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Windows 7: Moving Windows 7 Installation

03 Oct 2010   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit
Moving Windows 7 Installation

I have a 200GB hard drive that is close to the end of its life cycle and have a 2TB replacement on hand and ready.

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit (It's a student license if it matters) is installed on this 200GB drive, and I was hoping for advice, instruction, or information involving the complete move of the operating system from the old 200GB drive to the new 2TB drive. I really don't want to spend my day off from classes reinstalling Windows, if at all possible.

Would anyone be able to provide insight regarding my question? Thank you in advance.

Edit: Seems like this thread (Windows 7 Dual Boot / Move one installation / BCD?) is asking a similar question, but I'm not going to lie, some of the explanations are blowing right over my head here.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2010   #2
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

Welcome to SF! RaptorFB

Why spend a day when you can spend a week or more? Simply bump the 200gb to the second sata port and unplug it long enough to toss a 20 minute fresh install on the new drive.

From there use the Windows Easy Transfer tool when booted back into the 200gb drive to create that backup and over a week or more once all programs are on fresh on the 1tb drive restore the backup! Once everything is up and running on the 1tb drive to your satisfaction toss the 200gb aside!

A fresh copy of Windows when not only changing drives but when the size difference is great is always the best move to start with. Since 7 installs much faster then previous versions it won't take long for a clean install. Then you simply add one program at a time to it as you go along.

The backup when restored will also restore all files and settings seen on the 200gb drive. In the meantime you are still running the things you want on the 200gb drive until then. You also have access to all files still seen on that drive in case you forget to backup any!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2010   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit

I see, that is one tempting method. The main reason I shy away from a full reinstall is to avoid reinstalling and reconfiguring all my programs, such as Photoshop or Media Player Classic HC. Would the Easy Transfer tool you mentioned have me avoid this? Also, I guess I forgot to mention that the old 200GB drive is indeed OLD for it runs on an IDE port. Part of the reason I purchased a 2TB drive was to merge the data on all my remaining 120-200GB IDE drives and get rid of the old hard drives, since the noise and heat was insane. Also, I really wouldn't want to spend a week, heh... The longer my PC is out of commission, the longer I have to use the dormitory computer lab. I was hoping for a quick solution, but you say there are repercussions to NOT doing a clean install as opposed to my requested transfer of hard drives?

Edit: The move is not a pressing issue though, I just found out that the purchased hard drive does not come with a data cable, thus the waiting game for the cable ordered begins.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

04 Oct 2010   #4
Microsoft MVP


Backup a Win7 System Image externally, then reimage to the new HD by booting the Win7 DVD Repair console or Repair CD. Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup

If this fails you can try Macrium Reflect or Paragon Backup 10, two other fine free imaging apps.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Oct 2010   #5
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

The other option for drives is the free version of the Acronis Disk Director suite if you are running WD or Seagate drives. But restoring images of two separate drives of one type smaller in size to unpack on a single new larger sata drive can easily see problems. You can only restore one image of the 200gb OS drive and see how things go.

The backups on the other hand can be restored once a fresh install of Windows and the programs is seen for the new drive. Once everything is up and running the way you want it you can then use one of the old drives for storing a full system image.

The free versions of Acronis provided by the drive manufacturers can also mount the drive image from the 200gb drive created just as if you had a second C drive where copy files from the image onto the new drive is only the time it takes while restoring a backup will see the settings for programs applied.

With only files stored on the 120gb that would be a matter of copy + paste since you would be doing that anyways from an image since no OS is being restored from that one. The backup however would be the efficient method for preserving things from both ide drives to be restored all at once to the 1tb when seeing a clean install on that.

As far as a week or more that would be when still having the two old drives still in the case and running 7 from the 200gb and the occasion boot into the new drive's copy of 7 until everything is on that over the extended period of time without any need to go to a lab. You would still have the 200gb in use.

With a clean install of everything I have on here I estimate that would only take about 5hrs. roughly and the amount I have on now might scare you!

When creating an image to restore onto the 1tb drive you would still need a separate drive or plenty of dvd-rw disks to store separate from the destination drive since the restoration process involves first wiping it entirely of any files present. That's another thing to know ahead of time while a backup is restored to the present installation on at the time.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Oct 2010   #6
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

Hello RaptorFB, welcome to Seven Forums!

Have a look at the info below to get a better understanding of what Night Hawk was suggesting by using 2 Hard Disk Drives (HDD) while you transfer the data from the old HDD to the new one, you will in essence have 2 separate Operating Systems (OS) at the same time until you move all the data to the new HDD and can then remove it very easily.

One word of advice, do not try to install Windows 7 to the entire 2TB HDD, we are seeing quite a few people have serious issues installing Windows 7 to so large a space, instead, create a Partition of not much more than 100GB to do the install to; it's better to have separate data partitions anyway in case of OS failure.

Be sure to post back with any further questions you may have and to keep us informed.
information   Information

The easiest way to do away with boot issues between separate Operating Systems (OS) is to use the BIOS one time boot menu to select which OS to boot at system startup, each motherboard has an individual hot-key to tap during system start-up to access this menu.

If you have 2 separate Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and have one OS installed to one HDD and you want to install another OS to the second HDD, disconnect the HDD with the first OS installed on it and leave only the HDD you want to install the second OS to connected.
Just be sure not to change where the original HDD SATA cable was connected, it has to be re-connected to the exact same port to avoid boot issues.

Install the second OS to the connected HDD and when complete and the system is booting good, power down and reconnect the first HDD with the first OS on it.

This way the OSs will boot independently of each other and there will be no boot conflicts between the 2 separate OSs to have to sort later.

Then set the BIOS to boot the HDD / OS you want as default and if you want to start the other (new) OS you use the BIOS one-time boot menu to select that HDD / OS to start when the PC is started.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Oct 2010   #7
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

Stretching an image from a 200gb drive out over the entire capacity of the drive would see problems all too easily. Since you have been cramped with a 200gb OS and 120gb pair of ide drives rather then just seeing a small 100gb primary which would be even more confining a 500gb primary for the fresh 7 install leaving plenty of space for a second storage/backup partition would be a thought to consider.

At first you will be seeing about 1.84tb available once partitioned and formatted. A 1tb drive sees 80gb off of the retail figure where you simply plan on doubling that to about 160gb. Take away 500gb for the OS and some wiggle room and you have 1.34tb for storing files and even a drive image unless you plan to add in a second drive at some point internal or external.

Are you using a usb keyboard? Most likely that is already answered since most are usb with most including a PS/2 type adapter. On some boards even with the adapter a usb keyboard won't have the F keys available at post time. That will depend on the make and model keyboard as well as the board.

For example Asus always seem to see those work for pressing the F8 key to bring up the boot device menu. For the new build here the Gigabyte board on the other hand requires a second roll away PS/2 only keyboard to press the F12 option. Some of that has to with the particular illuminate usb type keyboard itself.

One way to get past that for seeing an image of the host drive restored to the second to set up a dual boot configuration was using Acronis True Image(full version) where the entry for the second drive could be added into the host(original) drive's boot options while both are stand alone by default.

This idea was given a series of tests with the latest EasyBCD 2.0.1 and later 2.0.2 releases. For restoring disk images to a second drive for this type of project Acronis was found to be the answer on that one. It won't work when unplugging the host drive and restoring an image with the backup feature in 7 since one will rule out the other. But restoration of the main OS/boot drive was found reliable at the same time.

Note this was seen done between two identical Sata II drives. The other pair seen in the screen here are Sata III drives used for storage and disk images as well as backing up a few other things.

Attached Images
Moving Windows 7 Installation-image-restored-second-drive.jpg 
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2010   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit

I just got the hard drive and cables today.
So, after reading everyone's responses, I am still somewhat confused. I also think I should clarify as to what I think I am understanding from all of the replies.
My goal is to move the Win7 OS over to the 2TB drive.
The moving of data from other (non OS) drives is just going to be a copy and paste operation.
From what you guys are telling me, do NOT make a single partition spanning the entire disk size, and opt out for a smaller partition for the OS, and separate partitions for data.
My current Win7 hard drive is a 200GB drive with 54.7GB in use, but if I move the Win7 OS wholesale, then would that be moving or copying the entire partition (using the methods linked above)?

Finally, I am a bit confused with this line in specific from Night Hawk:
When creating an image to restore onto the 1tb drive you would still need a separate drive or plenty of dvd-rw disks to store separate from the destination drive since the restoration process involves first wiping it entirely of any files present. That's another thing to know ahead of time while a backup is restored to the present installation on at the time.
Could someone kindly clarify this as well?

Thanks in advance.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2010   #9
Microsoft MVP


Hi Raptor -

What brand HD did you buy and are you migrating from? WD?

WD has an Acronis cloning app that works great to clone over your old HD to new one.

Initialize the HD by plugging in and going to Disk Management (type in Start Search box) to click on "Initialize" box next to drive listing on map.

Then read the steps in the Manual to clone.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2010   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit

Thank you for the quick response.
Current (200GB) OS drive is a Segate, and my newly purchased drive (2TB) is one of those "green drives" by Western Digital.

Edit: Thank you for the resources.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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