Duplicate an OS?


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Copy an Operating System? With all the settings? How would you do that?

By making an image of your Operating System then putting it on a new hard drive that is a duplicate of an Operating System it not moving it, a reminder of sorts to do your backups and make an image of your Operating System partition.


Your hard drive is making some really high pitched noises.

Knowing what you do, you have determined that the hard drive is about to fail.

So you quickly do a data backup (you do know how to do a back up, right?) to insure that your recovery that much faster and easier.

Do you have an image of your OS drive? Such as with Ghost or Acorns True Image?


Then you get a C for this test.

If you have an image and it is less than a month old or has the last application you installed on it you get an A.

Didn't know this was a test?

Might as well have been because over 75% of users don't know what a backup is, of the 25% that do know what it is, only 5% of those actually do one. And to top that off only 1% will have an image of their Operating System.

When I was gainfully employed I went to a user that had a hard drive failure, the dispatcher gave me a new hard drive to install. After I finished installing the hard drive I asked the user where his backup image was.

Answer: What is a backup image?

Why copy an Operating System drive anyway?


  • How long did it take you to install your operating system (that is if you did it)?
  • How long to install all your applications then setup the desktop the way you want it?
  • How many of those applications can you find the product key or serial number (shouldn't take longer than five minutes).
  • How long did it take you to optimize your OS to get the maximum speed from your memory/processor?

Add that all up, from a couple of hours to half a day, right?

  • How would you like to be able to replace a hard drive and have the desktop/laptop back the way it was in less than an hour? (Twenty minutes to half hour is closer to the real time).
  • How would you like to have all your applications installed and ready to use?
  • How would you like to have the Operating System running at optimum speed?
  • How would you like to eradicate a virus in the same amount of time and be sure it is gone?

If your hard drive fails you can replace it, then put the image - copy an Operating System - on the new drive, start the system up, do a restore of your data, if you have data on your System drive, and you are done. (If the computer is in a domain you may have to have the Domain Administrator delete the computer name and then add the computer name back in the domain).

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Ever run in to one of those viruses that is a bummer to clean? Why waste the time on a 'solution' that may or may not work? Reinstall the image over the old one and the virus will just be a bad memory.

Sounds simple doesn't it? Depending on the program and the storage device you use, the process can take a few minutes to an hour or so to make the image. It takes a little less time to put the image back on a hard drive.

With an image and a regular data backup you will never have to worry about a hardware failure or a non-cleanable virus again.

One thing that an image - copy an Operating System - drive may not work for is a motherboard failure or an upgrade of the motherboard. Because motherboards come in versions when you replace it the drivers and the hal (hardware application layer) file will be different for the new motherboard because of the newer chip sets for the different embedded devices.

So how do you do an image of your hard drive? See this page: copy an Operating System

For those that are upgrading from an old mechanical hard drive to a new SSD it works the same way, just don't forget to set the boot partition to "Active" or it will not start [Been there, Done that...]

There is a work around for this problem but that is for another article, stay tuned!

To clarify: To move an Operating System would be to take a hard drive with a OS installed on it and put in to another computer. With newer Operating Systems this is not a good idea it will crash (BSOD).

Having an image of the Operating System partition is a corporation/big business "Best Practice", some companies have a team of Techs that their only job is to insure the image will work on all the companies computers, a very good job if you can get it!


My motto: Your recovery is only as good as your last backup!
(You may have seen this in other articles I have written, it works, believe me!)

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Copy an Operating System not move it!

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