BOOT CAMP 552 (25/11/08) – Make Do and Mend, part 4


We have now reached the final stage of the hard disc upgrade that could extend the useful life of your Windows PC by several years. The two methods we’ve been looking at are disc cloning and starting afresh, with a new installation of Windows, so let’s begin with that, as it is the most straightforward.


Having installed the new drive the key points to remember are to disconnect any other drives, apart from your CD/DVD and floppy drive if fitted, and this includes any USB drives (flash and external HDD) and memory card readers. If you don’t Windows may get confused and assign your new drive a letter other than C:/, which could be very inconvenient. If the new drive is an IDE type, set it to Master mode (see part 3); SATA drives should be connected to Channel 1. In addition to your full retail XP (or Vista) installation or upgrade disc you will also need the driver and motherboard utilities disc that came with your PC.


You are now ready to begin, but rather than covering old ground I will now refer you to Boot Camp 440 in the DT Archives (part 5 of the Build your own Vista-Ready PC), which covers the whole procedure in some detail (the only slight deviation is the last part concerning installing the motherboard drivers, which differs according to the make and model of motherboard).


Once Windows is up and running you can set about installing your applications and afterwards you can copy across your files and data from the old drive but if it’s an IDE type before you reconnect it make sure that it is set to Slave mode. Eventually you may want to re-use the old drive for extra storage or backup or install it in an external USB housing. I would leave it for at least a week or two, before you reformat it, to allow the new system time to bed in, and make sure that you have copied across all of your files. Better still if you can spare it, keep it in a safe place for emergencies.


In order to clone or mirror your current system you will need to have both HDDs and your CD/DVD drive connected, but again temporarily disconnect any other drives and memory card readers. You should also have your disc-cloning program to hand. My personal favourite is Acronis True Image but I have no reason to discourage you from using competing, and similarly priced products, such as Paragon Drive Backup and Symantec Ghost. They all work in broadly the same way, however, whichever program you choose, and before you begin, I strongly suggest that you ‘RTFM’, as there are some minor risks involved in this procedure.


Disc cloning software is near idiot-proof these days but you will be asked to make or confirm decisions that result in one of the drives being formatted and partitioned. If you get it wrong you will loose your original system drive! I’ve certainly come close to making this sort of mistake myself so now I always write down the make and size of the drives, and write the letter ‘C’ on the chassis, next to the bay containing the current Primary drive, so there can be no confusion.

Most cloning programs use simple to follow ‘wizards’ and one of the first jobs is to identify the ‘source’ drive – the drive you want to clone – and the ‘target’ or ‘destination’ drive, which is the new one. This is where it can all go horribly wrong so take your time over this critical step, and double check to make sure that you’ve chosen the right drives!


Depending on the software package involved, and the configuration of your original drive you may be able to change the size of the partitions, or create new ones, which could be handy if the new drive is substantially larger than the original and you want to install a second operating system and ‘dual boot’ with Vista or Linux. Once you have confirmed your decisions usually all you have to do is sit back and wait. The actual copying process normally takes place after Windows has been shut down and the computer rebooted into DOS or a Linux operating system (see also this week’s Top Tip)


The cloning process can take anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the size of the drives and processor speed, RAM etc., so be patient, even if nothing appears to be happening. When it has finished the first thing to do is verify the integrity of the clone drive by disconnecting the old drive and connecting the new one as the new Primary drive (if it’s an IDE type don’t forget to change the jumpers from slave to master mode).


If everything has gone according to plan Windows should boot up normal and it will look identical to your old installation. Windows Product Activation will probably be triggered, in which case you can activate it on the Internet, or follow the links to obtain an activation code over the phone. As before you should wait a while before recycling your old drive, just in case the new one throws a wobbly…


Next Week – Make-do and Mend. Part 5





Installing two operating systems on a PC, the choice of which one to use appears immediately after switch-on



Read The ‘Flipping’ Manual, or words to that effect…



Registration system used by Microsoft to prevent piracy and copies of Windows XP and Vista being installed on more than one PC at a time



One or two cloning programs operate while Windows is running, in which case it is important that the process isn’t interrupted. To do that you should unplug any Internet or network connections and disable the screensaver. It’s also worth exiting any other programs that launch automatically with Windows, such as your anti-virus software and any other applications, which are set to periodically check for updates online 



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© R. Maybury 2008, 2210


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