How to replace a hard drive

I have a DELL computer that appears to be in need of a hard drive replacement. What is the best way of transferring all the data from one to another?

Do I put the new hard drive in the computer and run Windows Easy Transfer?

Would I first have to install Windows XP Pro on the new hard drive and then use the restore portion of Windows Easy Transfer?

Or is it better to your Acronois and image the old hard drive, replace the hard drive and then do a restore?

thanks for you help.
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MereteConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Things to do first
Have you ever made the recovery disc from your start menue ?
Do that first so you have it
Write down your disc OEM COA number
Have you bought a USB external HDD case or how do you plan to copy your files back?
Windows Pre Install Checklist
The new HDD
You may need to make a partition on the new drive?
Or do they come with a partition already?
Add the new drive using an external Hard Drive enclosure then use the USB
then in disc manager check the drive has a partition.
Or format it NTFS
If the partition is okay, power off and then swap drives
boot into your bios press DEL key
 set your bios to boot from  CDrom first at the top,
 insert your setup disc at this point, then press F10 to save and exit bios
computer reboots
press any key to start setup. run setup install to C drive
accept the EULA  etc language let it do it's thing, will take a while maybe reboot a few times, leave updates till later or it will be at that forever. Tell it to ask you later this sets your windows updates to to ask you instead automatically download.
Make sure you run the windows as soon it's convenient.
So you get SP1 straight up and then continue with the offerings as you'll need some so you can run stuff you had.
Then add in your old DEL drive as the secondary drive use the external enclosure, then you can just copy back your files import your emails store folder
keep it for a while.

I simply install XP to a new drive and perform all I said above making sure I have a backup of my drivers ., please match the HDD Brand to the old DEL.
But I have several systems connected via a KVM switch to windows 7 as well networked.
This is the best site I use for step by step for each OS and each Computer Brand and all the different windows installations paths
(View original disk to determine the service pack pre-installed on them, then select appropriate link below)
Good Luck
MacGyver80Connect With a Mentor Senior Systems AdministratorCommented:
If you want everything to be exactly as it is on the old drive and you want to do it quickly, I would just take an image of the system and dump the image on to the new drive.  

If you enjoy agony you can back up files using F.A.S.T(Files and settings transfer wizard - Windows XP version of Windows 7's Easy Transfer Wizard), make sure you have your license keys(you can use Belarc Advisor for a complete list of Product Keys on the system), re-install the OS on the new drive and then the applications. Then finally, restore from your F.A.S.T. backup file.

My advice would be that whenever possible to K.I.S.S. - keep it simple stupid.  I live by this and in no way implying that you are stupid.
Tom BeckConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Dell laptop or desktop? If desktop, does it have room for a second hard drive? Or perhaps it has a CD/DVD drive with the same type of interface (SATA or IDE). I've never used Windows Easy Transfer, so I cannot speak to that. Instead, I've always found a way to simply plug in the old hard drive (assuming it still works) to the newly rebuilt computer and copy the files over manually. If it's a laptop, I plug in the old hard drive using an adapter to make the old drive a USB mass storage device. I would never use any utility that would attempt to copy over old configuration settings. They would tend to just bring in the bad with the good. I much prefer a cleanly built, fully patched system on a new drive.
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Tom BeckConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You are aware of course that Microsoft support for Windows XP Pro ends on 4/8/2014. After that you will not be able to patch it. Have you considered Windows 7?
Jason WatkinsConnect With a Mentor IT Project LeaderCommented:
If you can image the existing drive and installation, awesome. If not, you'll need to install XP on the new HDD, along with your applications and such, then use FAST to move the data over.
nobusConnect With a Mentor Commented:
>>  What is the best way of transferring all the data from one to another?   <<  if both drives are installed, just copy the data over - but then the new drive is not bootable, so you have several options :
-make an image, or clone of the OLD drive, and put that on the new one; this is the fastest method; but you transfer all problems also.
for this, i use the free Paragon software :      
it lets you adapt the image to bigger sized drives

-install a fresh copy of XP + all software -  this is the best method, but takes a lot more time
you can use the factory reset option from your old partition, or recovery cd's; look at the DELL documents here :

of course, later installed software will need to be reinstalled, and don't forget to backup your data BEFORE starting the factory reset
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