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windows 8.1 restore drive image to replacement computer

Posted on 2014-11-29
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Last Modified: 2016-10-27
I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 running Windows 8.1 that has developed a hardware problem (won't reliably connect to Type Cover 2 keyboard).  Microsoft is sending me a replacement Surface Pro 2 under hardware warranty.  Can I take an image copy of the C: drive on my existing Surface Pro 2 and restore it to the replacement Surface Pro 2 or do I need to locate all of the software installation disks and files and reinstall software on the replacement computer?
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Question by:madcityguy
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 40471712
Since it is running W8.1, the image should work fine, as long as the hardware is identical. Even if there are small differences in some hardware, W8.1 should be able to get the drivers for it (as long as it can connect to the Internet). But as a safely measure, I strongly recommend that you make an image of the new machine before installing the image from the old machine on it. In case the old image doesn't work on the new machine, you want to be able to get the new machine back to factory condition, which raises a question: Does the Surface Pro 2 come with a recovery partition? Regards, Joe
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by:Tuan Massey
ID: 40471816
I recommend using "Windows Easy Transfer" its a built in feature. leave the partitions alone on the new one and just migrate the user profile over that way.

But if you really want to avoid re installing all the 3rd party software then do an image like Joe says.

I usually only recommend cloning a drive and restoring it on the same machine, but in this case the hardware will be very similar and should be okay.
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 40471835
I've never used the Windows Easy Transfer tool, but I've heard some nasty rumblings about it in 8.1, such as this:

http://www.pcpro.co.uk/blogs/2014/07/11/windows-easy-transfer-%25e2%2580%2593-not-so-easy-in-windows-8-1

Also, here's an InfoWorld article that says in 8.1, WET transfers only files, not settings, and cannot transfer from other 8.1 computers (which would rule it out for usage from the old Surface Pro to the new one):

http://www.infoworld.com/article/2609679/microsoft-windows/solving-the-mystery-of-windows-8-1-s-missing-features.html

The author claims to have asked MS why the functionality was reduced in 8.1, and says that MS told him, "WET is being deprecated..."

I have no clue about any of this, but wanted to pass it along as a caveat. Regards, Joe
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 40472222
Microsoft wants you to use the Microsoft account to transfer settings/files  via OneDrive..  as noted above an image is the way to go if it truly was a hardware fault.
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by:Rob G
ID: 40474219
As i rarely do what Microsoft tells me to do.. I would just use CloneZilla off of a mounted USB DVD-Rom drive.. and clone the Disk to an external HD, then clone that HD to the new Surface. It's a bit finicky but it does work..
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Author Comment

by:madcityguy
ID: 40474286
Sorry, I got tied up for a couple of days but thank you everyone for a lot of information.  I used Acronis True Image 2014 to take my backup - any feelings about whether I'm going to run into problems using this product recovering to the replacement Surface Pro 2?

By the way, Joe, there is a recovery partition on the Surface Pro 2 but I really like your suggestion that I take a backup of the new system before I try to recover my old drive to it.

BTW, is there any danger that I'm going to run into Windows 8.1 licensing issues?  Will I need to activate the new tablet?
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by:Rob G
ID: 40474290
Your license should be good.. You might need to re-activate it, but i would imagine if you called microsoft after your recover, they should just give you what you need..

You shouldn't run into any issues when you recover..
""""Unless""" you have different hardware, somewhere in the new surface, then you can have issues with recovery due to drivers.. But a recovery disk, and drivers disk should solve that..
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 40474363
Acronis is a good product and should work fine for you, although I now prefer Casper for cloning (haven't tried its imaging yet). I did a 5-minute EE video Micro Tutorial on Cloning a Hard Drive with Casper, but if you're happy with Acronis, there's no reason to switch.

Activation shouldn't be a problem, but I was on a really interesting thread here at EE earlier this year where cloning (not imaging, although the same can likely be said for imaging) with some software caused Windows not to be activated, while cloning with Casper retained the activation. This may be one of those YMMV situations, so I'm simply mentioning it to you as a heads-up. Regards, Joe
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by:Rob G
ID: 40474375
Joe,
I caught that thread too "Activation shouldn't be a problem, but I was on a really interesting thread here at EE earlier this year where cloning (not imaging, although the same can likely be said for imaging) with some software caused Windows not to be activated,"

It is really interesting how that happened..
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Author Comment

by:madcityguy
ID: 40483584
Just a note that my replacement Surface Pro 2 arrived and I'm going to begin trying to recover.  Based on the suggestions I purchased a copy of Casper - new I need to figure out whether to restore just the C: drive (Windows partition) or the entire copied drive with all of the partitions.
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Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 500 total points
ID: 40484189
I think the whole drive is the way to go. I've occasionally done a single partition for a particular situation, but nearly of my Casper clones have been for the entire drive and it has worked out well. In this case, you want to restore the status of one computer (with failing hardware) to a new computer (with, hopefully, good hardware), and I don't see any reason not to clone the entire drive (with the caveat, as stated earlier, that you should have a clone of the new machine in case something goes awry), Regards, Joe
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Author Comment

by:madcityguy
ID: 40487682
Joe's suggestions and information were priceless.  Based on Joe's information I purchased a license for Casper (actually a family three-pack).  I backed up my original Surface Pro 2's hard drive and tried restoring just the Windows C: drive; everything looked fine except that I couldn't get my Bluetooth mouse to pair and I couldn't get my Surface pen to work.  I then restored the whole drive (all partitions) and everything worked fine.  I've had to reactivate a few pieces of software but generally no problems.

Thanks, Joe!
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Author Closing Comment

by:madcityguy
ID: 40487684
Really helpful information from Joe.
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Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 40487844
Great news! Thanks for posting what worked for you. Thanks, too, for the kind words — I really appreciate hearing them. I'm very glad that the new Surface Pro 2 is up-and-running — and hope that the hardware doesn't develop any problems this time. Regards, Joe
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