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Moving Windows 7 Installation to new HDD

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This came up because recently my wife bought herself a 500GB Western Digital HDD, and wanted Windows on the new drive, but didn't want to have to reinstall everything (a full format would also mean a re-installation of all her software as well. This just wasn't an acceptable option so I did some research on Backup & Restore with Windows 7, and decided to start with that route (fortunately the wife didn't have to work that day so I had some play time on my hands if I needed it. Well all work wonderfully and I thought I'd share with my friends and readers the steps I took to accomplish this (less than 1 1/2 hours total, minus the time to create the backup of course), so let's get started.

First go Start > Control Panel, once in your Control Panel open up Backup And Restore. From here, on the left you'll want to select the option Create a system image. Once you start this process then Windows 7 starts a search for drives (whether internal, external, tape drives, etc) in order to save your image on. Select the drive you want to create your image on (mine is a 500GB Western Digital Portable HDD). Once you click Next you actually have an option of what drives to backup. In the situation we were in (beings it was my wife's computer, mine comes tomorrow) we selected her C drive (main OS drive) and her D drive (Her programs) then sat through the hour or so backup creation. Once the backup image in created it will ask you if you want to create a System Repair Disk, choose YES, you're going to need this.

Once your disk is created put it into the drive so it's ready when we make our next step. Next step: Shut down the computer (Don't restart, shut completely down). Now that your computer is powered down, pull the power plug from the back of the case (Hey, may seem overkill to some but I believe in being safe when it comes to working on one of my systems). Now you need to find your current main © drive that is running Windows and unplug it, remove the power cord so the system wont even recognize it being there.

Once you have done that take your new drive (I'm hoping your ordered at least a SATA II drive for the upgrade, but that's neither here nor there). Once you know you have it hooked up properly and all is well, put the power cord back into your case and turn the power on. While we're booting we will be given a choice to boot from CD, and since our repaid disk is in the drive select Yes to boot from it. When asked you want to restore your system from a previous image, at this time Windows 7 will do an in-depth search looking for this image (I've yet to not have it find my image). Once it finds the image recovery is ready and click the button to start the restore.

Now you can go make a sandwich (grilled cheese if my favorite so make me 2 if you dont mind) as this process can take a little time, depending on how much data you're restoring from. In my situation it was recovering 2 drives
  • HDD running Windows, the main HDD
  • HDD running all her programs

If you install your applications on a different drive (as most of us now do) you'll want to image those drives so Windows 7 can restore everything, ensuring your registry entries and keys match what exists. When Windows has done what it needs it will simply re-boot into the new HDD running Windows 7. And that part is over, if all went as expected then you are now in Windows 7 on a completely different HDD than what you started on.

With the wife's system we powered down and unplugged, from there we re-hooked up her old C drive and once Windows booted we formatted it completely (A nice low-level program I may share someday lol). So that's how you accomplish this task. It can see daunting when you need to do it, but Windows 7 has made it easier than with any version I can remember using (And I started with Windows 2 and 3). Now you no longer have to live with that failing HDD because you dread having to reinstall everything.

Thanks for reading this entry, and I hope you find it as interesting and useful as I did :)

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