This week we take a look at how to clone a hard disk for easy backup or duplication, resize stubbornly static windows, and create shortcuts for dozens of Windows functions.

Once a week we dip into our reader mailbag and help readers solve their problems, sharing the useful solutions with you in the process. Read on to see our fixes for this week’s reader dilemmas.

Clone a Disk for Easy Backups and Duplication

Dear How-To Geek,

I just finished building a computer for myself and my brother. I installed all this software on my system and customized it, then realized I’ll have to do it all over again on my brother’s system. Is there anyway to just copy the disk I have over onto the blank disk and call it good? The hardware is, part for part, identical.

First Time Building in Florida

Dear First Timer,

You’re facing a small-scale issue that large IT departments face every day. You’ve got identical machines and you need an easy way to clone the contents of one machine onto another. Fortunately we’ve got just the tool to help you. It’s a powerful tool so we recommend you read our tutorial through twice and perhaps even print it off and check things off as you go through it. Read more here: Clone a Hard Drive Using an Ubuntu Live CD.

If you’re cloning a machine with an operating system like Linux you should run into little or no issues. If you’re cloning a Windows machine you’ll likely have to reactivate Windows 7 on the new computer—the triggers for activation are murky at best.

Resize Static Windows

Dear How-To Geek,

This might be a trivial problem but there are a handful of programs I use in Windows 7 that have static window sizes and I want to be able to resize them; they’d work so much better for me if I could resize them. Is there anything I can do? It seems like a very odd GUI choice to have so many fixed-size windows.

Trying to Stretch in San Diego

Dear Stretch,

We’re with you, it’s really annoying when you’d like to resize a window and it’s static. We’ve got a hack for you that’s pretty effective. It doesn’t work in every instance but it works well enough that your days of cursing at static windows should be long gone. You’ll need to download and install ResizeEnable which will patch things up and give those static windows a Yoga-like shake down for easy resizing. Read up on enabling window scaling with ResizeEnable here.

Create Shortcuts for Common Windows System Functions

Dear How-To Geek,

Thanks to some software testing I’m doing for my company, I have to toggle the Windows firewall multiple times a day. Is there anyway to create a shortcut just to toggle it on and off? Creating one and docking it to the taskbar would save me quite a bit of time. Thanks!


Toggle Craving in Toledo

Dear Toggle,

You’d think it would be simpler to create shortcuts to basic Windows functions, no? We have a specific guide for your problem, creating a shortcut or hotkey to turn the Windows firewall on and off, but for the sake of you and other readers we’ve got a goody bag of shortcut creation tips. Make sure to check out how to create shortcuts for nearly anything in Windows here. You’re bound to find some shortcut tips that will save you even more time.

Have a question you want to put before the How-To Geek staff? Shoot us an email at and then keep an eye out for a solution in the Ask How-To Geek column.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »