Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I was wondering if anyone knew, is it possible to move a whole entire Windows 7 install from one hard drive to another? Complete with registered, username, passwords and drivers (which would probably have to be later removed/reinstalled)?

share|improve this question
    
What are you trying to achieve here? If you just want to install a larger hard drive, adding it a second (or third) drive would be far simpler. However, cloning the old drive onto the new should work. –  ChrisF Jul 30 '12 at 8:34
    
If Windows 7 is installed in a virtual machine (instead of a physical hard disk), you can simply transfer the virtual disk image to another computer, and boot it as-is from the other computer (using virtual machine software such as Virtualbox or KVM.) –  Anderson Green Dec 3 '12 at 19:40
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes! It is possible to move your hard drive contents to a new PC but you will likely have to re-activate Windows after it's done. In fact, you can count on having to re-activate. Therefore, I'd probably just install a fresh copy of Windows on the new PC (update it and get some AV/AM client running) and then migrate all my files to it afterwards. There's even a tool for this, Windows Easy Transfer Wizard. That may be all you need to know right there!

But if you don't want to reinstall and simply want to move your existing Windows to a new PC that also has a different hard drive, you may want to look into "hard drive imaging" software (not to be confused with graphics imaging software) to get Windows on to that new hard drive. And depending on whatever new hard drive you purchased you may already have imaging software on the CD/DVD that came with it. But again, you will almost certainly have to reactivate Windows. About the only advantage imaging a hard drive has is that you're almost guaranteed to have all your stuff right down to every last bookmark. But if you then move your hard drive to a different PC (or image it and put it in a different PC) you'll also end up with a ton more "bit rot" too. Stuff that may even interfere with proper operation! Therefore, imaging a hard drive is really only advisable if you're simply upgrading or replacing a hard drive for the same PC, not if you're moving it t a new/different PC.

And since we're talking about hard drives and moving files around, I hope you do regular backups. You're really playing with fire if you don't at least save the stuff you care about. Stuff like photos, documents, music - stuff you can't replace. Hopefully, stuff like that is also on a CD/DVD, thumb drive or even an external hard drive somewhere. And if you're really smart you'll keep copies of your backups off site like in a bank safe deposit box or possibly with an online service like Drop Box. So if you haven't made backups of your stuff do it NOW! Do it RIGHT NOW!!! Do it before you can't! Because it's only a matter of time...

share|improve this answer
    
+1 for back up, but I will add make sure the back up is intact and not copying empty folders of all my photos which my wife is killing me for! –  Dave Rook Jul 30 '12 at 10:28
add comment

I have had very good results using a free version of xxclone from http://www.xxclone.com

When i use the option under the "cool tools" tab to Duplicate Volume ID, this effectively makes it the same drive according to windows and I have not yet been asked to re-activate windows... so i guess its a complete clone as per the software name suggests.

share|improve this answer
    
XXclone is good but my personal favorite is Acronis True Image even though it is a paid software. –  Shivaranjan Jul 30 '12 at 10:56
add comment

Yes, this is possible.

There are a lot of specialised programs just for this. Some of these are:

This is not an exclusive list. There are more programs which a specialised in this, and quite a few ways to do it with just standard tools. However these programs usually have a small edge, such as detecting empty parts of a filesystem and skipping those. Thus speeding things up and using less discspace.

Regardless of which tool you use:

  • Make a backup
    You might not need it, but better safe than sorry.
  • Test the backup.
  • Select a tool and make the image of the disk.
  • Write the image to the new disk.
  • Swap disks and enjoy.

If you are going to move the disk to an other computer then you can run into problems. E.g. if the hardware is sufficiently different and incompatible with the drivers loaded on your old computer when it can fail to boot. If the hardware is sufficiently different windows might decide that you have to reactivate.

Therefor, if you do want to move it to another computer:

  1. First just try it. You might just be lucky
  2. If it fails, restore the disk image. Put the new drive in the original computer. Run sysprep with the generalise option (this removes all drivers). Then move the new HDD to the new computer, boot and install drivers.
share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.