• Failing Laptop HDD – Image or Clone?

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    I have an old laptop running Win 10 Pro which I’m confident has a HDD that is on it’s last legs.

    The main culprits for me coming to this conclusion are:

    1. It takes a long time for the system to boot up and shut down;
    2. There is a noticeable delay in when attempting to launch installed programs;
    3. Task Manager reports the disk usage is always at 100% regardless of whether there’s a program running or it’s idle.

    I’m obviously going to have to replace the failing HDD in this system before it completely dies, but I have never done anything like this before and am wondering if the failing HDD should be imaged or cloned? I’m unclear what option to choose here and which of these methods would be the fastest and most efficient way to accomplish a complete drive backup. I want to be able to put the new drive into the laptop and have it configured exactly as it is now.

    The failing HDD has a total of 198 GB of used space. At the rate the current HDD is performing, however, I fear this task will take many hours or possibly days to complete. Any software recommendations to accomplish this are also both welcome and appreciated.

    If any further info is required, please just ask as I didn’t want to provide anything unnecessary or irrelevant to the problem at hand.

    Thank you.

    Viewing 10 reply threads
    • #2362410

      Replacing the HDD with a SSD should make a world of difference to you.

      I recommend that you use Macrium Reflect. It has a free edition that does everything you want and is easy to use.

      To transfer to a new drive, you want to clone the HDD on to the SSD. The easiest way to do this is by putting the SSD in a USB caddy and then installing it in the computer after it has been cloned to.

      Here’s an article from Macrium about the differences between imaging and cloning, for further information and as a citation:

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2362422

      Precisely the information I was looking for and much appreciated, @sky.

      I’m not sure when I’ll have a chance to get to this project but at least now I’ll feel more confident when I do.


      • #2362439

        @7ProSP1 Just going to throw up a word of caution regarding delay in getting to it. I had a client experiencing the same symptoms as you. She thought failing hdd and went so far as purchasing a backup drive to backup her data. She waited to get to it because she was busy. You guessed it… drive failed massively before she backed it up. Cost her about $1500 to recover extremely important and time sensitive data. If you suspect a failing drive back up your data ASAP.

        Never Say Never

        6 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2362443

      The main culprits for me coming to this conclusion are:

      1. It takes a long time for the system to boot up and shut down;
      2. There is a noticeable delay in when attempting to launch installed programs;
      3. Task Manager reports the disk usage is always at 100% regardless of whether there’s a program running or it’s idle.

      Have you considered that other things may be contributing to this?  Namely the amount of System RAM, the type and speed of the CPU, and the size of the hard drive and the amount of virtual memory (swap file) being (or wanting to be) used?

      Have you seen the price of Tums? It's enough to give you heartburn.
    • #2362445

      A while ago someone here posted links to a couple of articles regarding constant 100% disk usage and I went through all the suggestions in them to no avail.  There are no issues with the RAM, CPU, current size of the HDD (750 GB) or the swap file.  I also ran Speccy and it stated “Warning” in yellow text under the S.M.A.R.T section for the drive.

      Your point regarding delaying action on this matter is well taken, @cyberSAR.  However, this laptop is not used very frequently at the moment so I’m just hoping the next time I turn it on the HDD doesn’t also decide to fail massively.

    • #2362452

      I’m not sure when I’ll have a chance to get to this project

      First thing to do immediately is to create a full image copy to an external HDD.
      Then if the HDD will fail before you had the chance to clone to a SSD, you will be able to restore from image.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2362488

        Alex is 100% right. Copy your DATA off as soon as possible. I wouldn’t bother with clone/imaging, your OS may be damaged, and there’s no reason to copy a damaged OS to another drive.

        Do a fresh install of Win 10 and the programs you run, then copy back the data. Yes, it is a major PIA to re-install passwords, but it’s a good time to get them written down somewhere, or changed. You’ll get the best results with a clean install!

    • #2362458

      Do you have an external HDD? If there’s going to be a delay in getting the new drive, and given that you’re installing Macrium Reflect anyway, you could always just image it to the external HDD and you can have that in an emergency, since it’s possible to copy from that to a new drive (albeit harder). I would recommend doing this ASAP if there’s going to be a delay in swapping out the drive.

      EDIT: Sorry for repeating what you said Alex5723, I had the page open for a while before I posted and didn’t see your post before I posted mine.

    • #2362848

      From Macrium Forum readings …  I’m wondering IF, after Cloning or Imaging,  he can expect to boot into Windows WHEN New & Different hardware (HDD to SSD) is involved? New matching drivers for SSD required?

      Macrium Paid Ver’s “Redeploy” option addresses this but I’m not sure exactly when it’s relevant beyond New hardware being involved. The Restore Tab Option in Macrium is – “Redeploy Restored Image to New Hardware”. (Aspects of the Windows boot process can cause a boot failure after significant changes to the hardware, ReDeploy can overcome these.)


      W10 Pro 22H2 / Hm-Stdnt Ofce '16 C2R / HP Envy Desk-Ethernet - SSD-HDD/ i5(8th Gen) 12GB / GP=2 + FtrU=Semi-Annual + Feature Defer = 1 + QU=0

    • #2362862

      ’m wondering IF, after Cloning or Imaging,  he can expect to boot into Windows WHEN New & Different hardware (HDD to SSD) is involved?

      W10 is very good at booting with different hardware and then finding the correct drivers.
      All it really needs is a base disk driver and video, but using a RAID setup may upset that.

      SSDs don’t have drivers, controllers do. This is why RAID can be an issue as the controllers are unusual.

      cheers, Paul

    • #2362864

      First of all, thanks to all for your advice and suggestions on this matter.

      I decided to use Macrium Reflect Free and utilize the clone option without first making any type of backup or image.  My reasoning for this was there was no sense making a dying HDD work unnecessarily so I might as well just go ahead and clone it and hope for the best.

      The cloning process took 6 hours 29 minutes and 20 seconds to complete and went much smoother than I anticipated.  I observed the maximum read rate on the failing HDD at 18.3 MB/sec while the maximum write rate on the new SSD was 18.9 MB/sec.  Macrium Reflect reported the I/O performance as being 115.1 MB/sec for the read and 245.0 MB/sec for the write.

      At some point during the cloning process the “Activate Windows / Go to Settings to activate Windows” message appeared in the bottom right corner of the screen despite this system having been activated with a Windows 10 Pro digital license since July of 2016.

      I next swapped the old HDD with the new SSD and powered everything on.  The system booted up remarkably fast (WOW!) with everything being exactly as it was previously.  I did  not have to install and new drivers and the “Activate Windows” message was now gone.  I used the IsMyHdOK utility to check out the performance of the new SSD with the 30 second test and here are the results:


      I’m not really sure if these are cutting edge results or not but to me it is leaps and bounds over the previous performance and I’m more than satisfied with the results.

      Thanks again to everyone for their advice and suggestions on this matter.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2363607

      As you have an SSD you need to check that it is aligned and that TRIM is on.

      Align: How to Check and Run SSD Alignment in Windows 10? (diskpart.com)
      TRIM: Topic: SSD life (new question) @ AskWoody

      cheers, Paul

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2364312

        I ran through all various steps and tests for both the Align and TRIM links you provided and by all accounts TRIM is indeed enabled on the new SSD.

        However, after running the fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify command at the Command Prompt as an Administrator as per the instructions, I got two lines of results upon completion:

        NTFS DisableDeleteNotify = 0

        ReFS DisableDeleteNotify is not currently set

        Should I be concerned that ReFS is not currently set on the new SSD and, if so, what is the best way to enable it?


        • #2364968

          If TRIMcheck reports TRIM is working you can ignore the other setting.

          The telltale sign of TRIM not working is your SSD slowing down after several months of use – this is due to writes now taking 2 cycles to happen instead of 1.

          cheers, Paul

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2365014

            I’m hoping this won’t end up happening, but if in the unfortunate case it does, would simply running through all the steps in the links again resolve this issue and thereby re-enable TRIM?

            • #2365447

              I hope you don’t mind me giving a response, Paul T, as I don’t want 7ProSP1 to be concerned.

              To answer your question, 7ProSP1: yes, the ‘fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 0’ command will re-enable TRIM. That said, future Windows Update mess ups aside, you don’t have to worry about Windows 10 disabling TRIM, as Windows 10 is very good at recognising SSDs. The lifehacker article linked was written in 2010 when this wasn’t the case, but now it’s really not a problem.

              You also don’t have to worry about ‘ReFS DisableDeleteNotify’ not being set, as your file system will be NTFS, not ReFS. ReFS is a file system that Microsoft was hailing as the future a few years ago, but they seem to have given up on it themselves and it’s not even available to format drives with in Windows 10 Pro any more.

              2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2363621

      This is a helpful thread for me – my system is really slow when I use my main hard drive; and my main hard drive is making clicking and struggling sounds whenever I am working.

      I ordered a new 4TB hard drive ($95, including tax, from Walmart). It should arrive any day. Meanwhile, I am using an old drive as my main drive – all is well with that one, except that the OS is a really old version of Linux Mint. I’m letting the bad hard drive rest until I can get the data off of it.

      In my case, the new 4TB drive will become my data drive (my current data drive is 1TB); once I have the data copied to the new 4TB drive, what is now my data drive will become my new Linux Mint drive.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • #2364304

        Why not an SSD ??


        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2364346

          Definitely. After seeing how fast and responsive things can be, you won’t want to go back, I ‘d bet!

          I timed how long it takes to start KDE Neon on my XPS with a NVMe SSD. I don’t know whether Neon is a particularly fast or slow booting distro of Linux (it is an Ubuntu LTS derivative like Mint… It’s a whole lot faster than Fedora at least), but the times were:

          Power button pressed, POST finished, GRUB menu appears: 5.4 seconds (this has nothing to do with the drive)

          OS chosen, Neon splash screen loaded, then removed and replaced with a prompt for the encrypted volume password: 5.6 seconds

          Password entered, booting continues, autologin completed (I just entered the encrypted volume password a few seconds ago!), settings loaded, desktop ready, computer and SSD return to idle: 9.6 seconds. The mouse pointer appears in about half of that time.

          If I had GRUB set to not present a menu and just booted the default (the way it usually is on a single boot Linux PC), and if I did not have the LUKS encrypted volume that has to be mounted before it can finish booting, it would probably be a few seconds less. It does not feel as long as the numbers say… it feels pretty “almost instantly” in its readiness.

          On a hard drive, it would be far longer. After using a SSD, it feels like there is something wrong with the PC when you have to boot from a hard drive. It just feels unreasonably slow and long.


          Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
          XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/32GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
          Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11)

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