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Clone Windows 10 for 2nd Machine

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Beginner
Posts: 1
Comments: 1

I have a simple need:  create a PC that can 'take over' if my primary box fails.  This means cloning everything on the primary drive - other than personal data - on my Win 10 laptop to a Win 10 desktop.

I can't see from the documentation how this is accomplished.  Being just a dumb customer, I don't have the technical knowledge to wade through the Disk Director manual to figure out which tool(s) to engage.  It would appear that I would have to have Disk Director installed on both boxes - is this permissible?  If not, how to 'copy over' the current installation on Box 2 with the clone version?  Are their license issues with Windows by doing this?  You can see where I'm going here.

The next question would be:  how can I keep these boxes in sync?  Would I have to perform another manual operation from time to time?  (Not a problem, really, if the first operation is relatively straightforward.)

Cloning Windows has always been a Catch-22:  you need the O/S to clone the O/S unless running something like Norton Ghost.  I just want to know if what I'm attempting is possible so I don't have to install 100+ apps on Box 2.

Thanks!

Greg

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Forum Star
Posts: 186
Comments: 4217

I suspect Acronis True Image may be a better option. The way I would approach it is to make a backup of the Notebook to a USB HDD, then restore it to the Desktop using the Acronis recovery media. When creating the backup you can exclude any folders you do not wish to include. You then use the ATI recovery media to restore to the Desktop. You can repeat the process whenever there are major changes to the the Notebook. 

One thing you need to bear in mind is the complication of licence restrictions, both for the OS (operating system) and any applications.

If you already have the desktop, and you have activated Windows, that simplifies things. However, it would have to have the same version of Windows installed (for example Windows 10 x64 Home). It may be more difficult when it comes to applications - you may need to uninstall before activating on the Desktop. You may need to contact the software vendor if cannot uninstall. It is a good idea to keep a record of user names, passwords and serial numbers for each application.

Ian

Regular Poster
Posts: 11
Comments: 314

Hello Greg!

What you want isn't a "simple" need at all. Switching to a secondary PC near instantly requires quite some planning and you might run into licence problems (among other things) as Ian already noted.

It's more easily achievable to make regular enough backups that you can restore to your second computer if you need to do so. You'll also need to take into account the (dis)similarity of your second PC, as you might need to include drivers for it in the recovery media.

I too advise to make a list of any licenced software you are using, and check whether they can be transferred to another (i.e. not OEM licence for example). Also think about how much work you are willing to lose in event of a failure and make a backup schedule accordingly.

Most importantly, actually try the scenario before you need it in a haste. You could still run into previously not encountered problems, but at least it's not totally new when you need it the most.

-- Peter

Legend
Posts: 105
Comments: 24719

Another alternative approach would be to use a Virtual Machine which could then be hosted on another PC with suitable hardware.

Licensing will still come into play for any software, including Windows, that uses hardware based activation based on a hardware signature.

This doesn't answer the question about keeping multiple copies of data in sync between different systems but this is something that can be accomplished using a variety of different tools, i.e. storing data in a cloud drive such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive etc where the data is synced to all systems signing in to the same account, or using other synchronisation software applications.

I use VMware virtual machines running on my Windows 10 gaming laptop that share data using OneDrive for a variety of different test systems, including Windows XP, 7, 10 & Ubuntu 20.04.

There are tools that can convert a Windows OS to a virtual machine.

Beginner
Posts: 1
Comments: 1

Ian, Peter, and Steve:

Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful replies!  Much appreciated.  What I was looking for was something like Zinstall, but with a more sophisticated interface.  This interface would realize the following:

1. The Windows license on the second machine is indeed valid and would not attempt to clone the base O/S, just the user-defined data (C:\Users) and the Program Data.  I would understand that I would have to tweak the target machine O/S after the transfer, but nothing that would be critical to its operation.

2. The application would indeed transfer application license data, but then I realize that I would have to straighten out each application that had a problem, e.g., deactivating the license from the source box online and activating the license on the target box, re-entering activation information directly into the app, etc.

3. The transfer would consist of a 'copy' of the aforementioned data, but in a way so that upon launch of an application on the target box would not render "can't find <system file>" and other re-install messages.  In other words, licensing would be the sole impediment to immediate usage.

As to the particulars, the True Image solution seems to be the closest to this from the Acronis product suite, but what I had hoped was that if the tool understands the task at hand, which I believe is indeed simple in concept (it's only the arbitrary software restrictions that make it difficult), then it would analyze the dataset for issues, such as licensing (there are software programs for this), and report these to the user prior to executing the transfer.  This would also include Catch-22 issues such as the target machine recognizing the USB ports as legitimate during transfer and the inevitable series of reboots.  (All this is accomplished by connecting the two machines together and letting Acronis see both.)

To be fair, I would expect a task-based application for this kind of thing to be more expensive than the 'toolbox' approach used by Acronis which requires users to be able to conceive for themselves which product(s) to select.  I realize that cloning a PC is complicated, but the cloud is no solution when it comes to being able to use the data we've saved.

I'm going to look into the VM solution, as well.

Thanks!

 

Beginner
Posts: 0
Comments: 1

Greg Winters wrote:

Ian, Peter, and Steve:

Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful replies!  Much appreciated.  What I was looking for was something like Zinstall, but with a more sophisticated interface.  This interface would realize the following:

1. The Windows license on the second machine is indeed valid and would not attempt to clone the base O/S, just the user-defined data (C:\Users) and the Program Data.  I would understand that I would have to tweak the target machine O/S after the transfer, but nothing that would be critical to its operation.

2. The application would indeed transfer application license data, but then I realize that I would have to straighten out each application that had a problem, e.g., deactivating the license from the source box online and activating the license on the target box, re-entering activation information directly into the app, etc.

3. The transfer would consist of a 'copy' of the aforementioned data, but in a way so that upon launch of an application on the target box would not render "can't find <system file>" and other re-install messages.  In other words, licensing would be the sole impediment to immediate usage.

As to the particulars, the True Image solution seems to be the closest to this from the Acronis product suite, but what I had hoped was that if the tool understands the task at hand, which I believe is indeed simple in concept (it's only the arbitrary software restrictions that make it difficult), then it would analyze the dataset for issues, such as licensing (there are software programs for this), and report these to the user prior to executing the transfer.  This would also include Catch-22 issues such as the target machine recognizing the USB ports as legitimate during transfer and the inevitable series of reboots.  (All this is accomplished by connecting the two machines together and letting Acronis see both.)

To be fair, I would expect a task-based application for this kind of thing to be more expensive than the 'toolbox' approach used by Acronis which requires users to be able to conceive for themselves which product(s) to select.  I realize that cloning a PC is complicated, but the cloud is no solution when it comes to being able to use the data we've saved.

I'm going to look into the VM solution, as well.

Thanks!

 

Thank you for this message, informative!