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Internal hard drive to external hard drive

by jaamja / October 7, 2010 4:44 AM PDT

We have Windows XP Home Edition 80 GB

Can we copy entire hard drive to an external hard drive?



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Re: copy internal to external drive.
by Kees_B Forum moderator / October 7, 2010 4:46 AM PDT

The answer surely is yes. You might get a better answer, however, if you tell the background of your question: why do you want to do it?


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Hi Kees
by jaamja / October 7, 2010 6:13 AM PDT

Thank you Kees.

The laptop ( HP ZE4560us ) is old enough ( 6 years ) and is becoming too slow ( used 50 GB from 80GB ) and we do not want to loose all of our programs and files so we would like to copy into a new external drive and do a fresh restore from CDS original.

Again, thanks for your help.

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 7, 2010 10:21 AM PDT
In reply to: Hi Kees

All was ok until you wrote the word "programs." Windows does not support backup and restore of programs. This is by design. If you reinstall the OS, you get to reinstall almost all known apps.

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Thank you Bob
by jaamja / October 7, 2010 7:11 PM PDT
In reply to: Ouch.

Thank you Bob.

We have not heard from you in a very long time.

Sorry about the word..."Programs".

Now we know!!!

So..... it is all files.

Best regards.

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It sounds like you want to clone your hard drive...
by mongo2006 / October 8, 2010 12:09 PM PDT
In reply to: Thank you Bob

I.e., you would like to replicate the existing contents of your current hard drive on a second different drive.

You can do this with the freeware XXCLONE. I had to replace a failing hard drive and used XXCLONE, with perfect results.

From their website:

Makes a self-bootable clone of Windows system disk.
Supports all 32-bit Windows (95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000, XP).
Can restore the self-bootability in many cases.
It takes only a minute to run.
Everyone should keep the Freeware handy for just in case.
The Pro version is ideal for daily backup.
Supports common internal disk drives (IDE, SATA, SCSI).
Supports external USB/FIREWIRE drives (good for a laptop).
Competes with Norton Ghost, DriveImage, MaxBlast.
Much faster than any of them in typical daily backup.
Need not go to the DOS mode. Operates in regular Windows environment.
Simple to use by novices. IT professionals think it's great.

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Re: cipying
by Kees_B Forum moderator / October 7, 2010 5:11 PM PDT
In reply to: Hi Kees

As Bob said, only data can be treated that way. Not programs, not the OS.

So it suffices to copy/paste (or drag/drop, or whatever your preferred method for file handling is) those folders you store your personal data in (like My Documents) to the external hard disk. Only you know how you organised your hard disk, so only you know what to copy.
But that's just the same data as you regularly backup. Or don't you backup? That's risky.

You can copy practically everything this way, except a few protected OS files. But most of the copy you can't reuse (such as everything in Program Files and in Windows, except the contents of the fonts folder). Anyway, if your external disk is big enough, it won't harm to copy more.


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Thank you Kees
by jaamja / October 7, 2010 7:20 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: cipying

Thank you Kees.

We never did back up our OS.

Could you please tell us what do you mean by " protected OS files"?

Best wishes.

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Re: protected OS files
by Kees_B Forum moderator / October 7, 2010 7:39 PM PDT
In reply to: Thank you Kees

Files that are in use when you copy them from within Windows. Like the registry and the swap file. And some temp files. Those give errors when you try to copy them. A program that stops on such an error can't be used to copy all the contents of the disk. Then you need to refine the copy by excluding certain files or folders, or doing multiple copies.

Booting from a Linux Live CD circumvents this problem. Then you can copy all. But you can't use them again after a reload of your OS, so it's hardly useful.


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Always learning
by jaamja / October 7, 2010 10:40 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: protected OS files

We are always learning from people like you.

Do you have the same restrictions copying in Apple ( No Windows )?

We are thinking to buy Apple without Windows.

Thanks for your help.

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(NT) Better ask that on one of our Mac forums.
by Kees_B Forum moderator / October 7, 2010 10:44 PM PDT
In reply to: Always learning
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Thank you
by jaamja / October 8, 2010 1:16 AM PDT

Thank you.
We will.
Best regards.

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Clone the whole drive
by csound1 / October 27, 2010 5:02 AM PDT
In reply to: Always learning

On the Apple side there are no restrictions, you may copy the entire drive and boot from it even when it is connected as an external (firewire only for PPC Macs, USB as well for Intel Macs), a copy of SuperDuper and an external drive is all you need to maintain an up to date, bootable backup.

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by ClissaT / October 8, 2010 11:34 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: protected OS files

Kees I note what you say about the programs & files after reloading.

It's my understanding that booting from a linux live CD using the gentoo creates a full 100% usable image. Well that's what my IT specialist son says & he should know since he uses it all the time.

We keep my computer backed up that way regularly. Rather than just do a standard backup, we also do an image using the gentoo live CD & commands.

I have a 1TB XHD for a set of the last 2 images & another 360GB XHD with a set of the last several normal backups. They are BIG files!

Of course we always hope to never have to use them! I also have software that monitors the health of various components like the HD which usually gives a good heads up if imminent problems.

My next hurdle is the process of buying a new computer & sorting through what I need to transfer across!

AHhhh it's never ends!! lol

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Use Acronis True Image to clone your 80GB disk
by lirenchan / October 8, 2010 12:02 PM PDT


If you want to continue to use Windows, you may want to consider spending less than $40 to buy Acronis True Image to clone your hard drive. If you want to clone the existing hard drive, you just need to get a hard drive with similar specifications to your existing hard drive (IDE or SATA) with the same (80 GB) or larger disk capacity size. The clone hard drive (set to slave drive or cable select at slave drive) could be attached to the computer's internal IDE cable or just buy an external IDE drive with USB 2.x connection (for cloning). In normal condition, if the existing hard drive dies, you just make the clone drive a master drive (with simple proper jumper setting), connect it to where the died hard drive is originally attached; Windows XP should boot up and run like the old hard drive at the moment it is cloned.

Acronis True Image also allows you to back up the entire hard drive (with the operating system) to an image file to a location you select (like internal hard drive, external hard drive (IDE or SATA hard drive) or network hard drive. If you need to restore the image of the entire hard drive to a new hard drive, True Image has a convenient instructions for the user. has a review of True Image Home 2011:;contentBody;1d.

This is a quite reliable and capable application.

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There are free alternatives to Acronis....
by mongo2006 / October 8, 2010 12:13 PM PDT


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by stubby3472 / October 10, 2010 2:11 PM PDT

mongo2006... I tried your suggestion and used XXCLONE to copy/clone my 40GB HD on my T42 Thinkpad to a 160GB USB 2.5" Samsung drive. I also checked off the write MBR, the write boot.ini and the write boot sector to make the new drive bootable. The drive copied OK but I cannot boot the new 160GB drive when I installed it in my laptop. It says 'media test failure and OS not found. So I'm not too sure about this proggy. I've tried it numerous times without success. Sorry if this is a hijack but I thought I'd let you know as you seem to like XXCLONE. Were you successful with the cloned drive?
ps.. I know my 160GB drive is OK as I can use it for other data. thx

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You might NEED to verify ...
by Edward ODaniel / October 11, 2010 3:03 AM PDT
In reply to: XXCLONE

that your T42 Thinkpad supports a 160 GB hard drive without a BIOS update.

I have a Latitude that also wouldn't boot after cloning to a 160 GB drive and I discovered that I needed to update the BIOs and after the update it booted happily.

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40 to 160
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 11, 2010 3:09 AM PDT
In reply to: XXCLONE

I see that concern echoed already. But on top of any BIOS concerns the T42 came out when XP did. So there is a built in 127GB limit on booting. For example if you have XP original CDs you find it often fails to boot when we extend the boot partition over the 127GB size.

Well documented but folks don't research this unless stung.

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Good morning lirenchan
by jaamja / October 8, 2010 8:19 PM PDT

Thank you.

We will keep in mind Acronis and XXClone.

Best wishes

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Can I make a full copy of my hard drive?
by mjswaim / October 8, 2010 1:42 PM PDT

I have found bugs with several major backup programs that do not even copy all of my files, let alone the programs. Also some backups will not allow you to move your files to another computer. This can be a problem if your old system dies or becomes obsolete. Although I still do backups, I also occasionally remove my hard drive and put it into a case and make an external drive out of it. I then replace that drive with another hard drive on the computer itself. I have done this with desktops and notebooks. I had it done in a shop the first couple times. Now I do it myself. Usually can find instructions on line. This assures I have all my files. You do not want to restore software for drivers to a different computer. Your new computer will look for drivers it does not have. Also be aware the if a slow problem is due to malware, malware likes to reside on OS and program files. One advantage to haveing your actual drive as a backup is that it is not encrypted and you can just click and drag or otherwise restore the files you really want onto your new clean computer.

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Can I make a full copy of my hard drive?
by mjswaim / October 8, 2010 1:47 PM PDT

P.S. I have done this with Windows 98, XP and Vista. I also used this method to my transfer files to Windows 7.

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Good morning mjswaim
by jaamja / October 8, 2010 8:15 PM PDT

Thank you.

We do appreciate your advice.

We will try it because do not want to change our XP for Vista or Windows 7.

Best regards.

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Hi jaamja
by mjswaim / October 9, 2010 10:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Good morning mjswaim

I understand. I am back to XP again, myself. Better than Vista or Windows 7.

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external hard drive
by jwcooley / October 9, 2010 3:07 AM PDT

You can go on and get a copy of discwizard. It is a scaled down version of Acronis. It will generate a disk image that you can save and use to recover.

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Good afternoon jwcooley
by jaamja / October 9, 2010 5:54 AM PDT
In reply to: external hard drive

Thank you.

I will try discwizard.

If this one works, I will let you know.

Best regards.

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The problem with the method ...
by Kees_B Forum moderator / October 9, 2010 9:56 PM PDT

of making a disc image is that it could well be that it's an all-or-nothing restore. Either the whole old slow system that you replaced with a fresh copy (so you did everything in vain) or nothing. In that case it's not usable for your purpose.

That's why I started asking what purpose you had.


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Good morning Kees!!!
by jaamja / October 10, 2010 1:40 AM PDT

Thank you.

We will just copy and paste whatever we can on the external hard drive and do a fresh start from the original cds that came with the PC.

We tried xxclone but did not work.

Best regards.

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next time, back up everything first
by porsche10x / October 10, 2010 1:41 AM PDT

To all those recommending disk imaging solutions, as Kees said, if you make an exact copy of your hard drive and, um, restore it to what, the same drive? a new drive? You'll still have exactly the same problems restored that were giving you the slow system. Here's what I would suggest.
1- back up all of your valuable data, documents, pictures, etc.
2- locate all of your program disks and/or installation files.
3- identify, locate. and/or download all of your needed driver disks or files.
4- wipe your disk clean and reinstall your operating system as you have planned.
5- install your drivers.
6- fully update windows.
7- reinstall your programs.
8- restore your data.
9- test everything thoroughly (at various points through the process.
10- now this is the really important part that nobody seems to get. At this point, NOW is the time to make a perfect backup image of your complete drive. This way, in six months, when your computer is running slowly again, all you have to do is restore your image. You don't have to reinstall the operating system. You don't have to reinstall all of your apps. You just restore the image you made and you have a perfect clean, fresh, fast-running copy of your operating system AND your programs AND your data. Of course, anything new since the image was made would have to be backed up or resinstalled, including new windows updates. At this point, you would image AGAIN so that your brand new, clean image is six months newer. The best part is, reinstalling your operating system, drivers, and programs can take many hours. Just restoring a disk image takes minutes and gives you the same best results.

While it may be true that "Windows does not support backup and restore of programs", you'll never have to reinstall the operating system if you can simply restore your pristine backup.

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Good afternon porshe10x
by jaamja / October 10, 2010 4:40 AM PDT

Thanks porsche 10x.

It is very interesting to find out from your advice that you are right about to back up always ( we have done that in the past ) and when times come up just restore.

But often we had problems restoring because our PC blocks restore points after so many.

Is there a fix for this?

Do we have to restore more often?

Appreciate your advice.

Best regards.

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Not quite the type of backup I had in mind
by porsche10x / October 26, 2010 7:42 AM PDT

If you are having problems running out of room for restore points, you can increase the amount of storage allowed for them. It's in "system restore settings". Also, if you have a lot of restore points, you can start to delete the older ones.

That being said, please note, when I recommended making a backup of your clean system, I did not mean to use system restore. I meant for you to copy your entire hard disk to another drive, perhaps an external one, using backup or imaging software. Several products have already been discussed here. Often an external drive comes with such software. Also, hard drive manufacturers have imaging tools you can download.

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