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So I want to create a number of bootable USB drives configured exactly based on one that I have already configured. I understand the best way to do this would be via drive cloning so that the new drives will be bootable. Since there's ~20 USBs to create, I'd like a program that can clone to multiple disks simultaneously.

This program seems perfect, except for one problem. The two flash drives must be the same size (larger-smaller doesn't work, smaller to larger limits capacity). What drive cloning software can I use that can clone to multiple drives simultaneously and does not require them to be of the same size?

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Basically, you can't because two clones must be identical, that is what the word means, which results in the same apparent size.

The quickest and easiest answer is to procure a batch of 20+ identical USB drives, (you may well be able to get a price break at that quantity) - then use any of the existing cloning software including the one you have found.

You could use a scripting language to a) format the drives the same, including bootable, then b) to transfer the content.

Alternatively, you can use a larger drive, which will waste at least the same space again or several times as much, and then use a partition editing program such as gparted via PartedMagic, SystemRescueCd or UltimateBootCD to make the extra space available as an additional drive or to add the spare space to your cloned image, (at which point it ceased to be an exact clone of course), PartedMagic can also assist with the cloning process.

  • for sure cloning works with drives which are at least the same size or bigger as the original one! – DJCrashdummy Feb 3 '17 at 9:17
  • @DJCrashdummy many cloning tools will, when cloning from smaller to larger work but the excess space will be lost. A partition the same size as the original drive will be created and the rest of the drive will be "spare space" - un-formatted and not usable without partition editing at which point the new drive stops being a clone. Since USB drives go up in big steps it seems a waste to clone an 8GB drive to a 16GB (or more) and end up with 8GB usable. – Steve Barnes Feb 3 '17 at 16:35
  • you are completely right, but maybe the OP (or other people coming across this post) already owns some USB drives; and unfortunately this advise sounds like "it is not possible, buy some new one", and what a waste would that be!?! :-( -- i would rather prefer a phrasing like "it is possible, but if you want to use more space than on the littlest drive, you have to edit partitioning afterwards." – DJCrashdummy Feb 11 '17 at 23:18
  • ...and sooner or later every cloned drive stops being a exact clone! -- by the way, to concrete your statement: drives usually double their capacity, because the math behind it is, that the exponent of 2^x counts up. - so, yes without partition editing the unused space will be at least as much as the used one or multiples of it. – DJCrashdummy Feb 11 '17 at 23:43
  • @DJCrashdummy - Added Alternatively... – Steve Barnes Feb 12 '17 at 6:24
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Too bad, I didn't see the question earlier. Steve Barnes's answer is completely wrong.
You can clone your drives, using any partition editor. Basiclly, the target drive has to be no less size, then the used space of the source disk. They sacrifice some free space from the target's partition, in order to fit the clone.

Some programs, that I can mention, that I have been successfully using for about 20 years are:

Windows based:
Acronis "Disk Director Suite"

Linux based:
"GParted" (is part of most of linux distributions, which can be used by directly booting to a distribution's Live DVD/CD Boot)
"CloneZilla" (not a partition editor, but a specifically hard disc cloning tool, which has the ability of cloning different disk sizes)

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