FAQ: Switching Storage Controllers w/o Reinstalling Windows

SomeJoe7777

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Moving Windows to a Different Hard Disk/RAID Controller Without Reinstalling


Overview

One of the trends in personal computing these days is the prevelance of more options for hard disks and RAID systems than have been available in the past. As a result, many people want to move towards one of these systems as an upgrade, but at the same time want to avoid the hassle of reinstalling Windows and all applications. This has been exceedingly difficult and in some cases even impossible do to. However, with this guide, you'll be able to perform this task in most cases with most hardware configurations.


What You Can and Cannot Do With This Guide

This guide is applicable to the person who has Windows currently starting up from one hard disk/hard disk controller combination, and wants to start that same Windows installation up from a different hard disk/hard disk controller on the same computer. For instance, you may want to upgrade from a single-disk installation of Windows to a RAID installation, or from an IDE drive to a SCSI drive, or from an IDE drive to a native-mode SATA drive. In general, this guide will work for any situation where the mass storage controller that has to be used for Windows startup is going to change.

This guide is NOT for adding another drive or controller to an existing system when the Windows installation doesn't move from it's existing controller. That is a much easier task and can be done with standard driver installation and the Disk Management utility in Windows. This guide is NOT for moving a Windows installation to completely different hardware (like changing your motherboard). There are some procedures posted on the Internet for that already. The guide is NOT for moving a hard drive within a system where the disk controller that is being used either does not change or uses the same drivers as the old one, or where Windows already has built-in drivers for the new controller (like a standard IDE controller).


Windows and Mass Storage Controllers

Windows treats all mass storage controllers the same way. Whether it's a standard IDE controller, SATA controller, SCSI controller, or RAID controller, Windows has to have a driver for it in order to use it. Once Windows has a driver installed for the controller, Windows can start up from a hard drive attached to that controller as long as the machine's BIOS can use the controller as the boot device.

When installing Windows for the first time on a system, most of the time no concern need be given to the mass storage controller, because in the past, 90% of the time, the storage controller is a standard IDE controller which Windows already has drivers for on its installation CD. Windows will detect the standard IDE controller and use it's own drivers for it, thus enabling Windows to start up from the IDE controller.

If Windows does not have a driver on its CD for your system, the Windows text-mode setup program tells you that Windows cannot find a mass storage controller in your system, and prompts you to insert a manufacturer-supplied driver disk. This is the method to install mass storage controller drivers for most SCSI, RAID, and now some SATA controllers. Windows reads the driver off the floppy disk, and uses that driver to start up after installation.

If any situation arises where Windows does not have a driver installed for the mass storage controller you're starting up from, you will get a blue screen STOP error, usually with the error STOP 0x0000007B (INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE). If you've ever tried to copy a Windows installation from one controller to another with one of the partition copy tools and then tried to start it up, this is probably what you got.

The key item in this procedure that makes it work is that the procedure loads drivers for a storage controller that Windows will start up on before moving Windows to that storage controller. Once Windows has seen the storage controller and has had drivers loaded for it, Windows can now use that storage controller as the startup controller.


Requirements to Proceed

To proceed with this procedure, you will need the following:

■The Windows installation that you want to move must be Windows 2000 Pro, 2000 Server, 2003 Server, or XP.
■The old hard drive controller is currently installed in the system, drivers for it are installed in Windows, and the hard drive holding the current Windows installation is attached to that controller, and Windows currently starts up in this configuration.
■You will need some type of tool to copy a partition from one drive to another if you will be moving the Windows installation to a different hard drive as well as a different controller. The recommended tools are: Norton Partition Magic, Norton Ghost, Acronis True Image, or BootIt Next Generation/Image for DOS. There are a few other products out there as well. Be aware that Partition Magic will only run on Windows 2000 Pro or Windows XP - it does not support copying partitions containing a server operating system. For copying server partitions, I recommend Norton Ghost.
■You need the ability to have both the old disk controller and the new disk controller installed in the machine at the same time. If you can't do this for whatever reason, there is a work-around that will be addressed later in the guide.
■If you will be copying the startup Windows partition to a different drive, the disk controllers involved in the copy operation must support Extended INT13h extensions so that they can be seen by the partition copy software. (Most SCSI and RAID controllers, and all modern IDE/SATA controllers support this).
■You need drivers for the new disk controller already downloaded and decompressed (if required) on your C: drive.
■You need to prepare a DOS-mode startup media for the partition copy program you will be using. For Partition Magic, you can boot the Partition Magic CD. For Norton Ghost, you need to create a Ghost boot floppy. For Acronis True Image, you can boot the Acronis True Image CD. For BootIt Next Generation/Image for DOS, create a startup floppy.

Disclaimers

This procedure carries some risk. It is not possible to forsee all possible hardware combinations, and there may be some that this procedure doesn't work on. There is a risk of losing your data, all the way from minor problems to loss of the entire hard drive. As with any procedure where data loss is a risk, having a current backup of your data is strongly advised. I can't be responsible for data loss, and I don't guarantee that this procedure will work in all situations, nor that it will work at all times.


Procedure

This procedure assumes you're using a different hard disk as well as a different disk controller. If you're changing the disk controller only, skip steps 13-18 and just move your hard drive to the new disk controller in place of those steps.

1. Backup all important data. Use a different hard drive other than the ones that will be used in this procedure, or backup to a network storage device or tape drive.
2. Shut down the system (power off).
3. Install the new disk controller in the system, but do not connect any drives to it.
4. Power on the system, go into the system BIOS.
5. Make sure in the boot order, that your original disk controller and hard drive are still set to be the boot device.
6. Save changes in the BIOS if necessary, and restart the system.
7. Allow your existing installation of Windows to start up.
8. Once Windows is started up and has reached the desktop, the Found New Hardware wizard should start, indicating that the system wants to install drivers for the new disk controller.
9. Install the drivers according to the manufacturer's directions. Make sure you're installing the correct driver. Many manufacturers provide a driver package that has drivers for several different, but similar products. Make sure you pick the driver for the exact disk controller that you have installed in the system.
10. When you're done, Windows may ask you to restart. Do so now.
11. After the restart, check Windows device manager, make sure your new disk controller appears in the device list (under IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers if it's an IDE/SATA device, or under SCSI and RAID Controllers if it's a SCSI card or RAID device). Make sure there is no yellow exclamation point or red X on the device. Double click it to make sure Windows says that the device is working properly.
12. Shut down the system (power off).
13. Attach your new hard drive(s) to the new disk controller.
14. If your new controller is a RAID controller and your intention is to create a new RAID array for your Windows installation, power on the system, go into the RAID BIOS Utility and create the RAID array on the new drives according to the manufacturer's directions.
15. Power on the system and start up the DOS-mode partition copy utility that you have, either from CD or floppy.
16. You should now see the existing Windows partition on your old disk controller/hard disk, and a blank area on the new disk controller/hard disk/RAID array. Following the manufacturer's directions for your partition copy utility, copy the partition from the old drive to the new drive/array.
17. Exit the partition copy utility and shut down the system (power off).
18. Remove the old hard drive from the old disk controller, but leave the controller installed.
19. Power on the system, go into the system BIOS. Make sure that in the boot order, the new disk controller is set as the startup device.
20. Save changes to the BIOS, and restart the system.
21. Windows will now start up on your new disk controller & hard drive.
22. Once started up and at the desktop, go into Device Manager.

(Note: steps 23-25 should not be done if the old disk controller will be hosting other drives, such as a second hard drive or CD/DVD).

23. Right-click and uninstall the old disk controller (under IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers if it's an IDE/SATA device, or under SCSI and RAID Controllers if it's a SCSI card or RAID device).
24. Shut down the system (power off).
25. Remove the old disk controller from the system (or disable it in the system BIOS if it's a motherboard-embedded device).

Congrats, your system is now starting up on a different disk controller.


Example

Earlier in the guide, I mentioned that you need to be able to install both the old and new disk controllers in the system for the procedure to work. There is a work-around if this isn't possible. What you do in this case is use an intermediate disk controller, and perform the procedure twice. 8O

Let's use an example for a typical scenario. Let's suppose I have a motherboard with an Intel ICH7R south bridge (this south bridge chip is typically paired with the 975X north bridge chip). I currently have my Windows installation installed on a single 120GB SATA hard drive connected to the ICH7R, and the ICH7R is currently in native SATA (AHCI) mode. I want to move the existing Windows installation to a RAID-0 configuration, where the ICH7R is in RAID mode, using two new 150GB WD Raptors.

The problem with this move is that the ICH7R can be in SATA mode or RAID mode, but can't be in both at the same time. Thus, we can't have both the old controller and the new controller installed simultaneously. What we will do in this case is install an inexpensive SATA PCI card, like the Promise SATA300 TX2plus, move the Windows installation to that controller using the procedure above (1st pass), change the ICH7R to RAID mode, install the Raptors, create the RAID array, and then move the Windows installation from the Promise card to the RAID array using the procedure above again (2nd pass).

So, step-by-step:

1. Backup all important data. Use a different hard drive other than the ones that will be used in this procedure, or backup to a network storage device or tape drive.
2. Shut down the system (power off).
3. Install the Promise SATA300 TX2plus disk controller in any PCI slot, but do not connect any drives to it.
4. Power on the system, go into the system BIOS.
5. Make sure in the boot order, that the ICH7R disk controller and 120GB SATA drive are still set to be the boot device.
6. Save changes in the BIOS if necessary, and restart the system.
7. Allow the existing installation of Windows to start up.
8. Once Windows is started up and has reached the desktop, the Found New Hardware wizard should start, indicating that the system wants to install drivers for the Promise SATA300 TX2plus disk controller.
9. Install the drivers according to Promise's directions. Make sure you're installing the correct driver.
10. When you're done, Windows asks you to restart. Do so now.
11. After the restart, check Windows device manager, make sure the Promise SATA300 TX2plus disk controller appears in the device list (under IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers). Make sure there is no yellow exclamation point or red X on the device. Double click it to make sure Windows says that the device is working properly.
12. Shut down the system (power off).
13. Since the old connection to the ICH7R was SATA, and the Promise card also supports a single SATA drive, we don't need another hard drive, nor do we need to copy the partition. Simply unplug the 120GB SATA drive from the ICH7R and reconnect it to the Promise SATA300 TX2plus.
14. Power on the system, go into the system BIOS. Make sure that in the boot order, the Promise SATA300 TX2plus disk controller is set as the startup device.
15. Save changes to the BIOS, and restart the system.
16. Windows will now start up on the Promise SATA300 TX2plus disk controller & 120GB SATA hard drive.
17. Once started up and at the desktop, go into Device Manager.
18. Right-click and uninstall the ICH7R driver (under IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers - it will be listed as Intel 82801FR SATA Controller).
19. Restart the system.
20. Go into the system BIOS, change the ICH7R from SATA mode to RAID mode.
21. Allow the existing installation of Windows to start up.
22. Once Windows is started up and reached the desktop, the Found New Hardware wizard should start, indicating that the system wants to install drivers for the ICH7R in RAID mode.
23. Install the drivers according to Intel's directions. Make sure you're installing the correct driver.
24. When you're done, Windows asks you to restart. Do so now.
25. After the restart, check Windows device manager, make sure the ICH7R RAID mode disk controller appears in the device list (under SCSI and RAID Controllers). Make sure there is no yellow exclamation point or red X on the device. Double click it to make sure Windows says that the device is working properly.
26. Shut down the system (power off).
27. Attach the two 150GB Raptors to the ICH7R disk controller using SATA cables.
28. Power on the system, go into the Intel Matrix Storage Manager RAID BIOS Utility (Ctrl-I).
29. Create a RAID-0 array using the two 150GB Raptors, making a 300GB virtual disk.
30. Restart the system and start up the DOS-mode partition copy utility that you have, either from CD or floppy.
31. You should now see the existing Windows partition on the Promise SATA300 TX2plus disk controller and 120GB SATA drive, and 300GB of space on the RAID array attached to the ICH7R. Following the manufacturer's directions for your partition copy utility, copy the partition from the 120GB SATA drive to the 300GB RAID-0 array. You will either need to resize the partition afterwards to 300GB (Partition Magic) or define the size of the destination partition as 300GB before the copy (Ghost).
32. Exit the partition copy utility and shut down the system (power off).
33. Remove the 120GB hard drive from the Promise SATA300 TX2plus disk controller, but leave the controller installed.
34. Power on the system, go into the system BIOS. Make sure that in the boot order, the ICH7R/RAID array is set as the startup device.
35. Save changes to the BIOS, and restart the system.
36. Windows will now start up on the RAID-0 Raptors on the ICH7R.
37. Once started up and at the desktop, go into Device Manager.
38. Right-click and uninstall the Promise SATA300 TX2plus disk controller (under IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers).
39. Shut down the system (power off).
40. Remove the Promise SATA300 TX2plus disk controller disk controller from the system.

Testing

I have tested this procedure using the following:

■An Intel D925XCV motherboard (925X north bridge, ICH6R south bridge)
■Windows 2000 Server
■A 120GB SATA Maxtor drive installed on the ICH6R in SATA/AHCI mode, holding the Windows 2000 Server installation.
1. I moved the Windows 2000 Server installation to an Adaptec 29160LP SCSI card with a 9 GB Seagate Cheetah SCSI drive.
2. I removed the Maxtor 120GB, changed the ICH6R to RAID mode, installed two 74GB WD Raptors, and created a 148GB RAID-0.
3. I then moved the Windows 2000 Server installation to the 148GB RAID-0.
All steps were successful. Norton Ghost was used as the partition copy utility.


References

My primary impetus for trying and deveoping this procedure is a Microsoft support KB article entitled Stop 0x0000007B error after moving the Windows XP system disk to another computer. This article says within it that installing a mass storage controller driver before moving the Windows installation will work. This is what I decided to test.

Some other Microsoft KB articles that deal with this, and other related issues are:

Moving a Windows Installation to Different Hardware
How to troubleshoot "Stop 0x0000007B" errors in Windows XP
How to perform an in-place upgrade (reinstallation) of Windows XP


Conclusion

I hope this procedure works for you and gives you additional options for your mass storage scenarios.


Edits/Version History

v1.1 - 08/20/2006 - Added references to Microsoft KB articles.
v1.2 - 11/12/2007 - Added Acronis True Image to list of partition copy utilities, fixed BB-code formatting for new forum software.
 

SomeJoe7777

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I performed this procedure again this weekend, successfully completing a task that I had set out to do in the first place.

I originally had the following configuration:
[*:7bbce39ac0]Dell PowerEdge 1650 Server
[*:7bbce39ac0]Windows 2000 Server
[*:7bbce39ac0]Exchange 2000
[*:7bbce39ac0]C: Drive = 18GB SCSI, attached to Dell SCSI backplane
[*:7bbce39ac0]D: Drive = 36GB SCSI, attached to Dell SCSI backplane
[*:7bbce39ac0]Disk controller = Dell built-in AIC-7899 (Adaptec 39160 equivalent).
[*:7bbce39ac0]No redundancy for C: drive (containing OS) or D: drive (containing Exchange information store/mailboxes).
I wanted to make both the C: drive and D: drive on this server redundant, but reinstalling Windows 2000 Server and Exchange 2000 and backing up/restoring all the mailboxes and Exchange configuration makes reinstalling XP look like a picnic.

Dell has a RAID option for this server, it's the Dell PowerEdge RAID Controller (PERC) 3/Di. This is a daughtercard that gets installed inside the server. When it's installed, the server's AIC-7899 controller disappears, and the RAID controller appears in it's place, and the backplane is automatically converted to operate on the PERC 3/Di instead of the AIC-7899. This further complicates matters -- there is no way to make a Windows installation see both the old controller (AIC-7899) and the new controller (PERC 3/Di) at the same time. :(

I performed my procedure twice, using an Adaptec 29160LP SCSI card as the intermediate controller. The procedure went like this:

[*:7bbce39ac0]Shut down server
[*:7bbce39ac0]Start up Norton Ghost
[*:7bbce39ac0]Image both drives to network share for backup purposes
[*:7bbce39ac0]Shut down server
[*:7bbce39ac0]Install Adaptec 29160LP card, no drives
[*:7bbce39ac0]Start up Windows from AIC-7899/18GB drive
[*:7bbce39ac0]Install drivers for Adaptec 29160LP
[*:7bbce39ac0]Shut down server
[*:7bbce39ac0]Remove 36GB drive, remove 18GB drive, leaving backplane empty
[*:7bbce39ac0]Connect 18GB drive to Adaptec 29160LP card using SCA->68-pin adapter
[*:7bbce39ac0]Start up from Adaptec 29160LP, verify functionality
[*:7bbce39ac0]Shut down server
[*:7bbce39ac0]Install PERC 3/Di daughterboard
[*:7bbce39ac0]Start up from Adaptec 29160LP
[*:7bbce39ac0]Install drivers for PERC 3/Di
[*:7bbce39ac0]Shut down server
[*:7bbce39ac0]Install 2x 74GB Seagate Cheetahs in SCSI backplane
[*:7bbce39ac0]Start up, go into PERC 3/Di BIOS
[*:7bbce39ac0]Define RAID-1 array on 74GB Cheetahs
[*:7bbce39ac0]Restart, boot Norton Ghost
[*:7bbce39ac0]Copy Windows partition from Adaptec 29160LP/18GB drive to new 20GB partition on RAID-1 array
[*:7bbce39ac0]Copy Exchange data partition from network share image to new 50GB partition on RAID-1 array
[*:7bbce39ac0]Shut down server
[*:7bbce39ac0]Remove 18GB drive from Adaptec 29160LP
[*:7bbce39ac0]Start up on PERC 3/Di
[*:7bbce39ac0]Uninstall Adaptec 29160LP driver
[*:7bbce39ac0]Shut down server
[*:7bbce39ac0]Remove Adaptec 29160LP card
[*:7bbce39ac0]Start up server on PERC 3/Di
I left out some details in that write-up, like checking BIOS settings. Also there were RAID firmware & system BIOS updates and Dell OpenManage Server updates to do.

However, the procedure worked beautifully, the Exchange server is now running from the RAID-1 mirror, both partitions fully redundant, and everything in Windows is exactly like it was, as if nothing happened. 8)

I think next time I order a server from Dell, I'll order it with the flippin' RAID controller already installed. :? :D
 

rantsky

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■You need to prepare a DOS-mode startup media for the partition copy program you will be using. For Partition Magic, you can boot the Partition Magic CD. For Norton Ghost, you need to create a Ghost boot floppy. For BootIt Next Generation/Image for DOS, create a startup floppy.[/list]
Hi, simple procedure and very nicely written. Thanks. Just wanted to comment on this one point that you should note Norton Ghost (DOS mode) does not support SATA drives, so better use other software solutions (I like True Image). Cheers!
 

440bx

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Very Nice!

I have done the procedure you mentioned quite a number of times and had thought about doing a writeup like this one. I can honestly say that I could not have done it any better. Great Job!

One small note for the readers.

SomeJoe mentions that in some cases you will need to use a PCI based controller such as the Promise TXII plus. I suggest you purchase a couple of SATA/IDE combo cards like the Promise TXII Plus. Always install the card and its drivers in every machine you have (you don't need to leave the card installed in the computer if you don't want to).

That way, when you need to move the drive from one controller to another or, from one motherboard to another, you are always ready.

This is also a handy way of booting any machine with your own Windows installation (which presumably would be loaded with a nice set of utilities) to correct problems in a non-booting Windows installation. This of course requires that you lug around the hard drive along with the PCI controller (not as bad as having to lug a computer around with you). I've resucitated quite a number of systems using this method.

Hope that helps.
 

SomeJoe7777

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Hi, simple procedure and very nicely written. Thanks. Just wanted to comment on this one point that you should note Norton Ghost (DOS mode) does not support SATA drives, so better use other software solutions (I like True Image). Cheers!
Norton Ghost will support any mass storage controller that can access it's drives using Extended INT13h extensions. This includes all modern IDE, and many SATA, SCSI, and RAID controllers, and this is mentioned in the write-up.

If you have a proprietary SATA (or SCSI or RAID controller) that does not support Extended INT13h extensions, then neither Norton Ghost, Partition Magic, BootITNG, nor Acronis True Image will access it from DOS mode. (Acronis True Image has a Linux-based standalone version that has drivers for those devices and therefore can get around this limitation).
 

danmarhk

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Is it possible to migrate the system from one computer to another one as well?
It happens when I buy a new system that Windows requires me to reset the settings or call Microsoft for help.
 

SomeJoe7777

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From the guide:

What You Can and Cannot Do With This Guide

...

This guide is NOT for moving a Windows installation to completely different hardware (like changing your motherboard). There are some procedures posted on the Internet for that already.

...
 

rnem170

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I think I may have a combo where this won't work, and I'm completely stuck.

Old HW/Disk combos

Foxconn 955x7aa
Boot drive (raid 0) on ITE8212F
Raid 5 on Si3114
Std IDE on ICH7R.

I recently enlarged my array with 4 new SATA-II drives so want to move them to ICH7R. I backed up my data, installed the 4 drives on ICH7R and tried to boot. The machine hard hangs. It will only boot if I disable the ITE8212F controller. I backed up my data on it and restored it (after lots of fun) to the ICH7R raid, but now I get the dreaded 7B BSOD.

I can't boot the machine with both controllers active, but I can with only one, and of course, if there is only 1, I can't install the drivers for the ICH7R.

New HW/Disk combos required

Boot drive (raid 0) on ITE8212F
Raid 5 on ICH7R
Si3114 spare
(since this combo won't work, the lot on ICH7R)

Cheers
 

SomeJoe7777

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You need to start your own thread for this. This thread is intended for comments on the FAQ, not for solving problems.
 

doombot

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As this guide was written before (but updated after) Vista, will it work for Vista?

 

SomeJoe7777

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I have not tested it with Vista, but as Vista still uses the NTFS file system and the same driver model as 2K/XP/2K3, I see no reason why it shouldn't work.
 

medjohnson77

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Thanks for the info, I am about to set up a raid 0+1 on my new build, should of done it from the start but money was an issue, so just went with a single 500Gb seagate, and installed my one time, builders ed. of vista 64. This helps alot and hopefully when I install my new drives all will work well. Thanks again
 

NMD

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I have windows installed on one wd raptor 150gb. I want to add a 2nd wd raptor and put them in a RAID 0. Can I do this w/o re-installing?
 

ArmoredCavalry

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Wow! This helped me out, big time. I was pretty much stuck in a rut until I found this guide. Saved me a lot of time! Thank you a lot!
 

Edward2009

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I realize that this is a very old post, but today I am stuck trying to image a poweredge 1650 server. The machine has windows xp for now and I want to image the machine using norton ghost (version 10 enterprise edition). What do I need on the boot disk to image the machine to a network share? I have the scsi drivers for the dos disk but during the startup process, the network card cannot be determined as to what is to be used (eihter device 0x0022 or 0x0024).

Edward
 

viperjohn131

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ok, i've been through about 8 (YES, 8) windows installations with this new core i7 set up, p6t deluxe- with two ide hard drives. now the first one i figured was just going bad since i installed xp 4 times and it kept saying missing sys32 files, and then i installed it on my other and it was fine, but today my poor old ide started making noise and going horribly slow for a 2k$ system-

basically, both of the drives are old and i'm considering going to a sata drive- i have next to no knowledge about hard drives to be honest, and i was curious about this topic- except i have no idea what a "controller" is- i used wiki of course, except i dont understand- if my board has sata connectors and ide, does it already have the controllers? and if so, can i just connect both hard drives, copy one hard drive to the other (or is that what you need that software for? ) and then just boot from that hard drive?

thanks for your patience
 

Appzalien

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After reading your tutorial I had an idea. I made me an F6 floppy with the sata drivers, changed my sata from IDE to ACHI in the bios, and set the PC to boot from the CD in which I placed my XP install disk. After reboot and selecting to boot from cd, I hit the F6 button and installed the sata drivers. I then passed on the first windows that recommended I could repair with the recovery console and hit enter like I was going to just install XP. A few windows later after it detected I already had a partition with windows on it, it said to press R If I wanted to repair it (the second repair option). This is a non-destructive system replacment where all your data and programs remain intact but the system is replaced from the install disk from scratch. Therefore all your critical updates that are not on the disk will have to be re-downloaded (having SP3 integrated is a real big help). It took about 45min to do the whole thing but my system booted up fine in ACHI mode with no problems, and best of all my programs and all my files were still there.

If your interested in this Non-Destructive reinstall you can read about it here:
Code:
http://www.informationweek.com/news/windows/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=ATER1BJCZNSN0QSNDLQSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=189400897&_requestid=319026
Its pulled me out of hot water more than once.
 

magruder13

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Great guide, but i have 1 question, my HDD has started to go bad, and its over 5 years old and has been formated ALOT and its starting to lose data, should i just reinstall everything to make sure it works right, or should i try doing this guide first?
 

Appzalien

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Once a drive starts to go its a good idea to replace it rather than take any chances you might loose all the data. If your sure you have a good copy running you can make an image of the drive with a program like Acronis True Image or with Norton Ghost so you can transfer all the programs and data to a new drive. All the above tutorial does is to replace the system files and drivers not any programs or other data that can be effected by a drive thats failing.

Once you have a new drive in place with all your stuff saved to it, you can try fixing the other drive with HDD Regenerator which will try to recover any bad sectors by switching the magnetic fields back and forth to repair the bad parts. There is also the Smart Drive utility that you can run to see if your drive passes all the tests and each manufacturer of drives has its own utilities for that purpose too.

Some Maxtor drives and others used to have a 5 year warranty, if you hurry you might get in under the gun, it never hurts to submit an RMA, all they can do is say no.

Also, other things can effect a drives performance, a power supply thats failing to supply a smooth voltage can cause drives to do funny things. If your power supply is a no name type or a bottom shelf type, it wouldn't hurt to buy a new one as well to supply your new drive with clean power.
 

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