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The total installation on the 250GB hard drive (will be) much, much less than 160GB.

I'm about to install Windows 7 to a 250GB 7.2k RPM because of the need to have a machine up and running today. In about a week, I will have to switch out this drive for a 160GB 10k RPM drive.

How can I go about doing the install and then the image and make this is painless as possible?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

If the content used on the 250 is small enough create an new empty partition on the 250 using perhaps 100gb.(102400MB) Do that in win7 by going to My Computer, right click select Manage>Disk Management. Select C: and right click, shrink partition the amount of MB to shrink can be 102400 This should then give you a small enough installed OS partition to transfer to the new 160.

It is up to you and what you are comfortable with but I have used which clonezilla uses. has some good tools as well.

All free stuff and you can transfer this new smaller partition to the new drive.

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Thanks, I ended up using clonezilla and will be relying on that for future needs. Kudos for links to FOSS tools for the job. – mindless.panda Oct 27 '10 at 13:17

Here is what I would do: Take your 250GB drive and partition it into two equal parts, do your install onto partition 1, after the 160GB arrives go ahead and run your backup of partition 1 to partition 2 on the 250GB drive, install 160GB hard drive, then restore from partition 2 of the 250GB drive to the 160GB drive. Windows 7 install/backup utility should handle all of this for you.

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Have to admit this is pretty simple – datatoo Oct 22 '10 at 21:11
What is the Windows 7 install/backup utility you mention? – mindless.panda Oct 25 '10 at 16:08
Sorry, just a name I pulled out of thin air for whatever Microsoft calls the Windows 7 installer and the Windows 7 recovery tool (toss your boot disk in and do some poking around in the options and you will see what I’m talking about). – N_Lindz Oct 26 '10 at 13:39
It seems pretty simple, but when actually trying to accomplish this via the Windows 7 tools, there ends up being quite an amount of problems/errors, none of which are very informative towards finding resolutions. End result is I would not recommend someone trying to do this via the Windows 7 tools. They've still got some work to do on them. In particular scenarios (and forum posts seem to agree) where the image is being restored to a different drive. – mindless.panda Oct 27 '10 at 13:15

I think GImageX from the WAIK can create .WIM images of a current partition, and write them to a bigger partition.

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Thanks, just to clarify, GImageX is a third party GUI for ImageX, which is a command line utility that's included in the WAIK. – mindless.panda Oct 27 '10 at 13:16

Many imaging tools don't copy the partition byte-by-byte to generate the image but rather grab each of the files and pack them together. This causes the tool to not create exact images, but it does allow for flexibility with regards to the media size.

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Why did this get downvoted? I use Casper for this sort of thing and it will resize partitions on the fly in what I assume is this sort of manner. – Shinrai Oct 22 '10 at 21:20

Backup Exec Syatem Recovery will do this easily. Did a similar image earlier this week. There is a demo at Backup Exec

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There are a few paid tools (I use Casper, I think Acronis does it as well, probably others) that will let you clone partitions and will downsize (and upsize) them on the fly as much as free space allows. Completely effortless and foolproof. Most freeware I'm aware of requires a two step process - resize the partition, then clone.

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