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Cloning a laptop hard drive
August 29, 2008 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Replacing my laptop's hard drive. I think I've almost got it but have some questions about the cloning process.

I'm replacing the 60GB EIDE main hard drive (C: drive) of my 4 year old laptop with Win XP Home. I've got a new 160GB EIDE drive, a 2.5" hard drive enclosure, and was planning on using XXCLONE to get the job done. All has gone well so far - I've connected the new drive to the laptop via the USB enclosure, and formatted it. Here are my questions:

1) When I formatted the new drive (using the Windows disk management tool) it asked me to pick a drive letter. I picked a random letter down the alphabet - H: - so as not to get confused with the other two external USB drives I've got running. If the idea is to make a clone of my C: drive and then take it out of my laptop and install my new drive, will the drive letter matter? Will the OS simply see the new drive as the C: drive even though I named it H: when I formatted it? If not, how do I go about naming the new drive C: while I've still got to clone the actual C: drive?

2) XXCLONE has the option, when cloning, to make the new drive bootable - which is what I would like to do, I assume. It copies the master boot record and all that. Does that mean that no matter the drive letter I assign to the new drive, when i pop it into my laptop, it will just boot from the new drive and everything will be fine?

3) Other cloning programs seem to either create a bootable CD that you then run while the C: drive is cloned. XXCLONE does not do this - it operates in XP. Will that present any problems in terms of not copying EVERY exact OS file? I'd rather not spend the $ on Norton Ghost or the full version of Acronis True Image, hence why I'm using XXCLONE - free.

Thank you for any advice you may have. Much appreciated.
posted by nomad73 to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
1. When you formatted the new drive you assigned a drive letter within Windows. The drive letter is not stored on the new drive - it's purely an assignment used in Windows; if you unplug the enclosure and plug it into another PC, you'll be asked to assign it a drive letter there as well. So yes, the OS should assume that the new drive is C, since that's the default letter for the main disk.

2. Yes, it should boot the drive (I don't know XXCLONE, but I know the drive needs to be bootable to work). Again, the drive letter doesn't matter.

3. There shouldn't be a problem. It's perfectly possible to copy files that are open or being used by the system, so there shouldn't be any issue with running it in XP.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:51 AM on August 29, 2008


Does that mean that no matter the drive letter I assign to the new drive, when i pop it into my laptop, it will just boot from the new drive and everything will be fine?

Why don't you just try it and it see?

Seriously, if your important data is on the 60gb drive you've got nothing to loose by experimenting with the new one...
posted by wfrgms at 7:58 AM on August 29, 2008


The above two comments are exactly what I was going to say, especially le_morte_de_bea_arthur's point #1, and wfrqms's suggestion to just pop it in.
posted by SirStan at 8:25 AM on August 29, 2008


Ive had a lot of bad luck with 'live' copies of discs. I dont know if its the application or windows or the VSS service or what, but for free residential cloning I recommend this application. It boots from CD. No windows involved.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:46 AM on August 29, 2008


Thank you all. Much appreciated. Good to know.

Seriously, if your important data is on the 60gb drive you've got nothing to loose by experimenting with the new one...

Well, I just wanted to be sure. And the whole procedure takes a good bit of time, so I'd like to only have to do it once. Thanks though.

... but for free residential cloning I recommend this application. It boots from CD. No windows involved.

Thanks DDA. I will give that a shot!
posted by nomad73 at 9:05 AM on August 29, 2008


I've had issues using DriveImage XML before when the drive was pre-formatted by the laptop/desktop manufacturer with a boot partition, windows partition and restoration partition.

If you have multiple partitions like this (you can view this by right clicking on my computer, going to manage, then disk management), you may need Acronis True Image. True Image makes a bit by bit copy beautifully and I was able to drop the new drive in place of the old one and it worked exactly like the old one.

If this laptop has had windows running on it for 4 years, I would recommend installing windows fresh onto the new drive and just migrating files over (the Windows File and Settings transfer wizard is decent enough at this, just run it when the old drive is in Windows and put it in c:\temp or something). You'll see tons of extra performance with all the gunk cleaned out of Windows.
posted by ijoyner at 9:06 AM on August 29, 2008


Warning re: fresh Windows installation:

Make sure you can get drivers for your laptop before starting -- especially IDE/motherboard.
posted by catkins at 9:33 AM on August 29, 2008


Update - in case anyone comes across this in the future.

I followed le morte de bea arthur's advice up top and everything worked swimmingly. Using XXCLONE, I cloned my C: drive to the new drive in an enclosure, swapped them out, turned on my laptop and it booted right up. It's been running fine ever since.

Thanks for the advice.

posted by nomad73 at 12:56 PM on September 2, 2008


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