Did you buy a new PC? Or installed a new hard drive or SSD? Often that means reinstalling Windows and restoring all your data. Save a lot of time by cloning Windows 10. In this how-to we explain how transferring Windows 10 to another system works this way.
The term cloning indicates exactly what the principle means: you make an exact copy of the Windows installation, which you can then place in a new location. Windows cloning is also useful if you want to back up your hard drive so that you can get back to work quickly in case of problems. So cloning involves more than simply copying the files to the new location.
Data that is not immediately visible (via a program such as Explorer) must also be copied to the new location. Cloning information creates a 1-to-1 copy of all information on the hard drive. Think of drivers, programs and patches.
Clean up first
Before you clone the Windows environment, make sure you have a tidy environment. After all, an exact copy of the environment is made and this is a good time to critically examine the environment. After all, you don't want to clone a polluted or cluttered environment. First of all, make sure that Windows is updated with the latest updates. Open the settings window (Windows key+I) and choose Update & Security, Windows Update. Press the button Looking for updates. Install the updates offered by Windows Update.
Then check whether there are no programs installed that you do not use (anymore). In the settings window, choose apps. Bee Apps & Features check the list to see if all apps are still being used. Remove unnecessary apps.
With the help of Disk Cleanup, you can run the dust comb through the rest of the work environment. This removes temporary update files, for example, so that they are not unnecessarily included in the cloning process. Open the Start menu and type Disk Cleanup. Select the drive where Windows is installed and click OK. An overview of files to be deleted appears. However, we first choose the button Clean up system files. This will rerun Disk Cleanup's check, but will also examine locations of system files.
You then have the choice to, for example, also clean the folder with temporary installation files of Windows. In the results window, place check marks next to the parts that may be cleaned. In any case, take the parts with you that take up a lot of space. Good examples of this are the Windows Update temporary update files (Clean up Windows Update), the logs created when upgrading Windows (Windows upgrade log files), downloaded files (Downloads), the contents of the Recycle Bin (Garbage can) and files from previous Windows installations (Previous Windows installation(s)). click on OK to clean up the selected items.
Windows regularly creates a restore point of the entire environment. In case of problems, you can return to a point in the past and restore the situation. However, a restore point takes up a lot of space and is also included in the cloning. Fortunately, we can delete all older restore points and keep only the most recent restore point. In the Disk Cleanup window, click the tab More options. Click the button now To clean up in the section System Restore and Shadow Copies. Confirm your choice with a click on remove.
An alternative to cleaning the workspace is to perform a clean Windows installation before cloning it. You then know for sure that the cloned environment is clean and does not contain any unnecessary elements. Performing a clean Windows installation in Windows 10 takes relatively little effort. First of all, make sure that you have saved your own files (such as documents and photos) in an external location so that you can restore them later in the clean environment.
Open the settings window (Windows key+I) and go to Update and Security. Choose System recovery and choose Start over with a clean install of Windows. Press the button To workand follow the steps of the wizard.
We recommend that everyone make regular backups of your important files. Still, it happens regularly. Take a look at our Backup and Restore Course, full of tips for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. Possibly with 180-page practical book!
Clone Windows 10 with WinToHDD
Relatively little is needed to clone Windows. First, decide where you want to house the cloned environment. Get a new hard drive that is at least the same size as the current hard drive. You can also use an external hard drive for this. Decide in advance how you want to use the drive. If it is a primary drive from which you want to run Windows, then you build it into the computer before you clone Windows to the new environment.
Windows 10 does not have a built-in function to clone the operating system. We therefore use an external program. For this article we chose WinToHDD. This program is available in several versions, including a free version. WinToHDD Free is officially intended for home use only. Furthermore, it has some limitations.
The main limitation is that it can only clone Windows 10 Home editions. If you use another edition, such as Windows 10 Pro, cloning will not work with the free version. The paid version – WinToHDD Professional – does support cloning Windows 10 Pro. The free version is also slower than the paid versions and you are not automatically informed about any available updates when you use it.
After installing and opening the software, you will be greeted by the opening window. You will find four options here: Reinstall Windows, New Installation, System Clone and Multi-Installation USB. click on System Clone. In the next window, WinToHDD will ask which operating system you want to clone. By default, an operating system is already filled in. Check if this is the correct option. In the box below the drop-down list, you can read the summary, which states which operating system is installed, which version it is, and which system partition is being used. Confirm with a click on OK.
The program will now ask which disk to install the cloned installation of Windows on. Select the disc from the menu at Please select the destination disk. It is now time to format the hard drive. There are three options here, but we agree with the default choice of WinToHDD. click on yes to start formatting .
Now select the boot partition and system partition. The option at Installation Mode let's remain unchanged. Confirm with a click on Next. The actual cloning of the Windows installation now begins. The percentage indicates how far the process has progressed. With the option Restart the computer when the operation is completed let you restart the computer after the work is done. If you prefer to switch off the machine after the action, choose Shut down the computer when the operation is completed.
Copy files with TeraCopy
With Windows cloning, you can easily copy your Windows environment to another location. But what if you don't want to copy your entire Windows environment, but just want to transfer a large amount of files to another location? This can be the case, for example, if you are using a new, larger hard drive and want to place all files in the new location at once, but want to keep Windows in its original location.
Of course you can use Explorer and copy the files to a new location, but this is not ideal, especially with larger amounts of files. With a separate program for moving large amounts of files, you'll be done faster and have more control over the process. This way you can pause copying and resume it faster. A separate program also often adds extra flexibility: for example, if a problem file is encountered during copying and the entire copy operation threatens to fail.
We use TeraCopy to copy large amounts of files. Once installed, open File Explorer (Windows key+E) and browse to the folder you want to copy to the new location. Right click on it and choose TeraCopy.
A new window will open and the selected files have been added to the file list. Check if the selection is correct and then click the button To copy or on Move, depending on the objective. On the tab Target click the button To leaf through.
Pick the desired location, for example on the new hard drive. Finally, you confirm by clicking To copy or Move. On the tab log an overview of the actions taken appears.
Moving User Folders and Apps
Are you switching to a new hard drive and want to transfer your user files to this location, while continuing to use the current hard drive for Windows? Such a situation comes in handy, for example, if you reach the limit of the SSD disk and want to use a separate disk for the storage of documents.
You can move the default folders such as Documents, Pictures, and Videos to the new hard drive. Open File Explorer (Windows key+E). In the section Quick access (on the left side of the window), right-click on the folder whose location you want to change. Choose Characteristics. A new window will open. Here you choose the tab Location. Choose now Move.
Pick the new location of the folder, on the other drive. If the folder has not yet been created, open the new hard drive and click the button New map. Then click on the button Select folder. Windows asks for confirmation: click on Yes. The files will now be moved to the new location.
After all, have you installed apps in the past and want to move them to a new location at a later date? The most obvious thing to do is to uninstall and reinstall the app in the new location, but some apps offer the option to simply move it to the new location. The advantage of this is that existing settings are retained.
Open the settings window and choose apps. In the section Apps & Features find the apps whose location you want to change. Click on the app. If you can move it to another location, the button will appear Move. Then indicate the new location to which the app should be moved: choose the new location from the menu. Finally, confirm by clicking Move.