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I have a hdd with windows 7 installed on it. I would like to move (or clone) the whole system to another (in this case smaller) hdd. What is the best and easiest way to do it? Basically I would need some kind of copy operation which would handle the differenct hdd sizes and copy everything including the boot loader. What method do you recommend?

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You will get better answers if you move the question over to Super User. – Luis Ventura May 31 '10 at 1:26

Use the Windows Automated install kit and use imagex. When you install the kit you will see step by step walkthru on how to create and image. Skip the sysprep parts and go right to the part where you use imagex. You will then have an image that will be (roughly) as small as possible. Follow the deployment steps on the smaller harddrive. note that you can copy the image right from the larger harddrive to the smaller one then deploy it to the same hardrive it's reading from.

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+1 Exactly what we use; also might want to run chkdsk before grabbing the image. – Chris S Sep 13 '11 at 12:22

Have a look at On the sysresccd bootable CD are tools for copying partitions. That would be one way to do it. However, if you copy a bootable Windows OS partition from the first partition on a hard disk to the second or third, etc, partition on another hard disk, it probably will not boot with out you fixing up the MBR etc. You can do that booting the system from the Windows install CD and going into repair mode (I think it's called). There are some commands like "fixboot" and "fixmbr". Type help for a listing of available commands.

Hope that helps.

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I know they have a free Edition but I believe what you need is only in the paid edition.

paragon-software .com

There guys also have a paid solution.

partition-tool .com

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Well I assume you have a Windows 7 DVD on hand ?

If so click start > right click my computer > manage go to disk management right click your boot drive and select shrink volume. Shrink the disk to smaller than the target drive.

Now grab GParted boot that with both disks plugged in, that will allow you to copy the partition from one disk to another (it would do the shrink too - but I think the Windows way is the better way in this case)

With that done unplug the larger drive and boot the new one. This may or may not fail - if it fails insert the 7 DVD and use the "Fix Windows Option" the first thing that will do is reinstall your bootloader ;-)

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I'd go with Acronis for something like this. It's a paid solution, but it's great software. You could take an image of the computer, and restore it elsewhere (with the smaller disk is fine). It even has a copy disk option that you could use to just directly copy the disk while still running. Acronis also has a feature called Universal Restore that would allow you to restore the image onto completely new hardware (not just the HDD) if necessary.

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