How to move Windows XP to a new and larger hard drive - Using Acronis True Image
The third and final article in a series of articles on how to replace your existing hard drive with a new and or larger drive.
Unlike Windows 7, Windows XP has no integrated image backup software therefore Acronis True Image Home 2011 (Trial Version) will be used to create an image backup of the Windows partition and restore that backup to your new and or larger hard drive. Your computer’s original hard drive may also contain a “Recovery” partition but this will no longer be needed as your image backup or subsequent backups will serve as a means of recovering Windows.
This article primarily covers moving Windows XP to a new and unformatted hard drive. However you format the drive, creating two primary partitions if you plan to dual boot between XP and Windows 7.
Why you ask do I want to create a dual boot system when I can simply upgrade to Windows 7 and use XP Mode? Then read about the true cost of upgrading to Windows 7 article titled “Windows XP - Save your investment”
Note: It would be wise to keep the contents of your old drive in tack and bootable for at least a month before reformatting and using it as a secondary drive. The old drive is your ultimate fall safe backup should anything go wrong with the new drive. Most new drives have a premature failure rate of 5 to 10% within the first few weeks of use. Some drives may last for a month or more and then fail, most however are reliable and will most likely last longer than your computer.
Baseline configuration: Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 3 250GB SATA-!! hard drive (not uncommon for a 2004 to 2006 mid range desktop computer, some desktops or laptops may have only been outfitted with drives 160GB or less).
Replacement hard drive and partition information: 1) If your existing drive is 200 to 250GB in size then I recommend that you choose the Western Digital 640GB Caviar Black SATA-II internal hard drive. 2) If your existing drive is 80 to 160GB in size then I recommend that you choose the Western Digital 500GB Caviar Blue SATA-II internal hard drive.
Laptop users should look at 2.5 replacement drives such as the Western Digital Scorpio.
Note: Computer purchased before 2005 with hard drives that are 120GB or less in size may not support drives larger than 137GB due to BIOS limitations. Windows XP must also have service pack 1A or later installed.
Where to store the Image Backup: If you have an external USB hard drive capable of storing the image backup of Windows XP then this would be your first choice. Use Partition configuration 1A, 2A or 3A.
If you have no external USB hard drive available then temporarily the new drive can be partitioned and used as a destination for the image backup file. Use partition configurations 1B, 2B or 3B.
Notes: 1) Most laptops only allow for a single hard drive, therefore an external USB drive is required. 2) Acronis is not a free Image Backup solution but the 30 day free trial is all you need. If you already have Ghost 15 or EASEUS Todo backup (a free Image Backup solution), the technique covered here will be the similar. Obviously the user interface and options will be different. 3) Acronis does have the ability to disable or restore the MBR of your old drive to the new hard drive. Restoring the MBR is a necessary option when using the Windows based version of Acronis to restore the image to the new drive (both drives connected at the same time) as failure to do so will result in a failure of the new drive to boot to Windows. Therefore only one partition (the first partition) can be a ‘Primary’ partition; any additional partitions must be ‘Extended’ partitions with one or more logical drives as show below.
4)If you plan to use an external USB drive as the destination for the image backup, then you do not need to restore the master boot record when using the Acronis recovery disc. Also the use of an external drive eliminates the need for creating a partition or partitions on the new drive prior to restoring the image backup; you can use the new drive straight out of the box (after you test it of course).
) In general it is not recommended that you use the same hard drive to store image backups of your Windows operating system. Should that drive fail you not only lose Windows but also the image backup on the drive, leaving you will no means of recovery. The non USB drive solutions provided below are short term examples that allow you to move XP off the old drive and on to the new drive. Therefore purchasing and using an external USB hard drive for storing your image backups “Off-Line” provides a means of easy recovery should your new drive fail prematurely weeks or months later.
Calculating Partition and Logical drive Sizes: You need to convert from decimal values to the equivalent binary value when using ‘Disk Management’ to create partitions.
The formula is:Decimal value in Giga Bytes (GB) x 1024 = Binary in Mega Bytes (MB). Enter the partition size in binary (MB) when creating a new partition.
For this article I will be replacing an older Hitachi 250GB drive with a new 640GB Western Digital (WD) Caviar Black. WD Blacks (640 GB) have one of the lowest failure rates and come with a 5 year warrantee.
In the partitioning configuration information tables shown below I will be using configuration 3B for the following reasons.
1) Some users may not have access to an external USB drive.
2) The Hitachi drive does not have a lot of applications or data on the drive so I will be creating a slightly smaller Windows XP partition on the new drive which allows me to create a somewhat larger partition that contain the Image Backup file.
3) I do not need a “Dual Boot” configuration.
4) This will be an ‘Extended’ partition with a single logical drive to “Eliminate” the risk associated with restoring the Master Boot Record (MBR).
5) I happen to have an unused 640GB drive available.
However I’ve provided the information you need to partition a slightly smaller and less expensive 500GB replacement drive. The process of moving Windows XP to a new drive or moving XP and then installing Windows 7 to create a dual boot computer remains unchanged no matter what size your new drive is. In both cases (Single or dual boot) Windows XP is restored to the first partition.
Test that new hard drive:
A new drive does not automatically guarantee the drive is free of defects. I always make it a habit to extensively test any new drive I purchase.
As a bare minimum you should download and run the WD Diagnostic software (or the appropriate manufacture’s equivalent diagnostic software) and run both the Quick and Extended tests. In addition I also use HD tune and SpeedFan to test and analyze the drive (partitioning and formatting is not necessary to run the tests).
Partition Configurations: 1) For Dual Boot configurations see Partition Configurations 1A, 1B, 2A or 2B. -----> 2) For just moving Windows XP to a larger hard drive see Partition Configurations 3A or 3B. ----->
Configuration 3B with a 640GB hard drive is what I will be using for this article.