Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have installed a new hard drive in our PC running Windows XP and I wonder how to transfer the data from the old (small) data partition to the new (large) one.

My question concerns only a data partition containing files and folders (not the boot partition with the Operating System files!)

  • Is it ok to just copy the folders in the Windows XP Explorer to the new partition?
  • Could anything be lost this way (hidden folders, metadata, ..)?
  • What is the best way to clone a data partition in Windows XP?
share|improve this question
Numerous tools exist. Please look to the right of the screen to see related questions. – user3463 Oct 28 '12 at 20:17
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I will answer your questions divided into parts, as you wrote.

  • Is it ok to just copy the folders in the Windows XP Explorer to the new partition?

Make explorer view system and hidden files, to see your files. If some apps are opened , close them before transferring your files (otherwise there can cause an error while moving a file, which is opened by an app). But you can't move all files just dragging and dropping in explorer (see the next part of the answer).

  • Could anything be lost this way (hidden folders, metadata, ..)?

Yes. Here are files, which will not be moved:
1)Files, which are in usage or locked (are opened by an app/service/system...)
2)Files, which you can't access (because you haven't privileges to them)
3)Windows Registry* files are locked and you can't move them (while you are in logged in).
Consequently, privileges, some program settings and all other information about files stored in Registry (which are not inside files) will be lost too.

*Windows Registry is stored in some files that are inside folder C:\windows\system32\config (the files sam,security,software, ...) and in NTUser.dat, which is in user profile's folder.

So if you want to copy ALL files manually (including that files which you can't move, while logged in), you can use bootable CD/DVD/... . Because then you'll have no restrictions to move your data.
For example, boot from MS-DOS with ntfs4dos or Paragon NTFS driver (if your partition is NTFS),
or use Windows Live CD/DVDs.

  • What is the best way to clone a data partition in Windows XP?

A very good tool for you: Acronis® Migrate Easy 7.0 . Or use tools like it.

share|improve this answer
thanks for your detailed answer. Concerning point 2: is there anything else which could get lost during copying except locked or not accessible files? Any kind of metadata (tags etc.)? (I'm asking as I know from MacOS X that there are some very sophisticated concepts of storing meta-information as file attributes or ressource forks which can be lost when copying, see e. g. – MostlyHarmless Oct 29 '12 at 14:58
@Martin, OK, Now i've added 2.3 point. – Searush Oct 30 '12 at 10:15

I've done this many times before using CloneZilla. Unlike Acronis, it is freeware (open source actually). Fairly simple to use, Download the .iso file, burn it to a CD or DVD, boot from the live CD and follow the prompts. There is plenty of documentation on the website.

share|improve this answer
Acronis is free , if you use magic things, called "crack";) – Searush Oct 30 '12 at 10:18
Also if you boot from LiveCD, you can do it without tools. – Searush Oct 30 '12 at 10:24

Your Answer


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.