You don't need to do anything to the disk when you clone it, the cloning process dumps the contents of the disk to the new disk, including any partitions and formatting on the drive. Whatever was on the disk before does not matter. It could be blank, it could be full, once you do a "clone" the contents will be whatever was on the source drive.aren't I supposed to format the drive in disk management BEFORE cloning it?? Doesn't formatting create a disk in the this pc folder which is where the cloned os is going to go? Sorry, I'm a little confused
You said you got the original drive to under 500gb, exactly how much disk space is taken up on it that you are cloning? You can't clone say 480 gb onto a 500 gb drive, it won't work that way once the formatting is done. Also you started to get drive errors, all the messing around you are doing can be doing damage to the disk, depending on how you are doing things. Are you cloning from a boot disk or from inside Windows wile the disk you are cloning is live?
I suggest you make a boot disk using the cloning software, remove your old drive from the system, connect it with a USB enclosure. Boot off the USB stick with the cloning software then clone the drive to the new one.
If it keeps failing, just start with a clean Windows setup on that drive, with only that one drive connected. Once that is done, connect the old drive to use as the secondary.