Hardware cloning system SSD good idea?

SLP Firehawk

Weaksauce
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Jan 30, 2020
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Hi. For years I've been hardware cloning my systems C: once I get everything working so I can easily swap drives in case of a problem and I'm right back working again. I read about possible issues hardware cloning SSDs and thought I'd start a thread specifically about this.
I got some new SSDs (same brand and model as what I already have Samsung EVO) and am getting ready to do some changes to a workstation so I wanted to find out what was best approach hardware clone or get a software clone? I do not want to slow down my system since it's used for video editing.

A very helpful user shared this on another thread:
The main issue of SSD's is cloning them, and having the support to properly clone in software and with docks due to the possible SSD controller's logics being different, and the mapping to the flash. In other words, you cannot bit-to-bit like you can with HDD. With an SSD you need to treat it as like a physical install of drive, activate/partition, THEN copy the bits over, and set as boot (if it to be boot from). A easier way to mean what I say is that, the interface is a standard but how the flash is communicated with and is handled is not necessarily a standard. This is the FTL-Flash Translation Layer (Flash Translation Layer - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics). So, if the copy was not proper with the translation you will have "malalignment."

I always read about the controller, make sure it has integrated DRAM for cache (I am not talking about the possible NAND cache set aside) and then make that purchase. This could be one reason as to note a difference in performance. Writes vary with controllers, DRAM or DRAM-less, and NAND cache. Reads should always be basically fast, but based off of channels as in how fast (q.v. USB flash drives). Writes.....that is a weakness of all flash, and technically you want to read more from an SSD than write to it. This is a good read if you have the time and want to learn a bit. I don't think it goes to far over the head: Coding for SSDs – Part 3: Pages, Blocks, and the Flash Translation Layer | Code Capsule.

Perhaps, you may want to look into having a Windows 7 VM? Be able to upgrade to modern HW and SW eco-system, and still keep legacy applications. Your mileage will vary. You do have possible modern options. BTW, in the digital know we call this, and your issue(s) "nesting."

Edit: With a VM, which is actually free via software or integration within the modern OS, you have the ability to also keep the image of the install!! Easy to back up and easy to copy into the VM managers to operate. This would be a better way to keep the nest, if the favor of the digital god's are with you......
 

sinisterDei

[H]ard|Gawd
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Dec 1, 2004
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1,346
I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you're probably putting a little too much thought into this.

You are of course regularly clone your system to a different drive - I personally use Macrium Reflect when I need to clone one drive to another and it has no problem handling SSDs or the C drive.

However, it sounds like what you really want is a scheduled backup, so that you can revert back in case of failure. In that case, I would get a second disk - most folks would use a USB external drive - and a copy of Veeam Endpoint Protection, which is free. You can back up your system on whatever regular schedule you want, and in case of failure you can perform a bare-metal-restore from whatever point-in-time you want. This isn't quite as fast as having a ready-made clone, but on the other hand you can much more easily have a range of daily or even intra-daily backups available for use to pick to restore from, so that your restoration point can be more recent. And of course you can just roll back individual files or folders if that's what you need, rather than the whole system.
 

ncjoe

Limp Gawd
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Feb 16, 2016
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165
I've been cloning my C drive ssd's monthly and then swapping the out back and forth for at
least a year without problems... using win 10 and aomei backupper....
two different manufactures of ssd's too...
 

Zepher

[H]ipster Replacement
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Sep 29, 2001
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I've been doing it for years with no issues till last week when I was going from my 4790k to 5800X.
I could not get my boot drive converted to GPT or add an EFI partition, so I was forced to do a clean install.
I was able to do it to my friends copy of his boot drive last year when I built his 3900X to upgrade his 4770. He couldn't really afford the downtime for a clean install.

Oh, I just re-read the OP, and I do clone my system to different drives, usually when I go larger I keep the smaller one as a backup and re-clone it every 6 months or so.
I just did one this morning, cloned my 1TB Samsung OS drive from my old 4790k to a 512GB Crucial SSD since that machine is a backup and doesn't need the 1TB as I am not gaming on it and games were half of the 1TB.
 

SLP Firehawk

Weaksauce
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Jan 30, 2020
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112
Sorry I didn't explain myself very clearly. I meant once I get my system working with all my software installed and working right I physically take out my C:> Samsung EVO SSD and using a hardware clone machine I bit by bit clone it to another physical C:> Samsung EVO SSD. Then I put one back in my computer and save the other in a desk in case I need to swap them out due to a problem. I only do this based on major changes to my system, and not a yearly or monthly scheduled backup.
But what I am trying to determine is if such hardware cloning from SSD to SSD in some way compromises, slows down or is otherwise a bad idea? Or if sofware cloning is better?


On a side note - In a different system I also have a C: that is NMVE and plan to hardware clone it to another NVME for a backup too.

My goal is to have a spare physical system drive for each workstation that can be swapped back in, in case something happens I need to quickly get back to where I was and continue working.
I have so much software with all these liceneses and hassles and stuff that a re-installation is a very very long and time costing endeaver.

Hope that better explains my intent :)
 

sinisterDei

[H]ard|Gawd
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if such hardware cloning from SSD to SSD in some way compromises, slows down or is otherwise a bad idea? Or if sofware cloning is better?
Cloning- whether done with a dedicated device or done with software - is nondestructive and is fine.

I still think you'd be better off with some backup software running over the network, daily or something. But to each their own :)
 

Zepher

[H]ipster Replacement
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Sorry I didn't explain myself very clearly. I meant once I get my system working with all my software installed and working right I physically take out my C:> Samsung EVO SSD and using a hardware clone machine I bit by bit clone it to another physical C:> Samsung EVO SSD. Then I put one back in my computer and save the other in a desk in case I need to swap them out due to a problem. I only do this based on major changes to my system, and not a yearly or monthly scheduled backup.
But what I am trying to determine is if such hardware cloning from SSD to SSD in some way compromises, slows down or is otherwise a bad idea? Or if sofware cloning is better?


On a side note - In a different system I also have a C: that is NMVE and plan to hardware clone it to another NVME for a backup too.

My goal is to have a spare physical system drive for each workstation that can be swapped back in, in case something happens I need to quickly get back to where I was and continue working.
I have so much software with all these liceneses and hassles and stuff that a re-installation is a very very long and time costing endeaver.

Hope that better explains my intent :)
Instead of having a bunch of drives, you can just make images (and a backup of them) and have the cloning software on all machines so you can use any working machine to make a clone of the system that failed.
This way you don't have a bunch of money tied up in bunch of duplicate OS drives. 500GB image takes maybe 5 or so minutes with Paragon Hard Disk Manager to image onto an SSD.
 

cyclone3d

[H]F Junkie
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Aug 16, 2004
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13,794
If you are using SAMSUNG drives, just use the Samsung Data Migration tool.

Setting stuff up and then cloning to have a who knows when clone for down the road is ok... but all the updates say 2-3 years or more down the road are going to take forever to et installed.
 

daglesj

Supreme [H]ardness
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Yeah I clone HDD/SSD to SSD all the time in cloning docks or USB to USB/SATA to USB. All work fine. No way could I upgrade all those customer machines to SSD with clean installs and data copies.

The only issue I've ever had is NVMe to NVMe cloning. But I've only done that a couple of times on my X99 platform which was an early NVMe setup so that may have more bearing on that. CSM/Secure boot causes issues on that system. Reset the BIOS once you have cloned and it works fine.
 

Zepher

[H]ipster Replacement
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Yeah I clone HDD/SSD to SSD all the time in cloning docks or USB to USB/SATA to USB. All work fine. No way could I upgrade all those customer machines to SSD with clean installs and data copies.

The only issue I've ever had is NVMe to NVMe cloning. But I've only done that a couple of times on my X99 platform which was an early NVMe setup so that may have more bearing on that. CSM/Secure boot causes issues on that system. Reset the BIOS once you have cloned and it works fine.
I bought one of these NVME to USB-C enclosures to do cloning with. Work good.

IMG_7065.JPEG


and I have a pair of these SATA to USB cables as well,
IMG_9495.JPEG
 

Furious Nerd

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Sep 14, 2006
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Any Windows/software related caveats/quirks to expect when cloning an image onto a new hard drive? Or is it all plug and play, the software won't have any idea anything's different - ?

(in my case I'm moving from a Western Digital Black SN750 NVMe 3.0 SSD to a smaller WD Black SN850 NVMe 4.0 SSD. Different generation, size (large -> small)etc. Do you think there's a chance I may not get optimal performance doing this and safer to go through the hassle of a re-install?)
 

bigdogchris

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Feb 19, 2008
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If you clone at the partition level I don't see why the media makes a difference. If you were doing a raw clone and trying to write back, I guess maybe it could be an issue? But if you stick with partition based cloning you should be fine.
 
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