I have a machine with Windows Server 2008. I want to change the hard disk drive, but keep everything else. I don't have a cd/dvd drive and don't want to buy it.

My first idea was to make a byte-to-byte copy of the disk with Paragon Advanced Recovery. The problem is that when I try to boot from a new hard disk, it says that there were hardware changes and that Windows must be repaired, inviting me to insert the installation disk and follow repair instructions.

I searched and found that 1:1 copy is not a correct way to do things. The correct one is to restore Windows to a new hard disk from a full system backup. But to restore, I need to have a dvd drive.

I tried to make a copy of the Windows Server 2008 .iso on an USB flash drive, but the drive is not bootable (while the same procedure applied to Paragon Advanced Recovery ISO produces a bootable recovery USB flash drive).

Now what else can I do (except buying a dvd drive)? Is there a way either to make Windows work without doing recovery or recover Windows 2008 without using a cd drive?

  • After all, what about the companies which have dozens or hundreds of servers? Do they use an installation dvd after each disaster? I don't think so. Is there any recovery option through AIK? I had AIK installed once and can install it again if need. May 20, 2010 at 14:25
  • For dozens+ servers they use a deployment solution like MS SCCM, Altiris, LANdesk, or Kace. But these are all expensive (both the software itself and training.
    – Chris S
    May 20, 2010 at 22:07
  • In large organizations in a disaster recovery situation, things are usually archived to tape. The servers are reinstalled with the correct OS through Altaris/Ghost/etc and then the backups are restored to them from tape.
    – MDMarra
    May 20, 2010 at 22:44

3 Answers 3


I PXE boot Windows PE, then use Imagex to capture the existing HD, pop the new drive in, use imagex again to write the image back, and it's good to go. But getting WinPE to PXE boot is unnecessary for a smaller shop.

For you, use Microsoft's ISO to USB Disk tool to make a bootable USB drive. You can get Imagex from the Windows AIK; copy imagex to the USB Disk. Boot from the disk, push Ctrl+F8 to bring up a command prompt. Capture the image: imagex /capture C:\ D:\MyServer.wim "MyServer". Change the HD. Boot again, write the image: imagex /apply D:\MyServer.wim 1 C:\.

  • 1
    +1 Also WDS (Windows Deployment Services) included with Server 2008+ is so easy to set up even a small shop could make simple use of it to PXE-boot Win PE imo ^^ May 20, 2010 at 20:25

You can't just copy the files to the USB drive, you need to make it bootable as well.

Plug in your USB drive on a working Windows machine that contains the files from the Windows 2008 ISO, then do the following:

  1. Open a DOS prompt
  2. diskpart
  3. list disk
  4. select disk <X> (where <X> is the number of your USB drive)
  5. clean
  6. create partition primary
  7. select partition 1
  8. active
  9. format fs=fat32
  10. assign
  11. exit
  12. xcopy <ISODIRECTORY>*.* /s/e/f <USBDRIVE>:

Here is a blog post with this info as well.

  • That's what I did from the beginning, with no success. Instead, doing a bootsect.exe /NT60 D: (where bootsect.exe is an executable found in boot directory on each Windows installation DVD, and D: is an usb flash disk. May 21, 2010 at 22:28

Have you tough of giving Clonezilla (drive cloning) a try, this is what I always use when I want to move an entire installation from a smaller drive to a larger one.

You can make make the Clonezilla ISO bootable from a USB drive by using a tool like UNetbootin, with the two drives in the system just tell Clonezilla to move the data from the old drive to the new one.

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