Ghosting: Partition Magic 8
By Adil Qarni Copyright ?Directron.com 2005
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There are two primary reasons for wanting to clone or ghost your hard drive. One is upgrading to a different hard drive, usually larger, without having to reinstall the OS and all files. This saves time and the loss of data, settings, and other files.
The other main reason is for backups. Some people install the OS they use, drivers, and all programs, and then ghost the hard drive. This way, if something goes wrong, say a virus or a hard drive crash, they can install the backup and go on.
Cloning uses software to make an exact mirror image of everything on the old hard drive so it can be transferred to a different drive. This does not copying files as such. Simply copying every file from one drive to the other will not work. Instead, an "image file" of the drive is created.
Symantec Norton Ghost
Norton Ghost is a commercial product available for disk cloning. An extremely important advantage that Norton Ghost has over the freeware alternatives is that it resizes the copied partition to the entire size of the new hard drive. This could easily be circumvented with the use of a third party partition program like Partition Magic 8, to resize the copied partition.
Ranish Partition Manager
Ranish Partition Manager can create, copy, and resize primary and extended partitions and is compatible with Linux, Windows, FreeDOS and FreeBSD. Best of all, its freeware.
Partition Magic 8
Now owned by Symantec, Partition Magic used to be a PowerQuest product. It can create, copy, delete, merge and resize partitions without losing data. The included BootMagic? utility makes it easy to switch between different operating systems on the same hard drive. Also, included how-to-wizards simplify everything.
Other software is available, including Acronis True Image, an extremely expensive utility for large corporations, and other freeware. Hardware cloning machines are also available, but are only economically worthwhile for large companies or PC manufacturers. Hard drive manufacturers also have free utilities for cloning, like Maxtor's Maxblast 3 and WesternDigital's LifeGuard data tools. Whatever software you choose to use, please read the documentation and when in doubt, read the help files.
Partition Magic 8:
Partition Magic utilizes a very simple wizard.
To start off, look under "Pick a Task".
Select "Copy a partition"
The wizard will come up. Click next.
Now, select the drive with the source partition.
Now you will need to select the hard drive which you are copying to.
You will need to select if it is a primary or logical partition, and if it will be hidden or unhidden. The tips button will provide help if you are confused.
Next, select the size of the partition.
You will also need to select if the partition will be at the beginning or the end of the unallocated space.
After you have selected everything, you will be prompted to confirm your settings.
Now, just click Apply to apply the changes you have made.
Unless you are copying to or from the currently running operating system drive, you will not even need to reboot.
Ranish Partition Manger
Ranish Partition Manager must be booted from a floppy, so I am unable to provide clear screenshots.
This is the screenshot from the Ranish website, http://www.ranish.com/part/. You will need to set your computer to boot from the floppy drive first if it does not already. For this, please check your motherboard manual or your computer manufacturer's manual. To switch to the hard drive which contains the partition to be copied, hit the F5 key. When on the particular drive, use the arrow keys to select the partition to be copied. Press the "C? key to copy it. A screen will pop up asking on which partition on which drive to copy the partition to. Within the Ranish program, you can create and delete partitions.
With the download, Ranish also includes a simulation program. This program will run within Windows, in an MS-DOS command, and allows you to practice copying, moving, deleting and creating partitions, without actually doing it.
The two most commonly used programs for cloning your hard drive have been covered. Other solutions do exist, ranging from enterprise software to machines. For the occasional use, Ranish seems to be the best. It's freeware, and very simple. The only draw back is that it does not work from within Windows. Partition Magic and other programs under $100 work from within Windows, so it becomes much easier to do regular backups.
Last updated: 03/24/05
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