I have been trying for about three weeks to clone a Windows 7 hard drive to get it to run in another computer. Where I work, we have 600+ computers that need Windows 7 installed on them before support for XP runs out. We have volume licensing with Microsoft so that's not an issue.

Unfortunately, I've used Acronis, Macrium, DriveImage XML, Clonezilla, Paragon, and the imaging utility built into Windows 7 to try this. Everything says it completes correctly, but when the cloned hard drive is booted it gets to the black screen that says "Starting Windows", then blue screens for a split second and reboots. Then it goes to startup repair. I've let that run, but it doesn't fix anything.

A friend said to switch the settings in BIOS for AHCI. I've tried that, but no luck.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  • Are you attempting to upgrade the Windows XP licens to Windows 7 or are we talking about a clean installation. Because your friend is correct, you should be using AHCI, this is a pure driver problem. Does Safe Mode work? – Ramhound Jul 8 '13 at 13:33
  • I did a clean install on one computer, then cloned it to a new hard drive. The new hard drive won't get past the "Starting Windows" screen on the original computer or the computer I intend to put the new hard drive in. I cannot get it to boot into Safe Mode, either. – ZeverMX Jul 8 '13 at 13:47
  • 2
    Did you run sysprep before making the clone image? if you did not, that is likely the source of your problems (and even if it did work without doing it, stuff like windows domains will be very wonky) – Scott Chamberlain Jul 8 '13 at 13:53
  • I actually haven't heard of sysprep before. I'll have to look into it and see if that helps. Unfortunately it may be a while before I can. Since we've spent so much time on it already, I'm not getting to work on it as much. – ZeverMX Jul 9 '13 at 13:03

Without knowing more about the BSOD, I can't say much. However, in most cases, it's indicative of a driver issue. Is the hardware of your destination machine different in anyway from your source machine?

Having said that, for 600+ machines, I would suggest setting up an Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) share. It is very easy to setup and you can target model specific drivers during the build. There are plenty of websites and books out there which can walk you through the whole process. Google "MDT 2012 tutorial" or something similar.

MDT can be downloaded from here.

  • A couple of videos to get you started: Deployment Day Session 1: Introduction to MDT 2012 and Deployment Day Session 2: MDT 2012 Advanced More videos and articles to help you with MDT are available on the Deliver and Deploy Windows 7 and the Deliver and Deploy Windows 8 pages of the Springboard Series on TechNet. – dwolters Jul 8 '13 at 16:10
  • Unfortunately I can't capture the BSOD. It's just too quick. The hardware is different, and, if I ever get this to work, the image will probably be deployed to multiple models and brands of machines. Also, thanks for the videos. – ZeverMX Jul 9 '13 at 13:01
  • If you properly sysprep and capture the image, Windows 7 is hardware independent, so it won't matter if they are different brands and models. The captured image can then be loaded into MDT for deployment. Download and import the drivers for the brand and model of machine, and MDT will install the drivers automatically during the deployment. MDT can also be used with Windows Deployment Services for network deployments with PXE and even multi-casting. – dwolters Jul 9 '13 at 15:23
  • Twice I've ran sysprep after making the machine the way I want it and both times I've been forced to reinstall Windows. The next time I boot the machine, I get the "setup is preparing for first use" screen, then a popup that says something is wrong with my installation and that I need to restart the installation. I tried repairing the installation with startup repair and the like, but nothing worked. Both times I had sysprep selected for Audit mode. I'm going to try it once more with OOBE to see if that works, but if not I'll have to give up on sysprep. – ZeverMX Jul 11 '13 at 16:56
  • Just ran sysprep as OOBE and it didn't give me an error on reboot. As long as this will let me image and clone correctly I should have my solution. I'll report in next week when I get to try it as I'm off work tomorrow. Thanks for the help and support from everyone. – ZeverMX Jul 11 '13 at 20:10

Try this:

  1. Insert the Windows 7 installation disc in the drive and start the computer.
  2. Select a language, a time, a currency, a keyboard or an input method, and then click Next.
  3. Click on Repair your computer.
  4. Select the Operating System that you want to repair, and then click Next.
  5. In the System Recovery Options window, click option Command Prompt.
  6. Now type Bootrec.exe in the Command Prompt and hit ENTER key.
  7. You will get options as shown in screen-shot below.

enter image description here

  • Now type bootrec.exe /FixMbr. If there is problem in Master Boot Record (MBR), you should now get message as The operation completed successfully.

  • Type bootrec.exe /FixBoot.

  • Finally, type bootrec.exe /RebuildBcd.

  • After finishing, type exit and close the window.

Now reboot and check, whether the problem is solved. In most cases, the Booting problem should vanish, and your Windows should boot normally.

  • I actually had a home scenario where I had to use this and it fixed my problem. I didn't think to try it for this scenario though. I'll do it the first chance I get and let you know if it worked. – ZeverMX Jul 9 '13 at 13:04
  • Unfortunately, this didn't fix the issue. Thanks for the suggestion, though. It looks like the MBR isn't the problem. – ZeverMX Jul 9 '13 at 16:56

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