Monday, September 18, 2006

Migrating Windows XP 64 to a new drive

Due to budget constraints when I built my new computer I used the old 60GB EIDE drive I had. Recently I upgraded to a new 320GB Seagate ST3320620AS SATA2 drive. This is pretty state of the art and uses perpendicular storage technology. Previously whenever I have done anything like this I just reinstalled OS and all the software, then migrated over all the data. The last time it took me a few days to get everything working properly but I decided that since this was a newly built PC I could save myself some time and frustration by just moving everything from the old drive to the new one. I've never done this on a home computer before, or on a 64-bit OS, and it proved to be more difficult than I would have thought.

I use Ghost all the time at work, so I brought home some Ghost floppy disks. Then I realized I don't have a floppy drive in my case. No problem, I thought, I'll just open the case and connect a floppy drive to the motherboard. After rounding up the drive and cable and cracking open the case I realized my power supply doesn't even have a floppy drive power connector! Okay, so I'll go old school and boot from a CD, do a diskcopy, then update the partition tables. I couldn't get Nero 7 Ultra Edition to include extra files on a bootable CD, so no joy there. Many CD coasters, numerous software downloads and lots of Google searching later I stumbled across Acronis True Image Home.

I installed the 15 day trial version of True Image Home and ran the drive migration wizard. It was simply a matter of selecting my old drive, selecting the new one, and clicking OK. It automatically adjusted the boot partition on the new drive to take up the entire newer drive but you can do manual adjustments if you choose. You can also choose what you want it to do with the old drive. You can leave it alone, which is what I did, or have it repartition it for you.

After going through the wizard the computer rebooted, displayed the Windows XP boot screen, then started the migration in a strange CLI-looking window
. I wandered off and about half an hour later when I came back the computer was shut down. I tried turning it on and it would just shut back off. Before I started I wondered what would happen since my EIDE drive still thought it was the boot drive and now the new SATA drive also had the same idea. With the computer off I opened the case, disconnected the old EIDE drive, started the computer and it booted from the SATA drive!

I'm one of those bad, bad people who don't do backups of my home computer so I don't have a need for Acronis True Image Home. If I did do backups, though, this is the product I would use. I do highly recommend it for doing migrations. It was incredibly simple considering everything else I tried. It all runs directly from the hard drive so you don't have to worry about making floppies or burning CD's, and other than the boot drive confusion it was pretty much idiot proof.

I also highly recommend the Seagate ST3320620AS drive. Be aware that it comes set up for SATA1 by default and you have to remove a tiny and difficult to reach jumper to enable SATA2. This is shown on a sticker on the top of the drive, but looking at the label is akin to reading instructions and who does that? The drive is amazingly fast and is the quietest drive I've ever worked with. Even running a defrag it's barely audible. I chose the Antec Aria case because is is extremely quiet and now that my hard drive is nearly silent I'm a very happy camper.

[Note that Acronis also offers Migrate Easy. Be aware that it does not support XP64. If you install Migrate Easy on a 32-bit OS it you can create a bootable CD, but you cannot do a disk to disk migration using the trial version's bootable CD. The full version does support that, and will allow you to migrate XP 64. Since I didn't have a 32-bit OS to install on I used the trial version of True Image Home instead.]


  1. Regarding no plug for the floppy drive:
    If you still had your old machine, plug the power cable from the old machine into the floppy drive, then the data cable into the new machine ...

  2. That's a great idea I hadn't thought of. Unfortunately I had already gotten rid of my old PC, though. :)

  3. Thank you so much for posting this! I just did the exact same thing - put a 160GB SATA drive in the primary machine, replacing the old 60GB ATA. Then I put the 60GB ATA in the secondary machine replacing a 6GB (yes, 6GB) ATA drive.

    Once I figured out that I needed to go to disk management, instead of doing a backup, it was a piece of cake!

    I've got one question though, I'd like to use the 6GB drive as an internal backup for some of the critical files, but the machine won't boot with both drives, as you discovered. How do I make the 6GB drive non-bootable? Any thoughts?


  4. FreeMan, what I did was make the old IDE drive a slave of my CD-ROM. My new drive was SATA so it picked that up as the primary boot device.

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