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Cloning a Drive

Monday, February 24, 2020

One of the things you have to live with being a technologist is that you inevitably do tech support for family. My recent vacation to the Pacific Northwest was no exception. This time my aunt’s computer was out of disk space. We ordered a new 250GB Crucial M.2 drive to replace the existing 32GB eMMC drive that was in her computer.

Easy right? Just open the computer, slap the new drive in it, copy the contents from the old drive to the new drive and then resize the partition. Well, it was almost that easy. See the part where you copy the contents from the old drive to the new drive should be a simple matter of download the utility that the drive manufacturer recommends and do the deed. The tool that Crucial recommends is Acronis True Image. I’ve used Acronis in the past and it’s a pretty good tool.

The problem is that my aunt’s computer was full. There was less than a gigabyte of disk space available. That should be enough right? Samsung’s tool takes about 45MB of space, but Crucial makes you download the full Acronis True Image. The download itself if 445MB. That’s about half of what she had left on her drive.

What was I to do? I did what any technologist would do, I got a Linux distribution and put it on a thumb drive and booted to that. Then I did dd if=/dev/emmc0blah of=/dev/sda bs=64K and let it run. After that was over there was the matter of resizing the partition. I had to move a partition to the end of the empty space so that I could resize the main partition. 20 minutes later everything was ready. Rebooted and Windows had 10 times the disk space. It’s loving life now because it can finally upgrade from Windows 10 1809 to something modern.

So why am I writing all of this? Well, I have experience doing these sorts of things. I knew to boot to Linux. I knew to use dd. But what if my aunt wanted to do this herself? What would she have done? Well, they would have bought a new computer. Instead of a $50 fix they would have spend $450 on a new computer. Even so, installing the drive was so easy my Uncle said, “Oh I could have done that.” Sure, he could have, but the software side of things wasn’t easy. Samsung has the right idea in having a small utility to do this work, but come on Crucial 500MB? That’s ridiculous. Was there a way to do the dd thing inside of Windows? I don’t know about that. If there is someone should let me know. :)

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