Replacing your hard disk

A friend of mine had that dreaded moment when his main PC wouldn’t boot. Backups? Yes, well I was going to get round to it….

I suggested that he should insert the Windows XP CD and see if he could boot from that. He was lucky and he was able to do that and get Windows XP to repair itself enough to run up and view the data on the hard disk, in fact for a while it did seem to work.

But this obviously wasn’t going to last for long, the primary hard disk was definitely on the way out. So he needed to replace the hard disk. But that’s always a pain because you have to re-install everything from scratch and that can take days.

Instead, he bought a new hard disk, borrowed my hard disk external USB caddy (which you can find on the net for about GBP20) and downloaded a bit of software called Acronis True Image 9.0.

With this he was able to make an image of his old hard disk. He then replaced the old hard disk with the new one and amazingly enough it booted with pretty much everthing there.

It wasn’t quite transparent, here’s what he told me afterwards:


Some but not all of the registry details are lost when you copy the disk. There does not seem to be any particular logic to the ones that are lost. However, as I think I told you – Photoshop needed to be “re-registered”. I had to boot Windows from the installation disk – (so far only once) but didn’t actually have to re-register it with Microsoft. My Palm Pilot needed to be re-registered. Similarly, almost all the bits of hardware that run off USB ports need to reload the drivers.

Nevertheless, a lot quicker than starting from scratch.

On the other hand, the main advantage from starting from scratch is that there ends up being loads of software you never do re-install, so it is a good way of weeding out stuff :-)

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