Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

While moving Windows from one hard drive to another is theoretically possible, it's likely to have issues and is not recommended.

I added a larger hard drive to my PC (now I have 2). I also upgraded from XP Home to XP Pro. But the Home is on the original drive and the Pro is on the new drive. I don't know how this happened this way. Is there anyway to get the Pro version off the new drive and over to the original drive without having to reformat the drives?

My first concern would be why the situation arose in the first place. There are approaches to moving the operating system, but my advice is not to.

When you add a hard drive, it's usually designated in the BIOS as primary or secondary. Primary is of course, the boot drive, and is where Windows expects to be installed. Typically when you install a second drive it will be the secondary, and not participate in the boot process at all.

If your new drive had been installed as primary by mistake, I would have expected your first reboot thereafter to fail, because the new drive would not have an operating system on it. Unless, perhaps, your BIOS is smart enough to check all drives.

When you install Windows, it will also present you with an opportunity to upgrade in existing installation or set up a new one. In the latter case, you could certainly have selected the new drive.

But the bottom line is that why it installed on the new drive may impact the success of the suggestions to follow.

Moving an existing installation of Windows is theoretically possible, but I would consider it risky. I'd expect it would be easy for many things to go wrong, putting you back where you started, or worse.

So the ultimate answer to your question is no, I would not recommend attempting to move the operating system.

In your shoes I would try one thing: swapping the hard drives. I started by pointing out that the drives are primary and secondary, and it's apparently installed the new operating system on the wrong drive. Make that drive the primary, and see if that results in what you want. Exactly how to do this will vary on your motherboard, your bios, and your drive types. And ultimately, it may not work. Depending on the exact configuration you ended up with, I can think of several issues that might invalidate this attempt.

That brings me to what I'd expect to be required: reinstall. Or rather, re-upgrade, making sure that the upgrade happens to the drive you expect. I might even go so far as to remove the second drive, perform the upgrade, make sure it's all working and then re-install the new drive, and make sure that you're still booting form the old one with the properly upgraded operating system.

Article C2183 - September 8, 2004 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

63 Comments
Chastity Benefits
September 15, 2004 5:14 AM

An option not considered before the switch would have been to 'Ghost' the image of your small disk onto your new larger disk. Then physically switch your big drive to the the active boot disk and wipe the small drive (and use it for your page file).

pam aka nonee
November 6, 2004 8:28 AM

i'm just a mom with a laptop that has a c and d drive. the c drive is full and the d drive is empty. is there any way to move stuff over without screwing up my machine. i am waiting for a liver transplant and bedridden most of the time, so this machine is my life line.
i have a nice dvd copy program but i can't run it because it says there is not enough free space on the disk, yet the other one is empty. :0
thanks. i love you computer nerds. i am learning all the time.... xo

Karl Russell
December 8, 2004 12:11 PM

I have run into the same situation (basically). I am upgrading from a small primary hard drive with a large secondary which has become full. Now I need to transfer the operating system Windows 98 to a larger hard drive to use as the primary and not loose all of the files that are currently on the "C" drive (Primary). I can remove the drive from the secondary and install my new large drive but now how do you transfer operating system to the new drive so I can scrap the old hard drive then reinstall my old large drive with all of my working files?

Alex
December 8, 2004 2:03 PM

I have similar issue as above comments and have read them.

Have a question? Re: "'Ghost' the image of your small disk onto your new larger disk. Then physically switch your big drive to the the active boot disk and wipe the small drive (and use it for your page file).
HOW TO PERFORM THIS "GHOST" FUNCTION?

Thank You.

Jon
January 23, 2005 12:51 PM

All major hard drive manufacturers (Maxtor, Seagate, Western Digital, etc.)provide a free download program at their website to move all content (programs and files) from one hard drive to another. Check the make of HDD you have and download from the appropriate mfgr.
I used DiscWizard from Seagate to transfer everything from Maxtor 20Gb to Seagate 120Gb, partition C, 50Gb.

April
February 16, 2005 3:54 PM

I have a similar issue. Recently upgraded to 80 gig the tech partitioned to C and D drives making C smaller Now everything I install will not allow me to add it to D so it is all on C Is there a way WITHOUT reformatting or losing what I have installed already to make C bigger and leaving D smaller.
I prefer a free program is possible or one with a trial as I can not really afford to buy more after spending that 220 I just spent
THANKS for any help anyone can provide
It is a Samsung Hard drive if that helps by the way The machine is running XP with SP1 have not added SP2 yet as I hate to keep adding If in the end a reformatting is what will have to happen
THANKS
April

kordian
April 5, 2005 10:09 PM

Not a single piece of advice placed here works! I used Seagate software to Ghost, and physically swapped drives, and it DOESN'T work because the WINDOWS dir is in use while backing up. You must first remove your C: and copy to a different hard drive on a second PC.

Also it seems like nobody here understands the need to copy an operating system. Ghosting takes half hour, reinstalling everything from scratch may take 20 hours. At $50/hr that's a big reason - that is if the user values his time in any way. Obviously nobody does on this page.

Louis
April 7, 2005 12:15 PM

Yes, you can.
Use Norton Ghost 9.0

Roberto
April 22, 2005 4:24 PM

I had the exact same problem (1 disk, 2 partitions, the system primary partition, drive C was nearly full). I moved the pagefile.sys out to the larger drive D. You need to use Control Panel > System > Advanced > Performance. Click on Settings, then on the Advanced Tab. Click on the Change button at the bottom. Select No paging file on C:, select the larger drive and recreate the paging file with 574MB or more. That gave me plenty of room for now.

Rory
April 28, 2005 12:37 AM

lol im 12 so bear with me...Ive got two drives c: and D: my D has 1 gig..lol and my c 26...my d is my home drive and it has no space left. everytime i try to install to c instead of D it tells me tht C is full and its has 10 gig left.can anyone help me

Jason
June 23, 2005 5:47 AM

I think the best way to do this is to boot from a linux cd (make sure all the utilities you need are on it) and then use DD to tranfer the drive to one to the other. It should work =)

http://www.rajeevnet.com/hacks_hints/os_clone/os_cloning.html

iceman
June 23, 2005 11:15 AM

Here's an issue I've never seen addressed and I don't know if it's possible. I have a computer running NT 4.0. Bought a new Dell with XP Professional. I need to get software from the NT 4.0 machine to the XP Professional machine so that it'll function. Here's the dilemma. I don't have the installation discs that originally came with the software. There is no way to get the installation discs that came with the software. Is there any way to get this program on to the XP Professional Machine without cloning the old drive and doing an upgrade? I sincerely hope so.

Thank you for you help.

Leo
June 24, 2005 8:58 AM

There's no single answer - it's going to depend entirely on the programs themselves. Some will work just by copying whatever you find under their directory in "c;\program files" to the same location on the other machine. Many will not work because they really REALLY require that their setup program be run to initialize their settings in the system registry and elsewhere. So if you don't have the setup disks for those you'll be kinda screwed.

Snug
August 24, 2005 7:52 PM

Does anybody know how to copy a WinXP NTFS Primary Partition to a WinXP Dynamic Raid 1 partition? Note: all the utility programs I've come across (eg Partition Magic) fail to work with Dynamic Volumes!

Leo
August 26, 2005 7:56 PM

I would simply mount both drives and xcopy the contents across myself. Is there something preventing you from doing that?

rob tillaart
September 1, 2005 11:12 PM

Hi,

I have done it yesterday with Win XP SP2, so it's possible but it took me ~20 hours to find out why just cloning the partition didn't work correctly. The recipe below did work for my PC and I expect it will work for others too but use it at your own risk :)
If reinstalling the OS from scratch is a valid option for you do that instead of cloning as you get rid of unused files/programs/accounts.

steps taken:
0) Backup all relevant data (user accounts)
1) Add second disk with a partition for windows. 2) Make the disk basic primary and bootable
3) Make the partition active.
4) Format the partition (alloc bad sectors)
- do NOT assign a drive letter
- do NOT label it
5) Clone the windows partition to the new disk
6) Remove both disks
7) Make 2nd disk the master, 1st disk slave
8) Put disks back (I had to switch them as I poked my bios settings too much)
9) Reboot, the new disk is now the windows disk
[optionally you need to patch boot.ini]

So far as tested all applications run well.


Most important 'learning' steps:
Biggest error was assigning of a drive letter to the new partition on the 2nd disk. In one of the first tries I rebooted with only the second disk,
no succes.
Tried to fix it by adding the first disk (patched nboot.ini so I could boot from the second disk)and rebooted again. XP started and I logged on. The process explorer from www.sysinternals.com (great tools) showed me that XP was running from disk F: but part of the processes/services we started from the original C: disk. Explained a lot!

Rebooted with only the new disk and tried to repair the partition with help of the original XP boot CD. This improves things a lot but not enough, the drive was still F: and none of the installed programms had the right path not to mention the registry :)
I understood the problem now, the 2nd disk must be assigned C: so I put in the 1st disk again and booted, formatted again but I was unable to assign it the letter C: as this was in use allready and the system drive letter could not be removed or changed. This left me the only choice to delete the driveletter completely and let the OS assign it automatically at boottime. And then it started to work again (finally).

So far my 2 cents,
rob

Chello
October 20, 2005 12:12 PM

I appear to have a similar problem. My PC is running really slow - i have done everything possible (in my capabilities) to remedy this by removing programs i dont use a lot, getting rid of my strange named things (cant remember what they are called :/) in my windows file and turned off system restore. However, I do have 2 hard drives and would want to move everything from my normal c: drive to my d: as that drive has a vast amount of space. Is this something that i can do, like just moving files without the aid of norton ghost 9.0? (my pc doesnt seem to like it). I am kinda hoping that this can be remedied simply as i am not technically minded.

Leo
October 20, 2005 9:03 PM

In your shoes I would probably copy all of C: to a subdirectory on D:, and then reformat C: and reinstall Windows on C:.

"Moving" WIndows to the second drive in order to boot from that drive, while preserving everything already on that drive also, will likely not work.

Tony
October 23, 2005 10:49 PM

Well, Ive come across, (after manyhours of attempting to derive a way to move my copy of windows XP home to a newer pc, and also on a different hard drive) a way to succede and get the disk to auctually boot. First, Ill address the problem. XP wouldnt boot on the new pc, using the new harddrive, or the old one for that matter. OK now heres what I did, I found a program called Casper XP, great utility to copy a hdd or create partitions and such. I used that on the old pc to copy the old hdd to the new hdd by connecting the new hdd as a slave. After i copied it, I tested it on the old pc, it worked fine. But when i switched it to the new pc, it wouldnt boot. Scratched my head for bout 4 hours and finally thought "well, the pc aint booting most likly cause the motherboard dont recognize or cant find the right drivers" so, I hooked the new hdd back to the old pc, booted it, went to device manager and deleted all of the system componets. Thus the new pc wouldnt try to load them, it would use the default settings and bios of the new machine. I hooked it up and EUREKA ! it worked!

Tony
October 23, 2005 10:52 PM

Not too bad for a 16 year old, considering i asked 3 or 4 people that consider themselves pros in the computer field and also searched all over the net to try to find a solution. I hope that this helps someone, Thanks Tony

roscojones
November 25, 2005 2:19 PM

Thanks for the Casper XP tip.
Just what I was looking for.

E
December 16, 2005 1:16 PM

i remember copying contents of 1 drive to another back in 98 wasn't too hard. copy everything except Windows dir, then make a Windows dir on the 2nd hdd and copy everything in the Windows dir over except the swap file. sys the new drive, shut down, change the master/slave settings, and boot on up.

it's probably equally simple for win2k/winxp, but 'm not sure which files are "unmovable". ntuser.dat in the Documents & Settings dir seems to be one of 'em... anyone got a list?

Hip2u
December 19, 2005 1:55 AM

Simply use the software from the manufacture. It does work. I've tried them all.

Or, since I'm bored and tired, I'll explain the way I do it using Ghost and partition magic. This is going to be extrememly long winded. Sorry in advance.

Ok, Say you have a 80Gb in your system now, with 3 partitons. The first is the boot partition, the other 2 are just storage, and you want to move everything to a new 200Gb. Use Norton Ghost 2003.


Just install the new HD as a slave. Boot with a Ghost Boot Floppy, or CD, select "Local," then "Disk," then "To Disk."

Choose the old hard drive as the source, the new hard drive as the target, and it will copy the full disk, creating 3 partitions, onto the new drive. The last partition will have the extra 120Gb. Then just pull the old drive, install the new HD as the Master and reboot into the bios. Have it identify the new HD, reboot again and your done.

You can then use Partition Magic 8.0 to resize the partitions to best suite you.


On the other hand, say you have some data on the 200Gb already that you don't want to lose.

Here's a way to do that.

We'll say the 80gb is full, once again with 3 partitions. First, see how big the C: drive is on the old HD.

Then, use Partition Magic to create a partition 10Gb bigger (just to be safe) than the old C: drive, BEFORE the one that's on there now.

All your data should now be in the second partition, with an unused partition at the start of the drive. Use Windows to format the new partition. (right click on it from explorer and choose format. You might have turn off the recyle bin / or norton protection if you have SystemWorks installed.)

Once again, boot from Ghost, but this time choose "Local", then "Partiton", then "To Partiton" and it will show both HD's. Choose the 80gb. Then it will show all 3 partitons on the old hard drive. Choose #1, then point it to the SECOND hard drive, then the #1 partition on that drive. Remember to check the sizes to be sure you're selecting the right partitions / drives.

It will then copy the boot partition to the new HD. Once it's complete, power off and swap the drives. IE. Move the old one to slave, and the new one to master. (Don't worry about the old OS still being on the old drive.)

Make sure you go into the bios and have it find both drives again.

Now, once you reboot a couple times you'll have the new 200Gb as the master, with all your data that you wanted to keep still in a partiton on it, and you'll also see all 3 partitions from the old drive. Either leave it there as storage, or if you want to remove it, just copy everything you want to keep to the new hard drive. Then power down and remove it.

Also, if you followed this you now own Ghost. The next time you do a fresh install, or system restore for a OEM computer, go ahead and setup your email, install the programs you use on a normal basis. IE Winzip, Winamp, Office, or whatever and don't forget to do all windows / software updates. Once you've done that use Ghost to create an "image" of your Boot partiton.

Boot from Ghost, select Local, then partition, then "To image" and point it at the first HD as the source, and at the first partition.

Then select the SECOND partition, or the old HD as the target. Give it a name, and it will then create a full image of your boot partition. So, the next time you get a virus, or have to do a fresh install just boot from Ghost, choose Local, then Partiton, then "FROM image." Point it to the first partition on the main HD, and then to the image file and less than an hour later your fully up and running again, with everything installed, updated, etc. No more 8 hour nights reinstalling everything.

Anyway, Sorry for the grammar errors. It's way too late, and I'm way to tired to care about them. I might have a few steps mixed up but it's really easy to figure out. Just remember Disk = the full hard drive, and partition = just that... a single partition.

Sean
February 19, 2006 12:46 AM

well sysprep made my endevor a lot easier
and then its as simple as editing the boot.ini file to direct it to the folder containing the "ntldr" file usualy \windows

this is my boo.ini file

[boot loader]
timeout=0
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn

to acces yours go to run type the letter of ur active partition then boot.ini like this "e:\boot.ini"

wayne
February 24, 2006 11:08 PM

Hmm... I appreciate all your posts; very informative. However, my problem is that my old computer's motherboard fried, and I'm trying to get the old information from my old computer to my new computer. The old computer's HD has Windows XP Home installed, and the new is Windows XP Pro.
This is what I'm planning on doing.
1) connect old hd as slave to new computer.
2) hope and pray that my new computer recognizes it and can sneek into the HD to take the old information that I need.
3) remove said old hd, and install my old storage 80gb hd as the new slave (as it was in my old system), and keep my music, pictures, etc.
4) did I mention pray??
I can't clone the old HD, because the system is now dead.
Any guidance/help is appreciated!

Leo
February 24, 2006 11:23 PM

Well, your plan sounds sound to me. (Especially step #4 :-).

Good luck!

Karl
March 4, 2006 4:26 AM

Wayne, you shouldn't have any problems at all. If you are now using a store brand computer (Dell, HP, Gateway) then your bios is already configured to boot from the drive that the system came preloaded on. This means, when you plug in your old computer's system drive as a slave drive, your computer will boot fine. Your bios may say that it has detected multiple Operating Systems. Don't worry, let it time out and boot to default. Once booted, you should be able to get whatever you need from your old drive, assuming nothing was wrong with the drive in the first place.

Anyways, I hope this helps.

victor rodriguez
April 11, 2006 12:51 PM

OK THIS IS MY PROBLEM I HAVE A LOCAL DISK(C) AND LOCAL DISK(D) AND MY DRIVE (C) DON'T HAVE MORE MEMORY (SPACE) AND I WANT TO KNOW HOW CAN I DO.. ALSO I WANT TO KNOW HOW CAN I PUT THE LOCAL DISK(D) HAS LIKE THE (C) DRIVE.

Anton
April 16, 2006 2:22 PM

It is not enough to do the partition copy. You also have to remap the drive letters. Windows XP/2003 assignes drives by name. you have to go to "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices" and swap assignments from old drive to new one.
It IS DANGEROUS.
Best way is:
1) Save registry key
2) remap letters in registry (not only the "\DosDevices\", but the appropriate volumes, and the system drive.
3) Do system Backup.
4) replace SYSTEM hive on the new drive, with the one generated in "repair" folder.
5) restore registry key, so machine works.
6) shut down
7) swap physical drives
8) reboot.
- should work now. I did it 3 times.

PGT
May 6, 2006 5:11 PM

If Partition Magic, Norton Ghost or the HDD manufacturers programs dont work for you, try
[Acronis TrueImage 9].

I tried all of the above including most of the solutions already listed here to move Windows XP Pro from a 30Gb Quantum to a 160GB Western Digital with no success. Here's what happened and why I think TrueImage worked.

I started with Partition Magic, fantastic ap for joining, spliting and resizing partitions, as far as copying went i was left with blank partitions constantly so no joy there.

Next I tried Norton Ghost (Many, many tries). Whil norton would clone the drive, when I rebooted to the new, larger drive, windows would begin booting but would crash during the pale blue loading screen. After a lot of mucking around I booted back to the old hard drive and used the system explorer program that RobTillaart mentioned. Windows had become VERY confused and was running processes of the windows directory on both hard drives! After my second clone it must have transfered this to the new drive too. Eventually I figured out that the problem was assignment of the drive letter C: . I tried numerous ways to fix it, reassigned C to the new HDD before cloning and rebooting, still no joy.

After nearly tearing my hair out I decided to try another cloning program and came across TrueImage. It did the clone after rebooting windows on the old drive and just after it completed I noticed a line which said 'Reassigning Drive Letters'. I then unplugged the old HDD, booted to the new, and Viola! It worked. I'm not sure what TrueImage does but im assuming it reassigns the drive in the registry of the new version of windows before you reboot to it.

Either way, Im a very happy man now. If nothing else works for you, I'd strongly recommend giving

Acronis TrueImage 9

a try.

Good Luck.

Clement
September 11, 2006 1:18 AM

Hi, Leo

my question that can you move applications from pc to onother, without re-installing them.

Leo Notenboom
September 11, 2006 12:05 PM

It varies dramatically based on the application. By far the best approach is to reinstall.

FRED
September 19, 2006 4:50 PM

can i move a working master hd with xp, to a new pc and use it as a master?

don
December 4, 2006 9:15 AM

I had to replace my boot drive in my PC. For some reason after loading the OS, it is showing up as drive I instead of C. The system sees a memory card reader as drive C. How do I change this? The boot drive is configured as the Master.

ian
August 12, 2007 5:15 AM

howzit my name is ian ,i want know to can i move or copy my windows xp to another drive that is currently a slave driver cause the main one is only a 20gb and the slave driver is 160gb and there's not much space on the 20gb left

Christian Knudsen
August 29, 2007 11:58 AM

Ok - I've read through the article and comments, and am still somewhat confused.

Here is my situation. I have 2 physical drives, a 6 GB drive that is the primary (C:) drive, and which has Win XP on it. The 2nd is a 80 GB that is the slave, and is partitioned into 2 sections (D: [50GB] and E: [30GB]). Several months ago, in order to save space, I changed my windows documents/temp folders to the E: drive. This has worked well.

6 GB is not enough to house Win XP any longer, though. I recently replaced the MB/Proc/memory, and ended up (for some reason) having to reinstall Windows, again onto C:, and this is proving problematic to upgrade properly for lack of space - I have basically trimmed all non-essential files, and still am short.

So I want to move my OS onto the D: drive, but without really losing any info on any drive, as restoring backups is painful. I do not really want to change the partition scheme on the big drive unless I really have to, and/or it makes a LOT of sense to do so. What is the best course of action? I am to the point of considering buying a new (bigger) hard drive and just doing a clean install on to it, then manually transferring other files to it from the 6 GB, which will then be a F: drive, or just go in the bin. The down side to this is that my wife will kill me if I spend another penny on the computer...

Any ideas?

mel kurchal
September 3, 2007 5:40 PM

My hd is fried and wont boot to it. Error message
says it cant find it.
Can I install windows to an external hd after I change the boot order?

thanks Leo

Jopower
September 29, 2007 4:13 PM

Concerning the original question, I found this:

From: http://www.futurehardware.in/63575.htm

Moving Win XP to new drive problem. Note more >>>'s mean older parts of thread.

[Copyrighted Material Removed, See Website Link]

Jopower
September 29, 2007 4:19 PM

2nd post on this subject from me:

From: http://windows.ittoolbox.com/documents/popular-q-and-a/moving-windows-xp-to-a-new-hard-disk-2263

[Copyrighted Material Removed, See Website Link]

bijith
December 5, 2007 10:49 PM

How do I move the pagefile.sys off c: to another drive

Patrick Bouster
January 18, 2008 3:28 AM

Hi,

I've done that many times with NT, 2000 and XP:
Boot on an other system than the one to copy otherwise some files cannot be copied (registries).
Copy system directory to new location including on other drive.
Edit boot.ini file to make an option to boot to the new directory.
Boot into the new system.
Set the drives letters like you want then reboot.
Edit the registry to replace every occurrence of old paths by the new ones. Repeat until no more is left.
Reboot. Now the older system should no longer be used. Backup the original system to be careful.
If you want , delete it. Reboot. Now you'll know if it's allright or not. Check system logs.

I can't remember of a problem arising after that method was applied and I've used it many times. But it can always happen with peculiar applications. Some Unix-fashioned applications may require you to edit their config files to substitute some paths. Anyway this is not a Windows issue.

As far as the aforementioned Windows are concerned, this method is reliable..

This explanation is given to the best of my knowledge but I don't give ANY garanty or liability about it and the one who uses this method is supposed to be knowledgeable in IT, understand that he may lose data, and assume his decision to try it.

Patrick Bouster

joggen g
March 9, 2008 11:15 PM

hi, i have a very small 8 gig hard drive running as the main c drive with windows xp in it. i also have a 250 gig drive installed with a lot of stuff saved onto it. the c drive is very low on space and requires me to clean it up often after using the internet. how do i change the new 250 gig drive into the main drive for the computer for temorary internet files to save in and also so that i can have enough space to install macromedia studio?

ByteGuy
May 4, 2008 3:15 PM

My Win XP Pro 64 bit is on the only hard drive and it's labeled J:.
I have tried changing the drive letter to c: but it won't let me.
I was wondering if I install another hard drive and give it the c: drive letter,
and move Win XP to the c:drive from the j: drive, will it work and boot the computer?

Sherry Jolly
May 14, 2008 8:55 PM

Leo,
I added a 2nd hard drive for more space. My original drive is almost full and I am unsure of how to move files to the new drive. I'm not a computer Guru so is there a simple way to move like music files, for instance, to the new drive and if so, what will need to be changed or reset to be able to access them on the new drive. I'm very illiterate about how this works. It's a Dell PC. I know if I download anything new I need to choose the new drive to put it on, but don't know how to get to these files if I do that, especially my music. Can you help me?

Thanks for your time.

Sherry

kk
October 4, 2008 12:12 AM

Hi Leo,
I have done my own research and have been able to "transplant" windows from one pc to the other without reinstalling. VMware uses the same trick for p2v conversion.
The trick is to somehow grab windows folder and copy it to the other machine and set boot.ini setting in boot file there.
I use sysinternals utility, but you can use bart pe, windows pe.
first somehow make driver backup of the source machine using driver backup utility.
then make a copy of windows folder using file sync or cd based booting such as bart pe.
if you make copy of windows while running windows using utility such as filesync, u cannot copy registry files. in that case copy registry file from the repair folder. to main system32\config folder
once you have system folder ready copy it to usb pen drive. also copy boot.ini to pen drive.
insert pen drive in target machine
now go to target machine, boot using boot cd such as bart pe, format the drive and make partition active, copy windows folder and boot.ini to the partition.
now remove the cd and try to boot the machine, chances are that it will boot, if it does not boot that means your storage controller in target machine is different. in that case you need to edit registry file for different storage controller, there are two types of storage controllers so there is 50% chance that u will not need to do this. There is an msdn article on this issue, i can send it later.
now when it boots it will not find documents and settings folder, it will complain but will creates them.
alternately you can copy documents and settings folder too.
later you can copy display, network and sound driver should the hardware be different.

Sersoft
October 8, 2008 11:02 PM

It's possible to move a windows installation onto another drive and boot off the copied version, but not in your case, because you're obviously still booting off your old drive, then the bootloader is set up to load windows the files from the new hard drive. I've been in this situation before and it can be very frustrating.

But if you're reading this and only have one hard drive with windows on it, then read on.

I have copied my windows installation before, it's not that hard to do. You might need to delete some entries from the registry to avoid problems, but that's it.

Then you just use your favorite hard drive cloning tool (I used the partitionmagic recovery floppy, it boots from DOS and has no problem copying an NTFS partition from one drive to another along with the boot sector).

christopher
October 21, 2008 7:28 PM

I would suggest that you use the norton ghost software.. It will surely solve your problem... It doesn't matter if you transfer all files to a bigger hard drive or a smaller hard drive. As long as the data fits in the drive, it will work... Good Luck!

Eric
October 25, 2008 3:00 PM

I don't think Leo really answered the question. Instead, he said don't do it.

Sometimes, it just needs to be done. I need to do it now. Here's my peculiar problem:

I had a BDC that had to have the Win2K Server OS reinstalled. Unfortunately, we reinstalled the BDC, we installed the OS on a 8GB hard drive that's 6 years old. Ooops.

Leo's solution would be to install the BDC on the correct hard drive and re-do everything. The problem here is that the BDC is not on the same local network as the PDC which means that we'd have to physically move the server to the location of the PDC this means loads of money and time.

Enter Norton Ghost... Norton Ghost will accomplish the task for us moving the Win2K server to the 80 GB hard drive, but alas it costs $ 70 + tax. IS there another solution?

I think so. I just can't find it from Leo because he's too busy telling us not to put ourselves in this situation. Your right Leo. We shouldn't have been here. But we are. Now we are looking for a solution to get out of the problem without having to buy Norton Ghost. So instead of just telling us no, how about offering us some real solutions?

Larry
December 14, 2008 10:35 PM

i just got a new motherboard. i would like to no how to add a hard drive that allready has windows XP on it with out haveing to Reinstall there not the same brand board but thay are boath PC's iv ben wondering how to do this for a long time an would help me out a lot thanks

Richard
December 25, 2008 12:10 AM

I have a 300gig hard drive with xp pro Ran great for 3yrs not troubles. Then installed explorer 8 beta goes to reboot and from then on I could no longer get it to boot to windows I tried every option under F8 and got it to boot to safe mode command prompt So I tried to do a system restore from command prompt C:\windows\system32\restore\rstrui hit enter & nothing happened. So tried the xp cd to do a repair windows install that didnt work so Her's what I did I changed jumper on 300gig hd to slave and used same xp pro cd and installed windows on a 60 gig hd in hopes I could somehow now be able to transfer/replace/repair the windows on my 300gig hd so it will boot up again then I can do a system restore and get it back to how it was b4 became unbootable. or leave it as is If I can get it bootable again. Like I said for 3yrs never had any serious problems that system restore never corrected. I have so many programs installed aswell as links and info that would be hard if not impossible to retrieve like activation codes usernames & passwords to sites saved in my favorites where user name and PW were remembered for them Not to mention all the programs that were current with drivers/codecs etc.. only some will run correctly now that the drive is slaved so please in Step by step instructions can some one help me and tell me exactly what files I need to transfer/replace etc.. on my old primary 300gig hd where windows became unbootable which is now slaved to a 60gig hd with exact same xp pro installed on it. So I can unslave it and be able to boot to windows again. Or would this be easier now that I can access my Old main HD now that its slaved isnt there a folder/files or backup that I could just copy n paste edit/replace then unslave my hd make it master again would be able to boot back up like normal? If so please help with which files/directories/folders and step by step on how to. Thank you in advance for your generousity and for sharing your knowlege,help,time spent aiding me with this problem

ppwok
February 26, 2009 1:42 AM

Eric - 25 Oct 2008 - $70 + tax versus moving an entire server between locations!
I hope in the end you paid the money and bought the software!

Fred Steffens
April 1, 2009 7:24 AM

I would like 2 know how to move my music from my 'c' drive to my 'g' drive in the same pc & still keep all my ratings. playlists.

Bob
April 15, 2009 11:52 AM

I have a Seagate Barracuda ATA V hard drive which I removed from a discarded PC. Besides having Windows XP Pro installed on it this HD contains some important files I would very much like to recover if possible. First of all, can I installl this HD on my new PC (a Core 2 with MS XP PRO) as a second HD and directly access those files? I am familiar with installing a second HD in the bay and hooking up the cables but from there on I sure could use some advice on getting this to work for me. Thanks for any help you can provide.

Yes, you should be able to install the drive as a 2nd, and copy data off of it.
- Leo
16-Apr-2009

Nahdogg
April 20, 2009 7:56 PM

There is a DOS utility that will clone a drive for you (clone the old one onto the new one) then you can wipe the old one and use it for storage. The comand is something like d:f *.* FKHR or something like that...been about 8 years since I needed to use it.

David
April 28, 2009 6:34 PM

No need to use DOS utilities - DOS frightens most people these days and if you're at the level of not being sure how to clone a hard drive, I'd respectfully suggest you wouldn't be able to handle a DOS (no graphical user interface) application.
I don't know about every manufacturer but Seagate have a wonderful FREE cloning tool on their website called DiscWizard - it's literally foolproof and actually works.
Also on their website check this article http://tinyurl.com/c5cp23.
It's all pretty safe and easy if you follow the instructions.

yonyc
May 2, 2009 3:06 AM

ok iv got a dell intel mini, with only 8GB, and an external Seagate HD 1TB. i would like to make the external HD as my main partition (C:) boot drive because.. well it has alot more space, should i just install XP OS on the external drive and change the letter? or is there somthing else i need to do?

anthony
July 2, 2009 3:32 AM

I have a "c" and "d" drive. The D drive is where all the computer stuff is that will allow me to take it back to factory settings ect. Unfortunatley I can't gget into it to change the amount of space it needs. The C drive is where all my programs ect are.Te D drive is proected and I havnt figued out how to unprotect it as of yet. Oh I have XP, HP. And HP tells me it is there to protect it from me. lolol
[link removed]

Ray
November 26, 2009 2:07 PM

can i move office 2003 from my old drive(2) to my
new drive (1) These hard drives are master and slave in one computer

Mark
October 13, 2010 5:41 PM

I recommended doing exactly what you want using a cloning utility. What can go wrong is that you don't get exactly what you want and that's why you have a windows installation disk if the easy way fails. As long as your data is backed up, you've lost nothing, but learned from a new experience.

eric flemming
December 23, 2010 8:42 PM

some of us like old os and just want to put them on a bigger hard drive and windows as any other company only interested in selling new stuff and some time don't care about the old guys and what we are happy with.

Jag
April 11, 2011 9:32 PM

I installed Windows Vista (after reformatting the HD)
However, Vista has compatibility problems with some of my software and hardware (Ofcourse Vista thinks otherwise).

These devices and software worked with Windows XP that I had before

Q. How can I have a configuration whereby I can have Windows Vista on the current Primary drive
and also have Windows XP on another
Internal hard drive / External USB Dr /Flash Drive

In other words, I am looking for an additional BOOTABLE drive holding Windows XP (Ofcourse, Only one drive would be up)

Thanks

Rich W
August 24, 2011 2:17 PM

Not a lot of help. My primary drive "C" is starting to fail, I want to transfer everything to a new "D" bigger drive, then replace the failing drive with the new one and scrap the old one. rather than reinstall all the programs, setup links and driver's and get all the updates again.

lapwlover
September 8, 2011 11:01 PM

move Windows 2003 from one hard drive to another is simple.
Trust backup software on the market, such as todo backup ,nova, clonezilla.They are more versatility software. They all can do this. Schedule backup set, incremental backup, differential backup. Personally, I recommend todo backup for price.
It also can provide fast system & files backup, disaster recovery, advanced backup scheduler and one-click to recover system to dissimilar hardware, incremental backup, and differential backup for servers.
http://www.todo-backup.com/backup-resource/universal-restore/migrate-a-server-to-new-hardware.htm

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.