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How the hell do I replace a Windows drive without reinstalling Windows?
(17 posts, started )
#1 - J.B.
How the hell do I replace a Windows drive without reinstalling Windows?
As the title says, all I want to do is replace an old hard disk with a newer, bigger hard disk. I never imagined such a simple task could be a problem.

First I thought I'd try the free cloning software "driveimage xml" to copy old to new. After copying the new drive was neither bootable or even readable.

So then I tried the Seagate software from their website but it told me I would lose all data I had already copied to the other partitions of the new drive before it even started copying.

Next Norton Ghost. Copying seemed to go well except that the new boot partition is resized to be the same size as the old boot partition even though I explicitly told it to not do so. The resulting partition was readable in Windows but neither bootable nor readable in the Windows XP boot CD command line mode.

So then I wanted to go oldschool: boot CD and then xcopy the files followed with fdisk fix mbr. Turns out neither the XP CD or the Windows ME Boot disk actually contains xcopy...

So what's next? As you can see by this post I have already wasted way too much time on what I thought would be a simple task. Why should it be this hard to replace a frigging hard drive and why is there so much software out there that doesn't work?

Now I've downloaded the Knoppix live CD but being unexperienced with Linux I've decided to ask for advice here before trying anything. Thanks for any help.
I have used both driveimage XML and Norton Ghost before, both worked perfectly, don't know why they aren't working for you.
#3 - J.B.
Hmm, did you run from a boot disk or did you just load up Windows normally and then start the clone software?
Quote from J.B. :Hmm, did you run from a boot disk or did you just load up Windows normally and then start the clone software?

Load windows normally, clone drive using driveXML, swap drives over, boot, job done.
#6 - J.B.
Same thing I did then.

Crashgate: the link might be useful once I actually manage to get to the stage where I have a broken windows install to repair. I haven't even got that far.
Acronis Disk Director Suite, I can't recommend anything better than this when it comes to my experience, although it's not free. I used it also for some SATA/SAS/SCSI RAID5 partitions and it always delivered what I needed.
Clone the partitions you need and adapt them on the fly, remove and replace old hard disk and if you have a PATA drive set master or slave accordingly to the disk you have replaced.
If it doesn't boot (but it should) use the Windows XP cd, Recovery Console, Fixboot and Fixmbr.

Edit: and double check active partition too.
Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image both did good job for me. I have managed to migrate system partitions on PATA -> PATA and SATA -> SATA fashion. You would met problem while migrating Windows from PATA -> SATA and vice versa, but that's different story.

Hiren's or Digiwiz miniPE boot cds could help you a lot as these are loaded with suitable tools and works out of box.
#9 - J.B.
Thanks for the help, Acronis Disk Director Suite did the trick. The only problems I had was that Acronis messed up the drive letters and that my Windows XP CD does not support >120 GiB Hard disks. I could fix the drive letters by using compmgmt.msc though and all is fine now.
I'm glad you succeeded. As an additional hint since you have no bootable media ready, you may find convenient to slipstream Windows XP with Service Pack 2 if your CD is older, then download and build an UBCD4Win. It may come handy in some rainy days
I do a lot of imaging ( work - 100+ PC's this year ) and drivexml with a BartPE disk work without any problem. Must be on the same platform ( identical pc's ) and the only real rule is that the new drive ( C ) must be the same size or bigger than the imaged drive.

If you want a win boot disk then Bart is well worth looking at.
Why not use both hard disks? You'll have more storage that way.
He wanted to used the newer, bigger (better, faster, nicer) harddrive, like he said.
Quote from J.B. :Thanks for the help, Acronis Disk Director Suite did the trick. The only problems I had was that Acronis messed up the drive letters and that my Windows XP CD does not support >120 GiB Hard disks. I could fix the drive letters by using compmgmt.msc though and all is fine now.

google for "48 bit lba" the problem is that xp supports larger drives just fine (assuming your bios does recognize it you might want to double check) but if you install xp on a computer that doesnt have any drive larger than 120gb its deactivated by default and youll have to do a bit of registry tweaking to get it up and running

btw doesnt a normal windows copy paste with fix mbr from the repair console work just fine ?
What I usually do nowdays is booting a modern linux livecd/rescuecd.
A modern linux can mount NTFS readwrite and also resize partitions.
So, connect both drives and a cdplayer, boot a F8 cd. Run "dd if=/dev/olddrive of=/dev/newdrive bs=4096", wait a long while. Then use gparted to resize the partitions to wanted size.

Note that gparted might not be able to resize all gigs in one run, so you have to boot windows to run chkdisk and then back to gparted.


I dont like to buy eur60 programs I use only once. OpenSource rocks.
#16 - J.B.
Quote from Shotglass :
btw doesnt a normal windows copy paste with fix mbr from the repair console work just fine ?

That was kind of how simple I was expecting it to be. Couldn't work it out though, copying from Windows will fail on some files that are in use and the Windows boot CD doesn't have the tools to do the copy. It would probably be possible with the right boot CD though. That would have been my next step if Acronis hadn't worked.
Quote from CasseBent :He wanted to used the newer, bigger (better, faster, nicer) harddrive, like he said.

He didn't say it was faster, he just said newer and bigger.

How the hell do I replace a Windows drive without reinstalling Windows?
(17 posts, started )
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