Move an entire Windows installation

Wed, 2007-07-18 08:51 by admin · Forum/category:

Table of contents

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One way to "move" the system is to recreate it. This involves reinstalling the operating system and all software from scratch, but at least on Windows XP it is helped by the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. With it you still have to reinstall all software, but at least you can easily transfer your data files and particularly most settings. If, however, you want to move your entire installation without reinstalling anything, please read on.

Simple boot diskette

If your computer still has a diskette drive, you can follow these instructions to keep it bootable. If not, the computer will likely be able to boot from an USB memory module and from a CD. In that case have a bootable operating system ready, such as BartPE or some version of Linux.

Assuming a diskette drive, before you begin to copy your installation, create and test a simple boot diskette. This can be very helpful, for example when you have the wrong BOOT.INI but cannot get at it because it's on NTFS or when the system doesn't boot from the hard disk because of partition or boot sector problems.

Create a boot floppy disk and test it, so you can manipulate BOOT.INI and other files more easily (on any other computer) if you cannot get the machine to boot. To do this, format a floppy disk from NT or Windows 2000 and copy the boot files to it:


and possibly:


Reboot your computer with this diskette in the drive. Windows 2000 or XP should boot from the diskette. If that works, you know that you can boot from this diskette and also modify BOOT.INI on this diskette if necessary. Note that BOOT.INI is normally copy protected. To change it, you need to remove the write-only flag first.

After each Windows installation make a copy of the new BOOT.INI, so you can later merge these files and make a new BOOT.INI that allows you to boot any spare installation or the main installation.

General information

The two fundamentally different methods of copying an operating system installation are:

  1. Copy one installation by using another
  2. Copy an installation while it is running

Both methods will be explained and discussed below, but the main point is that the second method is more difficult and less reliable. The difficulties arise because the running system has some files permanently open, for example, the registry, which cannot normally be copied.

Another fundamental problem, which is, however, common to all methods, is that you must not fail to copy all hidden and system files. Therefore simple copying, for example using the COPY command, will not be sufficient.

Fellow MVP Pegasus pointed this out in many of his messages. Thanks! Since it has become much easier today to have a third, independent installation to use for copying, like BartPE, Knoppix, another Windows installation, or a bootable partition copy program, this is now the clearly preferred method.

The Windows Vista install DVD also offers a complete small and temporary command line Windows that can do everything you need. Please see the following blog article, but add an /XJ (eXclude Junction points) switch to the robocopy parameters when you copy Windows Vista:

Howto: Duplicate any Windows installation to a new hard disk using only a Vista DVD (!)

Copy one installation by using another


Dave Everett wrote the following warnings after struggling with a system move that went astray. He was successful in the end, but it was not easy. Thanks, Dave!

His first warning echoes what has been written above already.

  1. Do not try to copy the operating system partition from the currently running partition to another drive—hook both drives up to a different computer as data drives, and copy it there.
  2. Do not use a hard disk that has already been previously assigned a drive letter other than C:\ as the destination drive of a system copy—unless you go in and delete the GUID of the destination from the DosDevices tree in the registry first before the copy is made.
  3. Do not hook up both hard drives to the old computer at the same time after the system has been copied.

If, for any reason, you do end up with the wrong drive letter, check the problems chapter below.

Create the new partition

Be sure not to create the new partition with Windows Disk Manager. The thing creates unbootable partitions every other time. Instead create the partition as if you would create a new Windows installation from the install CD, then break off the installation at any point, like the first dialog box, then copy the existing installation.

If you use Robocopy (see below), the you can use the /MIR (mirror) switch, which will also remove any leftovers from the started installation, so you don't even have to delete those.

You can also use a partition tool to create partitions, but the Windows installation CD has the advantage of creating a partition that is indistinguishable from 90% of all Windows installations and is therefore the least problematic.

If you foresee the next move or want to use similar methods to do backups, leave some 4 to 8 GB at the end of the hard disk for a second partition where you install an extra Windows for such purposes. If not, put a minimal Windows like BartPE on a memory stick or a CD and make sure you can boot from it.

Set the target partition active

You can do this before or after copying. Computers boot only from a partition that has been set active. You can do this with Disk Manager or with a third party tool.

Put a boot sector on the new disk

Find or download the bootsect.exe utility program. It should be in the boot folder of Vista installation CDs. It is also attached here. (Please see the attachment at the end of this article.)

Run bootsect /? or, for a longer help text, bootsect /help, to find out how to use it. Use the /nt52 switch for Windows XP, /nt60 for Vista and presumably for Windows 7.

Note that this step can be done at any time later just as well. For example, you can still do it after copying all the files to the new hard disk. Without it, however, the disk will most likely not be bootable, unless it already has a boot sector, like from an earlier Windows installation on it.


This step is entirely optional. It serves only to keep your computer with the old hard disk workable for as long as possible, while you copy the whole installation and all data.

Connect your new hard disk to the computer running the old one and copy everything over. Make sure you copy all access rights with the folders and files.

Connect both disks to another computer

One quick and easy way that saves you the extra helper installation is to temporarily connect both the old and the new hard disk to a third computer. Make sure to have the master slave jumpers set properly to avoid conflicts with other devices, but you can temporarily disconnect all other devices you don't need and use their data cable connectors for the two hard disks.

For 2.5 inch laptop disks you need two adapters that allow you to connect them to a standard IDE cable. These adapters aren't very expensive. They contain no active electronics.

Connect the new hard disk to the old computer

If you want to avoid the complications of copying a running system, you need another independent operating system installation. You can use BartPE or Knoppix for that or use a bootable partition copy program.

If you have no other possibility, you may have to ignore one of the warnings and connect the new hard disk to your old computer directly or over the network. In that case you have to back up and restore the system state, however, because some crucial files cannot be copied from a running system. You can use the Windows backup program for this purpose. Skip down to the next chapter for detailed information. And you may have to rectify the problem later that the new drive gets a different, wrong drive letter. See the problems chapter below for the solution.

Fellow MVP Ron Martell has these good hints, which apply in any case:

If you choose the temporary hard drive install option then I suggest you connect the temporary drive as master on the secondary IDE channel. In most computers this is best done by unplugging the power lead and data cable from the CDROM and using these for the temporary hard drive.

This avoids jumper setting complications, such as also having to remove the main hard drive to change the jumper on it because it happens to be a brand that uses different jumper settings for "stand alone master drive" and for "master drive with slave present".

Another potential complication with master & slave configurations can occur when the two drives are from different manufacturers and also are several years apart in age. In that situation it can happen that the two drives will just not function properly when connected as master & slave. I have encountered this several times in recent years, most recently with a 40 gb Western Digital drive and a 3.2 gb Maxtor that just would not work as master & slave. But putting them both as master drives on different IDE channels resolved the problems.

Copy using Robocopy or XCOPY

Now copy everything over using Robocopy from the resource kit or XCOPY with all the appropriate switches. Example:

XCOPY D:\*.* E:\ /E /C /H /K /R /O /X /Y

In Windows NT and later you have to use ROBOCOPY or SCOPY (NT only) from the resource kit, because its XCOPY cannot yet do this. With SCOPY use the /O switch if you want to keep ownership information along with the access rights which are always copied by SCOPY. For ROBOCOPY, which is the best choice, put the program into a folder, open a command line window, move to that folder using the CD command, then enter something similar to the following example, all in one line:

robocopy c:\ f:\ /mir /copy:datso /r:3 /w:2 /zb /np /tee /log:robocopy.log

This copies everything from c: to f:. Instead of /mir /copy:datso you may have to use /e /sec for older versions. for copying Windows Vista with the robocopy version included in Vista add the /xj switch (eXclude Junction points). Make sure you have administrator rights on all involved machines. /r:3 /w:2 means to retry 3 times after an error and to wait 2 seconds between these attempts. /zb means to try the backup method if normal copying fails. I don't know exactly what that means, but it could mean that robocopy uses backup manager rights. /tee means that folder and file names are output to the command line window. This is useful to check the progress, but it can slow down the copying process a lot, so minimize the window when you're not watching.

The /log switch is optional. If you do use it to create the log file, search for the word ERROR (all upper case) afterwards to spot problem files that could not be copied, such as encrypted files or files to which robocopy could not gain access, for example the System Volume Information.

To copy encrypted files, you can later connect the old hard disk to the computer now equipped with the new one and copy those files.

The System Volume Information should be deleted and recreated. First give Everyone all rights to this folder and its content, then delete it. You may have to disable System Restore for the drive while doing this. Re-enable it later and check whether a new restore point has been created automatically or create one manually.

Another copying alternative is the excellent shareware program XXCOPY from

Encrypting File System (EFS)

If the operating system is Windows XP or later and you use XCOPY and have encrypted files on your hard disk, you can try to use the XCOPY /G switch, but you may fail to decrypt your files on new hardware. Therefore it is best to decrypt everything before you try to move the system.

Copy using a partition copy tool

Further ways to copy a whole installation are Drive Image (or its little brother DriveCopy) from PowerQuest, the makers of the renowned Partition Magic, the gparted live cd, or some other similar tool. They can usually copy whole partitions from one drive to another, if both drives are in the same machine, and enlarge the copied partition.

Copy using disk mirroring

If you use an operating system that has disk mirroring, you can establish a mirror, wait for the two disks to synchronize, then break the mirror, remove the old drive and make the new one bootable if necessary.

Copy only the user base in a domain controller

If you only want to move your user base from an old domain controller to a new one, you can simply install the new one as a backup domain controller, wait until the user bases have automatically synchronized themselves, then promote the new machine to primary domain controller. After that you can switch off the old server.

Copy an installation while it is running

The methods described here are more complicated than the ones described above and require some familiarity with Windows. Avoid them if you have the choice.

Always log on with local administrator rights for the following procedures.

Windows XP: If you have to copy the running system and cannot use another computer or a separate installation in a different partition to copy the system, continue as follows. Do a system state backup, then restore the system state to a different folder. Later move the folders WINDOWS and Program Files from this backup folder to the new hard disk before or after you copy all files. If this does not work for any reason, boot into the recovery console by booting from the installation CD and choosing R for repair, navigate into the SYSTEM32\CONFIG folder and copy the active registry hives (SAM, SECURITY, SOFTWARE, SYSTEM, all file names without extensions, you can ignore any .log, .alt, .sav files) one by one, so you can later copy them back. This is absolutely necessary if you have to copy the running system, because these essential files cannot be copied out of a running system because they are open as long as the system runs. Using the backup utility is the better method, so try to use that, if you can.

Windows 2000: Use the backup utility before you begin to dismantle your working system. Run the backup program and elect to back up the registry (back up the system state), so you can easily go back to the last registry constellation. And have those four Windows 2000 install boot diskettes at hand. They can be created from the installation CD or downloaded from the web.

Windows NT: First of all run RDISK /S, so you can easily go back to the last registry constellation. If the compressed SOFTWARE hive software._ is not on the diskette, copy that from the %SYSTEMROOT%\Repair folder onto a second diskette. (%SYSTEMROOT% is normally C:\WINNT, C:\WINDOWS, or similar.) Have the three install boot diskettes at hand.

Windows NT cannot boot from large partitions

If you're still using Windows NT and want to move it, you have to consider a limitation, which is no longer there in later versions of Windows.

The systemroot partition in Windows NT cannot be larger than 7.8 GB due to BIOS INT 13 restrictions during NT's boot process. So don't try to move your single 4 GB partition into a new 16 GB partition under NT, for example. Later versions of Windows, like 2000 and XP, no longer have this limitation.

Exception: Some hard disk controllers can boot Windows NT from large partitions, provided the SCSI BIOS is disabled (if it is a SCSI controller), the BOOT.INI syntax uses scsi(...), not multi(...), and the driver is in the root of the hard disk as NTBOOTDD.SYS. You'd have to test that. If it works, you can work with only one large partition. If this is set up properly and if the SCSI controller doesn't cause any problems, then the SCSI driver, rather than the BIOS INT13 service, is used for booting.

Copy the installation through backup and restore

With Windows XP or 2000, install a temporary instance of Windows into a separate partition or onto a separate hard disk. Note that you normally always want a primary partition, not an extended or logical one. A hard disk can have up to 4 primary partitions.

With Windows NT and NTFS, install a temporary instance of Windows into a temporary folder on the new disk or computer, that will later be deleted. Do not use the name of the folder of your original NT installation. Then boot into this temporary installation to do the restore operation.

Create at least one partition on the new hard disk, but leave about 20 MB free at the end. You may need that later if there are any boot problems (see below). Now restore or copy the entire content of the old disk from backup tape or any other backup to the new disk.

That's all, provided you have formatted the new drive with Windows XP, 2000, or NT. If not, you may have an unsuitable boot sector there. See above for using the bootsect tool to create a proper boot sector.

Windows XP creates a special problem in that the NTFS partitions it creates are sometimes not bootable. Please see below for solutions to this problem.

If your newly copied installation doesn't boot from the hard disk, make sure you have set the boot partition active and don't forget any of the trivial things, like proper BIOS or SCSI adapter settings. See below for the XP workaround.

Set the partition active

This is very important, because otherwise the system will not boot from the desired partition at all. You can use Computer Management, right-click on the partition containing the boot files like NTDETECT.COM, NTLDR, BOOT.INI, etc. and elect to make this partition active.

You can also use a tool like Partition Magic or even FDISK to do this.

Boot from the new disk

To try to boot from the new, copied hard disk, set the master-slave jumpers on the hard disks such that the new drive is now the master on the primary port and the old one is either the slave or not connected to the primary port. You can connect it to the secondary port.

For SCSI drives set the drive ID to zero for the new drive and to 1 or something higher for the old one.

If you used Windows to copy the system, first disconnect the old drive and try to boot. If that doesn't work, reconnect the old drive, because the system may still have to fetch some files from drive C: and your new one may have a different drive letter now. The drive letter can be changed later (see below).

But, assuming you want to copy the whole system, there are a few more little problems. I'll mention them one by one.

Access rights to copy

In some non-standard installations there can be a problem with files to which even the Administrator has no read rights. An example is the System Volume Information folder in Windows XP, to which only SYSTEM has access rights. That particular folder doesn't have to be copied, but if you want to keep your system restore points, you have to give yourself access rights to this folder first, by taking ownership, then setting the rights. Even this may not be enough to keep the functioning restore points though. Further information is needed here. Robocopy can apparently copy everything if it is run from an account with administrator rights, so this program is the preferred choice. Example:

robocopy c:\ f:\ /mir /copy:datso /r:0 /zb /np /tee /log:robocopy.log

The /zb switch may be the key to success here. If the copying is slow due to the display of each file due to the /tee switch, minimize the command line window.

Unless you also use a temporary NT or 2000 or XP installation as described above or installed the hard disks in another computer, you will not be able to copy the entire SYSTEM32\CONFIG folder that way, but if you use one of the preparatory procedures described above, this problem can be overcome.

You may also have to go through some gymnastics to get the user profile NTUSER.DAT registry hives copied from and to the user profiles. It is easier to use a second temporary installation for the copy process, but if this is too difficult, like in Windows XP, you have to have two accounts with administrator rights, one of them would usually be the Administrator account. Then, when you use one of these to copy the system, the NTUSER.DAT hive will not be copied, but when you first boot into the new copied system, you can log on to the other account, then copy the missing file or use the following procedure.

After this and if you copied the system without using another Windows installation or third party tool, an important procedure, after the copied system boots, is to copy everything again from the old into the new running system, then reboot once more. This will copy all the missing files except any that may already have been recreated and kept open, but this method is usually sufficient. You can use XCOPY with the same switches mentioned above to do this.


Drive letter changed

First of all, try to avoid drive letter changes. For example, assume that you connected your new, empty hard disk as primary master and your old disk on some other channel or as slave, then you copied the entire installation outside Windows, i.e. by Drive Image or Norton Ghost.

If you then attempt to boot while your old disk is still connected, the old disk will keep its drive letter (let's assume C: as an example in this text) and the new one may get D: or some other drive letter.

Therefore disconnect your old disk before trying to boot from the new one for the first time.

If you missed this or if you used Windows to copy, then your new disk will already have received a new, wrong drive letter. It may or may not boot after you disconnect the old disk or, if it is Windows XP, it may refuse to let anybody log on. But it will likely boot and allow logons as long as the old disk is still connected, because it will find its drivers and services on C:. In some cases the system boots, but then hangs, goes into a reboot loop, or doesn't allow you to log on, for example, alwas immediately logs you off again. In that case read the next subchapter.

If you could boot, to find out from which drive letter you have actually booted, open a command line window and enter the command SET and check the drive letter in front of the WINDOWS folder.

If indeed the drive letter is wrong, you have to swap drive letters first, then disconnect the old disk. Here's the procedure:

Use the method in the article, How to change a drive letter to swap the drive letters.

Reboot and check whether the correct drive is now drive C:.

Remove the old drive or set its partition to hidden, to test whether drive C: alone is now bootable.

After this you can reinstall the old drive if you like or make its partition accessible again.

Make sure the drive letter is the same it was before. Otherwise the procedure is even more complicated, because you have to change all references to the old drive letter to the new, particularly throughout the registry, which can only be done with a registry search and replace utility because of the large number of such references. An example of such a utility is the free Registry Toolkit by Funduc Software at or the also free Registrar Registry Manager, Lite Edition, by

Before you remove the old disk, make sure that you have a pagefile (swap file) on the new one. To do this, right-click My Computer or select Start, Control Panel, System, then select Properties, Advanced, System Performance, Settings, Advanced, Virtual Storage, Change. If there is no proper pagefile, select your new drive, enter min and max sizes, thus set the pagefile, then you can remove the one on the old disk if you no longer plan to use it.

Can boot, but cannot log on

This is often caused by a drive letter change as well. Typical symptoms of a wrong drive letter that prevents the logon are that the system begins to boot properly and continues through a good part of the boot process, but then

  • hangs,
  • goes into a reboot loop,
  • doesn't allow you to log on, for example, always immediately logs you off again.

The procedure to fix that is also described in the article How to change a drive letter.

In certain cases you may have a functioning installation, like the one on the old, original hard disk, from which you can copy the entire MountedDevices key and insert it into the problem installation by exporting and re-importing it, using the Regedit program.

The copied installation fails to boot

First of all, make sure you have set the partition active which you want to boot from. You can do this in the Windows disk management or using a third party partitioning tool. A partition that has not been set active will not boot. It should, however, boot when you use a simple boot diskette, as described above.

If the Windows installation does not boot from the simple boot diskette either or if it boots correctly, then crashes while loading the system, a repair installation can probably fix this. The reason can be that the new hardware is too different and requires some adaptation.

If you can boot your newly copied Windows XP installation from the simple boot diskette, but still not from the hard disk, the boot sector may be defective or missing. To write a proper disk boot sector, use the bootsect tool as described above.

If this is not enough, something may be wrong with the partition boot sector. The prescribed procedure in Windows XP to reinstate the partition boot records is to boot into the recovery console and issue the commands FIXBOOT C: (or the actual drive letter if different) to write a new partition boot record, then test, then use FIXMBR to fix the master boot record if it still doesn't work. FIXBOOT alone cannot write a new disk boot sector, so you first have to use the bootsect tool as described above.

The proper use of FIXBOOT is as follows.

  • Use the command DISKPART to look at your partitions and note the drive letter of the partition you want to boot from. The trap here is that these drive letters can be different from those you see inside Windows.
  • Enter the command FIXBOOT and add the drive letter you saw in DISKPART. Examples:

fixboot c:
fixboot d:

  • Check that FIXBOOT yields a message that the boot record has been written successfully. If you don't get this message, no boot record has been written and the command has failed.

If the boot process halts before showing anything on the screen, except a blinking cursor or a short error message, you either have a defective boot sector or the partition has not been set active. First test whether you can boot the system with the help of the simple boot diskette. If so, you know that the contents of your partition are correct. Make sure the partition has been set active. Finally, use the repair procedure from the install CD to repair the boot environment and, if that fails to make the disk bootable, use it to repair the boot sectors.

The reason for failure to boot can also be a driver or a service or a mistake in your procedure. One culprit is the Lotus Notes Single Logon, but any poorly designed service can cause such a problem.

You have to disable such services or drivers to get the system back to booting. Often it is enough to rename the main driver or service program file or its folder, but sometimes it is necessary to disable it through the registry. If you already know that one particular component causes such problems, it is, of course, easier to disable it before you copy the installation. If you couldn't do that, proceed as follows.

The most important way out of here is again to plan ahead and not simply restore the old BOOT.INI over the one of the temporary installation. Instead, keep a copy of the original BOOT.INI, then merge this manually with the new BOOT.INI, such that you have the choice to boot either the temporary or the restored installation.

Boot into the temporary installation. (The restored one didn't work, otherwise you wouldn't be doing this.) Try to rename the offending file or its folder.

If that doesn't do it, fire up regedit.exe (or REGEDT32.EXE, if you are still running an older version of Windows, where regedit.exe cannot to this), load the problem hive, most likely the SYSTEM hive, from your restored NT (SYSTEM32\CONFIG) into HKEY_USERS and repair the problem manually in the CurrentControlSet key. Then save the hive to where it came from and remove it from HKEY_USERS. Never forget to make backup copies, so you can revert quickly when things don't work.

Windows NT only: If all this doesn't help or if you are not conversant with REGEDIT, then there is still a way out. Repair the SYSTEM hive using the three boot diskettes and the emergency repair disk from the temporary installation. If you don't have an emergency repair disk, create one using RDISK.EXE /S. Note, however, that this method may lead to losing some information from the SYSTEM hive. RAS is one example for a subsystem that keeps settings there. You may have to re-install a few things that don't work. But you will probably get your restored NT up and running. For Windows 2000 or XP copy the hive. If all else fails, you can use the command console to copy it.

If all the previous measures fail in Windows XP, there are still two ways out. One is to first install Windows XP from scratch, only to create and format a bootable partition, then break off the installation at the first opportunity. In the beginning of the installation remove the active primary partition and recreate it. This creates proper boot records. Then remove the installed folders and files except perhaps the boot files in the root, and restore the original installation into this partition.

The other is to create a small partition of about 20 MB at the end of your hard disk to install a small partition to boot from. If you didn't leave space for it, you have to use a third party tool like Bootit NG or Partition Magic to shrink your main partition by about 20 MB. Note that making space at the end of the disk is very quick, while making space at the beginning can take hours because programs like Partition Magic shift the entire partition content.

If your hard disk is bigger than approx. 135 GB, you may have to put the boot helper partition at the beginning of the disk instead, if you're not sure your BIOS can boot from partitions beyond that limit (using 48 Bit LBA = Logical Block Addressing), but don't forget to add a line to BOOT.INI to point to partition(2), as the system is now stored in the second partition. On the other hand, Windows cannot always count partitions properly, so you may have to experiment, so be sure to have two extra lines in boot ini, rather than one too little. Note that partitions, und like multi, disk, or rdisk, count from 1, rather than from 0. Example boot.ini file:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XP partition 1" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="XP partition 2" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS="XP partition 3" /fastdetect

Format this boot helper partition with the FAT file system and set it active, because you now want to boot from it, rather than the non-bootable main partition. Finally copy the boot files BOOT.INI, NTLDR, NTDETECT.COM and, if present, NTBOOTDD.SYS and BOOTSECT.DOS into this partition. If formatting with tools like Partition Magic doesn't lead to a bootable partition then put the hard disk into another computer running Windows XP and format the partition there. If the boot sector is still not proper, try FIXBOOT, if that doesn't work, reformat the partition in Windows and copy the boot files into it again.

Different driver

What if your new computer needs a different driver for the new hard disk controller or for the chip set?

The most elegant solution here is to plan ahead and install the new driver already before you make the move, possibly alongside the old one.

In the case of chip set drivers do not reboot, because your system may not run on your old machine with the new chip set driver. Instead shut down at the last reboot request and change the hardware.

It is useful to replace any specific IDE ATA/ATAPI hard disk controller driver with the more generic Microsoft driver, before moving the system to new hardware. You can do this for example in Windows XP by opening the Device Manager and replacing any installed hardware-specific IDE controller driver with the generic Microsoft driver. The driver that comes with Windows works on most, though not all, computers and gives you a fair chance that the system will immediately boot from the new hardware after moving.

If a driver refuses to install because it doesn't see its hardware, there are three ways to proceed. One is to temporarily move the new controller into the old computer alongside the old one, then install the driver, then move the controller back. The other is to do the temporary installation on the new system first, then transplant the driver. This requires to export and import the settings for the new driver from and to the registry, and copying all driver files. If the driver puts several files into the operating system that you cannot easily find, peruse its installation .INF file to get a clue about which files to copy. The third is to reinstall the operating system over the copied installation by means of a repair installation, so it can pick up the new hardware and install the required drivers. Please see the chapter Repair Installation below.

Windows 2000 and XP loads a chipset-specific IDE driver. One way to get around that is to add a generic driver before you move the system using the procedure described in the Knowledge Base article Q271965, available at

Can't access CD/DVD

How can you install a driver from the CD/DVD if you cannot access the CD/DVD in the first place?

The easiest solution is to plan ahead and install the driver already before you move the system. But there is another simple solution that has some other advantages. Copy the I386 folder (assuming Intel) to your hard disk before you move or to the new hard disk by other means, like over the network. Then you can you can use that folder instead of the installation CD. You can also find the CD or DVD drivers in there and install them from there.

Forgot settings for network adapter

Plan ahead and take notes from your old installation. Write down all essential settings, so you can quickly reinstall the network driver in the temporary installation if needed.

Upgrading from uniprocessor to multiprocessor system

For this you need the utility UPTOMP.EXE, contained in the Resource Kit. If this does not work, you may have a version of this tool that is broken. The latest version should work, however.

Some final hints

If you decide to try these procedures, please let me know which problems you encountered, if any. I am also grateful for any hints at how to improve this text.

Another hint in closing—if you copied the installation by putting the disks into another computer, after finishing the copying, defragment the freshly copied installation while it is still in the other computer and not running. Thus, for once, all files can be defragmented, because none is open.

A good writeup with background information on partitions can be found at

Note also that there are a few articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base about this subject. They make for quite different reading, so you may want to read them too and decide how to go about things. Some of them are:

How to Change the System/Boot Drive Letter in Windows 2000

Unable to Log on if the Boot Partition Drive Letter Has Changed

Changing Primary Disk System After Installation

How to move a Windows installation to different hardware

How to Restore a Backup to Computer with Different Hardware
(for Windows NT 3.1, but a few ideas may still be valid for newer versions)

You can search the Knowledge Base at

bootsect.zip252.88 KB

A small modification worked for me.

Sat, 2008-07-19 02:09 by mikemccabe

Thanks for the clear registry editing steps! After weeks, a fix.

Due to booting with a mirrored drive attached, my laptop's Windows partition ended up thinking that it was drive D, and that the MacOS partition was drive C.

Deleting \DosDevices\C and \DosDevices\D didn't work for me.

What did work: swapping the registry entry values, editing the value for \DosDevices\C to what \DosDevices\D had, and vice versa.

More at


Sat, 2008-07-19 12:58 by admin

Thank you for the good correction! In fact, the earlier subchapter on drive letters points to the correct procedure. I have changed the article accordingly.

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Please write a tiny little bit into your personal profile here, so people know at least whether you're a man or a woman. (:-)

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