Is it possible to copy a Windows boot partition onto a new SSD HD?
December 26, 2011 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to copy my Windows boot partition (C:) onto the new SSD hard drive I got without needing to reinstall Windows and everything else?

Currently I've got a 1 TB HD that is divided into a 100 GB Windows boot partition (C:) and the rest for everything else (D:). I picked up a 120 GB SSD HD for cheap at a Boxing Day sale and I'd like to basically make it my C: drive instead. However, if possible, I'd like to avoid having to reinstall Windows, every application I've got, etc.

It seems like there should be a way to directly copy everything on C: onto the new drive, remap the drive letters, reboot and it should just work. Of course, whenever you're thinking something "should just work," it probably won't. Is this at all possible, and if so, any pitfalls to watch out for?

I've got Linux live CDs if something like dd the old C: onto the new HD would do the trick.

As a bonus, once the new HD is installed, is it possible to fold the old 100 GB partition back into one larger partition without needing for format the entire old HD?
posted by Nelsormensch to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You should be able to do this. I'd use gparted from a linux live disk to copy the partition over to the SSD. You can then use your Windows install disk to fix the MBR on the SSD to allow it to boot. WIndows and some applications might notice that the disk has changed and ask to be validated again.
posted by DarkForest at 11:57 AM on December 26, 2011

Bonus question: you can probably do this with your Linux live CDs (with gparted, I think, but I'm not positive). If you'd rather do it in Windows, something like Partition Wizard would also work.
posted by box at 12:14 PM on December 26, 2011

There are all sorts of imaging tools to do this. Acronis TrueImage works (among other things it can do) and comes with some brands of hard drives. CloneZilla should also do it.
posted by wierdo at 12:16 PM on December 26, 2011

My brother in law followed this to perfection.
posted by deezil at 12:16 PM on December 26, 2011

Although there are many tools that support cloning of drive content - I personally would always go for a complete clean install.
posted by homodigitalis at 1:13 PM on December 26, 2011

Yes, you can do this, and I just did something very similar (hdd full drive partition to new ssd).

I used a Hirens boot CD with Norton Ghost. I put in my new SSD, booted from the Hirens CD and did a "disk to disk" copy (source: hdd, target: ssd). Turned off machine, removed old HDD, and booted blazingly fast with my SSD - no issues in > 24hours.

There is an option to copy just the partition. You may have to do some additional tweaking in order to force your computer to boot the correct partition if you intended on keeping the HDD.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 3:01 PM on December 26, 2011

Clonezilla should work fine with the above linked instructions. Or, if any drive in your system is a Western Digital drive, you could download and use the Western Digital Data Lifeguard program to copy the boot partition intact.

For the bonus to resize your partition, "Partition Commander" from Avanquest works well and easily. It must be Version 11 for Windows 7, or Version 10 for Vista. Version 9 is fine if you're still on XP and this older version is cheap in sealed boxes on ebay. Avoid the Symantec/Norton product of this type. Freeware things to do this do work but are difficult and work from a "DOS" screen, but Partition Commander leads you through easily step by step and works in Windows.
posted by caclwmr4 at 11:04 PM on December 26, 2011

There may be some freebie cloning apps out there but IMO the best out there is Storagecraft. It's designed for image based incremental backups, but the key to the software is its ability to snapshot a volume and then to dump that volume back down onto dissimilar hardware.

The one big caveat is volume size: you can go from a larger volume to a smaller one, but it's limited, so don't expect to go from a 500gb disk volume/partition to a 120gb disk volume/partition and work.

+1 on avoiding Symantec/Norton. Their software has become utter crap over the years.
posted by tgrundke at 5:24 AM on December 27, 2011

Response by poster: So I got this to work, but it seems there was a complication since I had two partitions on one physical disk and only wanted to clone one partition onto the new SSD. The partition to be copied was easily small enough to fit onto the SSD, so that was not the issue.

I initially tried this guide which uses Clonezilla, but even after the clone and doing all the Windows recovery MBR fixing business, the drive wouldn't boot. Doing the exact same thing with DriveXML worked fine though.

And a Ubuntu live boot with gparted was able to merge the old HD back into one single, sizable partition (although it took like 12 hours to do so). Thanks for pointing me in the right direction everyone =)
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:59 AM on December 30, 2011

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