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Mother_of_ComputersFlag for United States of America asked on

How do I install a new hard drive and a mirror image of the OS, MS Office, and other programs from the old hard drive?

My Husband, Mom and Dad cannot function using Windows VISTA.  What's even worse for them is Microsoft Office 2007 which looks and feels so so different from MS Office 2002 and 2003.  So while my boys and I will upgrade to VISTA and MS Office 2007, I need to keep Windows XP and MS Office 2002 going on at least the 3 oldest computers (DELL 4550, 8200, and XPS 700) for the "traditionalist" in the family.  These 3 computers are all old and the hard drives need replacing&one just died!   Once I buy new hard drives, how can I transfer (image?) everything (including OS and MS programs) from the old drives to the new drives (like a mirror image)?    I am not sure if I should use  Acronis True Image or Casper XP or Drive2Drive or What?  I have various DELL install discs but unfortunately I dont know which goes with which computer and the same goes for the MS OFFICE discs so I need to copy everything as a true image (registries, boot files, and all) of the old drive.   The second part of my question is what program should I use to create and maintain a mirror image of my master drive once I install a new second drive in my DELL XPS 700 which is running Win XP?  I want the 2 drives to be mirror images in case one fails (ie RAID 1).  If I use a RAID 1 configuration do the 2 hard drives need to be the same size?  In other words, if the second newer  HD is bigger than the first Master drive is that a problem? Appreciate your advice.
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Mother_of_Computers

8/22/2022 - Mon
SOLUTION
josephsprei

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Lee W, MVP

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ASKER
Mother_of_Computers

I  have seen good reviews on Acronis so it looks like the program of choice to create a digital image of my old HD. Unfortunately, I cannot find it sold at any local retailer so I will have to order online and wait.  
josephsprei

You wrote
This is not exactly true.  If the old drive is a 7200 RPM drive with the same cache size, it the performance won't be different.  Frankly, while the old one (depending on it's specs) might prevent the new drive from running as fast as it could, there should be no technical problem from a hardware standpoint doing this.

Now,
Make up your mind, it will cause the new one to work slower or it wont.
ASKER
Mother_of_Computers

leew - thank you for all the information although I am still digesting it all.
Interesting points about whether or not I could mix old and new drives.  How do I find the speed and cache size on the old HDs?  I have had so many drives fail and it's so much trouble backing up 8 computers that I wanted to start adding an extra drive to each computer and some how make back-ups more automated, regular, and more easily done by the primary user of the computer who is not necessarily computer savy but can follow simple written directions.    If I buy 2 new HDs and image my old HD using Acronis to one new HD where can I  find detailed directions on how to configure as RAID 1?  That said, using the same example but not confiuring as RAID 1, how could I create a mirror image on the 2nd HD and then periodically back-up files to that 2nd drive?   The XPS700 is primarily used as a gaming computer  as well as used to down load music, video, and manage/edit photos so that is really the one that I would like to make sure it's backed-up.   The other 2 are primarily used for web browsing, e-mail, pictures, and using MS Office software do those document need to be backed up..  
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ASKER
Mother_of_Computers

Leew - You have given me several options I had not considered.  Thank you.  You also saved me from buying up a lot of drives that I probably couldn't configure as RAID 1 without losing more hair than it's worth. Double Thank you!   I think I will make some emergency upgrades and replace my ancient Seagate Barracuda ST380021A 80GB (7200rpm, 2MB Buffer) with a Seagate ST3160215A 160GB (7200rpm, 2MB Buffer) and use Acronis to imgae the drive.  I may replace my WD Caviar 60GB (which died yesterday; really not bad for 5+yr old HD) with the same Seagate 160GB drive too and try to get DELL to restore the OS.  You are right I really need to consider a server. I have thought about it so many times but .... it's always something.  May give it some more thought.  Look for my future questions!
ASKER
Mother_of_Computers

Thank you both.  Turns out there was no one simple answer to my questions.   I split points between you both as josephsprei was first responder and recommended Acronis and leew provided a lot of information that answered my question and saved me from even bigger problems!  Again, thank you both!