Cloning hard drive with dd or other?

Mark mhullrich at
Sun Nov 14 01:09:28 UTC 2010

On Sat, Nov 13, 2010 at 9:59 AM, Patton Echols <p.echols at> wrote:
>> On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 10:05 PM, Mark <mhullrich at> wrote:
> The question is if the new disk will then boot XP without having to to
> surgery.  That's the goal.

I think it will.  I recently replaced the primary hard drive in a Win
XP system and just used a different Win XP machine to do the copy.
(Technically, I copied all the files off the old disk drive onto one
of my Win XP laptops, then  connected the new disk and copied them
back.  No special handling required, but that *was* a Windows-only
copy involved.)

Everything worked just fine, and in spite of my slight case of nerves,
the only problem was a weird oddity with Office 2003 that was acting
up before the changeover anyway.  I wound up having to remove it (the
hard way - by hand) and installing Office XP instead (because she
didn't have the original Office 2003 install CDs ).

Other than that one glitch, Windows came up just fine.

> That would copy all the files, but would the partition be bootable just
> like the old one?  I find it hard to believe that cloning windows is
> that easy.
IIRC, fdisk allows you to set up partitions and mark them as bootable
or not.  That might be all you need.  If not, there is the Windows
install CD's Recovery mode that will let you rewrite the MBR, which
should be sufficient to allow Windows to boot (but I've never done
that, so regard with an appropriately sized grain of salt).

(Preston says)
>> I would recommend ntfsclone over dd.  It will only copy the blocks
>> with data in them, instead of every block, making it much faster.  I
>> also seem to have better general success with it.  With it, you should
>> be able to copy to a disk of the same size or larger.  I would start
>> by making the partitions the exact same, copying everything and making
>> sure it boots okay, then using any of the dozens of good, free
>> partitioning software out there to expand the NTFS partition to fill
>> the rest of the drive.
> Thanks Preston, I'll give those a read.
Certainly worth looking at.  All options are open until you mess up
the new disk, but you can back out or reapply any changes as long as
the original disk is still available as a working source.  Like I
said, my experience with a straight disk-to-disk copy worked just

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