Changing Storage Drive


Apr 26, 2012
Hi, I currently have my desktop running with 120GB SSD as my boot drive and a 1TB HDD as my storage drive. Right now, my backup hard drive is an aging 250GB 5400RPM external. I'd like to replace it, and here's how I want to:

Buy an external eSATA enclosure and a 2TB HDD. Copy the entire contents (perhaps a disk image?) of the 1TB to the 2TB using the external enclosure. Then, remove the 1TB and replace it with the 2TB, and change the drive letter of the 2TB to the original drive letter of the 1TB. I would then format the 1TB and use it as my external backup.

Would that work though? Would Windows be able to tell the difference between the 1TB and the 2TB if the latter has the exact same drive letter and contents as the 1TB did? I haven't been able to find anything on it and was hoping someone here might know. Thanks in advance for the help.


That would work, Windows does not care about the physical size/brand whatever of the drive, when you tell it to find a file on the D drive, or save a file there, it will go the D drive to look for it even if you installed a stuffed walrus as drive D.
Here are a few tips to help.

1. What you want to do is called Cloning. When you clone a HDD to another, it makes a complete copy of EVERYTHING from the Source to the Destination. In doing this, note two important things:
(a) Make SURE when you do this that you select the old drive with data on it as the SOURCE, and the new one as the DESTINATION. Anything on the Destination drive will be wiped out.
(b) Most cloning software I've used has defaults it offers to use, and asks that you confirm before proceeding. But I find there are two items that you probably need to change via menus before accepting. One is that, on your case, the Destination drive does NOT need to be bootable since it is a data disk only. The other is that the default often is that the cloned copy will be the same size as the original Source, whereas what you want, I'm sure, is that the cloned copy will make ALL of the 2 TB drive available in ONE Partition so that it has lots of empty space for new data. You can set the Partition size to whatever you want, up to the max of the new HDD.

2. Several HDD makers have free cloning utilities you can download from their websites and install on your existing HDD so you can make the clone copy. This is to induce you to buy their HDD. So they limit them to make a clone TO only their HDD's. For example, if you buy a new Seagate HDD, get their utility called Disk Wizard. But if you buy from WD, get their Acronis True Image WD Edition. Both of those appear to be customized versions of Acronis True Image, a really good package that does a LOT more than just cloning. So READ the manual it comes with, and that will help you to see how to make a clone and how to use the menus to adjust its settings.

3. In preparing a new empty HDD for use by any OS, the first two steps (often combined into one step in a helpful Wizard) are to Create a Partition and then Format it. If you use a cloning package for your task, you do NOT need to do these things - the cloner will do it for you before copying everything.

4. At the last stage when you swap the two HDD's after cloning, simply make sure that the internal HDD (now 2 TB) is plugged into the same mobo SATA port as the original older one was. Windows will recognize that it is now larger, but it does not care - it will still call that unit by the same letter name that it always associated with the HDD plugged in there. Similarly, the 1 TB unit now located in the external case will be called by the same letter name the external case always had.

5. When done, check in BIOS Setup the Boot Priority Sequence settings. Ideally you should have your machine try your optical drive first, then your 120 GB SSD boot drive, and NO other device.


Apr 26, 2012
Thanks for the replies, you two. Your help/advice is greatly appreciated. Paperdoc - thank you for providing so much detail; my usual aversion to bundled software (drivers aside) has left me knowing nothing about the cloning process. Thanks to you, I'll definitely take advantage of it.

Again, thanks both of you.

1) cloning isn't necessary (just copy/paste) but if you are comfortable there are several options (i.e. )

2) do a FULL FORMAT on the new USB hard drive (START->Computer->right-click->FORMAT, quick should be unchecked. choose NTFS. You can name it.)

3) Drive letters - you won't be messing with that. Windows will add the drive letter dynamically when you plug it in and remove it when you unplug it.

Be advised that your drive letter can change this way.

*FORMATTING and COPY (or clone) will take a long time.
eSATA enclosure:

2TB drive:

Western Digital Acronis True Image software (requires WD drive, internal or USB/eSATA):

Acronis True Image can:
- make backup images of your WINDOWS drive (highly recommended)

So to be clear:
1) connect the hardware and add to computer
2) do a FULL FORMAT (NTFS) on the new drive (will take a long time. a Full format builds a bad sector table which is very important)
3) CLONE the drives with Acronis TI (very easy. It will automatically scale from 1TB to 2TB)


Similar threads