Another new hard disk...and an unsolved problem

Peter Glaskowsky upgrades the hard disk in his MacBook Pro, but asks for reader help in migrating the contents of his Boot Camp partition for Windows.

Peter Glaskowsky
Peter N. Glaskowsky is a computer architect in Silicon Valley and a technology analyst for the Envisioneering Group. He has designed chip- and board-level products in the defense and computer industries, managed design teams, and served as editor in chief of the industry newsletter "Microprocessor Report." He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure.
Peter Glaskowsky
3 min read

I bought my 2.33GHz MacBook Pro about two years ago, shortly after it was introduced. It came with a 160GB hard disk, but that wasn't really enough for all my stuff, particularly when I wanted to add a Boot Camp partition for Microsoft's Windows Vista.

So last July, I upgraded to a 250GB drive, a process I described here ("A new hard disk for my MacBook Pro").

Samsung Spinpoint M6
Samsung's Spinpoint M6 500GB mobile hard disk Samsung

That drive started feeling a little tight within just a few months, chiefly due to videos downloaded from the iTunes Store. Although I rarely buy videos from iTunes, there's a lot of free stuff there. I have a particular weakness for video podcasts about automobiles, such as VOD Cars and BMW's own video magazine, BMW-web.tv. Oh, and I've also lost some potential productivity to the Onion News Network video feed and the original Onion Radio News, which are also available through iTunes.

I hung tight through the 320GB generation of laptop hard disks, figuring that wasn't enough of a capacity improvement to justify the cost.

But shortly after Samsung started shipping the Spinpoint M6 model HM500LI, Montalvo Systems shut down, and I had other things to think about than upgrading my hard disk. I decided to wait for Hitachi or Western Digital to introduce a competing model, so I could make sure I was getting the best product when the time came.

Hitachi has a 500GB drive, but at 12.5mm thick, it won't fit in the MacBook Pro. Then Western Digital introduced the new Scorpio Blue, a 9.5mm drive with specifications pretty much identical to those of the Samsung drive. I was able to get a pretty good deal on the Samsung drive, so that's what I decided to go with.

I went through the same upgrade process I used last time, which I recommend to anyone upgrading a hard disk: back up the old disk to the new disk in an external enclosure before swapping in the new drive. With a Mac, it's easiest to do the backup by connecting both drives to another machine using the special feature called FireWire Target Disk Mode.

In this case, I only backed up the Mac partition this way, since Macs can't natively write to NTFS partitions; I used Windows to back itself up separately to a different drive.

After going through the usual grief involved in upgrading a MacBook Pro hard disk-- which I don't recommend to anyone who isn't very familiar with safe maintenance procedures for modern laptops-- everything just worked. The new drive is fast, silent, and huge, everything I love in a hard disk.

Well, all but one thing. The Boot Camp partition isn't so easy to migrate over. After booting from the new drive, I let the Boot Camp Assistant program create a new Boot Camp partition with an NTFS filesystem, then used Mike Bombich's NetRestore application to copy the old data to the new partition.

But although the copy proceeded normally and the new partition received all the files from the old one, it also received the old partition's size-- 20GB instead of the 32GB I had allocated for it. And it didn't come out bootable, nor would Parallels Workstation work with it, in spite of being configured to use the Boot Camp partition on the old drive.

I can't find anything online about migrating a Boot Camp partition when upgrading a hard disk. So let me ask all of you folks: does anyone know how to do this?

I'll post an update here when I get it figured out. In any event, I can always just wipe out the new partition and reinstall Windows...

Update: now solved! See my followup post: "Migrating and resizing a Boot Camp partition". Thanks to everyone who commented.