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Windows 7: Migrating to SSD - drive letters?

10 May 2015   #1

win7 64
Migrating to SSD - drive letters?

Hey guys, I signed up here because I'm at my wit's end with the SSD I bought.

I used EaseUS Todo to clone my system partition to the SSD. Except that it's more like a copy rather than a clone, it gets its own drive letter. So the SSD System ended up being B: and I couldn't figure out how to change it into C: because Windows doesn't let you change the letter of the current System partition.

So I had the idea to clone the System again, boot from the second copy, and change the drive letters there. That worked, I now had one System C:, one E: and renamed the original HD System to X:. Plan was to delete E:, hide X: and just boot from C:.

I used EasyBCD to fix the boot options so the boot sector is on the new C: drive. It looks like this:

(I made two entries for C: to test the difference between C: and BOOT: but there seems to be none)

Except when I reboot from C: it doesn't keep the drive letters. C: is renamed to E: and the old HD system is back to being C: and if I unplug the HD the boot process breaks (because it doesn't find all the stuff it needs on C:)

When I boot from the second SSD system partition E: it loads the drive letters like I assigned them so I boot from E: and have the other SSD system on C: so it finds all the required files. Doing this I can unplug the HD without issue but obviously I don't want to keep two instances of the OS on the SSD.

Ultimately I want to get rid of the second system copy on the SSD and just boot from C:, maybe keep the original System on the HD partition as a backup, hidden from view.

Feels like I'm just missing a minor detail to fix this but I just can't figure it out. Your help is appreciated!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2015   #2

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

When you "clone" your existing spinner Windows system to a new SSD (or any other drive, for that matter), you really are just making a copy. If you have a standard Windows setup, then you really have TWO partitions that must be copied to the new drive: (1) small 100MB system reserved, which is marked "active" on the spinner and is where Boot Manager lives, and (2) Windows C-partition (lettered C from its own perspective). BOTH of these partitions must be cloned/copied over to the new drive.

If the second drive is available simultaneously with the original drive, the copy process can be done directly. Macrium Reflect supports this process, as does Partition Wizard and other similar products. Of course both of the above designated partitions must be copied to the new drive.

Note that as long as you're still booted to your original Windows, that partition will always be assigned C and any other partitions on the same or any other drives will always be assigned D, E, etc. (although you can also change them if you want... just not C).

If both drives are not available simultaneously, it's often practical to take an intermediate "system image" backup (of both partitions, as mentioned above) out to an external USB 3.0 drive using software like Macrium Reflect, then remove the old spinner and install the new SSD. Then boot to the standalone boot CD version of Macrium Reflect and restore the "system image" (of both partitions) that you just took, from the external USB 3.0 drive to the now installed SSD.

You must ensure that your cloning/copying backup/restore software makes the "system reserved" partition on the new SSD marked as "active", so that the BIOS can find it at boot time. Partition Wizard and Easy BCD can mark the partition as active, if it's not automatically set that way as a result of your cloning method. However it's done, the new "system reserved" on the SSD MUST BE MARKED AS "ACTIVE".

And in all cases, after your transfer work is complete you need to get into the BIOS to ensure that your SSD is the first drive in the boot sequence. That's where the BIOS will go at boot time, to find the "active" partition with Boot Manager on it. Boot Manager will then get launched, and will continue the boot process into the true Windows partition (which will letter itself as C, though it's now on the SSD).

If you haven't deleted the old two partitions on the spinner and it's still installed, the new Windows partition on SSD will get letter C and the old partitions on the spinner will get some other letter. This is simply how Windows works, as long as you're truly booting to the SSD... and that will happen if you've correctly set the boot drive sequence in the BIOS to show the SSD as first, and the "system reserved" partition on that drive is marked "active". It will continue on to the Windows partition on the SSD which will letter itself as C, if you've done the job right.

The only way it cannot be C is if you've done something wrong or neglected to correct the BIOS boot sequence if both drives are physically installed, and you're actually still booting to the old spinner. then the old Windows on spinner will be C, and the new Windows on SSD will be something else. The booted Windows cannot be anything other than C, if you've cloned using the proper procedure and software.

I recommend Macrium Reflect, and/or Partition Wizard.

Once you've got things all transferred to SSD, you have no need for the old Windows on the spinner. So just use Partition Wizard to delete all existing partitions on the spinner, and then create one or more "data" partitions on the spinner (which will be D, E, etc., or you can later change their letters to anything you want). You're now fully operational on the SSD.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2015   #3

win7 64

Thanks for the in-depth reply.

I have put the SSD at the top of the boot sequence in the BIOS. The partition to boot from is actually selected in the boot menu I've set up with EasyBCD (see screenshot in first post).

I've never seen the 100MB partition you mention on my system, I assume it's merged with the System partition.

This is how it looks when I boot from the second SSD partition with the HDD still plugged in:

And this when I boot from what is C: in the above screenshot:

It says boot & system on E: but it stays E: when I unplug the HD and thus fails during the "creating your desktop" part of the boot process.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

10 May 2015   #4

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

Well, the fact that you have no small 100MB "system reserved" is probably the result of your coming from an older WinXP environment when you first installed WinXP. WinXP's installer put its Boot Manager right into the same partition as it was installing the Windows system itself. So that one partition was (a) created as "primary" (as it must be, in order for the BIOS to boot to it), and also was marked "active" (in order for the BIOS to find it).

When you then installed Win7 as a second OS, the Win7 installer simply placed the Win7 Boot Manager into the existing "active" partition (i.e. that same original WinXP partition) and added itself to the previously 1-partition boot menu (which automatically booted to the single WinXP bootable OS, never bothering you with a boot menu option), now creating a 2-partition boot menu which then was presented to you at boot time, giving you a choice as to which Windows you wanted to boot to.

At this moment, I see THREE Windows partitions, two of which are 100GB and one of which is 64GB. But the 64GB Windows is at the start of the SSD, and one of the 100GB Windows is after it. The other is at the start of the spinner. So I'm confused as to the contents of each of these three partitions.

Also, the fact that you say when you boot to the second Windows on the SSD (i.e. the 100GB partition) that is E (with the 64GB Windows shown as C)... this to me speaks of only one possible cause: I'm guessing the 64GB partition was your old WinXP, and when you installed Win7 (which because the 100GB partition) you were booted to WinXP and did a RUN of the SETUP.EXE on the Win7 installation DVD. Is your Win7 a 32-bit or 64-bit Win7, because the only way you can RUN the Win7 installation DVD SETUP.EXE from 32-bit WinXP is if SETUP.EXE is also a 32-bit Win7 installer.

In other words, if you run 32-bit SETUP.EXE for Win7, initiated by while running 32-bit WinXP, now the resulting installed Win7 WILL BE SOME OTHER PARTITION LETTER THAN C when you eventually do boot to that Win7. And obviously, if you don't want to end up with exactly what you have... namely an E:\Windows system partition even after booting (although technically there's nothing wrong with that) rather than a C:\Windows system partition, you really needed to install Win7 "standalone", i.e. by booting from the installation DVD itself. THAT IS WHAT GUARANTEES C:\WINDOWS RESULT!!

Again, even if you did the right thing which is to install Win7 by booting from the installation DVD itself, the Win7 installer would have recognized the presence of your existing WinXP partition and simply created a 2-Windows boot menu (installed into the WinXP partition, since that's the "active" partition for boot drive #1 in the BIOS) so after the Win7 install is finished you could now choose either Windows at boot time. But they would BOTH BE C.

So... if my hunch is correct, and your Win7 is a 32-bit Win7, and you installed it by doing a RUN for SETUP.EXE while operating under 32-bit WinXP, that is the explanation for why you see E:\Windows when booting to that Windows. Note that if you were trying to install a 64-bit Win7 that way, it wouldn't have ever gotten off the ground as you can't run a 64-bit SETUP.EXE from a 32-bit WinXP environment. You MUST boot from the Win7 installation DVD in order to create a 64-bit Win7 to run side-by-side choice (from the 2-Windows boot menu) with 32-bit WinXP.

So, what did you do to install your Win7?

And what are in these three Windows partitions?

Let's get this all straightened out before going any further.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2015   #5

win7 64

Yeah, you're on to something there.

From what I recall (it's been years) I had Win XP on C:, then I installed Win 7 32bit on something like G: to try it out and used both in dual boot (this was all on another HD that is no longer present). More recently (about a year ago) I installed Win7 64bit on C: from a DVD which is the system you can see in the above screenshots and the one I wanted to clone. I got rid of the old HD since I never used the old OSes anyway and used EasyBCD to fix the "bootmgr missing" errors I got when removing that old HD some time ago.

A week ago I bought the SSD and I cloned the system twice to the SSD so I could change the drive letter of the first version to C: while booting from the second one. The difference in size is simply because I shrunk the first version to its intended size of 64GB which I didn't bother with for the second as I intended to delete it afterwards. It makes it easy to tell them apart though. The content is exactly the same, apart from stuff like browser cache I guess because I've been using it for a couple days now.

I assume all the files Windows needs to boot correctly are present on the SSD because it works np if I remove the HD with the original System installation, it just confuses the drive letters.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2015   #6

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

You need to be careful with your terminology. There's a conceptual difference between a "drive" and a "partition", with further ambiguity and confusion added by the general usage of the term "drive letter" assigned to each partition!!

When you say that years ago you first installed Win7 32-bit to try it out, and you installed it to "g or something", do you mean simply onto another partition on the same single hard drive, which happened to get a letter of G? You haven't answered my real question which is HOW DID YOU DO THAT PARTICULAR INSTALL? Did you boot to the 32-bit Win7 installation DVD? Or did you RUN SETUP.EXE from that DVD while booted to WinXP?

Both of these methods is "valid", but you will end up with different results. Installing by booting from the DVD causes the new Windows to be C when you boot to it, and this of course introduces confusion (only to rookies!) because when booted t Win7 the original WinXP partition is no longer C as you've gotten accustomed to. Instead, it's something else. But what's most important here is that C is always the Windows operating partition when you install this way.

In contrast, if you install Win7 through RUN SETUP.EXE while booted to WinXP, well now the SETUP program is running under WinXP and the newly installed Win7 target partition must be given some drive letter for WinXP (which is still the operating system environment where SETUP.EXE is running, rather than standalone Win7 installer when booted standalone from the DVD). And that's why when you actually do boot to the just installed Win7 target, it will retain the drive letter it had been given while you were booted to WinXP, e.g. G, and the original WinXP partition will appear as C... as you've been accustomed to seeing. Now while you'd think this would be "ideal", in fact it is the MOST CONFUSING environment since (as now) you're really expecting C to always be the booted Windows partition, and it's not. Furthermore, you can get into trouble when installing 3rd-party software, if they casually assume that C is your Windows partition and place things on C... which is in your case actually your old WinXP partition!!

So, was this 32-bit Win7 installed to a second partition on the same spinner as you now have? Or was it placed on a second spinner (and got a drive letter of G), that isn't present at the moment?

Anyway, if you wanted to install a 64-bit Win7 you'd of course HAVE to have booted from the installation DVD. And now this target partition would have seen itself as C when you finally booted to it. But again, it can be a partition on the primary spinner, or on a second spinner, or anywhere you want. But it will always be C when you boot to it, and any other partition (WinXP or "data") will be something else... D, E, F, etc.

So back to my original questions, because you've kind of confused me about where you're coming from. All of your partitions are labeled "Windows", which is always confusing. And one of them has been "shrunk", but I don't know what its contents is which is what I need to know.

Please identify the actual version of Windows, and 32-bit or 64-bit for Win7, of your three current Windows partitions. Do you still have both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows partitions present or not?? And if not, then what's in these three Windows partitions on the two drives?

Again, if your first screenshot showed things when you believe you were booted to the second 100GB partition on the SSD, and it shows as E, then in my opinion it MUST be that 32-bit Win7 you installed via RUN SETUP.EXE while operating in 32-bit WinXP. And I'm guessing that the first 64GB partition on the SSD which shows as C... well, that must be the WinXP from which you installed the 32-bit Win7, which was C when you did the 32-bit install of Win7 via RUN SETUP.EXE while under WinXP, resulting in the target Win7 partition getting lettered as E, which it will retain even when you boot to it (as you are now).

And my guess is that the first 100GB on the spinner is actually the 64-bit Win7 you installed standalone booted from the installation DVD. I believe you've mis-described your second screenshot, and you actually must have been booted to that first 100GB partition on the spinner in order for it to show up as C. You cannot be booted to either of the two partitions on the SSD and not have one of them be C, so seeing them as E and G while the first partition on the spinner is C is impossible in my mind, unless you're actually booted to that first partition on the spinner.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2015   #7

win7 64

All you see on the above screenshots is one install of Win7 64bit and its 2 clones on the SSD. That's why they are all labeled "Windows" - they are clones. The old stuff (XP and 7 32bit) is long gone, it had its own HD.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by dsperber View Post
I believe you've mis-described your second screenshot, and you actually must have been booted to that first 100GB partition on the spinner in order for it to show up as C. You cannot be booted to either of the two partitions on the SSD and not have one of them be C, so seeing them as E and G while the first partition on the spinner is C is impossible in my mind, unless you're actually booted to that first partition on the spinner.
You can see in Partition Wizard under "status", where it says "system" that's the one I booted from; I'm not sure what "boot" means in that context, presumably the partition with the bootmanager on it because that's where I tried to place it using EasyBCD's

That's the part that's puzzling me. When I unplug the HD and boot from the 64GB sized SSD partition, there is no C: present at all (it still boots but hangs during desktop creation). I'll try to take a screenie of that later.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2015   #8

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

I cannot explain how you boot to the first partition on the second drive and yet the first partition on the first drive gets lettered as C. Perhaps it's tied to using EaseUS, and copying things improperly. I don't know, but I've transferred spinner to SSD on four different machines now (all using Macrium Reflect and Partition Wizard) and never had the results you're seeing in your story.

If the original Win7 partition on the spinner is still bootable and usable, and you're "at your wits end" trying to straighten out the mess you currently have (with THREE duplicate Windows partitions that don't get lettered correctly), how about "starting over". And this time use Macrium Reflect Free and Partition Wizard (to resize, etc.).

If you're not averse to "starting over", might I suggest that you start over? I'd suggest using Macrium Reflect Free's "clone this disk" option, and just forget about those two Windows partitions you currently have on the SSD.

You will first need to use Partition Wizard to restore the "active" flag to the Win7 first partition on the spinner, so that we can again boot to it. And you will also need to boot the machine and revert the BIOS boot drive sequence back to the way it was, with the spinner as drive #1.

Then boot to your original Win7 on the spinner. Use Partition Wizard to delete the current two partitions on the SSD. Just get rid of them.

Run Macrium Reflect Free, running the Backup function and select your Win7 partition on the spinner as the "source" partition. Then click on the "clone this disk" link below the partition, and follow the wizard... designating your SSD as the target. Let the program clone your operating Win7 on the spinner to the SSD. That's all there is.

You've now cloned your operating Win7 partition on the spinner to the SSD. Done.

Now while still booted to the same Win7 partition on the spinner, run EasyBCD and ADD the newly cloned SSD Win7 partition, and you can designate this SSD Win7 partition as your default. Done. No need to mark the SSD Win7 partition as "active" (unless you want to blow away the original Win7 on the spinner and repurpose the space for "data", in which case you WILL need to mark the SSD Win7 as "active" and also change the boot sequence in the BIOS, and use EasyBCD to transfer Boot Manager into the SSD Win7 partition).

Now re-boot. You will be booting to the spinner's "active" first partition to find Boot Manager and the menu, which will now have two Windows on it (the original Win7 on the spinner, and the second cloned SSD Win7 you just created). Choose the SSD (if it's not already the default), press ENTER, and you're there.

It should boot and letter itself as C, and the Win7 partition on the spinner will be something else.

I cannot imagine any results other than these. Whatever problems you've been fighting for a day or two now... forget them. They will disappear.

Just start over, and use Macrium Reflect to do the cloning. And use Partition Wizard as needed.

That's what I would do at this point.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2015   #9

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

Note the story in this other thread, which is essentially the IDENTICAL problems with drive letter screwups after using EaseUS to try and clone from spinner to SSD. IDENTICAL to your story.

I made the same recommendation over on that thread, to just forget about whatever has happened so far, wipe out everything you've done with EaseUS, and simply use Macrium Reflect and Partition Wizard to redo it all from scratch. 10 minutes and you're done, and this whole sad saga with EaseUS is behind you.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' with it!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2015   #10

win7 64

Sure, that works for me. I'll report back when it's done. Won't mess with it anymore today tho, there's only so many reboots a man and his PC can take.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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