Copying Hard Drives
(or: how to clone a Dell laptop hard disk)
Some sectors on my laptop hard drive were corrupt so I ordered a new one from Dell. The idea was to create an image of the old hard drive and copy it onto the new one. This proved to be a little harder than expected since (A) you cannot restore an image to a hard drive that you are currently using and (B) the new hard drive may be different (in this case bigger thanks to Dell).
Hardware You Will Need
- CD drive
- External (or second) hard drive with at least as much disk space as is used on your old hard drive
- Your original Windows XP SP2 installation disk
Assembling the Software Tools
Create a bootable UBCD4Win CD (v3.20 at the time of this writing). This proved to be a great tool for most of the things I needed to do. Follow the steps in the “How to Build” section. If you’re using a Dell OEM Windows installation disk, you also need to follow these instructions or the image may not be created.
Creating the Image
- Plug your external hard drive to your computer (not required if you have a second built-in hard drive).
- Boot your computer with the newly created UBCD4Win CD. You don’t need network access.
- If you’re using an external hard drive, you may need to activate it: Start menu > System > HWPnP > Force Install Devices. When you click on “My Computer” on the desktop, you should now see your external hard drive.
- Run the DiskImage XML software.
- Backup your hard drive with this software to the external/second hard drive. This should be straight forward. You can watch this YouTube video to see how this is done.
- Once you’re done, you can change the hard drive. If you want to delete the contents to protect it from others, you can use the CopyWipe software on the UBCD4Win CD.
Restoring the Image
- Install the new hard drive.
- Boot again with UBCD4Win.
- Activate your external hard drive (see above for instructions).
- Format the hard drive. NTFS. There are multiple tools on UBCD4Win that do this, including the standard Windows tools.
- Run the DiskImage XML software.
- Restore your data by copying the disk image from your external/second hard drive to the new hard drive using this software.
Making Your New Drive Bootable
Try to boot your computer with the new hard drive. You may be lucky, everything’s the same as before. If not, and that’s more likely, you need to run a Windows repair install:
- Insert your Windows XP CD. It should be the one that was used to install XP. Problems have been reported when the Windows version differs (Home/Professional) or when the service pack differs. Dell provides you with an OEM version which allows you re-install Windows (and that’s typically all they recommend).
- Boot from that CD.
- In the first menu presented to you, press ENTER. Do not press R in this menu. Using the Recovery Console is a different thing.
- Accept the license agreement.
- Make sure the Windows installation you want to repair (the cloned one) is selected and now hit R. Follow all further steps.
If The Repair Install Option Cannot Be Found
In this case, you most likely need to fix the BOOT.INI file.
- Boot from your Windows XP CD again.
- This time, do select the first R option (Recovery Console).
- Select the Windows installation you want to repair (the cloned one).
- Run bootcfg.
- Now try again to run a repair install (see above).
The Administrator Password
Sometimes you may not know the administrator password which you need to run the Windows XP repair software. You can reset the password using the NTPWEdit software on the UBCD4Win CD.
“System Has Recovered from a Serious Error”
If after successfully starting Windows you get this error message, follow these instructions.