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I am getting a new laptop and wish to "move" my desktop installation exactly as I have it on my desktop to my laptop. I imagine that drivers will be an issue, but beyond that, how do I do a clone?

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6 Answers 6

Others have suggested tools already, but I feel I should add that cloning an install to different hardware is certainly not recommended! Disk cloning is a great way to backup your existing PC but if you're installing to different hardware you should really do a fresh install on that new PC and then copy your data over. This is especially important if the hardware is radically different between your machines - as it is in your case.

I would strongly recommend that you transfer over only your settings and data rather than trying to clone the actual hard disk to a new machine.

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I think that this tool will do the job just fine:

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Ihave used Backup Exec System Recovery and moved to much different hardware with ease. There is a 60 Day trial that is fully functional. Software like GHOST has issues with different hardware. BESR is designed to deal with it. It will even prompt for drivers it thinks it needs. I have done several desktop to laptop moves and the reverse to test the features. It works very well. Windows may need to be activated again as there is a hardware change. This could require a call to MS but it has never been an issue once you explain what happened. OEM Windows will possibly be an issue due to license restrictions.

BESR 2010

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You're in for a world of hurt if you try to do a clone from a desktop to a laptop.

Best bet is to use Windows Easy Transfer.

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But it would require that I reinstall everything, which is a big headache. – CrossHatch Mar 24 '10 at 4:32
I guess... pick your headache. :) I've tried this type of clone a several times in the past. I failed more than I succeeded, but I did succeed a few times. The amount of time I spent getting it to work was more than if I had just re-installed the programs. Getting it to work is a lot of hackery, and I just don't trust it in the long run. – churnd Mar 24 '10 at 11:17

I've done this kind of thing many times (only Vista and later, otherwise just give it up). Just run sysprep (for good measure), swap the drives: it probably will fail to boot, in which case, pop in the Windows CD and run startup repair, and you'll probably be set.

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This thread on sevenforums looks like it was written just for this purpose, using sysprep which has a 'generalize' feature to remove hardware specific drivers and roll back to built in drivers which allows your existing hard drive to boot up in a new machine. You will also lose some of your windows customization and will have to reactivate but will otherwise keep your existing install intact. Disclaimer: I haven't done it myself!

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