How to replace your existing Windows 7 hard drive with a larger hard drive: A step by step guide on using Acronis True Image Home 2011.
This is a follow up on the original article titled: How to move windows 7 to a new or larger hard drive using Backup and Restore.
Acronis True Image Home 2011: Acronis True Image Home (ATIH) is not free but there is a fully functional 30 day trial version that allows you to create a recovery disk (Rescue disk), which you can use to fully test and evaluate this product. The trial version is used for this evaluation has far more capability than Windows 7’s Backup and Restore, including a real honest to goodness .PDF User’s guide that covers a wide range of topics. Free Trial: http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/trueimage/
The ATIH User’s Manual lacks some detail on restoring an Image Backup using the ‘Recovery CD’, and I recommend that you take the time to carefully read everything in the user’s manual at least twice in order to determine the correct path of action you should take. Documentation: http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/trueimage/#resources
It’s to be expected that you will not be able to read and comprehend every last subject or tidbit of information in 5 minutes. So I’ve provided just the steps you need to know to accomplish your goal of moving to a larger drive.
Your new and existing hard drives:
The available space on a new drive is typically unallocated, has no partitions and is unformatted.
Your existing drive however will have at least one but more likely a least 2 or 3 partitions both formatted as NTFS. The first of the partitions (100MB in size) is hidden, has no drive letter assigned and is identified as the ‘System Reserved’ (System, Active) when viewing the drive’s characteristics using the ‘Disk Management’ utility. The second partition is the Windows 7 partition and is the ‘Boot’ partition. You may also have the computer manufacture’s ‘Recovery’ partition.
Note: If you originally installed Windows 7 on a drive that was already partitioned and formatted then there is a possibility the your drive only has a single partition (C:) which serves as both the ‘System’, ‘Active’ and ‘Boot’partition.
The small hidden ‘System, Reserved’ partition serves as the BCD store (Boot Configuration Data) and Windows needs to access the information contained in this partition to boot and load properly. So it is imperative that any move to a new hard drive not only include the Windows 7 partition but also the 100MB ‘System, Reserved’ partition which must be the first partition on the new drive.
Typically there are two methods used to move from an older/smaller drive to a new and larger drive. The first is ‘Drive Cloning’ and the second is ‘Drive Imaging’. Disk cloning software may not be aware of the hidden partition and as a result only clone the Windows 7 partition, leaving you with an unbootable hard drive. Disk imaging software when used properly will create an image of both partitions and restore both to the new hard drive.
Baseline Configuration: 1) Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit (6GB of Memory).
2) All important updates (except KB971033 and KB976902). No optional updates installed.
3) Default Windows 7 device drivers installed except for installation of NVIDIA’s graphics driver.
4) Microsoft’s Security Essentials version 2.0.657.0
Note: Security Essentials has a nasty habit of overriding any customized Windows Update settings
5) Primary hard drive is a Western Digital 500GB Hard drive.
6) 1TB Hitachi drive will be used as the larger replacement hard drive.
Note: An initial backup of the 500GB primary hard drive using Windows 7’s Backup and Restore will be used to restore Windows to the “Baseline Configuration” prior to installing and testing each product (Acronis True Image Home 2011, Norton Ghost 15 and EASEUS Todo Backup) in this series of 3 articles. First up is Acronis True image Home 2011 (ATIH).
Prior to the start of the backup I ran the chkdsk /f /rand the SFC /scannow commands, no errors where found. After the completion of a restore I again ran these two commands to determine if any corruption occurred. Again no errors were found.
You can improve backup and restore time slightly by defragmenting the drive but it may take longer to defragment the drive than to create the image backup.
Installation: Installation is easy and painless. The License Agreement makes for some interesting reading so just don’t skip over it. However to complete the installation ATIH will require you to reboot. After rebooting you should click on the ‘Go to main screen’ and then click on: Help/Check for updates’.
Note: Acronis True Image Home will disable access to Windows 7’s Backup and Restore, replacing it with its own interface. Uninstalling Acronis True Image Home will once again allow you to use Backup and Restore.