Best way to clone one external USB drive to another

I have an external USB drive, 2TB, and it's almost full of material that I need. Lots and lots and lots of files. I want to make an exact copy of the drive.

I was using xxcopy, or robocopy, but it seems to take weeks, and there are issues of path lengths that get in the way, resources of the computer, etc. etc.

So I thought I'd make an image of the original drive and then restore the image to a new drive. I'm trying to run it now, with DriveImage XML, but it's been running for 16 hours, and it says it needs another 92 hours to complete.
Shouldn't there be a faster way to do this process? The computer is running XP and only has USB 2.0, but still ...

Any advice for me? Is this just how long these things are supposed to take, or am I using the wrong software? I want to end up with a second USB drive, not with a backup file, but with all the files and directories just like on the original.
Who is Participating?
When you clone at the filesystem level like this, you are doing significantly more I/O than just reading/writing file data (like maintaining filesystem on the target, updating logs, last access time, ...)

Also if you have recoverable read errors, allow up to 60 seconds before you even find out about even a single error, PER BLOCK.  You have 4 billion blocks on that disk, BTW.

 Now personally, I would take it out of the USB enclosure and direct attach to a SATA or eSATA port.  (Which you can buy for a PC for $15) You'll be able to transfer data approx 5X faster.     Also if you are having disk problems you can run proper diagnostics.   A USB bridge converts SATA to SCSI commands so it can talk USB.  The error messages get lost in a translation, so you will not be able to properly assess the health of the disk.

If your disk IS in stress, boot the PC to a LINUX distribution and use a freebie called ddrecover.  This is a program designed to gently clone an image of a disk and deal with errors as best as it can.     I would also consider, if data is valuable, to take it to a data recovery pro to clone the drive.  Better to get 100% for a cost of a few hundred bucks than to risk getting 0% if you have a head crash.
The maximum transfer speed for USB 2.0  is 480 mbps.  2 TB would take a minimum of 10 Hours, 40 Minutes and 47 Seconds to transfer each way.  Redundancy checks are important and require additional transfers and time.
As mentioned, USB 2 is pretty slow, and if there are many small files things will get even slower.

You could remove the USB disk from the USB enclosure and connect it directly to the PC as a 2nd internal disk, then do the cloning or imaging. Cloning would of course be faster as that would mean you only need to run one task, and not first do an image to then restore to another disk.
Cloud Class® Course: C++ 11 Fundamentals

This course will introduce you to C++ 11 and teach you about syntax fundamentals.

Natty GregIn Theory (IT)Commented:
clone zilla
if it says it needs 100 Hours instead of 12, i suspect the HD may have bad blocks
you probably best run the Diag on it; for WD :

but hooking the drive to a sata port will speed things up considerably, as said
EirmanChief Operations ManagerCommented:
On an XP system, I recently cloned a 99% full 2TB with Macrium Reflect in 11 hours.
You would need to take the drive out of the caddy for that speed.

I gave up on external USBs and use this type of device.
A cheaper and quicker solution for managing large volumes of data.
StevenMilesAuthor Commented:
Hi, Eirman,
Now we're getting interesting. How would I connect my XP laptop to the external SATA-III drive, port-wise? I only have USB and Ethernet ports on this laptop. Is there still a way, or do I have to wait until I upgrade to another laptop to use this solution?
EirmanChief Operations ManagerCommented:
Your laptop's USB 2 ports stay USB 2. As I mentioned earlier, if you want to clone or image at higher speeds, you need to connect the disks internally to a PC, and not via USB. Also, even if your other PC has USB 3 ports, the USB disk will likely still be a USB 2 disk, so also there you'd need to connect the disks internally to get better speeds.
and as i said - the extremely long time can indicate disk problems - test it
Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.

All Courses

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.