Best way to transfer data from old Hard Drive to new one ???

Hello all,

I have a failing hard drive with some critical data on it. I still have access to this drive so I need to find the best way to transfer the data on this old one to a new one that's on the way (Dell is replacing this old hard drive as it's still under warranty). I'm running XP Home on this PC and I have a DVD burner and a CD Burner.

The data I have on this old drive is enough to fill up a few DVD (at 4.3 GB each). I know there are programs out there for this, but not sure which one would be the easiest and best for my needs.

I'm a little worried to just copy the data manually as I don't want to forget something on the old drive and then have it lost forever (Dell will be taking the old Hard Drive back).

What would you guys (and gals) suggest.

Thanks in advance...
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Why not use one of these to clone that disk to the new one

* denotes PC magazines pick as the best in its class

      Drive Imaging
Reviews By PC Magazine June 17, 2003
At some point, you may need to preserve your entire hard drive exactly as it is—byte for byte. Drive-imaging software does exactly that: It saves a snapshot of every bit of information on a drive or partition so you can restore the system to an identical state. But beware: The product you choose may not work well with your CD-RW drive. We ran into some compatibility problems during testing. Fortunately, each of the programs in this roundup has a money-back guarantee. So be sure to give the software a test run as soon as you buy it.

Drive Image
PowerQuest has clearly put a lot of effort into making Drive Image 2002 easy to use. When you launch the program, a straightforward wizard walks you through the process of either creating a backup of your hard drive or restoring it, detailing each step of the process.

Norton Ghost
The most impressive aspects of Norton Ghost 2003 are its advanced features and versatile functions in a business setting, where you might need to set up hundreds of systems using the same hard drive image.

*Acronis TrueImage
Acronis TrueImage 6.0 has an interface that makes it an ideal solution for users with basic drive-imaging needs and a desire for simplicity. The wizard for backing up a hard drive is extremely intuitive; it lets you back up partitions of a hard drive to another partition on the same drive or to optical media. Unlike Drive Image and Ghost, TrueImage does not require exclusive access to the file system to make a copy of all files. And whereas other programs require you to reboot into DOS mode to complete most operations, TrueImage needs to leave Windows only to restore a hard drive.

not reviewed by PC Magazine

Casper XP
is the next generation of Drive2Drive, designed exclusively for Windows XP and Windows 2000 systems.

Also vendors of hard disks have disk utilities and part of this package is a cloning utility and they are free.


IBM and Hitachi 




Western Digital 
Christopher McKayMicrosoft Network AdministratorCommented:
Hi hdhelp,
I've used Norton Ghost to create a ghost image of the drive, and then you have a complete image of everything on the drive if you need it in the future.
See here for more info about Norton Ghost:

Hope this helps!


Christopher McKayMicrosoft Network AdministratorCommented:
~sighs~ Beaten to the punch by CrazyOne yet again. ~LOL~ Did you recently come out of retirement or something? ~grins~ Seems like you're everywhere again.


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Christopher McKayMicrosoft Network AdministratorCommented:
Incidentally CrazyOne, you may want to update your links for all Powerquest software, as they've gone over to Symantec.

Drive Image is now:

Brings me to wonder why Symantec keeps both Drive Image and Norton Ghost....... Hmmmm...


Thanks Bartender_1. Yep it does make one wonder why they have both.
BTW presonally I found Acronis's TrueImage out performs Ghost at least how quickly it does cloning. TrueImage does the process in about half the time it takes Ghost to do it.
Christopher McKayMicrosoft Network AdministratorCommented:
Wow. I'll have to try that.
I like the sector by sector copy option in Ghost (for hard drives formatted in uncommon formats.)

I ran into a problem using ghost last night. (Tried to clone a functioning XBOX hard drive to a failing Hard drive) and it wouldn't even recognize the drive, even though the BIOS did.) I wasn't pleased. ~LOL~

Thanks for the pointer.


Personally, if I don't intend to keep the program files and O.S. intact, I'd much rather not use the imaging usitlities because they take a lot of time to create and takes up a lot of time to restore.  Also, if something is wrong with your drivers and/or software configuration, you'll be back to square one.  The only time I use a imagine software is when I want to preserve EVERYTHING (system states, configuration, and all) on that machine.

I am assuming the new hard drive is the same size or bigger?  Personally, I'll just manually hook up the old hard drive to the secondary IDE cable, make a directory called backup, and copy EVERYTHING to the backup folder on the new drive.  You can sort out the data files from program files later.  It won't be a bad idea to perform a search for file extensions just in case (i.e. search for anything that is *.do? and *.xl? and others)

This also gives you a chance to figure out reorganize your data structure so you won't run into this problem again in the future.

Finally, I've used ghostexplorer before to get the data from the image, but on a image that is huge, it'd take a lot longer.  I prefer to use something like "total commander" instead of windows explorer to do the copying, because Explorer.exe tends to like to abort the copy job if it sees anything that is "system file" or "protected" or marked as "in use".

- Info
The software that usually comes with retail package drives ( Also Downloadable as stated above) works very well for cloning with no muss no fuss and no bother and best of all they are FREE! Free is good.
Why don't you just slave the old hard drive then copy the adat after the new one is installed?

and then I read the rest, lol, sorry. don't want to copy as the old drive is leaving you huh. The data you need to keep a copy of, your not saving applications, etc as well are you, hope not. If it is truely just data. Burn it, then ensure you have the data on the burnt copy from another PC before getting rid of the old. There is no best way, there are just many ways. Even still, I think copying the data from drive to drive is the best idea, you are losing the hard drive either way, and it isn't like you'll get it back. by copying from the drive after slaving it, you can compair the files to ensure all sata has been retreaved.

If I read your problem correctly, you won't have the old and new drive at the same time.  Generally on these RMA deals, they send you the new drive after they have the old drive.  

Since you have a DVD burner, if you can burn the data to a DVD, that's what I would recommend, short of getting another drive you can use for temporary storage until you get the new drive back.  Anyway, after you have been using an OS for a while, it gets junked up with stuff you probably shouldn't have installed in the first place and didn't completely get rid of.  All you really need is your data, and its hard to imagine many Gigs of  just data (docs and pictures and stuff).  

A new hard drive is a good opportunity to start fresh, reinstall your apps fresh and then copy your data back where it belongs.  You will have a snappier computer and a backup of your data when you need it the next time.  And there is always a next time.  Good luck.
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