Bootable XP Hard Drive Clone

mccrick used Ask the Experts™
I have an old noisy drive that I am replacing in old Levono Tablet PC. I don't have software disks or even an optical drive to install everything fresh.

Are there steps I can take or better software that I can use to clone the noisy drive to the newer drive?

My attempts so far seem to copy the entire contents of the original drive but the target drive is does not boot. It hangs at the black screen with flashing underscore.

I was able to setup a fresh install of Windows on a 3rd drive which is where I'm running Acronis True Image.

It seems as though the drive needs some sort of blessing before it will boot.
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®


You need to copy the MBR from old PC
When using acronis true image, use the boot cd to boot the system and make the clone from there, instead of in a windows system. It is much more reliable. I have made many clones of thinkpad/lenovo systems. Boot using the cd, and select a whole disk clone.


Awesome. Thank You.

a. How do I do that?
b. Why wouldn't the cloning process accomplish that?
Acronis in Gartner 2019 MQ for datacenter backup

It is an honor to be featured in Gartner 2019 Magic Quadrant for Datacenter Backup and Recovery Solutions. Gartner’s MQ sets a high standard and earning a place on their grid is a great affirmation that Acronis is delivering on our mission to protect all data, apps, and systems.


@flubster - I don't have a boot cd or optical drive at all. I'm trying to go directly from the failing disk. It does appear to copy ALL files and does not give any error messages.

@vguzman - My previous post was to you. I will follow the mbrwizard link. So far I have not been able to make mbrfix or fixmbr work. Hopefully the Wizard will do the trick.
Doing it from within windows and doing it from the simplified Acronis emergency recovery boot is very different. The acronis boot clone is so much better. Load up acronis and look for an option to create an emergency rescue/boot disk.

What version do you have? On some versions, you could just boot using the acronis cd. In others, you create a cd from within the program.
Most Valuable Expert 2011
Top Expert 2011
Easus Partition Manager

I would load this on another machine (Bootable CD available?)and at least make sure the partition is active. I dont use Acronis, but often using Ghost, even with the Boot Tracks copied over, it doesnt always do it. Guessing maybe the same with Acronis possibly?

If going to the same size disk....

Easeus Disk Copy

It is free, and if you go to a bigger disk, you can use the partition manager in teh above link, to esize the partition so there is no wasted space.....

Just other options....


My creativity may be killing me here. I will attempt to define what I have and what I am doing more explicitly.

Drive 1 = Failing 100gb (noisy, possibly bearings) This has all client data and applications and boots fine. It has been removed.

Drive2 = Working 160gb drive with fresh windows and not much else. Has been installed and boots fine. Has Acronis True Image and is the Drive I am using to start the clone, but not the source or destination of the clone.

Drive 3 = Working 160gb drive. After clone, shows all data including hidden utility partition but does not boot.

Question: A PC can only have one Active Partition at a time. Is there something about starting the clone booted into a regular instance of XP that keeps the clone from being "activated' as an Active Partition (even when no other drives are plugged in)?

I am currently recloning the drive and will try the mbrwizard in a couple of hours when clone finishes.


Clarification: Drives 1 and 3 are connected via USB/SATA cables for clone process.

The failed boot occurs after clone when Drive 3 is installed in the drive bay and all USB cables are unplugged.
using acronis you can create bootable media whether it be on cd or a flash drive if you do not have an optical drive then you can create the media on a flash drive the directions for this can be found at the following link. I hope this helps
You need to use Acronis (prefer an Acronis Boot Disk which can be made in the acronis software) to boot into the Acronis operating system.

You need to boot up on the Acronis boot disk using a USB CD or an internal CD drive.   You need to leave the failing hard drive connected.  You need to have a USB connected hard drive to catch the image.

You need to make a full disk image (a full image, not a file copy image) of the failing hard drive to the usb connected hard drive.  

You are not doing a disk to disk copy, but a full image.

Remove the failing hard drive, add the good hard drive, boot into acronis and copy the image to the good hard drive.

If you do have a problem with Acronis (it happens), try Easus or Ghost to make the copy of the hard disk.
ImageX is a utility from Microsoft that allows you to make an image of a disk (a WIM file) and restore it to another drive.
Imagex is part of the Windows Automated Intallation Kit. 
 The ideal solution IHMO is to remove the drive and connect it to another PC using a special IDE to USB adapter you can usually pick up for around $15.  This is easier than figuring out how to get to a command prompt from a CD or other bootable media.
Install WAIK on this PC and get to a command prompt.  Find the IMAGEX program and identify the drive letter  you want to image.
Capture the image with
imagex /capture d: c:\myoriginaldrive.wim "Some comment"
Where D: would be driveletter of the drive you want to copy,  and c"\myoriginaldrive.wim is name of the image file.

Next,  disconnect your old drive,  and connect your new drive and reverse the process
imagex /apply c:\myoriginaldrive.wim d:

This will restore the image to the new drive.

You may want to use bootsect to make sure the partition is bootable.  This is tricky because you REALLY need to be careful about identifying which disk is which.

run diskpart from the command line.
enter the following commands:
list disk            -- This will list all the disks on your system.  Try to identify your new drive by size.
select disk #   -- Where # is the number of the disk
list partition     -- Should only be one,   but make sure
select partition 1    --  Selects the partition
active    -- makes the drive active.
assign  --gives the drive a letter

Now disconnect the new drive and plug into your old computer!

(Note.  It is really best to create a bootable USB withimagex on it,  but that is trickier)
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010
Using Acronis, backup disk 1 to a .tib file and save the .tib file in disk 2.

Then, restore the .tib file to disk 3.

If still no go, my wild guess is that the boot sector of disk 1 is damaged. Install xp recovery console while you boot from disk 2, and run the following command when you start computer in xp recovery console.

        fixboot d:

where d: is your disk 3


I used acronis often to clone HDDs.
You should have at least one normal working Windows pc with USB ports and enough local disc space.
Get a USB to HDD adapter, so you can connect the old HDD directly via USB to your Win pc. Create an image of your old HDD, destination the local HDD of the Win pc. Then disconnect the old HDD from your USB adapter and connect the new HDD. Restore the image to the new HDD, put it into your tablet pc and that's it.
Worked fine for me several times.
If you have a Windows pc with enough appropriate internal connections (on the mainboard), then you could even connect both (old and new) HDDs internal and clone  on the fly with Acronis.
Willy Van den HoutenNetwork and Security Assistant

I used Acronis Migrate Easy



The several clones that I have done since opening this question have resulted in the partitions cloning but not mounting. I don't really even know how to get them to mount. When I check them on my Mac the partitions don't mount but show up in Disk Utility. This is step backwards from where I was. The odd thing is that the clones that mounted (but didn't boot) were created with the Acronis TrueImage 11, but Acronis sw would reboot and go into a black screen with a simple ASCI screen showing the cloning progress. Hopefully this was the same result as creating an Acronis boot disk (which I was not able to do.) The last few tries did not trigger that reboot into ASCI screen, but instead gave me a regular Windows progress bar. I don't know what triggered the difference. But it is now making partitions that don't mount. Any thoughts?

MBRWizard saw these partitions, but did not make them bootable. BTW, this product seemed to have a checkbox for making a partition Active. It actually indicated that the partition was active.

I am trying Easus Backup Todo Home (free). Hopefully I will get a visible partitions at least.



Creating the Boot Disk in EaseUs Todo Disk Copy (free version)  and doing a clone from there, got it done.

Although Acronis True Image was acting like it was booting from a baremetal non windows boot disk and doing the clone, it did not get the job done. No MBR fixes worked including MBR Wizard ($7) but it looked like good SW. As mentioned the clone claimed to be successful and all data appeared to be copied. Also the hidden Utility partition did work, just not the main partition.

Thank you ALL contributors. Wish I could assign more points.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial