print server. It is 5 years old and I bought it as a refurbished unit from Dell.
Since both computers are now in an age where the hard drive could go out, I decided to do some pro-active maintenance and to replace the hard drives. Both machines at 160 GB SATA drives and of course were fairly pushing the disk space limits. So, I bought 2 new Western Digital 500 GB hard drives for them. I did not wanted to re-install any applications or the operating system and so I looked into disk cloning. Last year I replaced my laptop hard drive with a newer SSD drive and I used some disk cloning software from Paragon Software. Back then their trial version worked just fine, but when I tried it now the option that I needed (resizing of partitions) was apparently removed from the trial version. Since the software had helped me for free last year, I decided to do the right thing and buy their product and I actually bought the Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 Suite for $49.95 as it provides more functionality. I cloned the Windows 7 workstation in no-time accordingly.
Unfortunately the Windows Server operating system is not supported by the Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 Suite. There are quite a few software applications out there that cost a lot of money. After having spent money on the Hard Disk Manager I wanted some more affordable. 10 minutes online research and I found a website called CloneZilla.org and that was exactly what I needed. CloneZilla allows you to clone hard drives. I downloaded the ISO image for CloneZilla Live, burnt it to a CDROM, booted my server into the ISO and was able to clone my hard drive without the need to reinstall the operating system or the applications.
When I talk about cloning in this article I had the following setup. An external SATA drive enclosure was holding the new hard drive. I connected the enclosure through a SATA cable to the computer and made sure that the computer could see the unformatted hard drive. The Paragon software was able to clone the drive to the external enclosure with the Windows Operating System still running. CloneZilla required the server to go down and to boot into the ISO image. Once each clone was done, I shut down the computer, swapped the hard drive and booted them back up. In both cases the computer came back just fine. Windows 7 required a driver update for the hard drive + a reboot while the Windows 2008 server found the driver, updated it and was just happy without a reboot. As the server was a bit different with the partition setup I used diskpart expand the main partitions by hand which worked just fine.
It took me a little bit to get everything in place, but once I had the right software I was able to clone the hard drives very easily. I was very happy with the outcome. Cloning hard drives is a great way to replace older hardware or to switch to a better or larger hard drive without the need of reinstalling anything. I had done it last year by switching my Lenovo laptop to a new SSD hard drive.