Quickest Way to Clone Windows (and Windows Server) Disk with GPartEd

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A quick tech note from the day job some of you might find useful.

GPartEd is a fantastic free tool for copying and resizing disk partitions, but cloning an entire Windows disk often requires tweaking boot sectors and records after the partitions are copied and this is not always easy or intuitive. The following is a simple method to clone a Windows disk quickly without all the messing around with boot sector issues.  I just used this on Windows Server 2008 but it should work on Windows Server 2012, Windows 7 and Windows 8. 

. . .

1. Connect drives to a host and boot the host with the GPartEd Live CD

2. Review the layout of partitions in GPartEd, delete any partitions on the target drive.

3. Right-click on the desktop and start a root terminal

4. Begin a sector-by-sector copy of the drive by typing:

dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=8192

(This assumes sda is your source drive and sdb is the target)

5. Let the "dd" run for a minute or two and then control-c out of it.

6. "Refresh Devices" in GPartEd, go to /dev/sdb and delete any partitions you see there.

7. Finally, Copy, Paste, & Apply the partitions for /dev/sda to /dev/sdb in the normal manner.

8. Set the "boot" flag on the first partition on /dev/sdb

​9. Fin!

Because we dd'd the beginning of the disk in step 4, there will be no messing about with Startup Repair, bootrec, bootsec, or diskpart. Your disk will just boot into Windows or Windows Server!


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