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If I just copy Windows system drive to new HDD -- will it work?

I want to change HDD to faster one. May I just plug new HDD, copy files to it, then unplug old and boot from new?

I know how to set boot drive in BIOS and fdisk.

My question is: will operating system will work?

Operating system is Windows XP. Later version also interest.

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    The only way this works is if you duplicate the entire disk sector by sector to the new disk – Ramhound Nov 24 '13 at 17:00
  • Why do I need sector-to-sector copy? Only boot record is sector dependent, isn't it? – Dims Nov 24 '13 at 21:42
  • You asked how to copy Windows from an existing drive to a new hdd. The simplest way is to do a sector by sector copy to the new hdd. – Ramhound Nov 25 '13 at 12:05
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Short answer: No.

Long answer: Yes. Read below.

Copying the files, through Windows, will not work. Why? Programs are locked. Explorer prevents you from copying certain folders, and there are several mechanisms that work in the background that prevent full copies.

This and the process using Explorer will take it's time.

The most relevant part is that the bootloader (the part that actually tells to the remainder of the machine how to start the system) isn't copied, as it resides in a special part of any HDD (the MBR - Master Boot Record). You can, however, repair the bootloader with the Windows XP installation disk.

To copy the contents of a disk to another, I would use some sort of Live CD and/or some specialized software. As long as Windows itself is not running, copying all files shouldn't have any problem.

Assuming you can copy all files and repair the MBR, then the only thing stopping Windows from running could be the difference in hardware, that translates to the drivers installed in XP.

  • So, if I copy all files bypassing locking and then do fdisk /mbr I will get working system. Will it then detect new hardware automatically as if I just plugged it when it was down? – Dims Nov 24 '13 at 21:37
  • You shouldn't use fdisk /mbr to rebuild the MBR, as that only works for Me and under (source), rather search for how you would repair it with the Windows XP installation disk. As for whether he will detect new hardware he should... – Doktoro Reichard Nov 24 '13 at 22:18

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