Backup of HDD?

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Hi, i have to say that it seems like nobody ever asked this question as i can found nothing online. Nope, i'm not being ironic.
Anyway, here's the question: Could you please tell me if there is a method to do the following:

Take everything i have on my HDD with windows 10 included and put it in an external

Hi, i have to say that it seems like nobody ever asked this question as i can found nothing online. Nope, i'm not being ironic.
Anyway, here's the question: Could you please tell me if there is a method to do the following:

Take everything i have on my HDD with windows 10 included and put it in an external HDD. Then, i wanna format my pc and install another OS. BUT in case that OS doesn't work for me i wanna be able to format my pc and take the external HDD and put it back as it was; NO downloading windows 10 again, cracking, installing drivers and so on.. Exactly as it was. No change of HDD, no change of computer, nothing.

I heard the word "cloning", but no one ever specified whether it could do what i'm asking.

Thank you so much if you can help me with this!
@dewcoons Thank you so much! Those were the kind of information i needed to know!

Mmh, as you can see, computers aren't my thing. And i just bought my notebook (plus, it's a one piece case, i.e. i don't even have access to the battery), i want to keep its virginity, if i can.

Anyway, isn't there a

@dewcoons Thank you so much! Those were the kind of information i needed to know!

Mmh, as you can see, computers aren't my thing. And i just bought my notebook (plus, it's a one piece case, i.e. i don't even have access to the battery), i want to keep its virginity, if i can.

Anyway, isn't there a way i could only save my OS? leaving the files behind? (i already have a copy) Or do i have to download it "legally" and install it all over again if i don't like the other os?

Best Answer:

dewcoons: The answer is complex.

You can not just "copy" all the files from the main drive to the external drive. Such a copy would not pick up files needed for booting the computer into Win 10. Also MS makes it so that you can not just copy over the Windows directory because they it would be simple to install Windows on dozens of hard drives illegally by just copying the drive. So it makes it so that you can not copy some system files and many programs files (not just the Windows ones) because they are "in use" at the time of the copy.

You would need to use a back up program to do this. However most backup programs are only designed to copy over data files, documents, etc. The things most people back up. It is not common to back up the whole drive.

They make programs specifically for copying whole hard drives. These are usually referred to as "cloning software". They will make a single file that is compressed version of your entire hard drive. Programs like Symtec Ghost or Partition Magic.

However you might want to consider an easier alternative. Rather than going through the back up and restore process, why not simple purchase a blank replacement hard drive, swap it with the one in the computer, Then you have the original to go back to with no fuss or mess. If the new OS works, buy a "usb disk enclosure" ($15), put the old drive into it, format it, and you have a second external drive for less then the cost of purchasing an already made external drive.

Other answer:

dewcoons:
The easy way. Replace your drive with a new drive and put the OS on the new drive. If it doesn't work then put the old drive back in. I would do backup to external drive first, just in case. I have 3 external backups. I've gone thru the no backup/lose everything stage years ago. Touch a pipe to make sure you aren't static electricity while handling drives.
Fred:
There are a few free programs that will clone a hard drive. Clonezilla and Easeus ToDo are just two.

If you clone the drive to a second drive, you can swap drives. If you make an image, you can restore the image from the second hard drive to the first.

EDIT: You can use an internal HD to clone to. That way when you are finished, you can swap drives. To do this you will need either a hard drive enclosure or an adapter. The adapter is cheaper and a USB 3.0 capable adapter will be much faster if you have a 3.0 connector on your computer. The 3.0 connectors have a blue tab in them.
https://www.amazon.com/UNIWENT-SATA-5-25…

Art Bacon:
Create a disk image of your current drive. Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Backup and Restore (Windows 7) and select the option to create a system image backup. You can use this, via the Windows "Restore" function, to put your PC back to the exact state it was in when you created the system image. Any changes you make to the drive, after the image is created, are lost. BTW: Look up the meaning of ironic. You are using it incorrectly.
Dave:
Fred is correct. Use Clonezilla. Clone the drive to a safe backup location, and do whatever you want. When done, you can restore the drive back again as it was. It's very simple to use (you burn a CD that's bootable).
?:
Cloning is the only way.

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