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Since I'm the techie I do a lot of family work, you know the story.

Currently I have a PC where the motherboard/processor died so they wanted to replace them. Well the old parts were socket 939 DDR 1 era so that meant new motherboard, CPU, ram and hard drive (the old one is pata while the new board only has sata).

I'm asking what's the best way of backing up and restoring their old with minimal data loss?

The old installation was xp.

I was thinking of copying an image of the old to the new then installing Windows 7 over it.

My second option was just backing up the documents and settings and restoring that.

What other options am i not thinking about? What would be the best option?

Edit: after looking over my post and thinking about it for a bit I realized I need some more info.

I'm missing an option here. Is it possible to use the files and settings transfer wizard on the old hard drive either taking an image and restoring it to a VM or booting from a recovery disk?

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  • Instead of upgrading everything including the motherboard, just buy a new computer and add the old disk as a second (slow) disk.
    – harrymc
    Jun 15 '14 at 7:04
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The new PC is a new PC. Install a clean OS on it. Preferably make a backup of that without any additional program installed (do instal OS updates though).

Next move the my users folder to the D:\volume (or any other place but not on the OS volume. In other words never on C:) and add a folder 'my old data. Te be deleted real soon'. Copy all data which you want to keep from that folder to the current desired place.

Do not use a transfer wizard or any 'lets try to be smart' programs. Those work part of the time and should only be used it you have a backup and if you know that the backup works.


(Or do not copy the data. Just put it in an USB or eSATA enclosure and copy it from there to the new computer after you installed an up to date OS on it).

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  • Thanks for the answer. What do you think about the way Windows 7 installation creates a windows_old folder with the old installation. Is that enough?
    – John
    Feb 22 '14 at 17:37
  • You want to install windows 7 (or 8) 64 bits and no ancient 32 bit OS. That means a clean installation (no upgrade path for windows 32bit to 64 bit). When you have to do that then it is just easy to manually copy the files from the old disk to the new drive (and possibly store a backup on the old drive and put that somewhere safe).
    – Hennes
    Feb 22 '14 at 17:40
  • thanks for your responses. That's what I'll do. No taking shortcuts eh?
    – John
    Feb 22 '14 at 17:42
  • Taking shortcuts is nice when you know they work. If you have to change a dozen or more PCs then by all means test it and take the shortcut. If you have one single PC then it is less interesting.
    – Hennes
    Feb 22 '14 at 17:47
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The old hard drive will eventually fail. Do not depend upon it any more than necessary. It will save you a lot of headaches and time if you install the old hard drive as a backup after you setup the new PC, then pick and choose what to move over. Hard drives are cheap. Data isn't.

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  • I hear you. The problem isn't the old hard failing because it's not going back in the new machine. The question is what's the easiest way to migrate the old data: do an image copy or just manually copy the old data after install?
    – John
    Feb 22 '14 at 16:45
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    @John - Entirely up to you. What is you goal? If you clone the hdd you have to prepare Windows to boot on new hardware.
    – Ramhound
    Feb 22 '14 at 16:59
  • @Ramhound I edited my question. I'm really looking for a way to use the files and settings transfer wizard on this old drive but I don't have the same hardware to boot it.
    – John
    Feb 22 '14 at 17:25
  • The OP never stated the intention of reusing the HDD. He wants to know the best way to go about reusing the data. Feb 22 '14 at 17:28
  • @John - Get a PATA to USB adapter then.
    – Ramhound
    Feb 22 '14 at 17:34

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