• clone to make backup laptop

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    This has probably been dealt with elsewhere, so sending me to a link  is fine and appreciated. I have a moderately old laptop with Windows 10 and many of my apps installed. It’s not currently in use. I’m looking for the simplest way to have that laptop ready as a backup when needed if something (e.g., virus, hardware problem) happens to the newer one (also Windows 10) so I can jump into the old one right away without losing significant time.

    The old one is a Dell Inspiron and the newer one a Dell XPS. They have the same size HD and are both partitioned to have Windows and most apps on one partition and data on another.

    I’m not all that technically fluent – just enough to get around and to know to ask here!


    Viewing 3 reply threads
    • #2564041

      Making a full backup/clone of your y XPS work station would be my first choice. How to install or switch that to your Inspiron is the stumbling block. IF both systems use the same storage drive – NVMe for instance – opening the Inspiron and swapping the NVMe module would take about five minutes. If both use a SSD, swapping would again be about five minutes.

      If the storage media are different, then you’ll make a backup copy of your XPS work station and do a restore to the Inspiron. I suggest either Macrium Reflect or Acronis True Image as they are easy to install, run, schedule, and restore from.

    • #2564547

      Thanks Don. These are both laptops, so swapping hardware isn’t that feasible. The Macrium Reflect or Acronis True Image path is probably the best path. I have OS images via both Windows and Macrium (in case one of them doesn’t work) and multiple data backup methods (Windows File History and Crashplan). I’m not sure if those images include apps – I have to check how I set them up. Are you talking about also backing up data via Macrium or Acronis?

      Ideally, I’d like to keep the second laptop in a ‘mission ready’ state so as not to lose downtime. (I’m self-employed with no real IT/tech support other than Dell’s.)

      • #2564628

        I use Acronis for some years.
        Acronis restore has a ‘restore to dissimilar hardware’ feature

      • #2564896

        These are both laptops, so swapping hardware isn’t that feasible.

        Why is that? It is not hard to swap a drive on most laptops. I’ve had a bunch by now (at least a dozen over the years), and none have given me any trouble as far as swapping drives (which I have done with all of them). If the XPS and Inspiron have the same drive form factor, you can move the up to date drive from one to another, as DonBosman wrote.

        The potential issue there is that the drive that is swapped into the other computer will now have nearly all of the hardware changed, and Windows will deactivate. I am not sure if you would be able to get it reactivated or not in this era of WaaS (I stopped using Windows when 10 came out).

        There is also the cloning option, but that will have the same effect as moving the drive (Windows will probably deactivate when all the hardware changes). It would still work in an emergency, but it would have the onscreen “nag” watermark, and personalization settings would not work.

        You can also simply take the laptop that is out of service, update it, and configure it like the other one, one setting at a time. I’ve done it this way a number of times… since you have the Inspiron available as a reference, you can install whatever is on the XPS to it too, if that is possible within the DRM that some of these programs may have.


        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
        XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
        Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

        • #2564900

          Hi Ascaris. My goal is to have the backup laptop ready to go with an absolute minimum loss of time in the event of any number of things (hardware, virus…) going very wrong with the primary laptop. As a one-person business, I’m totally dependent on my computer and have neither the technical knowledge or the time to take half a day or more in the event of a serious problem. It’s the kind of thing that keeps me awake at night.

          That would preclude things like opening the laptop. And as the problem could be the hard drive, I wouldn’t want to swap them in any case. (I also wouldn’t feel that comfortable mucking around inside a laptop. I did that kind of thing decades ago with towers, but they were simpler and I had more time not under pressure back then.)

          Both laptops have Windows 10 already installed, so I don’t think there’d be an activation issue. But I don’t know how or if that’s affected if I transfer everything. (Go easy on me; I’m not technically proficient or confidant.)

          It’s sounding to me – subject to others’ input – that my best option is to boot up the backup machine every month or two and update everything, included new apps, addons, etc. But I want to be able to seamlessly move into the backup without losing or having to spend much time on things like email setup and retrieval, etc. (The email alone is daunting to me. As I understand it – or don’t – my Exchange accounts will update the Inbox, Outbox, etc., but not my folders. And not all my accounts are Exchange.)

          I think I’d be happier and more confident of things having someone help me with this unless there is a process simply enough for someone like me.

          Suggestions or (paid) consultants welcome!


    • #2564726

      Thanks Alex. I’ll check it out.

    • #2565086

      The “minimum time” requirement suggests putting in time while it’s working.

      Image to an external USB disk / NAS while you are using the machine.
      Boot the “spare” and restore the image. This should work without requiring “restore to different hardware” under W10, so you can test with free backup software.
      Reboot the spare (offline) to check it works.

      Do this regularly and you should have a machine that is ready to go at a moments notice.

      cheers, Paul

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