By Ivy / Last update February 16, 2022

What is a hot clone?

Hot clone is a cloning method that takes place in the running computer, whether it's a physical machine or virtual machine. It enables you to clone the system and disk without interrupting workload or shutting down any running applications.

It's particularly useful for troubleshooting VM issues without making it offline. With it, you can take a snapshot of your virtual machine, then diagnose the cause, analyze it, and find a solution. The problem is that it only creates a copy of the transaction at the beginning. If you add new files or make changes continuously during the cloning process, they will not be included. 

Hot clone vs. cold clone: which one is better?

Speaking of clone, there are two methods can be used basically. One is hot clone and another is cold clone. There is some difference between hot clone and cold clone.

#1: Is the server OS running? 

The server’s OS is not running while running a cold clone. It is from a boot CD or Windows PE and performed when the database is offline.

The server OS is running while running a hot clone. You can clone system or disk within Windows. If it's VMware, the while the disk image is being created and uploaded onto virtual servers when physical computer is online.

#2: Is it cost effective? 

If you are using cold clone method, you cannot use your computer and any data on it until the process complete. But if you use hot clone, you can do anything on it and the workflow is not disrupted. Thus, considering the lost productive hours for employees and managers, hot clone is a better choice, because it has lower costs. 

In sum, hot clone is better than cold clone. Then, how to perform hot clone in physical computer or VMware? Scroll down to the next part and learn the detailed steps. 

How to perform hot clone in physical computer or VMware

After choosing the clone method, you still need a disk cloning software, AOMEI Backupper Professional, for example, which supports this feature.  With it, you can easily clone system or disk without interrupting any workload. And you can enjoy the following advantages: 

Clone hard drive with different size: By default, this software clone only used sectors (using Intelligent Clone). Thus, besides cloning disk to larger disk, you still can clone large HDD to smaller SSD easily, the premise is the used space of HDD is smaller than or equal to SSD disk.
Clone MBR or GPT disk without data loss: It supports cloning system from GPT to MBR or vice versa, and between two MBR or GPT disks. So do Disk Clone feature. And you don't need to worry about data loss.&
Further improve performance of SSD disk: Its SSD Alignment makes full use of 4k alignment and has the ability to accelerate the writing and reading speed of SSD disk. Thus, you can use it to clone hard drive to SSD and it is applicable to all brands of SSD disks, including WD, Samsung, HP, Sandisk, etc.

Then, follow the steps below to perform hot clone in physical computer. You can directly download this software and install it. If it's VMware, you can install this software on VMware and use it as a physical computer. For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server.

Download Free Trial Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download
Note: The destination disk and all existing data on the destination disk will be overwritten. If needed, backup the disk first.

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper on a physical computer or VMware. Then, select Clone and System clone.

System Clone

Step 2. AOMEI Backupper will select all the boot partition and boot files automatically. All you need to select the destination disk to store data on the system partition, and click Next.

Choose Destination Partition

Step 3. Confirm the information of your source and destination disk. Tick SSD Alignment and click Start Clone to perform hot clone.

Hot Clone System

You can set more advanced features for cloning task.
Sector by sector clone: It is able to copy all sectors of the system partition to the destination disk, whether in use or not. The destination disk size must be equal to or larger than the source disk.
Make full use of disk space: It is used to extend system partition by adjacent unallocated space, and only exists when your target disk is large. And it will be checked by default in this case.

Now you may have a copy of your physical machine or VMware. Please check if it's bootable and then save it on a safe place. 

  • Restart your physical computer and press the manufacturer key, usually it's F2, F11, ESC, etc, to go to BIOS
  • Select the Boot tab and set the cloned drive on physical or virtual machine as the first boot option

Change Boot Order

  • Press F10 or other prompted key to reboot. Please wait patiently and see if it can start normally. 

Summary

Hot clone can be used in both physical machine and virtual machine, and it is the best solution if you want to clone system or disk on a running server or without interupting any workload. You can make this cloning task easily with a reliable disk clone software, AOMEI Backupper, for example.

It allows you to clone HDD or SSD, MBR or GPT disk of different size. Besides, you can improve SSD disk performance by using its SSD Alignment feature. For large disk, it will extend the size of your system partition using unallocated space in the destination disk.

Anyway, download it to have a try! For advanced users, try AOMEI Backupper Technician or TechPlus.