Migration of Windows 7 to a new hard disk - Frustrations Galore

Am recording my attempts of migrating Windows 7 to a new hard disk.

This all started when my 3 year old heavily used Samsung drive started getting full and started showing some warning messages regarding the number of bad sectors. Earlier, I had set up my computer in a multi-boot configuration with Windows XP being the first OS followed by the following in the same order:
Windows 7;
Fedora 13
Ubuntu 12.04

Two distros of Linux were installed in the hope that I will start using them and be adept in their use but as I discovered, multi-boot isn't the best way to go about it due to the inconvenience of the restart.

Ubuntu was installed last because of grub - the nice boot manager that correctly gives you options for all existing OS partitions out of the box which is not the case for Fedora 13.

I have a Phenom II X2 of which I had been able to unlock all four cores with the help of a core-unlocking motherboard (another story for another time). With virtualisation increasingly becoming rock solid and RAM prices hitting rock bottom, I thought it was time to use virtualisation to help my migration from Window to Linux which was not exactly helped by the multi-boot scenario due to the hassle. However, git bash of Git for Windows has now made me comfortable enough so that Linux commandline looked like a viable option.

A secondary motivation was that the due to being installed after Windows XP by a non-suspecting novice, Windows 7 was installed in a logical drive in an extended Windows partition with the original WinXP partition being the active, primary and the system partition. Now, I wanted to do away with the defunct XP and only keep the Windows 7 on the new hard disk in a primary partition.

Another complicating fact is that I have some heavy games programs installed in the D: drive which is the logical sibling of C: in the extended partition to E: as I did not want my Windows 7 drive to run out of space.

Being a simple man :) with limited means but with the grand vision of migrating to virtualisation and simplifying the complicated drive layout on the new disk, I started out with the Windows system image backup and restore which required me to backup E: (original Windows XP partition) besides C: - something which I wanted to avoid. Also, it appeared that it wanted a place to put the backup first and then to restore it to the new hard disk which seemed roundabout and inelegant, making me look further.

The next choice was Acronis True Image WD Edition, recommended by my hard disk company, Western Digigal. However, it even failed to backup, perhaps because of some reparse points / juntions issues. Junctions are Windows flavour of symbolic links.

Next, I tried out HD Clone but was frustrated by the artificially slow speed of its free version in copying the partitions and kept looking.

Then, I came across Parted Magic, a Linux distribution which had all the tools for the purpose. I went and created a bootable USB using Unetbootin so that I could run Parted Magic from the USB. Once there, I used Clonezilla, though the original article at http://www.securitybeacon.com/?p=1089 had suggested Parted Magic had suggested G4L (Ghost for Linux). With Clonezilla, I was able to perfectly clone my hard disk - however, there was no point in simply having a clone - half of my new hard disk was unoccupied and my Windows 7 was still in a second grade logical, non-active, non-primary, non-system partition. Also, I was getting some warnings about the clusters not being aligned properly. However, Clonezilla did work as expected and maybe a more savvy or determined user would have made it do better. However, I kept on looking.

In the end, I tried MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition which had a nice GUI and intuitive workflow. If it could do what it promised, I would be good, I smiled. After some false starts which actually helped me get more conversant with the Windows Boot process besides MiniTool Partition itself, I did the following:
> Delete all the partitions made by Clonezilla;
> Created a new empty primary partition at the start of the new disk;
> Copied the Windows 7 logical partition to the above;
> Made the primary partition active;

I may mention that after copying Windows 7 to the new primary partition with MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition, I kept getting an error saying pwnative not found or something which was caused by a startup entry somewhere in Windows for starting up Partition Wizard Native I guess. I worked around this by taking help from this post and actually copying the registry just before starting the MiniTool copying step though it meant doing the copying process all over again which thankfully took around twenty minutes with my 78 GB Windows 7 partition.

However, even after getting a boot from the new hard disk, the performance is not upto the mark and I am not keen to keep this setup. I am actually thinking of resorting to Clonezilla again and follow this up with resizing and deleting the partitions. I think I will need to humour Windows if I want to keep my current Windows installation. I think migrating cleanly from my current setup is too much of a hassle and if this fails, I will simply give up and do a fresh install. This will be good for maintaining the games on drive D: as well as the original scheme will not be altered.

I may mention that before getting the registry backup process right, I was able to boot from the new hard disk and was able to view the login screen couple of times or more. However, the system would hand on the welcome screen without keyboard and / or mouse access. I have USB keyboard and mouse, However, I don't think this must've been the issue because my keyboard was working fine and I was actually using it extensively for changing BIOS setting for changing boot disk priority to CD-ROM as well as typing the BIOS password. Moreover, I was able to get in Windows after I made Windows use the backup registry.

One mistake that I made was not heeding the advise of removing the original hard disk while trying startup repair from the Windows Repair Disk which must've cost me at least a couple of hours and frustration.

I discovered this article toward the end of my quest and it actually helped me continue where MiniTool Partition Wizard left off.


Written too much like a mind dump. Will edit it to make more palatable and useful later. (Don't forget the images) Don't forget to mention that had to retype it because of non-submitted form in Drupal.

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