Imaging a legacy hard drive on an external USB drive to run programs

I have an old hard drive less than 100 mg running Windows XP. I am keeping the notebook computer to run XP programs when needed. Can I image the old internal hard drive to an external USB drive so that I can run the old programs on external drive when needed under Win XP? I have both Windows Vista and 7 computers.
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  1. I doubt that will work well. The problem is that under current Windows, "installing" application software does not merely mean putting all the software onto a HDD that you can call on. It also means placing entries in the Registry of the OS so it knows all the details required by the app. So EACH Windows machine you have would need to have those Registry entries made in order to be able to run app software from an external HDD. Normally such entries are made by the app software's Install routines, so a complete Install of such software is the way to do it. I doubt you could make the required entries manually. But maybe. You'll have to search for the easiest way to get this to work.
  2. Paperdoc said:
    I doubt that will work well. The problem is that under current Windows, "installing" application software does not merely mean putting all the software onto a HDD that you can call on. It also means placing entries in the Registry of the OS so it knows all the details required by the app. So EACH Windows machine you have would need to have those Registry entries made in order to be able to run app software from an external HDD. Normally such entries are made by the app software's Install routines, so a complete Install of such software is the way to do it. I doubt you could make the required entries manually. But maybe. You'll have to search for the easiest way to get this to work.


    Paperdoc,
    Thank you for your prompt response. To give my thought process: I replaced a small hard drive with a larger one. I bought a package which was a disk with imaging software and a cable. I place the disk in the DVD drive and booted to it when the BIOS started [‘esc’ or F8 or F10]. I cloned the small drive to the larger. I switched rives and booted. So, I was wondering if I cloned the old drive to an external drive, and when the BIOS started, I could boot to the external drive. I guess the real question is does the BIOS recognize an external hard drive as bootable?

    Paperdoc:

    Thank you for your prompt response. To give my thought process: I replaced a small hard drive with a larger one. I bought a package which was a disk with imaging software and a cable. I place the disk in the DVD drive and booted to it when the BIOS started [‘esc’ or F8 or F10]. I cloned the small drive to the larger. I switched rives and booted. So, I was wondering if I cloned the old drive to an external drive, and when the BIOS started, I could boot to the external drive. I guess the real question is does the BIOS recognize an external hard drive as bootable? [this i the first time that I am using a forum to get help so I am clumsey].
  3. OK, that makes your intentions clearer. There are three issues I see, and one not-so-clear question.

    Question: on what machine do you wish to boot and run from the clone on the external USB drive? From one of the computers with Vista or Win 7 on it? Or, from the laptop that originally had the old small drive?

    1. Booting from an external HDD via a USB connection requires that the host computer's BIOS allows you to do this. Some BIOS's do, and some do not. You will have to check whether your does allow you to set a connected USB drive as a boot device in Boot Sequence Priority.

    2. If I understand correctly, the old small HDD was in the laptop machine before. Now I'm not clear, but I THINK you mean it is still in that machine, and you just want to use its software and Win XP OS on another machine. Anyway, you have made a clone copy of that old HDD to the new one, and now the new one is in an external drive that connects to a host via USB.

    3. Here's where the question and complexity come in. IF you simply want to boot the laptop from the external unit that does not seem to make sense - the old HDD that already has Win XP on it is there already, so why boot from the external unit? That is why I asked for clarification. However, if I assume you want to use that clone in the external to boot another machine, there is a real problem (even assuming you can get it to boot from a USB drive). The issue is that the Win XP that is installed on the old drive in the laptop is customized with drivers for all the devices in that machine. But it does not have the drivers for all the devices in a different machine. Hence, usually the "other" machine cannot actually boot from that copy of Win XP. There are ways to deal with this that often succeed, but not always. If this is what you want to do and if you can verify that the machines CAN boot from an external USB unit, post here and we can advise on trying to make it work.

    There's another major issue. Using ONE copy of Win XP from one machine to boot and run other machines violates the copyright on the software. The license only allows that copy to be installed and .used on ONE machine
  4. If the imaged external drie will be booting up on the same computer then yes thats the only hurdle you have to overcome (booting via usb)

    if you try to boot the xp drive on another computer you will run into driver issues that you may not be able to overcome. Many newer chips on the motherbds do not have xp drivers available so even reinstalling xp may not be an option.
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