Transferring Operating System from one Hard Disk Drive to another.

Dell Dimension XPS. Windows XP Home Edition.
1. Windows XP will not boot from the HDD on which it was installed (It worked before, but not now)
2.  I have  installed a second  HDD with Windows XP already installed and have booted from this.
3. I have also installed a blank, formatted HDD to which I hope to transfer the Operating System from the corrupted HDD.
4. In the Setup screen the three HDD's show up as follows: The working HDD is Primary IDE Master; the blank formatted HDD is Primary IDE Slave; The corrupted HDD is the Secondary IDE Master.
5. I think I should be able to effect the transfer since the corrupted HDD shows up in the  My Computer window, with all its files apparently intact.
6. I am using the program DriveImage XML.
7. I am using the Drive to Drive option - I notice that corrupted HDD is type FAT32, while the other two HDD's are NTFS type.
8. I have run this program (selecting the 'Try Volume Locking first' option). It seems to run properly, but in fact the target HDD shows up as Empty after the 'Finished' . No transfer has taken place.
Any ideas?
Michael MurphyAsked:
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I would suggest running a disk diagnostic from the manufacturer first, in order to see what state the hard drive is in.  The FAT32 indicates a possible partition coruption - no point in copying a corrupted data structure.  You can find the diagnostic program for your particular hard drive on the Ultimate Boot CD
Transferring an Os from one version of file system eg FAT32 to NTFS whilst can be done, might not be the best choice depending upon what you actually need to do.
I'd suggest that since the suspect drive is corrupt, your best bet would be to copy across folder by folder (and the files within) from the suspect drive to a working drive.
You can ever know if the suspect drive itself is corrupt in the drive structure or physcially faulty.
If you have some drive imaging software, you can make an image of the suspect drive (and the respective partions within) then backup the respective images to a valid and working drive where you can access them at a later date.
You have to remember that if a drive is not bootable yet you can still access the contents, you should grab the files off as fast as possible whilst the structure is intact.
I use Symantec Ghost to make images then backup to a physical drive (disk to disk) and at the same time if I've got time make an image (then verify the image to ensure that it is intact and verified eg to double check it is 110% ok).

If you are trying to image a corrupt drive, the boot sector might be screwed up or messed, especially if you are working with different file systems on different drives eg, fat32/ntfs, some drive partion and imaging software plus the drives themselves may not like the differences.
Michael MurphyAuthor Commented:
I have successfully copied all the files from the corrupted HDD to the blank, formatted new HDD. What do I do next so that I can boot from the latter?
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How did you copy the hidden and system files?  There's also a boot sector that needs to be copied.
Michael MurphyAuthor Commented:
I clicked on the two Letters in My Computer, E. and D.  Simply lifted all the files from E. and brought them across to D. and they copied. Didn't look for hidden files (didn't expose them in advance). I simply copied everything that was visible. Would that include the boot sector??? I did try to boot from the D. drive, but it did not work.
No, that won't work.  Have you tried other imaging software, which will copy the boot sector?  I suggest Acronis True Image Home free trial version or EaseUS ToDo Backup; clone the entire drive, not just the partition.
Michael MurphyAuthor Commented:
Thanks. Will get back to this on Saturday... I'll have a go.
you cannot just copy all the system files from disk to disk, and boot from it - that is why they use the imaging tools, like Callandor said
personalyy, i use the paragon free software for it :      
but there are many free toools on the net

but if you image a disk with a corrupt OS, the transferred image will also be bad

maybe we better start repairing the old HDD -  what caused it not to boot?  anything changed  -  hard or software installed, updated?

any errors or BSOD ?

you can try tor repair the system

post results
Michael MurphyAuthor Commented:
I have Paragon successfully installed. There are two options. Which do I chose?
 Do I run Disk Restore, or Disk Backup? (i assume it is Restore, but am not sure).
Did you try Acronis or EaseUS?  They were suggested for disk imaging.
Michael MurphyAuthor Commented:
Please read this to the end.

Will try these, but bear with me, as it will take time. Will certainly be back, as the problem is not solved.

I have downloaded Paragon and run both Restore and Backup, but it does not solve my problem. Probably my ignorance.

I tried to follow the link given to me by Nobus  (,

but my computer will not boot from the CD containing the XP installation disk. It keeps trying to re-boot from the defective HDD although i have run the setup program and set it so that it should first boot from the CD. Here must be another problem !!!!

I wonder should I abandon it all and tell Microsoft Support my problem - that I had a working HDD with Windows XP installed and operating  - but that now it is no longer booting up for me - and I have long lost the information about the installation -product-licence  code for this program (and any invoices which might give them to me etc). I want to re-install this program on a fresh hard disk, which I have purchased. I don't want to have to purchase a new installation program. This surely must be a problem for computer minor geeks like me (almost 70 years old, a pensioner, with not much money).
first you run backup (from old disk) then run the restore  on the new drive.
but - since the old one does not boot - chances are  the new one won't boot either
that is why i suggested to repair the old system first - so it works, and make the image then

if you cannot boot from the cd  - then these are your options :
-bad cd media - bad cd drive or cable - bad cd controller on motherboard

in order to give correct help - post the cd drive model, or tell me if it is an IDE drive or a sata drive.

test if you can boot from the xp install cd on another PC, or test if your system can boot from another bootable cd
you can also connect the drive with another cable (if disk and cd drive are the same - you can swap these)
Michael MurphyAuthor Commented:
Thanks. Will take me a few days to get through this, but will be back to you when I have tried the various options.
ok - post results - then we can continue
Michael MurphyAuthor Commented:
1. Nothing wrong with the Installation CD. Tried it on other computers and it booted perfectly.

2. The Computer won't boot from the CD Installation Disk. But I don't think it is  the DVD/CD drive that is at fault?    Since it does everything else perfectly. For example if I boot the same computer from a different working Installation HDD, this same DVD/CD Drive (while not booting) will play music perfectly - also it shows the Installation CD in My Computer window, and I can explore though the Installation CD's files.  It will do everything except book. By the way I am careful to verify that it is set to boot first in the boot sequence.

3. You mention above: 'you can also connect the drive with another cable (if disk and cd drive are the same - you can swap these)'. I'll try this over the weekend.

4. The DVD/CD drive is Sata, and its make is Super WriteMaster, DVD Multi Recorder, Speed Plus (never had trouble with it before).
Michael MurphyAuthor Commented:
Forgot to tell you also in my last update, that I ran Backup and Restore as instructed, and while the material on the faulty disk was backed up successfully and successfully restored to a fresh H.D.D. it failed to boot from this fresh disk - as you predicted.
test if it boots from the cd  with the disk disconnected - it can block the rest
in 4. this does not mean there is nothing wrong with the drive, or cable, test it on another pC

you can try to repair the install on the old, or new drive :

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Were you able to boot any other optical media from this drive?  (UBCD, Knoppix
Michael MurphyAuthor Commented:
Have got it working. Nearly  here in Ireland and have  been at it for a couple of hours. I followed Nobus suggestion about repairing the Install, following the instructions in the link which he gave. Eventually it worked and I was also able to activate Windows XP successfully. Now what I need to do is to transfer the working XP program from this disk (which is very old and has a capacity of 20 GB) to a new larger HDD which I have bought. I'll leave this for another day or two. Must say I have to thank you guys for the way you have stuck by me in this. I am confident that I will also be able to effect the transfer.
use the free Paragon software for making an image - and restore it to the new drive :
Michael MurphyAuthor Commented:
Nearly there now. Using Paragon I successfully transferred the OS to the new disk and booted from it. One problem remains: In My Computer window  under properties, the disk size shows up at 20GB instead of 150GB (see Screenshot 1). In Disk Management Screen  it acknowledges the true size but... see my Screenshot 2 for this. You'll know when you look at it what needs to be done.
That's because drive imaging makes an exact copy of the source disk, including the partition size - you need to expand the partition to use up all the drive space available on the new drive.  EaseUS PartitionMaster will do it:
Michael MurphyAuthor Commented:
I got it done in the end because the experts stuck with me, made me think more deeply about what was involved, and showed me what options were best and how to access them.
It was a pleasure to work with you and help you come up with a solution.
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