Swap hard drives of different size partitions

Posted on 2013-05-29
Last Modified: 2013-06-17

I'm just trying to get confirmation on whether my idea is a good one or not and if not, why and how should I do it better. I don't need an idiots guide but suggestions. And before anyone suggests just reinstalling, that is not an option.

I have 1 laptop. I have 2 laptop hard drives. The laptop can take only 1 drive. Currently it has a 100gb drive in it. The spare drive is 320gb. I'd like to swap the installations so that the entire installation that is on the 100gb drive is moved the to 320gb and the entire installation on the 320gb is placed onto the 100gb.

My plan is to put the 320gb into the laptop and user gparted to resize the partition so that it is under 100gb, say 90gb. Yes the data on there is nowhere near 100gb so I can make the partition that small. Once the 320gb partition is shrunk to 90gb I was going to use something like ghost to image the drive. Suggestions for better options here would be welcome.

I was then going to swap the drives and then ghost the 100gb drive. I have a 2tb USB drive to put everything on so no worries about space. Once I have the 2 drive images I need to swap them over and I'm not sure how to do this bit. I know the disk image will be a file but how do I get it back onto the target drive as it isn't simply a matter of just copying? I have found disk imaging software on the web but I have no experience with any of them.

In short I need to move the installations on each drive and swap them without reinstalling anything.

If it helps, the 320gb has Windows 7 Professional on it and the 100gb has Windows 8 on it.


Question by:Lee Savidge
LVL 47

Assisted Solution

noxcho earned 100 total points
ID: 39203895
If you have a USB enclosure or a docking station of HDD then you can connect the 320GB externally and do the shrink on 320GB. Then simply clone 100GB drive partitions to that space.
After that swap the drives. Almost the same as you want to do but easier.
For cloning and partitioning I would suggest you HDM12Suite from here
A bit expensive but it has sooo many features.
BTW, is 320GB already bootable?
LVL 70

Accepted Solution

garycase earned 400 total points
ID: 39203982
There are several imaging utilities that will work well for this.   My preference would be Image for DOS [ ], but any that you're familiar with will work fine.

The process is just like you outlined it ...

(a)  ReSize the partition on the 320GB drive to 90GB.   Then Image this and save it on your external drive.

(b)  Image your 100GB drive and save it on the external drive.

(c)  Install either drive; then use the imaging software to restore the desired image to that drive.

(d)  Repeat (c) for the other drive.

Done :-)    What you MAY have to do (depending on what imaging utility you used) is boot to a 3rd party partition tool and set the partition as Active.    If it doesn't boot, that's almost certainly the problem.

Possible complication:   Does your system by any chance use Secure Boot for Windows 8??   If so, what you want to do is FAR more complex !!
LVL 92

Expert Comment

ID: 39206895
there is still another possibility - depending on the age/model of the laptop
the 100 Gb drive may come from the time the bios was limited to 128 GB drives
if so - you won't be able to put in a bigger sized drive than 128 GB (or say 120 GB) but you could partition the drive up into 3 partions

here more info about the drive size barriers :

so - what is the laptop model?  you can also look on the manufacturer's site to check if bigger disk sizes are supported
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 39206920
"... the 100 Gb drive may come from the time the bios was limited to 128 GB drives "  ==> With Windows 8 ???????  :-)

... and the system is already using a 320GB drive (with Windows 7)

It has been a L...O...N...G   time since drives were limited to 128GB !!!  (At least a decade)
LVL 25

Author Comment

by:Lee Savidge
ID: 39206988
Both drives are bootable. The 320 is the original drive from the laptop. I don't know if the Windows 8 is a secure boot. How would I check? I'm not familiar with Windows 8 other than utterly hating it!
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 39207009
If YOU installed it, I'm sure it's not.    If it was delivered with the laptop, then it almost certainly IS  (Microsoft requires that OEM systems use Secure Boot).

If you can boot the system from a CD, then it is NOT a Secure Boot system.
LVL 25

Author Comment

by:Lee Savidge
ID: 39207042
It was me that installed it. I installed both systems using this laptop. However, I need to swap the installations because the Windows 8 install on the 100gb is running out of space which is typical.
LVL 25

Author Comment

by:Lee Savidge
ID: 39207118
There is a slight complication. I've just discovered that the Win7 insall has a second partition called BDEDrive which I will need to remove first of all. I'll sort that out first and then check the responses.
LVL 70

Assisted Solution

garycase earned 400 total points
ID: 39210055
As long as you're not actually using BitLocker (most folks aren't), you can simply delete the BDEDrive partition.    It may be set as active (and immediately redirect to the actual OS partition ==> if that's the case, Disk Management won't let you delete it.   You'll need to boot to a 3rd party tool and set the Windows 7 partition as the active partition;  then you simply boot; go to Disk Management; and delete the BDEDrive partition.

Done :-)    Everything else works exactly as we've already discussed above.
LVL 25

Author Closing Comment

by:Lee Savidge
ID: 39252719
All seems to work just fine :)


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