Switching hard drive/transferring data

I have all my games installed on my D drive(non-system drive). I have a new 500GB drive and I want to transfer my game installation folders over to it and make it my new D drive. I was wondering what the best method to use to accomplish this?
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  1. Easiest way by far is free cloning software from your new hard drive maker. If you buy the more expensive Retail package the drive may come with a CD of utilities for this and other things. But if you buy bare bones OEM drive and nothing else, just go to the website of your maker. Typically their free utilities will only make a clone copy TO one of their own drives - they don't care whose older drive you are "abandoning". If you buy a Seagate drive, look for their Seagate Disk Wizard, based on Acronis True Image. If you buy WD, look for their Acronis True Image WD Edition. Other makers have similar packages. Pick the one for you and download and install it on your C: drive. Hook up both new and old drives and run the software.

    Make SURE you identify correctly the SOURCE drive (your old D:) and the DESTINATION drive (the new 500 GB unit) because any old stuff on the Destination drive will be destroyed! Basically the software will take care of all the details of making a Partition on the new drive, Formatting it, and then copying absolutely everything to it from the Source. But before it starts, you have a few choices to make.

    First is the size of the Primary Partition it will create on the new drive. It can be the whole drive or anything smaller. If you choose smaller, the drive will have Unallocated Space left on it that you can use later to create another Partition as a separate drive. If you don't make a conscious choice here, the software MAY default to making the new "drive" the same size as the Source, and I guess you don't want that. Next is to make this Partition NOT bootable, since you plan to use it solely for data storage. For the File System, choose NTFS unless you know you need FAT32 for something. Use a Quick Format to do the job in 15 minutes or so. A Full Format will do the Quick thing and then run a complete check of the entire disk for errors, taking many hours - not necessary, but you can do it to feel really safe.

    After it prepares your disk and then clones everything to it, shut down and disconnect the old drive. My recommendation is to just set it aside as a good backup to that point while you use the new one. Maybe move the data cables so the new drive is connected to the SATA port that used to have the old drive. When you boot up, check whether Windows is calling that new one D: still. If not, use Disk Manager to change its name. Later when you're sure it's all perfect, decide how to use the old drive.
  2. Thanks Paperdoc. There is a few other issues I ran into.

    My mother is a gigabyte ga-ma790xt-ud49(AMD). It has 6 sata2 ports controlled by AMD southbridge and 2 controlled my gigabyte sata controller. My C and D drive are connected to the sata on the AMD SB( sata 0 and sata 1), but when I connected the new drive to the sata 2 port I would get this message "Windows could not start because of a computer hardware configuration problem. Could not read selected book disk". This doesn't happen when I connect it to the port of the gigabyte sata controller.

    Second thing, in disk management, my C status is labeled as boot and my D drive as system. I can't help but wonder if those two problems are connected? Is there a way to make my C drive both boot and system? I fear this might further complicate the problem of switching hard drives.
  3. Best answer
    The error message you got sounds like the machine was trying to boot from the new drive! So MAYBE the BIOS is configured oddly. There are two places two check. To get into BIOS Setup, usually you hold down the "Del" key while first booting up and it will go there. Look under Attached Peripherals or something to find the place where your SATA ports are configured. You already have two working HDD's attached to ports 0 and 1, so check what mode they are: IDE (or PATA) Emulation, native SATA, or AHCI, probably. Whatever that is, ensure that other SATA ports you plan to use (like, SATA_2) are set the same. Next, find the screen where your Boot Priority Sequence is set. Most people will set it to optical drive first, then the SATA drive you boot from (likely on SATA_0), and then NO other device.That way it will not try to use anything else. Save and Exit your changes and the machine should boot cleanly from the existing C: drive, with or without the new drive attached to the SATA_2 port. Assuming that works, you still will NOT see that new drive in My Computer because you have not yet done the Partition and Format operations it needs. However, it should show up in the lower right pane of Disk Manager as a block representing a hardware drive device but full of Unallocated Space.

    If that's all working, you are ready to use the disk maker's cloning software to make your clone from D: to new drive. It will do all the disk preparation work you need.
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