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Is Active Cloning in Acronis True Image 2019 safe to the original Windows installation and should you keep the source drive in the laptop while cloning?

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Beginner
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In the Acronis Knowledge Base, under article 61665: Acronis True Image 2019: Active Cloning in Windows, it says "Clone an active Windows system directly to a new drive without stopping your system and restarting Windows. This can be easily done with Acronis True Image 2019 and its Active Cloning feature." This seems to imply that to use the Active Cloning function within Windows, you would clone from the original Windows drive to a drive in an external enclosure and then reboot after you swap drives. Yet in the Acronis True Image 2019 User Guide it says: "When you want to clone your system to a higher-capacity hard disk, we recommend that you install the target (new) drive where you plan to use it and the source drive in another location, e.g. in an external USB enclosure. This is especially important for laptops." I am upgrading from a Windows 10 Pro installation in a 1TB NVME PCIE M.2 SSD to a 2TB NVME PCIE M.2 SSD. I will be using a Sabrent USB Type-C enclosure for NVME PCIE M Key M.2 SSD. 

In the Acronis True Image 2017 forum, it says that "Acronis True Image products allow Cloning to be started from within the Windows Acronis application but this can result in an unbootable system or worse, a total loss of all data including the Windows OS if certain rules are not followed when doing a Clone operation." Perhaps this has been fixed in Acronis True Image 2019?

  • "ALWAYS make a full disk & partitions backup of the source drive to be cloned BEFORE attempting to clone! [WILL DO THIS]
    If a Clone goes wrong then this is your safety net and the means of recovering your drive / system.
  • ALWAYS create and TEST the Acronis bootable Rescue Media to ensure that this will work on your system and will see all of your internal / external disk drives.
    NOTE: If the standard Rescue Media (which is based on a Linux Kernel OS) does not boot your computer into the Acronis Recovery environment, then starting a Clone or Recovery from Windows will also not work on your computer as this too uses the same Linux Kernel OS.  The Windows PE version of the Rescue Media will be required in this case.
  • DO NOT attempt to boot into Windows with the cloned Source and Target drives both connected. Cloning duplicates the drive signature which will confuse Windows at best and could potentially cause both drives to be corrupted." [WILL NOT DO THIS]

So, should I create a backup and Acronis bootable Rescue Media and instead of doing an Active Clone from within Windows use the Acronis bootable Rescue Media in the external USB enclosure to clone my system to a higher capacity SSD installed in the laptop? Can you boot from a drive in an external enclosure? Thanks.

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Legend
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I am upgrading from a Windows 10 Pro installation in a 1TB NVME PCIE M.2 SSD to a 2TB NVME PCIE M.2 SSD. I will be using a Sabrent USB Type-C enclosure for NVME PCIE M Key M.2 SSD.

You can use Active Cloning to do the above but the recommendation with any cloning activity is to always have a full disk backup of your source drive before starting a clone action!

The advice in the ATI 2017 Forum about Cloning still holds true for many users, especially those who receive a free download of an OEM version of ATI and are told to just go do a clone with no understanding of the risks involved - many of whom have come to these forums after getting it wrong and having no backup to fall back upon for recovery!

Yet in the Acronis True Image 2019 User Guide it says: "When you want to clone your system to a higher-capacity hard disk, we recommend that you install the target (new) drive where you plan to use it and the source drive in another location, e.g. in an external USB enclosure. This is especially important for laptops."

This advice is still valid for laptop users who may not have any option to connect a new drive externally and use Active Clone.  The main consideration when using this method of cloning is that you must boot from the Acronis bootable Rescue Media in the correct BIOS mode that is used by your Windows 10 OS - which given you are using NVMe M.2 drives, has to be in UEFI mode.

It is recommended that you create and test booting from the Acronis Rescue Media, especially with NVMe drives involved, as you may need additional device drivers injected into the rescue media in order to 'see' this type of drive!  This is your only method of being able to recover in a bare-metal scenario, i.e. following a total drive loss or fail and after installing a raw new drive.

So, should I create a backup and Acronis bootable Rescue Media and instead of doing an Active Clone from within Windows use the Acronis bootable Rescue Media in the external USB enclosure to clone my system to a higher capacity SSD installed in the laptop? Can you boot from a drive in an external enclosure? Thanks.

Yes, please DO create a full disk backup and the Acronis Rescue Media for the reasons given above.  Test the rescue media too!

With the backup and rescue media in place, then use Acronis Active Clone for your drive.

You cannot boot from a drive in an external enclosure and should  not attempt to do so with both the original and cloned drives both connected - this can corrupt your Windows OS by having 2 drives both with the same disk signature.  Microsoft do not allow Windows to boot from an external drive unless you pay for their Enterprise edition of Retail Windows.

Forum Hero
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I'd agree with everything Steve said for the best reliability and safety.

However in 2019, there is active cloning while Windows is running. I recently did this where I kept the original hard drive in the PC and cloned that 256GB PCIE NVME to an external 500GB PCIE NVME in a sabrent external enclosures.

The result was a clean clone. Upon completion, I shutdown the system and swapped in the external where the original was and only had the new clone drive installed.

I booted to the BIOS to check the boot order and make sure it was pointing to the new driv and then booted into Windows where everything was working as expected.

That said... Still take a full backup for safety first, no matter what! In some instances, if you try to do an online clone, the system will still want to reboot and that's where issues could arise. That is why it may be better to just use the rescue media from the get go... And especially in older versions of True Image where a reboot was always required. Overall though, I was quite happy with my experience of the online clone and will be migrating to a new drive layer this week and plan to do it again (after I take a full backup though, just in case).

 

Beginner
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Comments: 6

Sounds like Active Cloning from within Windows and cloning from the original Windows drive to the new drive in a USB enclosure will be fine as long as you reboot with the new drive in the laptop and the source drive disconnected. I don't see any negative comments on Active Cloning to a larger drive, so I guess this is not an issue? 

The only thing that bothers me is your comment: "if you try to do an online clone, the system will still want to reboot and that's where issues could arise." Are you saying that Acronis True Image will reboot while in Active Cloning before you have a chance to switch drives and disconnect the source drive?

As recommended for safety, I created an Acronis bootable Rescue Media on a flash drive and also did a full backup of my entire system and all my data on a 1TB portable USB drive. 

 

Forum Hero
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The online or active cloning is generally not an issue. 

There are some instances where the new disk is locked and Acronis may still want to reboot to gain access to the drive. This usually only happens if trying to clone a 512kb sector drive to a newer 4K sector drive. However it's not actually possible to clone in that situation any way.

I haven't heard of any issues with 2019 active  cloning in the forum. But in the past, active cloning wasn't available and Acronis would reboot the system and replace the Windows bootloader with the Linux version of Acronis. It could fail to boot and would normally just go back to the OS if it did - for instance if it didn't have the proper IRST drivers to support an NVME drive in RAID mode or if secure boot was enabled in the bios.

On some occasions it would fail to boot and fail to restore the Windows bootloader and then you'd have to do a startup repair. That is the only risk really, and so far, haven't heard of it happening with 2019 at all in the forum. I'd say active cloning is pretty safe, but since there were some issues in older versions when a reboot was needed, it is sometimes better just to avoid the risk and use the rescue media.

I think you'll be fine and you should give it a try, especially since you have your backup and rescue media, just in case. I just did an Active clone last week to a new PCIE NVME drive and it was extremely quick and painless. I did have a backup as a precaution though.

And last, yup, don't boot the OS when you have a clone and the original attached. Not too much of an issue if one is external, but BIOS can be finicky and they can corrupt a bootloader if they see 2 "exact" disks at the same time and aren't sure what to boot. Also not as common now, but another unnecessary and avoidable risk.

 

 

Beginner
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You guys have convinced me Active Cloning is the way to go, plus it would be the easiest to do, without needing to use or boot from an Acronis rescue media or swap the new drive into the laptop with the old drive in the enclosure first. However, Acronis knowledge base article 2931: How to clone a laptop hard drive says: "It is recommended to put the new drive in the laptop first, and connect the old drive via USB. Otherwise you will may not be able to boot from the new cloned drive, at Acronis True Image will apply a bootability fix to the new disk and adjust the boot settings of the target drive to boot from USB. If the new disk is inside the laptop, the boot settings will be automatically adjusted to boot from internal disk." Does this mean that you must put the target drive in the laptop and the source drive in the USB enclosure, even with Active Cloning?

What size was your source drive and target drive and how long did the cloning take? I will be cloning from 1TB source to 2TB target. The only reason I am doing this is to get more space, which I am running out of.

If I have to do a startup repair, is that an option in True Image and are the files in the Acronis rescue media? 

Legend
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If I have to do a startup repair, is that an option in True Image and are the files in the Acronis rescue media? 

Sorry, no. The Acronis Rescue Media is only able to do a recovery of your backup image file, there are no startup repair type functions provided.  You should have either a Windows Repair disc or USB stick, or a copy of the Windows Install media which can provide the same.

Beginner
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I have a Windows recovery USB stick I created for my Dell XPS 15 9560 laptop. Hopefully, I won't need it.

There remains the question of where to put the source and target drives during Active Cloning. Acronis knowledge base article 2931: How to clone a laptop hard drive says: "It is recommended to put the new drive in the laptop first, and connect the old drive via USB. Otherwise you will may not be able to boot from the new cloned drive, at Acronis True Image will apply a bootability fix to the new disk and adjust the boot settings of the target drive to boot from USB. If the new disk is inside the laptop, the boot settings will be automatically adjusted to boot from internal disk." Does this mean that you must put the target drive in the laptop and the source drive in the USB enclosure, even with Active Cloning? 

Legend
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Comments: 16784

With Active Cloning, your source disk is the Windows OS boot disk and therefore your target disk will be connected as a second drive.  You cannot boot your Windows disk if not connected internally and therefore cannot use Active Cloning if you swap the drive over - you would have to boot from the Rescue Media and do an offline clone instead in that scenario.

Forum Hero
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Go for it! You should be OK. And worse case, you use the rescue media to complete the clone or restore the backup to the new drive instead.

My active clone was from a 256GB Samsung 950 Pro to a 500GB XPG SX8200 Pro in an external adapter. It was only about 120GB of actual data and took about 3 minutes. 

When it was done, I powered off, took out the original drive, installed the clone in it's place, booted to the BIOS to make sure it saw the drive and the boot order had it as the priority and then booted right into the OS.

Everything was just as I had hoped. The only thing I had to modify was reselecting the new drive as the source in Acronis backup tasks and one other backup program I use since I am still using the old drive just for data now and they seemed to want to continue using it as originally selected.

Beginner
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Success. Cloning of my 800+ GB of Windows 10 installation and tons of multimedia data on my 1TB SSD to a 2TB SSD took about an hour and went flawlessly with Acronis True Image 2019. BTW, I used a Sabrent USB Type-C Enclosure for NVME PCIE M Key M.2 SSD (about $50). Attached is a pic from TreeSize Pro showing all the new free space. I'm drooling :). Thanks for all your help.

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Forum Hero
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Awesome! Glad it all went as smooth as it was meant to! I have the same sabrent enclosure and it took me 3 minutes to clone my new drive onto it!

I wish I had a 2TB PCIE NVME drive! I just upgraded to a 500GB (swapped my XPG 8200SX PRO for an EVO 970 plus) and thought that's was cool ?. But my OS is only about 100GB and that's all it's for. The rest of my data is still tied up on 4TB WD black spinners, but I have a couple other NVME for my VMs and play areas.

Beginner
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Comments: 6

Intel 660p Series M2 2280 2TB PCIE-E 3.0 x4 3D NAND SSDPEKNW020T8X1 $266.73 incl. tax from Newegg.