View Full Version : Copy hard drive contents

Mohammad Al-Sahaf
11-08-2003, 11:33 PM

I have just purchased a new 120GB HDD to replace a failing 20GB HDD in an Athlon 1800XP CPU PC running XP Home -- I am trying to find some reliable drive migration software in order to copy the entire contents of the old drive (eg: O/S, Appns, Data, Games etc) to the new one.
From the research I've done it would appear to me that drive migration rather than drive imaging is the safer, more comprehensive way to go in order to ensure that ALL data is xferred over to exactly replicate my current PC configuration on the new drive.
And here is my main problem -- I am struggling to find a reliable, reputable piece of drive migration software that works with Win XP.
I ideally would like to utilise Powerquest's DriveCopy 4 but it doesn't support Win XP!!

Any suggestions/comments??

Thanks in advance.

11-08-2003, 11:45 PM
Tried Norton Ghost?? Failing that, maybe NTI DriveBackUp 3 (http://www.ntius.com/default.asp?p=backupnow/drb_main) ?? Trial version gives full capability...


11-08-2003, 11:47 PM
I can agree with and vouch for Ghost 2003 Personal for doing just the job :-)

Mohammad Al-Sahaf
11-08-2003, 11:52 PM
So Ghost 2003 will make a COMPLETE copy of my hard drive (Incl. o/s, hidden and in use o/s files) and then I can copy it back to the new drive and safely discard the old one?

11-08-2003, 11:55 PM
Both progs will... I know NTI Drivebackup will do live files without a need to reboot... don't know if Ghost is a free download or not.


12-08-2003, 12:01 AM
Nope, its not :-( but I think there's a trial!

12-08-2003, 12:35 AM
I use xxcopy with the lone option
just run xxcopy with the required switches and in a few minues it is all done

Billy T
12-08-2003, 09:27 AM
This info may help you decide, but I cetainly recommend Ghost. If you data integrity is at stake, I wouldn't play with free options:

From Terry Porrit in a post on transferring your OS and programs to a new computer with a different hardware configuration:

With Norton ghost you make a boot floppy with the Ghost program on it, and do all your ghosting from the floppy, with the drives hooked up as master and slave.

Much more importantly though, your OS on the C: partition will spit and cough if you try to run it in the new machine after copying over, because all the hardware is different. What you want to do BEFORE removing your existing drive, OR copying to the new one, is to go to Device Manager, and remove EVERY single device from there, including all the PCI stuff, every bit, mouse last of all. Then you can copy over the partitions using Ghost images with the 2 drives hooked up as master and slave, but dont let the stripped down drive boot into windows while it is attached to the old computer or it will put all the devices back again.

When the drive is put back in the new machine and booted Windows will re-detect all the hardware.

If you want to keep the original computer operational as well, you will then have to restore the original configuration using your most recent full image, so don't forget to make an image of your C: drive before you start removing devvices.

It sounds a bit long winded but its the best way.

Further useful advice:
I've been singing the praises of Norton Ghost for many moons on Press F1. I have never (repeat never) had to do a reinstall of Windows even, let alone reformat and reinatall everything from scratch. Computer is a P166 running Win98 original which gives you an idea of the time scale here. I bought Ghost as soon as it came on the market, long before Symantec took it over.

As soon as you have made anything more than a cosmetic appearance change to your computer you should re-ghost it so that the image reflects the current software/hardware configuration and is always up to date.

Between ghosts I write every change I make into a notebook so that I can get back to work quickly if I have to restore. The images are stored on another drive too so even if my HD drops its bundle I can have a new one in and be up & running in under two hours including driving time to buy the Disk.

Go figure! Why would anybody want to reformat & reinstall when for a couple of hundred bucks you can keep the same sweet configuration you started with.

I only have two or three rules:

1) Always keep an image of the virgin installation of OS & programs in case creeping errors build up (the notebook is worth its weight in gold for ensuring that you don't forget patches and configuration changes.)

2) Always keep at least one extra image from a stable period in the life of your computer, mine is about 12 months old.

3) Always created a new image as soon as you have established that any new programs or hardware you have installed are working OK.

4)OK, so I can't count! Always delete all unnecessary files then run scan disk & defrag before creating your ghost image. Run IE or other Browser options to delete temporary internet files and if you feel brave enough, you can write a text file that excludes a variety of (selected) file specs to keep your image size down. Don't ghost rubbish.

5) Use two HDs & keep only OS & programs on C, put all data on D. You can partition drive 1 as C & E and drive 2 as D & F if you don't want to waste space. Cross-Ghost C: to D: and D: to C: to ensure that you cannot be wiped out by a HD failure.

6) Image regularly!!!!!!!!!!!


Billy 8-{)

12-08-2003, 10:09 AM
Interesting Billy/Terry, I always wondered how Ghost would deal with the new hardware on a different computer. I think in Mohammad's case he could just remove the old hard drive from device drivers???

Does ghost copy any master boot records??? I had a problem with DriveImage2002 when re-imaging. Windows wouldn't boot, cos it wasn't in MBR??

12-08-2003, 10:24 AM
I too use Notorn Ghost and would not use anything else now.

I use it mainly for upgrading HDD's as it makes an exact copy of the original HDD. So once you have ghosted to new HDD just pull old one out and boot up on the new one!

It also gives you the chance to adjust partition sizes if you have partitioned your original HDD or you can stick with the default sizes which it automatically adjusts to the same percentage of disk space.

i.e. if your original HDD is 20GB with 5GB and 15GB partitions, Ghost will automatically adjust partitions on new HDD (say it is 80GB) to 20GB and 60GB

12-08-2003, 10:48 AM
most hardrive manafactures supply free software which can copy your old drive contents over to the new one. you don't have to do anything with the devices as you are useing the new hd in your old pc.

12-08-2003, 11:32 AM
Just thought I would do a back up with ghost,after using two cd's I had 10% ghosted,so gave up the ghost!
I probably missed the point;)

Billy T
12-08-2003, 01:51 PM
Don't know about missing the point Thomas, but you do have to take into account the amount of data you have to back up. If two CDs was 10% then it sounds like you have more than 10Gb you are trying to ghost. I asume you enabled maximum compression.

My C: drive produces a compressed image of around 900MB. It will be less as soon as I get the swapfile and a few other bits and pieces excluded though, and my D: (data) drive produces a 650MB image

A second hard drive is faster and cheaper in the long run, and lets you keep all data away from your programs. You can do it with one drive and two partitions, but that leaves you stranded if the drive dies.


Billy 8-{)

12-08-2003, 02:38 PM
To be honest,I didn't see a compression facility,how much could I expect to compress 10gig down to?

Cheers BJ

Billy T
12-08-2003, 02:48 PM
Probably only 7-8GB. You need to ensure that you only backup needed files. Do you really have 10GB of essential programs and data?

Before I image, I delete all temporary internet files, temp files, index.dat files and any other redundant material. Then I do a scan disk followed by defrag.

Ghost can be configured to skip file types and/or directories so if you nest your "like to keep but not essential" folders into a group under a folder called "Useful Stuff" for example, then exclude "useful Stuff from your ghost image you can reduce the file considerably.

Housekeeping is the name of the game and that is just good computing practice anyway.


Billy 8-{)

12-08-2003, 03:13 PM
Thanks for that,will have to resort to reading options,being as you may know,a when all else fails chappie.

Cheers BJ

12-08-2003, 05:00 PM
Thanks for getting to the nitty-gritty Thomas.
It has always bothered me that Ghost (which I do not have) must save a lot of junk. Furthermore it is no use if the HD dies or is corrupted.
Copying seems more work than I realised : would a direct write to a new HD be the better option?
What about a notebook? Can't fit a second drive in? Perhaps an external drive for a weekly backup with Ghost would be the answer. Is that an option?

Would one need tractomorphic fluid?


Billy T
12-08-2003, 05:42 PM
Hi Winston

I have posted several times on this subject so do a PF1 search on Ghost as the subject and Billy T as the poster you will find a fair amount of info that could interest you.

With Ghost you can image your laptop via a network connection to a desktop hard drive, or you can use a portable hard drive via a USB connection to backup or restore your laptop HDD.

If you use a laptop for critical data, I'd have the HDD partitioned into C: & D: then use D: for all your data storage. That will never be as large as your C: drive contents and can be backed up to CD, USB ram drive or over a network as previously mentioned.

When those dinky USB ram drives get up to GB+ capacity and at reasonable cost, that would be easily enough to hold an image of both drives on the average laptop unless you are a road warrior who has to have the whole 9 yards in your back pocket at all times or the laptop is also your desktop.


Billy 8-{)

12-08-2003, 07:14 PM
Thanks Billy, I'll do a search.

12-08-2003, 08:40 PM
You may or may not know that Ghost and an equally useful app,Go Back, are to be found in Norton System Works.

12-08-2003, 09:00 PM
> You may or may not know that Ghost and an equally
> useful app,Go Back, are to be found in Norton System
> Works.

Not quite Thomas

Norton SystemWorks 2003 indeed contains Roxio GoBack, but you need to have Norton SystemWorks 2003 Pro before you get Norton Ghost included as well.

12-08-2003, 09:21 PM
I stand corrected.

Terry Porritt
12-08-2003, 09:26 PM
Just to clarify my posting that Billy quoted from, that was for dos/win98, and for preparing an existing hard drive with OS installed to be used with a new motherboard. That was why all the devices are recommended to be removed.

Tweak'es comment about not needing to do that is quite right as you will be using the same motherboard and hardware, just a new drive. Also, the free software that either can come with a drive or can be downloaded from the HDD manufactures site will also as tweak'e said copy your existing hard drive installation, sector by sector to a new hard drive.

That is much the easiest and cheapest way to go with a new hard drive.

Not sure if XP makes any difference havent had experience of that yet, but expecting to get a copy soon.

Billy T
13-08-2003, 11:46 AM
Thanks Terry, I'll amend my info file accordingly. I have been assembling information and advice for a Ghosting/imaging FAQ and I have files for a variety of circumstances. I didn't quite get the full import of your original post as quoted in this thread.

BTW, re Thomas' reference to Goback, that is a very limited option that is nowhere near as useful as a drive image. It certainly has its uses, but is no help if a drive dies or refuses to boot etc.


Billy 8-{)