How to Switch Hard Drives & Transfer Data to a New Drive

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How to Switch Hard Drives & Transfer Data to a New Drive
Data is stored on hard drives in the form of very small magnetic fields. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Switch from the existing hard drive in a computer system to a larger hard drive by cloning the operating system, applications, settings and user data. Hard drive cloning software allows a brand new drive to take the place of the existing drive without installing the operating system or software from scratch and without losing any data. Learn how to make an exact copy of a hard drive and swap the new drive into place for an increase in available hard disk space without the hassle of reinstalling everything from scratch.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • USB hard drive adaptor cable
  • Hard drive cloning software

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Plug the USB hard drive adaptor into any available USB port on the back of the computer. Allow the operating system to detect and install the drivers for the adaptor and insert any hardware device driver disk that came with the adaptor if prompted.

  2. 2

    Click "Start" and "Shut Down" and allow the computer to power off completely.

  3. 3

    Connect the new hard drive to the USB hard drive adaptor and to a power source. Power on the power source for the hard drive and then power on the computer. Allow the operating system to detect the hard drive but cancel any prompts to initialise the drive or to create a partition or volume.

  4. 4

    Download and install one of the hard drive cloning software packages listed in the Resources and launch the program once it has installed.

  5. 5

    Click "Tools & Utilities" and "Clone Disk".

  6. 6

    Click "Automatic" to clone a single internal hard drive to a single new hard drive connected to the USB hard drive adaptor. Click "Manual" for advanced options including the ability to choose source and destination drives, change volume information and change various other advanced settings that are beyond the scope of this article. Click "Next" to continue.

  7. 7

    Click "Proceed" and authorise any prompts by the operating system regarding overwriting the destination drive. Allow the system to restart to complete the drive cloning operation and power the system off when it has completed.

  8. 8

    Disconnect the hard drive from the USB hard drive adaptor and the power source and disconnect the adaptor from the back of the computer.

  9. 9

    Remove the case cover and examine the existing hard drive to determine how it is mounted inside the case.

  10. 10

    Disconnect the hard drive data and power cables. Remove the existing drive and any bracket that is attached to it.

  11. 11

    Place the bracket onto the new drive in the same orientation that the old drive was mounted and mount the new drive into the computer.

  12. 12

    Connect the hard drive power and data cables to the new drive and replace the case cover.

Tips and warnings

  • Replace the hard drive with a high capacity drive with a faster spindle speed and more cache memory for improved performance or replace it with a solid state or hybrid drive for the best performance.
  • Avoid contact with the hard drive while it is operational as hard drives are extremely sensitive to movement or vibration when running.

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