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So there's a notebook (Lenovo Thinkpad Z61m) with a SATA hard disk, the SATA controller is configured for native AHCI operation & the OS is Windows XP. The hard disk is going to be replaced with an SSD which is larger.

I have an idea of how I'm going to do this, but I want to be sure there isn't something obvious I'm missing.

  • Connect external USB drive
  • Boot some flavour of Linux live CD
  • Use dd to clone the SATA disk to the external drive
  • Power off and replace the SATA disk with the SSD
  • Boot the live CD
  • Use dd to clone back from the external drive to the SSD

Does anyone have anything to add?

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Looks great to me, just make sure that you use /dev/sdX and not /dev/sdXN to copy, as the latter will only grab the partition and not the boot sector. – marcusw May 5 '10 at 15:56
@marcusw: you should add an answer rather than a comment, as comments can't gain you any rep. – ThatGraemeGuy May 6 '10 at 10:24
Never use any OS less than Windows 7 on an ssd! Earlier version of windows do not support the ssd trim command and your drive may die in a year or so! – kinokijuf Nov 19 '11 at 20:14
up vote 2 down vote accepted

dd probably won't work quite as you expect it to, as you really need something smarter than just a bit-for-bit copy of the raw drive/partition.

Check out Clonezilla, Acronis, DriveImageXML, Ghost / Ghost 4 Unix, and many others.

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I've used Acronis without any problems. – Nitrodist May 5 '10 at 17:24
Can you elaborate on why dd won't work? I expect it to copy the boot sector, partition table, data, etc. etc. Am I wrong? – ThatGraemeGuy May 5 '10 at 19:48
@Graeme Unless the drive geometry is identical for both drives, you will have issues. dd will copy EVERY byte - which includes the partition table and other stuff that is really best created with the correct drive geometry. – Goyuix May 6 '10 at 15:24
Thanks. It didn't work and we ended up installing Windows 7 instead of trying to troubleshoot it. – ThatGraemeGuy May 12 '10 at 8:04

I was able to migrate my laptop's 500GB drive to a 128GB OCZ SSD in about an hour. The Windows partition was ~150GB (i.e. larger than my SSD) and the 2nd of 3 partitions.

  1. Acquire SATA 2.5" -> USB adapter for about 20 USD/EUR.
  2. Migrate data using (inexpensive) Paragon's Migrate OS to SSD. 6 clicks and you're done.
  3. Install SSD and watch your system boot up faster than you have ever ever seen.

Note: This tool ensures that your SSD partitions are aligned, which Windows 7 can and will take advantage of. I'm fairly certain that XP doesn't support this feature though.

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