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Beginners Guides: Cloning WindowsXP

Beginners Guides: Cloning WindowsXP - PCSTATS
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Abstract: A common problem is how to clone your installed WindowsXP and move it to a new hard drive on the same computer. Upgrading your OS hard drive can be a real pain, but we'll walk you through an easy process to simplify your life, so you can get back to work.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCstats Dec 23 2008   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCstats

Beginners Guides: Cloning WindowsXP


A common problem is how to clone your installed WindowsXP and move it to a new hard drive on the same computer. Upgrading your OS hard drive can be a real pain, but we'll walk you through an easy process to simplify your life, so you can get back to work. - Version 1.0.0

PCstats has previously covered a handful of disk cloning software programs which are useful for the purpose of backing up your data by making an identical copy of your hard disk. Now we'll look at another essential use for disk cloning: Copying an existing WindowsXP installation to a new hard drive.

Why do you need to know this?

Well, ask yourself; are you planning to upgrade your computer's hard disk at some point? Are buying a new computer to replace your old one? If the answer to either of these questions is 'yes', then this guide is definitely for you.

If you upgrade your operating system hard disk, chances are the new one will be both faster and larger than your original disk. Since you can have multiple drives in your system, it makes sense to keep WindowsXP on the fastest drive, since its speed will make the most difference in that configuration. Trouble is, WindowsXP can't just be copied over from your old drive to the new one. There are essential files which will not be created on the new disk if you try this. So what to do?

You could reinstall WindowsXP on the new drive, but that means reinstalling all your software and redoing your personal configurations all over again. Programs that were installed on the old drive will not work on a new WindowsXP installation because the registry, where WindowsXP stores information necessary to run any installed programs, will be brand new and will not contain information they need to work.

The solution to this problem is to clone your old hard disk. This method uses software to make an exact bit-by-bit mirror image of everything on the old operating system hard drive so it can be transferred to a new hard drive. Once this process is complete, you simply swap the new drive for the old one and you have a newer, faster disk with exactly the same contents as before (and some additional empty space if it was a larger disk).

While this method is incredibly useful for moving your WindowsXP installation around to different disks on the same computer, it can also be used to move WindowsXP to a new computer with a different configuration if you are upgrading the entire box from say a Intel Pentium III to a Pentium 4.

If you have purchased a new computer, but would rather keep your existing Windows XP installation and programs, disk cloning can help here also, in conjunction with a process called the 'repair installation.'

So, to recap: If you want to move your Windows XP installation to another operating system hard drive, or to a computer which is replacing your old system without needing to reinstall the whole thing, including all your software and settings, this article will tell you what you need to do.

How disk cloning works

Disk cloning uses a special software program such as Symantec's Norton Ghost to create an exact copy of one hard disk on a second drive. This does not involve copying files as such. Rather, the software creates an "image file" of the drive's contents which is then applied to a new hard drive, or stored elsewhere.

Many disk cloning software packages allow for a disk image to be stored on another type of media such as magnetic tape, DVD-R, CDR/RW, or kept in a central location to be cloned to many computers via a network. Most disk cloning software packages operate outside WindowsXP using bootable disks or CDs to start, as the operating system places limits on hard drive access which make cloning drives directly difficult.

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Contents of Article: PCstats
 Pg 1.  — Beginners Guides: Cloning WindowsXP
 Pg 2.  Disk Cloning Software
 Pg 3.  Part 1A: Installing a new drive for cloning
 Pg 4.  Part 1A: Before and after the Cloning
 Pg 5.  Part 1B: Cloning for a new computer
 Pg 6.  Part 1B: Installing Drivers After Cloning
 Pg 7.  Part2: Using Norton Ghost
 Pg 8.  Part2: Using HDClone
 Pg 9.  Part2: Using Ranish Partition manager

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