how to create an exact bootable copy of my hard disk on a new hard disk?

Posted on 2007-12-03
Last Modified: 2008-02-01
I'm in the process of changing mainboards and I'd like to change to a bigger hard disk in the process.
How can I "ghost" my hard disk to the new one?
I bought ACRONIS some time back - I'd like to use this
To be sure I don't lose anything I thought I'd  format the new disk on the new mainboard before trying the backup. The existing box will still be intact - just in case...
Thanks in advance
Question by:keithbraithwaite
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LVL 88

Accepted Solution

rindi earned 100 total points
ID: 20394286
You don't have to format the new disk in advance. What acronis software did you buy? I think disk director suite has a "Copy" option. Just first create your acronis bootcd, then boot the PC with that and use the "Copy" option to copy your first partition to the new disk. Repeat that with the other partitions. Then turn the PC off and remove the old disk, and try booting with the new one.

Expert Comment

ID: 20394291
I can't say the exact details about ACRONIS, but I personally like to use the tools on Knoppix ( or UBCD for Windows (

I would suggest cloning your current disk onto the new one, and then working on your new one before changing the motherboard.

But there is one important thing to note before you do this - make sure that Windows is prepared for your new motherboard. Follow the instructions over at -  it may save you a great deal of heartache.
LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 20394303
Sorry, I missed you are also changing the mainboard. If it isn't going to be the same model or type, then cloning the disk won't be the way to go. New boards require different drivers and usually also a different windows HAL. A disk that worked on the other board will normally not work on a new board, you'll get bluescreens and crashes. Do a new installation.
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Expert Comment

ID: 20394334
Well, that's not quite true. The system can continue to work properly if you do it right. Even if the preparation steps taken in the article I linked to do not work, a Windows repair will usually get the system up and running quite happily, whether the HAL has changed or not.

However, it's not 100% reliable - that's why I recommended doing the change after transferring the data to the new disk.

If that all fails and you have to do a new installation, then use the File and Settings Transfer Wizard in XP.

Author Comment

ID: 20394493
It's previous "heartaches" (CasUK) which made me put the question...
However "File and Settings Transfer Wizard in XP" interests me.
Can I transfer all my programs and settings with that having installed XP on the new hard disk on the new mainboard? Will everything, programs, email etc be intact and working?
In which box do I operate?
In the old one with the new hard disk as slave - having formatted it and installed XP hooked up to the new mainboard
or in the new box having installed XP on the new hard disk with the old hard disk as slave?
Another supplementary question:
If I try to run the old hard disk on the new mainboard I'll probably get blue screens - could a "Windows repair" solve that? Do I just run the XP CD and try to repair it that way?

Expert Comment

ID: 20394561
Right, let's go through this step-by-step.

The transfer wizard will only transfer your documents and profile settings. It can keep things like email account data, default passwords for standard Windows apps - but it will not transfer actually programs.

Obviously a reinstall takes a while this way, so your idea is probably the way I would go.

To answer your supplimental question, a "Windows repair *can* solve bluescreen boot issues - but not every time.

Like I said, the best method is

1) Plug your new drive into your existing system and clone the working disk to your new harddrive.
2) Remove your OLD harddrive.  This is going to be your backup if things go TU.
3) Start up your system with with the new HDD and go through the in-place motherboard change preparation instructions.
4) Change the motherboard.
5) Try and start the system with the NEW motherboard and the NEW harddrive. If it goes well, Windows will start, make a few complaints about missing drivers, at which point you install the new drivers for your mobo.

IF you still get a bluescreen, you can try to then run the Windows repair.

And IF you STILL get bluescreen after this, then you're going to have to do a fresh install I'm afraid. Of course, the Transfer Wizard can help to ease the pain. Also, because you've kept your original hard disk drive untampered - you can plug it into your old system without any worries.

Author Comment

ID: 20394717
A pity - I thought I was on to a good thing!
However, when you say "clone" the working disk - it's there that I'm not sure how to go about it. I'll look at Acronis again - get help from the Acronis site if I can. I presume that cloning a disk involves one of these programs that I have never yet used...

Assisted Solution

CasUK earned 100 total points
ID: 20394790
The True Image program looks like the one that will play - but I have no idea how this works.

If you want to try Knoppix, there are some instructions here for cloning an XP disk - the only change I would make is instead of using a DOS floppy disk, I'd boot with a Windows CD - go into recovery console and run 'fiixboot' and 'fixmbr'

Good luck!

Assisted Solution

khe-khe earned 100 total points
ID: 20396549
You can use Universal Restore(add on for True Image) in order to upload a needed drivers during restore procedure.

Assisted Solution

Joediggity2 earned 100 total points
ID: 20401047
My personal preference is to build from scratch when doing a major upgrade.  I hook the second drive up as a slave drive and leave it in until I have all the data off of it I need. I then put it on the shelf as a nice backup if something ever happens.  If there are any malware or other things on the old computer, cloning the drive copies that over too.

Another possible option is to run sysprep the system before swapping out the boards.  

Assisted Solution

MotoCrazy earned 100 total points
ID: 20402948
I would prefer to build from scratch as well, but I don't blame you for wanting to clone the disc. Knoppix is a great solution, but only if you are a little Linux savvy. Personally, I prefer UBCD4Win (Ultimate Boot CD for Windows).

With UBCD, you boot from CDROM into a very "Windows" looking GUI. This even has network support. It loads only into memory, so the harddrive can be cloaned without "file already in use" errors.

Once I get all my computers running with a fresh install, and all the usual programs, I will ghost the disc from UBCD4Win and store it on my server. Now, any time I want to reformat, it only takes about 20 minutes instead of the complete reinstall process.

Expert Comment

ID: 20560225
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