How to clone a drive on iMac?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Krupke, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. Krupke macrumors member

    May 5, 2012
    I plan to upgrade my 320gb 2007 iMac hard drive to a 1tb WD caviar black model. I prefer not to start everything from scratch in setting up the new drive, because for one thing, I have a number of things on the 320 drive that I don't have backups of and can't be backed up. I would like to essentially clone my 320 drive on to the new 1tb drive. I'm not sure how that would work, because the drives are not the same size. And I'm not sure how to do it, because you can only install 1 internal hard drive on the iMac. I have a Windows computer in which I can install both 320g and 1tb drives (even a 3rd drive). But I certainly can't work with the drives directly, as the PC is not going to recognize the OSX system. Is it possible that a Windows program can "blind clone" the contents of one drive to another, regardless of the OS they are bound to?

    Without buying additional hardware, what are my options?
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Here's a simple approach:
    1. Buy an external enclosure and put your old drive in it.
    2. Install your new drive in your Mac.
    3. Boot from your old (external) drive by holding the Option key on startup.
    4. Use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the old (external) drive to the new (internal) drive.
    5. Boot from the new internal drive.
    6. Your now running on your new internal drive and your old drive is now an external drive, useful for backups or additional storage.
  3. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Have you tried making a Time Machine back up of your original drive and then just putting it back into the new one via Time Machine? Simpler.
  4. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    You can use Disk Utility instead of CCC. I used it to clone my smaller HDD to my larger SSD before I switched them.
  5. Krupke thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2012
    Except I don't have hardly any space left on my original drive. I would need twice the space on the original drive, to have Time Machine back it up on that drive (remember, I have no external USB drives).

    I know what Disk Utility is, but I'm not sure how you did that? Remember, I can only install one drive in the Mac, I have no external drive (but I do have a Win machine that can accept 4 drives).
  6. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    You asked me hwo to do it, I gave you a way. I would advise you to get an external drive and make yourself a back up. Not having one is begging for information loss if something goes wrong.
  7. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    NEVER attempt any kind of "whole disk" manipulation without a backup. You NEED another drive for your backup. If you're putting a 1TB drive in your Mac, then I would recommend at least a 2Gb or 3Gb external for a Time Machine backup.

    There's no point putting Time Machine backup on the same hardware device as the source data. Because when the drive fails, you still lose everything.
  8. Krupke, Apr 17, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2013

    Krupke thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2012
    I do have another drive for the backup (cloning), but I cannot install it in the iMac. I'm not worried about Time Machine type backup right now, just cloning the 320gb that I have, so I don't have to start from scratch with the new 1tb. I asked if there was a way to do this without buying additional hardware. So by the look of things, I guess I'm asking for the impossible! I just thought there was a way to "blind" clone the drive in my Win machine, then transfer it to the iMac. (ie. cloning a partition between two drives, from a third drive booted in a windows pc).

    Time Machine is nicely designed, but I realized I simply don't need a backup of the entire drive. I normally have DVD backups of my software, so I just need music and other user type folders. That takes up a lot less than the entire drive. So right now, I'm going to look into backup software alternatives, that can automate folder backups. Followed by a smaller external drive, or a case for one of my 500gb's.
  9. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    You can exclude system files and other folders from TM backups. But given that system files are generally not often written to and altered, the size penalty for storing them is not that great.

    You will find many posts here along the lines of "I accidentally deleted one system file/Apple app. Do I have to reinstall the whole OS ?"

    You CAN clone your old hard drive onto your new one, and it should work. But you don't want to attempt an operation of this sort without a backup in case something goes wrong.

    You need to boot from another volume -- the Restore Partition may well do -- and then use Disk Utility to restore the contents of the old drive ono the new disk.
  10. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    You can do what you need to do by the following procedure. You WILL need one small item of "additional hardware", but a very useful piece of hardware -- read on.

    The best way to do this is to spend about $30 and buy an external USB3/SATA "docking station". Go to, enter "USB3 SATA dock" in the search box, and you will find many to choose from. Just pick one that's cheap that you like.

    Also, download CarbonCopyCloner -- you can use it free for 30 days.

    Once you have the dock, and the new drive, do this:

    Put the bare drive into the dock, connect it to the iMac, power-up.

    Launch Disk Utility and initialize the new drive. It should now mount on the desktop.

    Launch CCC.

    On the left, choose your source drive (iMac internal).

    On the right, choose your target drive (WD).

    Choose to backup everything.
    (NOTE: if you use a version of the OS that has a "recovery partition", go to CCC's preferences to choose whether or not to clone the recovery partition first).

    Let CCC do it's thing.

    When finished, TEST YOUR CLONE by doing this:
    - Restart
    - As soon as you hear the startup sound, hold down the option key and KEEP HOLDING IT DOWN
    - In a few moments, the startup manager will appear
    - Use the pointer to select your external drive, then hit return
    - The iMac should boot from the external cloned drive
    - When you get to the finder, VERIFY that you are booted from the clone by checking "About this Mac" under the Apple menu.

    If all looks good, you have created a fully-bootable clone -- an exact copy of your internal drive. That's what you need.

    Now it's time to do the physical "drive swap" for the iMac.

    When done, you can use the OLD drive as your "bootable backup", using the USB/SATA dock. (which will become handy to have around in future years)
  11. Krupke, Apr 20, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2013

    Krupke thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2012
    Thanks all for the helpful responses. I did end up getting a 1tb WD external drive (usb 2.0), and I'll use CCC to clone the 320g drive, then copy that back to the internal. Despite my iMac being usb 2.0, it seems surprisingly fast copying files. So I'm not even sure anymore that its worth the bother to get and try to install a 1tb internal drive into the iMac....

    UPDATE: Turns out, none of that was necessary. When I plugged in the external drive, the Mac asked if I wanted to transfer my old system. And it did just that.... copied applications, configurations, all that stuff from my old 320g drive. No external software needed. Really nice!

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