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Beginners Guides: Cloning WindowsXP
Beginners Guides: Cloning WindowsXP - PCSTATS
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   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Disk Cloning Software

Symantec Norton Ghost

Symantec's Norton Utilities are likely familiar to most computer users, as versions of them have been around as long as the IBM-style PC has been around. The Norton Ghost utility is a hard disk cloning program that has seen many refinements over its history. It now sports a full Windows interface, where older versions were DOS only, and includes many useful features such as the ability to clone hard disks across IP and USB connections.

Aside from these handy tools, Ghost's major advantage over the freeware utilities we feature here is one little feature that makes a big difference. When you copy a partition (like your C: drive) from an old hard disk to a newer, bigger hard disk, Ghost automatically adds the extra space on the new disk into the partition. This means you are saved from having to either create another partition to use the extra space, or using a third party utility like partition magic to do the job. Very convenient.

We decided to use Norton Ghost for the 'commercial utility' portion of this tutorial as many users will already have it available to them. Ghost is included in Symantec's popular 'Norton Systemworks' software package.

There are several other excellent commercial disk cloning packages available, like Acronis Disk Image for example.

What about Freeware disk cloning?

Are there freeware disk cloning packages out there? The answer is yes, with some qualifications. Like data restoration, disk cloning is an application which business users will pay serious money for, so free disk-cloning software is rare. That said, we have managed to locate a few applications that will do the job and do it well, with a few limitations.


The first freeware cloning app we will look at is Miray's Hdclone . The free version of this application is limited compared to the professional version that they offer, but it's still very useful for the purposes of this article.

What Hdclone does is to create a bootable disk or CD which scans the drives on the system, prompts the user for a source drive and a target drive, then copies the source data over the target data. That's it. Fortunately that's all we need...

The one major limitation of the free version of this application is that it can only copy to a target drive that is larger than the source drive. Not smaller, not the same size. This limits its value for business backup operations, but that's not the point of this article. Helping you upgrade your hard disk and keep your OS is the point of this article, so let's continue.

A second, lesser limitation is the fact that cloning your smaller hard disk to a larger one with Hdclone will leave you with a partition on the new hard disk the exact size of your old hard drive, with the rest of the drive left as unpartitioned space. This space can either be converted into a new partition for storage or merged with the system partition using a program like Partition Magic.

Ranish partition manager

The second freeware program we look at is Ranish partition manager , which has been around for a while and serves as a more functional alternative to the FDISK program included with Windows. Considerably more functional, since it also includes disk cloning abilities. Like Hdclone, these are more limited than Norton Ghost, in that they will not automatically resize your partitions to take advantage of available space when you clone a drive to a bigger drive.

Some major hard disk manufacturing companies offer free software on their websites which can be used to analyse, partition and clone that company's products. Examples of this include Maxtor's Maxblast 3 software and Western Digital's Data Lifeguard . While we will not go into detail about using these utilities in this guide, online manuals are available from the manufacturer's websites if you would like to test them out yourself. 

Cloning Procedure; Part 1 and Part 2

We've separated this PCstats Beginners Guide into two parts. The first part deals with the necessary procedures that need to be carried out before and after the cloning process, depending on whether you are moving to a new computer or just moving WindowsXP onto a newer drive on the same computer.

Part 2. deals with the specifics of using Norton Ghost, Hdclone and Ranish Partition Manager to do the actual cloning process. During the course of following the instructions in the first part, you will be instructed to see the specific directions for the cloning program you are using, which are in the second part of this section.

It is important to stay awake and alert while you are performing the disk cloning procedures we detail below. Even though modern disk cloning programs are significantly more user friendly than they used to be, it is still quite possible to accidentally erase your data while attempting to copy a drive.

Generally, this occurs when the user chooses the wrong source and target drives, and accidentally copies an image of the blank, new drive over the old drive containing his or her data. While you still may be able to get your data back in this instance (see PCstats' Data Recovery Guide for help), it's better to avoid mishaps altogether by paying attention throughout the procedure.

!! IMPORTANT NOTE !! Before you attempt to try any of the procedures outlined in this informational guide, please backup your critical data. If you skip a step and something bad happens during the procedure that results in a corrupted image of your drive, the data may not be retrievable. So, please make sure you a backup all your data before you begin.

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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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