Copy vs. Clone -- what's the difference?

Started Jun 10, 2012 | Discussions thread
Jim Cockfield Forum Pro • Posts: 16,342
Re: Copy vs. Clone -- what's the difference?

PicOne wrote:

Assuming I want to copy all of the data on an old drive (data drive, not OS/Apps) onto a new drive. Is there any difference and/or advantage/disadvantage to using "Clone" function from eg. Easeus Todo, vs. just a drag/copy of the old drive folder to the new drive?

Usually, good cloning software is going to make an exact sector by sector copy of a drive. So, everything on the drive you're cloning to will be identical to the source drive.

That would include any file fragmentation, locations on files on the drives, etc.

When you copy the files, they may end up in a different order than they were on the original drive.

Personally, if I wanted to move everything to a new drive that was used for data file purposes, I'd probably just clone it.

That way, the drive heads are not having to move back and forth between the file locations and the MFT (Master File Table), assuming it's NTFS; or FAT (File Allocation Table) if it's FAT IOW, the OS would need to move back and forth between the indexing system and any physical locations the files are located in on the source drive; and between the MFT and file locations it's writing them to on the destination drive.

Instead, most cloning software is just going to read the sectors on the source drive, one right after the other, then write to the same sectors on the destination drive.

There are pros and cons to both approaches. For example, a copy versus clone may inherit the permissions of the user on the OS making the copy (that can be good or bad), which may be different than the were if the source drive came from a different OS install.

With a copy versus clone, physical file locations may be in different places on the destination drive, too (which may be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on where the files were located on the source drive and if they were fragmented or not).

But, if I'm trying to duplicate an old drive to a new one, I usually just clone it. I use a linux utiility called ddrescue for that purpose, since it can also work around any sector errors on the source drive. For example, this command would copy from the first drive in the system to the second drive in the system, making an exact sector by sector copy of it, regardless of file system:

ddrescue dev/sda dev/sdb

But, there are a number of Windows based tools designed for cloning drives you could use.

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