Over the years, I’ve heard all sorts of reasons why traders hesitate to update or upgrade their slightly older trading computers. One big reason is the headache of data migration.
Whether you’re getting a larger internal hard drive or just backing up to an external hard drive, it can be a major pain to copy all your important data from one drive to another.
But there is a way around the pain. You can clone your hard drive.
If you clone your hard drive, you don’t need to go through the time-consuming process of selectively copying data and installing software. Once cloning is completed, just restart your computer from the new hard drive, and you are good to go.
Considerations for Selecting Your Destination Hard Drive
For cloning, you will need access to two drives: the source drive that contains the current information and the destination drive you will use as the clone.
It’s important that your new destination drive be as large or larger than your current drive. Otherwise, there will not be enough space.
You can use advanced techniques to shrink the source information, but that can get complicated. We recommend you use a larger drive. It’s simpler than trying to shrink or compress the source information.
Software Options for Windows and Mac
Paid backup services (such as Acronis) often have disk cloning features. So if you are using a service to back up your trading computer, check with the provider for available options. This could be an especially good solution if you need to clone multiple hard drives.
However, if you are like most traders and only have a single trading computer you want to clone, there are also free options available. For Windows, Macrium Reflect Free is a good choice. For Mac, try the SuperDuper recovery tool.
Clones vs Images
You will see two terms in describing full back-ups: clones and images.
For both cloning and imaging, you are copying all the information from one disk to another. But there are a couple important distinctions.
The goal of cloning is to create a drive that operates like your current drive, instantly. So clones don’t compress the information.
The goal of an image is to store the information in an efficient manner, primarily for back-up purposes. Images compress the information to save space.
So which do you choose?
Clone a hard disk if you want to run your computer from the new disk.
Create an image of your hard disk if you want to store the data for future use. You’ll be able to store more data in the same space compared to cloning.
The Cloning Process
The cloning process is simple. Here are the general steps to follow:
- Prepare Your Computer and Disk: Install the software you want to use for cloning. Connect your destination hard disk to the source computer.
- Select the Cloning Option: Your cloning software should recognize the new hard disk and give you the option to clone your current hard drive. Select the options you want to use.
- Schedule Your Clone: The cloning can take a long time to complete. You can’t use your computer for trading or any other tasks during the cloning process. So make sure you schedule the cloning for off hours. The time this takes will depend on your disk size.
- Boot from Your Cloned Drive: After cloning is completed, boot your computer from your new drive. (You will need to change the setting in your BIOS to boot from the new drive.)
All of us face times when we need more computing resources, but getting a whole new trading computer isn’t always feasible. If this is your situation right now, updating or upgrading your trading computer can be a good short-term plan.
Don’t let fear of migrating your software and data to a new hard drive deter you. Instead, take advantage of cloning software to handle the migration for you.
There are more trading computer tips like this in our buyer’s guide. Check out our “How To Buy a Trading Computer” e-book.
Remember, we are here to help with all your technology-related questions. If you think of additional questions about computer hardware or other questions, give me a call. My team and I are here to help. We’re happy to answer any of your questions about trading computers via phone: 800-387-5250