Need help replacing hard drive

I have been slowly upgrading my homebuilt computer over the last several months, and the time has come to upgrade the hard drive.

I currently use a fairly old (and apparently pretty slow) 250 GB hard drive. I have bought a nice, new 1 TB hard drive. The plan is to replace the old drive with the new drive, and dispense with the old drive entirely.

I have no problems with physically installing the hard drive, but I’m not so confident on my ability to clone the old drive to the new drive. Looking at the search results I get on Google, the step-by-step instructions seem to assume I know a little more about computers than I actually do. For example, I downloaded one cloning freeware program, but the instructions are barely more than: 1) use your CD burning program to burn this file to a CD; 2) restart with that CD; 3) punch some buttons; 4) you’re done.

Great. But that assumes I have a CD burning program (does Vista Home Premium come with one?), I know how to use it, and that I know what buttons to press once I boot from the CD.

Could someone recommend some software to help me with this, and point me to some directions that don’t assume that I know what I’m doing?

Much obliged.

There are two basic ways to do this.

You could reinstall the O/S. Simply install the new hard drive then reinstall the O/S.

Of course this means you have to download and install all your software again.

Once this is done, you buy an external enclosure for the hard drive. Then you move the saved files from the drive in the external enclosure to the new drive.

Remember you have to reintall all the old software.

The advantage with this method is you get a clean install. You don’t have any uncleaned up messes in your registry etc.

The second way is to clone the hard drive.

For this you take your new hard drive and put it in an external enclosure.

Easeus makes a good back up/clone tool that is free

Drive Image XML is another good free cloning tool

Both are very good. The problem with the free cloning software I found is that they aren’t user friendly. At least not as user friendly as the paid software.

But if you take the time and read EVERYTHING first, you won’t have any issues.

Once you get either of the above (or your choice) downloaded, you simply clone the drive to the new hard drive in the external enclosure.

I’ve used Maxblast before, which works if one of your drives is a Maxtor. I’ve not used the imaging software on the Ultimate Boot CD but other tools on it have worked fine.

To burn a CD, you will need something like ISO Recorder.

Are you sure you don’t want to at least use the old disk for back-up or something?

Anyway, to offer another option, you could use a linux live CD and use the dd command (for dupicate disc) to simply copy the whole old disc to the new disc, MBR, partition table and all.

Sorry if this was mentiioned but why not keep both hard drives? You could also install new drive by itself with fresh OS install and then put your old drive in there as secondary (google “setting hard drive order”) and copy your files that you need.

I haven’t had any luck trying to copy programs from one “program files” to another so you may just be able to back up your files to a cd or dvd preferably.

It would be easier just to keep both hard drives and you would have some extra space. 250 GB is still a lot no matter how cheap they are. You choose a route and I’m sure my googlin’ skills can provide some step by step instructions.

I will check those out further. It is fairly frustrating that it is hard to find directions on how to use these things before downloading them…

I’m really not seeing a use for the second drive. I don’t download movies, I don’t have lots of games, I have a good amount of photos, but 1 TB is so much space I barely know what I will do with it. Something just annoys me about having two drives and one of them being pointless.

And I’m afraid I am completely lost on your suggestion for a linux live CD. I do not know what linux live is.

ETA: and now I can’t find the extra SATA cable that I’ve had laying around for months. Nothing is easy. Except Ikea furniture. I have no problem with that.

I don’t recommend cloning drives. A new drive means a fresh start. Install windows. That way you’re virus free & spyware and you’ll find that your pc runs a little faster.

You have nothing to lose. All your files are on your old drive anyhow. If the install goes wrong or you have trouble finding drivers then format and then clone as a last resort.

This is why everything useful I download is backed-up to a DVD-R. No hassle with re-downloading again, and if a later version comes along I can easily upgrade it later if I find that is necessary.

Are you going to re-install the operating system?

If so, you have to reinstall all the programs anyway. When I got a new HD, I had a big stack of install disks next to the computer. Took about 6 hours.

Whenever you change the hardware setup, the programs need different helper programs. If you are lucky, they clean up the registry at the same time. If you aren’t you end up with a massive registry where only 1/3 of the programs are used.

For example, when you install say Firefox, it will check your hardware setup and only install the programs you need. If you change the setup, you get programs you don’t need but not the ones you do need.

If you just need files, the process is very simple. Connect both, set the old drive to slave, boot from the new drive, and then copy what you need.

It’s been mentioned already- backup. You say you want to dispense of your old drive and you have a good amount of photos. Do you have them backed up anywhere? If not, if your new hard drive fails, bye-bye good amount of photos.

I also think you should forget about cloning and go for a clean install. You can then copy your photos and any other files you’d like to keep from your old drive to your new one and no extra software is needed for this. Yes, you have to go through the trouble of re-installing drivers, programs, etc., but it’s nice to know you have a clean, malware free install along with the other benefits that have already been mentioned.

I have a backup external hard drive - one of those you plug into a USB port - with my photos and modest amount of music.

Based on many of your comments, I’m now considering doing a clean install on the new drive. However, I upgraded to Vista from XP, so my Vista is one of those upgrade only ones. Is that going to make things complicated?

No, when you install Vista from the upgrade disc, it should recognize that your previous installation was legit. If not, you will be asked to put your old XP disc in for a few moments for validation.

…misread post…

XP is a pain in the butt. You have to make a new ISO of the install disk and use a program to install the drivers otherwise XP doesn’t recognize new harddrives. However, once you make one, it’s good for a long time.

I forget which program I used, it’s on my laptop right now but my laptop is at work.

If you’re going to reinstall, I suggest you take the opportunity of upgrading to Windows 7.

Grab CCleaner, Malwarebytes, Avast, Spybot, Defraggler, & Windows Defender just in case.
Clean your hard drive and add your second hard drive and you will save a lot of time.
If you want your computer even cleaner,… They will take care of you.