Cloning a Windows 7 HDD

Hello experts - I recently purchased a Dell laptop which has a fast SSD drive but wound up being too small for the user.  I have a larger drive I'm planning to replace it with and need to clone the existing drive then write the data to the new one.  I haven't done this for many years so I'm a bit out of touch with the best way to go about it now.  Since this is a one time affair I'd like to try and find a free tool that will do it.  Also, this laptop does not have an optical drive so I would need something that can boot from a USB thumb drive for the restore.  Please let me know what you think, thanks!
danbrown_IT ManagerAsked:
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
I use Casper to clone:
http://www.fssdev.com/products/casper/

It works on W7, W8, and W8.1, all in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. I run it every evening in the wee hours (it utilizes the Windows Task Scheduler to schedule jobs) on several machines to clone the hard drives (a mix of HDD, SSD, and hybrid). It has an intelligent cloning mechanism so that it copies only the necessary tracks. The first run takes a while, but after that, it's extremely fast. It can clone to the same size drive or to a larger one or even to a smaller one, as long as there is enough space on the smaller one to house the used (non-free) space from the larger one. I've used it many, many times to clone to a new, larger SSD (smaller ones, too). It's not free, but it's reasonably priced and worth every penny, imo.

However, since you asked for a free solution, I've heard good things here at EE about these (some may be free only for non-commercial use — check the licensing terms for each):

Clonezilla
DriveImage XML
EaseUS Disk Copy Home
Paragon Backup&Recovery Free

But I haven't tried them as I do all of my cloning now with Casper. Here's a 5-minute EE video Micro Tutorial, Cloning a Hard Drive with Casper, showing how to do it. As a disclaimer, I want to emphasize that I have no affiliation with this company and no financial interest in it whatsoever. I am simply a happy user/customer.

Regarding booting from a flash drive (not a CD/DVD), Casper can do it:

Casper bootable flash drive
But I don't know if any of the free ones can do it. Regards, Joe
danbrown_IT ManagerAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys, I'm giving clonezilla a try now, so far so good.  Casper sounds like a great solution but since I'm only going to use this once I'll file that away for future use.
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Sounds good, Dan. Please post back here with your results — it's always nice to hear about real-world experiences. I'm especially curious how it goes for you with the Clonezilla bootable flash drive. Thanks, Joe
Danny ChildIT ManagerCommented:
I know this is closed now, but here's my 2c...
Paragon's always worked well for me, and I'd normally fit both the old and the new hard disk as slaves to a full PC, and then run Paragon there.  Just saves the need for bootable media, mounting drives externally (which is slower), etc.
danbrown_IT ManagerAuthor Commented:
Just wanted everyone to know that I used Clonezilla, it worked perfectly.  The user interface is a little kludgy but once you get a handle on how it references drives it goes pretty easily.  After I rebooted I also had to extend the existing partition to allow it to use the additional space.

Thanks to everyone for your tips and suggestions!
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Dan,
You're welcome. And thanks to you for taking the time to post your results — very much appreciated! Regards, Joe
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