I want to move data between two laptops. The source is a dying windows 7 machine, with one partition being windows 7, and one partition being user data.

The destination is a donated, older laptop, currently running vista. However, it has a few programs that we might want to use. The 7 setup of course has everything we are using.

My goal is to make a new partition on the new laptop, and copy the windows 7 install from the old system partition, and then move the user data from the old user partition.

Both source partitions are "large" but mostly empty. Shrinking partitions has so far been "pointless", even turning off system restore, hibernation, etc -- I'm concerned that the unmovable master file is blocking any attempt to shrink it more.

So two real questions:

  1. How do I transfer the file contents of a partition with no loss of data/meta data (nb: includes symbolic and hard links!), when the destination partition is smaller, and
  2. Once I have the 7 partition moved over, how do I tell the system that this is now the boot partition.

Both laptops, naturally, only have "restore to factory distribution state" options.


You should review the answers in How to shrink Windows 7 boot partition with unmovable files as most of the options you can try are listed there.

Personally I've successfully used Gparted live CD and clonezilla live CD to move the same windows installation between hard drives.

  • Alright; now, given that both are laptops, and I cannot have both drives in the same box at the same time, how do I move the data over? (GRR, can't hit enter, have to copy/paste newlines) I have seriously looked at using rsync, but I realized that while I've used it on unix machines that permit remote logins, I don't have the slightest idea how to even set that up on windows. I'm currently trying "easy transfer", but it hangs on the old computer for some reason. – Keybounce Mar 29 '14 at 19:41
  • That's funny because I've recently put together a script to use rsync on windows: github.com/paravz/windows-rsync-backup Keep in mind that you can certainly use rsync to copy user data over network, but not windows itself. For that the easiest would be some other disk, ie a usb one. Get one at costco and return it :) – Alec Istomin Mar 29 '14 at 23:39

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