Copying Data to New Hard Drive

In summary: I have a personal bias towards using Acronis because I have used it in the past and it's worked well for me.
  • #1
Drakkith
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Hey all. I'm getting a new hard drive in tomorrow and I was wondering if there was any software that would copy everything from the old hard drive to the new one without having to re-install windows. Any ideas? (Or other methods of keeping all of my current data and settings in windows on a fresh install?)
 
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  • #2
As long as your new HD is larger capacity than your old HD, you can clone the old HD to the new drive. All of your windows installations, programs, data, etc. will be copied over to the new drive. With additional tools, you can change the size of the partition if you want.

A lot of the major HD manufacturers (Seagate & Western Digital) either ship such tools with their drives, or you can purchase such tools electronically. Acronis is the software used by Seagate & WD; you can use the version of Acronis from those mfgs. which is limited to just cloning an old drive to a new drive, or you can get a version of Acronis which has additional tools to manage disk backup, partitions, and drive health:

http://www.acronis.com/en-us/personal/

Drives are so cheap and Windows is so time-consuming to install and maintain, get two of the same drive: you can clone one drive to install in your computer, and you can use the second to make a backup for your system which you can store in a safe place for the ultimate in disaster preparation.

Remember, Windows is tricky about authentication: if the OS detects that the hardware has changed after installing your new drive, you may have to re-authorize Windows and any Microsoft Office software you have, so keep any installation disks handy in case you need the authorization key codes.
 
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  • #3
Drakkith said:
Hey all. I'm getting a new hard drive in tomorrow and I was wondering if there was any software that would copy everything from the old hard drive to the new one without having to re-install windows. Any ideas? (Or other methods of keeping all of my current data and settings in windows on a fresh install?)
Just curious- Which version of Windows are you using?
 
  • #4
Awesome. Thanks, SteamKing.

Edit:

adjacent said:
Just curious- Which version of Windows are you using?

Windows 7.
 
  • #5
Food for thought: in my experience reinstalling Windows every few years is a good idea.

Yes, it requires time, but the old installations tend to rot. I am not one of those types that have to install everything they see, but now and then I require some new tool, so occasionally I have to install new programs, remove them, sooner or later that means Windows get slow and/or unstable. Defragging disk is not enough.
 
  • #6
Keep in mind that Windows loads specific drivers for the hardware your computer has. If you straight up clone the drive then the correct drivers for the new hardware won't be loaded and you could run into problems.
 
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  • #7
Greg Bernhardt said:
Keep in mind that Windows loads specific drivers for the hardware your computer has. If you straight up clone the drive then the correct drivers for the new hardware won't be loaded and you could run into problems.

That's a good point.

Usually, most HDs take no drivers and whatnot to be recognized by Windows. As long as your HD or its partitions don't run into the size limits set by Windows, you should be OK. Unlike say, printers or video cards, HDs interface with Windows in a pretty standard fashion nowadays.

If your cloned HD does not work for some reason, you still have the old HD which you can put back into the computer until you figure out what went wrong with the clone.
 
  • #8
SteamKing said:
Usually, most HDs take no drivers and whatnot to be recognized by Windows. As long as your HD or its partitions don't run into the size limits set by Windows, you should be OK. Unlike say, printers or video cards, HDs interface with Windows in a pretty standard fashion nowadays.

I tried booting from a copied HD once and it wouldn't load properly because the Windows install had specific motherboard drivers. Granted I was using XP or maybe even 2000.
 
  • #9
Greg Bernhardt said:
I tried booting from a copied HD once and it wouldn't load properly because the Windows install had specific motherboard drivers. Granted I was using XP or maybe even 2000.

Cloning is intended to work when the only thing you replace is HDD, not anything else.
 
  • #10
IIRC, you will run into activation issues only if you change more than 2 pieces of hardware at a time (might be wrong, could be 3 or more). Windows tracks your video card, nic, ram, processor, hard disk, and a few others I can't recall. If you change only 1, then it shouldn't complain.

We use Acronis' professional suite at my workplace to do backups and it's a very good solution.
I have a personal bias towards open source software. When doing image backups of systems, I prefer to use clonezilla. http://clonezilla.org/
It's a clean and lightweight solution. To reiterate what others have said, make sure that your new HDD is at least as big as the original HDD when you restore the image. Also, I recommend using a tool called gparted to resize the partitions if the new HDD is larger.
 
  • #11
I had a failing laptop with Win XP and I cloned its HD to a new desktop system I built. There was a major difference in HW which I had to resolve by doing a Repair Install of Win XP on the new system. A RI will rebuild the Master Boot Record for the new system, but not clobber any installed applications. You lose any Microsoft patches to the OS and have to go through getting all those installed again, but it's small potatoes compared to relocating all of the original installation disks for your applications, and then installing all of those, installing all of their patches, tweaking the settings, testing, etc.
 
  • #12
Routaran said:
IIRC, you will run into activation issues only if you change more than 2 pieces of hardware at a time (might be wrong, could be 3 or more). Windows tracks your video card, nic, ram, processor, hard disk, and a few others I can't recall. If you change only 1, then it shouldn't complain.
Windows and some appliications will ask for re-activation if the volumn serial number(s) on partition(s) change. In my case, I keep a text file of the serial number for my partitions, and use a volume serial number changer to "restore" the serial numbers after a format / restore. I would think that most clone copy operations would also copy the volume serial number, but I'm not sure.
 
  • #13
Well, the cloning failed at 99% for some reason. I'd guess my old hard drive is going bad, which is why I bought a new one in the first place. Guess I'll have to re-install everything after all. Thanks for the info, everyone.
 
  • #14
If it failed at 99%, perhaps there is a small area of corruption on the old disk. Did you do a check disk before you started the clone process, to scan the disk for bad sectors? I would try this first, unless you have nothing else to do.
 
  • #15
I would most definitely not give up just yet. When you clone, be sure to empty all trash/recycle bins and delete any unneeded large files like .zips and installers you no longer require. There are utilities that make use of SMART data to determine the real health of your hdd, some 3rd party and some from the hdd manufacturer. Get and use one.

Then run a thorough checkdisk and defrag for good measure, even though defragment is far less an issue anymore with advanced file systems like modern NTFS, it is still a factor, albeit a lesser one now. Most partition managers can do this and the ones that boot from optical or usb drives so they are not within the system you are repairing and cloning are best. They often have many tools and I'll link my favorite Swiss Army Knife below.If all you are replacing is hard drive you should have no problems with Authentication.

Incidentally, there are ways to maintain a system without reinstalling regardless of hardware changes and w/o having to explain yourself to Microsoft, though they are generally helpful.

1) When booting on new hardware, often one can use the F8 boot menu to boot to Safe Mode where mostly just fundamental drivers are loaded, with less opportunity for conflict. This can even be furthered by uninstalling potential conflicts from Device Manager before moving to new hardware. Upon the subsequent boot Windows will simply "find new hardware" if the conflict potential is few and slight.

2) When first installing a new system, and all the base needs have been copied to hard drive, it is possible to stop the install at this point and boot an aforementioned usb/CD/DVD Live System and create an image of this proto state. Simply restoring said image to a new hdd will sidestep the sometimes lengthy install process and is particularly useful for those of us with multiple licenses for mass deployment.

The best Live System I have ever used, and still use, is by far Hirens BootCD found here > http://www.hirensbootcd.org/download/ .

It employs a Windows PE to provide a decent GUI desktop with a plethora of amazing tools including EaseUS partition manager as well as many updateable av/malware scanners, and the SMART tools mentioned above, etc etc. It also has a Linux Desktop Rescue boot that is extremely user friendly, even to the uninitiated, which has Clonezilla, a terrific and free backup/restore disk/partition imager .

There are also many tutorials on YouTube to instruct on getting, installing, and using Hirens. If you work at all deeply, it is simply indispensable.
 
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Related to Copying Data to New Hard Drive

1. What is the best way to copy data to a new hard drive?

The best way to copy data to a new hard drive is to use a disk cloning software. This will create an exact copy of your current hard drive, including all files, settings, and operating system.

2. Do I need any special equipment or tools to copy data to a new hard drive?

You will need a new hard drive, a computer with a disk cloning software, a USB or external hard drive enclosure, and a USB cable. Some cloning software may also require a blank CD or DVD for creating a bootable disk.

3. Can I copy data to a new hard drive without losing any files?

Yes, disk cloning allows you to make an exact copy of your hard drive, so you will not lose any files during the copying process. However, it is always recommended to backup your important files before performing any major changes to your hard drive.

4. How long does it take to copy data to a new hard drive?

The time it takes to copy data to a new hard drive depends on the size of the data and the speed of your computer. On average, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

5. Is it possible to copy data to a new hard drive without a computer?

No, you will need a computer to perform the data copying process. However, you can use a disk cloning software that allows you to create a bootable USB or CD, which can then be used to copy the data to the new hard drive without the need for a computer.

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