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I'm trying to upgrade a user's machine to some better hardware. I know of Easy Transfer, but I'd rather not have to reinstall all the programs that are already present. (Some of which are no longer available, anyway). Instead, I'm trying to transfer the entire disk image from one machine to the other, but I ran into issues.

If I copy the partition image over to the new machine using Clonezilla, I get errors on boot saying that I need to insert the Vista install disk and run repair. I do that, but it then says that it is unable to repair whatever it is that's broken.

Next, I tried to sysprep the old machine before creating the image, but sysprep fails saying that it encountered some sort of system error. Should it be possible to sysprep any arbitrary machine, or does it only work on a relatively clean install?

Could it be a missing driver that is tripping me up? The new machine is a fairly stock desktop that shouldn't need any special drivers beyond what's already present in standard Vista.

Are there any foolproof methods for doing this sort of thing?

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I found out that sysprep wasn't working for me due to the problem linked to below. Will try again and report back the results.… – Mike Hobbs Oct 22 '09 at 15:00
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The only reason to transfer windows from one hard drive controller to another (new motherboard) is to use sysprep. This software strips out all the drivers and setups the system to re-detect them on the next restart. Programs not related to hardware generally don't prevent this from happening. What version of sysprep are you using? It changes every so often so you should go out and re-download the latest package.

Once you have that, take a look at this handy guide to sysprep to make sure you are doing it right.

It should be noted that sysprep is intended to be used with full versions of Vista. If you upgraded this system from windows XP, it will generally not work.

Also, give your user a shoebox, and any time they get new software, have them put the disk in the box with any license codes. If they download something, have them burn a copy to the disk. Software installers should be treated like data and backed up so you don't have this problem in the future. That doesn't help you now, but good practices makes life easier for everyone.

Good luck

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I believe that the more expensive versions of Acronis can restore to disparate (different) hardware, which might work in your case. Worth a shot if you've got access to the software.

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Give easeus a try, they also have a sector by sector disk image copying.

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This will not work with Vista without sysprepping. – Mike Christiansen Nov 16 '09 at 20:22

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