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Cloning existing win7 installation onto new SSD

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February 11, 2011 5:24:43 PM

Hey guys,

The title says it all really! I'm considering upgrading to an SSD, but would rather do without the hassle of rebuilding my windows environment from scratch. I figure for the most part, that this should be no different than the normal backup/restore procedure - image my existing drive, and restore onto the new SSD. It's a while since i've done anything like that (like, years) but i'm assuming it should be a simple matter of following the instructions which come with Acronis. I've already gone through the process of enabling AHCI in bios, after having first changed the appropriate reg key to avoid BSOD and trigger driver installation in windows, so that i'll be getting max possible performance after migration.

The only potential wrinkle in the process, and the reason i'm making this thread, is related to the MBR. Originally, my system had just one physical drive in it - a 160gb wd - with a single partition. XP was installed on this partition. Then, i bought a new HD and installed windows 7 on it. I kept the xp install for the time being in case 7 gave me any problems, but ultimately decided to do away with it and go with win7 exclusively. I can't remember exactly what i did, but there was some usage of bootrec (i think it's called that) in the win7 recovery console. Anyway, what i ended up with, was a bootloader with just one entry - windows 7.

A few days ago, by sheer chance ended up fiddling with the boot priority of my hard drives in bios. I noticed that if i selected my windows 7 drive as the first boot HD, the system would not boot. It would post, then i'd just get a little winking cursor. No message about "no bootable media installed" or anything like that - literally nothing at all happened. If i change my HD boot order so that the OLD winxp drive is first on the list, i get my bootloader back.

Now, the way i understand all this is as follows: each drive as a boot sector, which tells it how to boot the OS installed on that particular drive (or not if it has no os installed). One of your physical drives also contains a master boot record, which examines the partition table to determine which one to boot, and then hands control off to the boot record of that partition. Therefore, what i'm guessing has happened here, is that my master boot record remains on the old windows xp drive, even though it no longer contains an operating system.

So my question is really, how do i sort out this god awful mess in relation to migrating my current environment to a new physical drive? :D  Obviously i'd like to keep the old drive - i will reformat it after getting everything up and running on the SSD. Do i need to try and rebuild the MBR of my win7 drive so that my system just boots straight into win7 on this drive? Will the MBR be cloned as part of the imaging process? Is it best just to wait til after i've cloned the disk onto the SSD then rebuild it's own MBR in the win 7 recover console?

If you got this far, you have my sincerest thanks! I am extremely grateful for any help you can provide

Cheers
Simon
a c 154 G Storage
February 11, 2011 6:08:24 PM

In the past, I have cloned a hard drive to a SSD using acronis with no issues at all.
After cloning, I just swapped the sata cable from the old drive to the ssd and removed the old drive.
You did well to prep the system for AHCI, which is difficult to change after windows install.

You may be stuck with the xp drive, but things should work the way they did before.

If you want to get rid of the XP drive, now might be an opportune time to do it.

You could use windows backup to back up your current system c drive to an external drive. Then remove all drives except the SSD. Boot from your windows dvd and try to restore the c drive. I think that will work.

Or, clone c to the ssd, remove the XP drive, and the old c hard drive. Boot from your windows dvd and see if you can do a repair to the ssd which should restore some sort of booting capability.

You will have a fallback to the two drives you removed.
February 11, 2011 8:32:21 PM

geofelt said:
In the past, I have cloned a hard drive to a SSD using acronis with no issues at all.
After cloning, I just swapped the sata cable from the old drive to the ssd and removed the old drive.
You did well to prep the system for AHCI, which is difficult to change after windows install.

You may be stuck with the xp drive, but things should work the way they did before.

If you want to get rid of the XP drive, now might be an opportune time to do it.

You could use windows backup to back up your current system c drive to an external drive. Then remove all drives except the SSD. Boot from your windows dvd and try to restore the c drive. I think that will work.

Or, clone c to the ssd, remove the XP drive, and the old c hard drive. Boot from your windows dvd and see if you can do a repair to the ssd which should restore some sort of booting capability.

You will have a fallback to the two drives you removed.


Thanks, geofelt!

I think i favour the final option myself - clone the drive, remove the other two, boot from the windows dvd and try to rebuild the MBR on the SSD. Set that to the primary boot device, then reformat the other win7 drive.

Got any SSD recommendations for me? I'm looking at the crucial C300 256gb and the ocz vertex 2e 240gb. I only have a sata II mobo, but c300 is competitive in most tests. What puts me off is the lower IOPS and whether or not it supports TRIM? Also the lower write. The vertex has more symmetrical bandwidth and TRIM support, and the sandforce controller's own garbage collection is well regarded, but it's performance on compressed/uncompressable data is reduced.
a c 154 G Storage
February 11, 2011 8:56:19 PM

I think any recent ssd supports trim.
Do not be seduced by sequential transfer rates, overall performance, particularly small reads and writes are what counts.
I have used Intel gen2 SSD's in the past, and had no problems. I gave my X25-M 160gb to my son, and I miss it terribly. I was planning on a gen3 drive, but they seem slow in coming.
I seem to read about problems from every drive maker excepting Intel. So now, I am considering only Intel.
If 120gb is good for you, the Intel X25-M 120gb has a good price per gb. I am going to wait a bit for the Intel emcrest 510 drives due this month. I don't know if I want to pay $579 for the 250gb version, and will probably get the 120gb version. If I outgrow it, I can either add a HDD, or, Intel will always have a better remarket value.

The sata 6gb is really not an issue, only for sequential benchmarkers.
!