What is best way to upgrade hard disk on notebook w/o having to reinstall windows and software, etc?


My IBM T42 hard disk is too small and I like to upgrade to a bigger hard disk.  I had done this once over 2 years ago and it was a real painful process that took days bc none of the software I used worked properly (partition magic, ghost).  I am running winxp on my computer.  the last time i upgraded hd, i had to use all of the cds provided by ibm (that includes OS), then reinstall software 1 by 1.  IBM also created a 5gb fat32 partition for its own utility stuff.  is there an easier way for me to upgrade the hd w/o having to go thru the steps i had done b4?  from what i recalled w/ partition magic, windows has problem starting after copying partiion.  not sure if it had something to do w/ some windows driver settings that had trouble recognizing the new hd bc it only contained info about the old hd.  Has anyone any suggestions?  my partition magic ver 7 is out of date and hadn't worked the last time i tried using it.  thx.
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skywalker39Connect With a Mentor Commented:
Hi skip1000,

I recommend Acronis True Image 2009, or Norton Ghost 14. Also, Migrate Easy 7 works very well, it's also by Acronis.

Here are the links to each application:

Hope this helps.
Our company ran into the same issue with our T40 notebooks, but once we started using Acronis TrueImage, all issues were solved.

The software includes a CD to directly boot into a native gui, which allows you to restore from network, dvd, external hdd etc. The backup process is done within this gui as well, so you won't have any issues with locked files or wrong permissions. The restored image matched the original 100%, and you have the possibility to change the partition size during the restore process.
Norton Ghost works great for bootable FAT32 and NTFS duplication, I've used it at least a hundred times.  It seems you had a problem before because of the setup.  You want to copy all the partitions at the same time, and include the boot records.  Specify the utility partitions to be the same size as they were on the original drive, but allow one of the partitions (probably your main boot partition) to expand to use all remaining drive space.  (Alternatively, Norton Ghost will expand all partitions proportionately.)

You will not need to use partition or boot record software at all.  No changes needed.  You can keep your old drive as a backup.  If the new drive does not boot correctly, it's most likely because the settings were not right in Ghost -- just try it again.

You do not need to create any partitions or format your new drive.  Norton Ghost does all of that.
Make a bootable Norton Ghost floppy diskette.  Then change the settings after booting to the diskette.  Your settings will be preserved and implemented every time you use that diskette.
You shouldn't need any driver changes for the IDE HDD on the T42.  The new hard drive will work exactly like the old one.  Your previous problem was with copying the partions without the MBR.

Working with imaging soft is fine, but personally I think a step by step install gives better results.
rami_ejailatConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You asked for the "best" solution; that will be Acronis Migrate Easy 7:
Why not hit two birds with a stone? Get a reliable feature-rich backup solution in addition to the migration capabilities with Acronis True Image Home 2009:
If you want to hit 3 birds with a stone, then you have to think of the future! If you plan to move your disk or complete data (OS, licenses, software, settings, patches, updates, ...) to another/newer laptop (called dissimilar hardware), then, you'll get into trouble. However, Acronis also has a solution for this: an addon called Acronis Universal Restore dedicated for this task! However, Acronis Universal Restore addon doesn't work with Home products, that's why you'll need the equivalent, Acronis True Image ECHO for Workstation:
The nice thing about Acronis is that Universal Restore addon doesn't need to be purchased right from the beginning; you can buy it later on and use it with the previously created images without hassle!
As you see, Acronis really provides proper dedicated solutions for each requirement.
Best Regards,
Rami S Ejailat
skip1000Author Commented:
is there a way to do this so that i can copy the partitions across via usb using the t42 and then just swap the drives in the end?  i have a case for notebook hd so i can attach the new drive via usb.  i would like to try this 1st on an old 2.5" drive to c if it works.
Yes, you can do this with Acronis Migrate Easy 7:
Key Features:
  • Migrate your old hard disk drive to a larger one;
  • Re-deploy your old hard disk;
  • Use your new hard disk drive as a boot drive or as an extra storage device;
  • Choose between automatic and manual hard drive upgrade modes;
  • Enjoy an intuitive Windows XP-like wizard-driven interface;
  • Migrate large disks (over 180GB).
Partition Management:
  • Resizes transferred partitions to match new hard disk size;
  • Includes special sector-by-sector support for other partitions and corrupted file systems;
  • Creates, deletes, copies and moves partitions.
Security and Safety:
  • Pending operations: a hard disk installation scenario is first created, and only then implemented;
  • An old hdd could be securely wiped;
  • When partitions are copied an original HDD remains unchanged.
Best Regards,
Rami S Ejailat
rami is giving a good suggestion.  I like Acronis as well and use it every day. You can make a direct copy of the hard drive that you are using to the new hard drive plugged in via USB.

I do this every day when we upgrade a hard drive for a system. You will just need to use a program like Acronis that can boot to copy the system drives.  The others that people listed will work as well, although I find Acronis to be very easy to use and very reliable.  You just need to use a program that you can boot to, so it will be able to copy all the files off of your current hard drive.

I would use Acronis Migrate Easy 7 (as I mentioned before in a earlier post) I actually have used it before, has very nice features and works quite simple.
skip1000Author Commented:
I haven't gotten any of the newer software yet, but last nite i tried my copy of acronis true image 8.  i found these problems w/ the software i had:

1. couldn't recognise my usb disk that i had removed all my partitions (unallocated).
2. couldn't create a partition on an attached disk. had to do this in windows.
3. cloning need to clone every single partition on disk - does not let me pick only the partitions i want to clone.
4. i created an image of 35gb data, which took over an hour.  but the same image could not be restored to the unallocated hd bc it complained the image was corrupted.  i tried creating image using incremental w/ existing corrupted backup, but the incremental doesn't check to see if last backup was corrupted and continues on.  tried to restore and it again complained the backup was corrupted.

at this point, i still don't know if the image restore works yet (and will boot), and hours went by.  i think the version i had was a really terrible version.  imagine i had run an incremental backup for ages only to realize that it was corrupted on restore?  did any of u have this experience w/ the version i had or w/ newer versions?
It's possible your getting all these problems because you using a older version of Acronis True Image. Here's a link that explains the new features in the new Acronis True Image.
I dont have experience with Version 8, only version 9. With version 9 I have rarely had an issue.  I would estimate that I have successful backups probably well above 99%. I have about 500 computers that back up on a daily basis using Acronis. I have only had one backup that was corrupted, and that was from a bad hard drive, that died after the backup. The previous backup from the day before was good.

I dont know if it is the version or some other factors, but my backups are usually fairly quick and very dependable.
skip1000Author Commented:
sorry for not responding for some time, but was trying backup/restore and partition copying w/ acronis home 2009 and director suite and here's what i got so far:

- backups/restores never works on any version no matter what i do.  always fails the validation.  tried this at least 10 times.  wonder if it has anything to do w/ the mbr.
- was able to copy the winxp partition using director suite 2009, but it can't seem to copy the ibm hidden partition.  event after copy mbr, i was not able to boot w/ the new drive (get blinking cursor).
- i did a search on this site on ibm t42 and noticed it is a common problem w/ ibm/levono thinkpads.  i love my thinkpad and think they make the best windows notebooks, but upgrading the hd is a nightmare.  so far it seems that only bootit NG was able to fix the mbr after copying the partiions (from those links), although i don't know how to copy the hidden partition.  maybe i need to remove the hd to be able to copy the hidden partition.

still working on this...
skip1000Author Commented:
OMG, i got this drive to boot!  

earlier, i kept forging ahead w/ the cloning.  i found the link that recorded my nightmare w/ my last hd upgrade:


i'm doing things differently this time thanks to new cloning softwares.  anyway, these are the things i have gone thru after cloning main partition w/ acronis director suite 2009:

- loaded bootit ng as a boot loader.  this got past the black screen and i was able to get to the windows log on screen.
- unfortunately i now got the infamous log on and immediate log off for windows.  i searched thru many pages of this site and most only talked of fixing userinit.exe and editing the registry for userinit.exe.  this was absolutely useless and most ppl who opened those questions ended up reinstalling windows.
- then i came across this solution (1 of a kind) that nailed it:
quoting expert4xp:
"If the disk has been seen/used by XP previously, XP will try to assign an incorrect drive letter to the "new" disk.  XP assigns the drive letter it previously used.  You can clear the DiskID/signature of a drive, by using this utility:

Download this .ISO and burn it (as an image, not as data) to a CD.
Boot to the CD. You will see "Press any key to rewrite MBR". Press a key and you will be instructed to "Press ENTER to reboot" so remove the CD and press ENTER. Your computer should boot to WinXP.

More info and background info on this problem here:

In short the acronis tool that I couldn't recall as being part of any of the true image products, that ultimately fixed my mbr as well as the infamous log on and log off problems that haunted me so often when i tried to clone drives at my work few years ago.  for some time today, i thought i had to install windows from scratch again, but thanks to that one link that saved the day.  so glad for the large experts community. :)

as far as my hidden ibm partition is concerned, i don't think my current one even worked after my last pseudo clone/restore job.  it's just there and i can't even access it.  so afaik, i don't need to worry about cloning that if i hadn't a need for it for several years already.  i have the restore cds anyway (and i hope i'll never have to resort the them ;).

skip1000Author Commented:
i awarded points to the 2 experts
skip1000Author Commented:
sorry didn't finish my comments to the experts in the award point section. i must've clicked the submit button by accident.  the 2 experts provided the solutions that was closest to the solution that I've used (acronis director suite 2009), although they weren't complete for thinkpad cloning.  but thanks for all the help experts. just happy to get thing working. :)
skip1000Author Commented:
Log continued...
Finally upgraded my T42 to a 320gb drive.  first try:
true image director copy partition, copy mbr and used acronis mbrautowrite; didn't work.  then try to apply bootit ng, and it hung several times. finally bootit ng was applied (in same partition, not separate partition) w/o hanging, but still black screen on reboot.  went back and forth between acronis mbrautowrite and bootit ng; still no go.

2nd try:
got updated bios and embedded control update from lenovo for t42.  then applied acronis mbrautowrite to disk; still did not work.  applied bootit ng and it warned of mbr error and fixed it.  reboot machine and xp loaded fine on new hd.  don't know where the problem was, but the sequences worked itself out.  so looks like at very least, acronis director suite, acronis mbrautowrite and bootit ng were all necessary to fix various probs.
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