A Disk Transfer Compromise…

Posted on Wednesday 30 April 2008

So if you recall my posting from yesterday, I was extremely close to just giving up on moving my windows installation to my new hard drive and just installing Ubuntu Linux instead… It was very, very, very close…

I also mentioned that I might give the net/Google one more chance to deliver what I need before I did that… It looks like I intimidated the Internet… yeah right…

So I did some more looking about for cloning tools, something that would work… Now for all of you out there who were probably thinking “Why didn’t he just buy something like Norton Ghost?” You obviously haven’t read my blog much as I am a big supporter of freeware and GNU products and seriously believe that one shouldn’t be a slave to all the commercial suppliers out there if one doesn’t have too – Besides which I have mentioned, I’m RETIRED….. (and you can read what you want into that one…)

My first big AHA! came when I found a wonderful website/blog that actually mentioned four tools that I had ruled out by now:

  1. Norton Ghost (as already mentioned above)
  2. HDClone (which copied the disk exactly, giving me no extra space on my disk – which was the whole point of this excercise)
  3. Ranish (more powerful than HDClone but again, I could not copy to a larger partition than what the source was)
  4. Western Digital’s Data Lifeguard (which I had already tried to use no less than 8 times without success – didn’t transfer everything…)

The article actually mentioned a fifth package Maxtors Maxblast, but in the same breath as Western Digitals Lifeguard and since I didn’t have a Maxtor and certainly had given up on the Western Digital Solution, I ruled out without even looking at it (more on that later…)

However, what the article did do, was to help my brain loosen up my thought processes and also make me realize that there is a subtle but physical difference between “cloning a disk” which is what I thought I wanted and “imaging” a disks contents which is what I actually wanted…

So back to Google with a couple of keyword changes… Which led me to three other pieces of software which were all reported to be capable of copying a disk image from a small disk onto a larger one with no adverse effects. If one of these worked it just might save my computer from becoming a Linux box sooner than planned:

  1. xxclone
  2. Self Image
  3. Max Blast – (which was actually owned by Seagate now…)

At this point I had drawn a line in the sand, if none of these worked I was committed to bringing Linux online sooner than expected. I had already committed weeks to this “minor” project and was quickly running out of disk space on my laptop because of it (which is where everything else was now being done/evaluated and stored. )

So, xxclone was the first that I tried. The reviews that I had read had been quite promising and my expectations were high. Unfortunately whether it was due to the diskmanager that was originally installed on my smaller (Western Digital) disk (and the source of too much grief already) or some other factor – the software only found the newer (Seagate) disk and since it couldn’t find my original disk, could not transfer anything – Strike 1!

Next up was Self Image. It installed beautifully, and even claimed that it could run and do its’ job while I went about doing other things (yeah… right. ) It won a huge gold star for finding both the new and the old disks and I started up the image copy procedure… It was then that a few error messages popped up basically saying…. “Are you sure you know what you are doing? The disk partitions aren’t the same size!” I thought this was a bit of over-kill (trying to protect those who weren’t sure of what they might or might not be doing ) and ignored the message as there was plenty of room on the new disk to accommodate the older data.

The software did it’s thing and I rebooted, to discover that the data transferred wonderfully… EXCEPT (are you surprised…) it had turned my 200 plus Gigabytes of disk space into the original 90 for both disks! So I had a good copy, but the SAME SIZE! Which meant I was no further ahead! – Strike 2!

So while waiting for my computer to reboot and run on it’s original disks (once again…sigh ) I started reviewing emulator options for Ubuntu as well as downloading the latest installation disks for my move to Linux…

My last choice/hope/whatever was MaxBlast. With great trepidation and an actual lack of hope I installed the software choosing to install the full package (might as well go down in glory eh! ) Once installed, I started it up. It too won a gold star – it found all the drives. Then it won a second one – it offered not only to partition and format the new drive for me but it also allowed me to choose how to partition the drive, or would automatically resize the new drive in the same proportion as the original one – WOW!

So… were you waiting for the other shoe to drop?? It did… I’m not sure if it was because of the disk manager software that was installed on my smaller drive, or if it was an idiosyncrasy related to either the software or windows itself but I could not, nor would it automatically resize the new drive into two larger partitions. It insisted that the boot partition stay at its original 90 Gigabytes, but that I could make my second partition any size I wanted! Arrgghhh!

The boot partition (the one that I could not make bigger ) is where most Windows programs insist on being loaded. I did not have a lot of free space on it and had hoped to triple the space. I decided to copy the images over with the small boot drive and a much larger second drive (leaving future space for a third drive partition or perhaps a Linux root.) I figured that “if” this actually worked, that I might be able to move much of the extraneous files off of the boot drive (like pictures, videos and documents) and put them on the larger second drive (with links to their new directories on the first drive so that – for the most part – default settings within all my programs would still work.)

MaxBlast was a vision of beauty in its’ operation. It warned that it would require no less than four reboots of the computer – and it handled it all – I didn’t have to do a thing. Plus it operated at the boot level (thus never allowing Windows to restart) and as such was able to do a clean image copy of my old drive to my new.

When it was finished – with no errors – I checked both disks against each other and everything seemed to be there! When I rebooted the new drive came up clean and faster than the older one and again everything (including the troublesome firewall which didn’t work before) worked perfectly. Even the networked drives performed flawlessly…

So now I had a decision, should I limp/struggle along with a small boot drive (which can be given more space by moving a lot of stuff of it) or should I move to Linux?

My initial goal was to get more space available to use within my Windows configuration. I had sort of succeeded (although not the way I envisioned) plus I now had some space left on the same drive for some Linux to be installed, and could then set up a dual boot to allow me to start using both on the same computer.

I don’t consider it an out and out win. It’s more like a compromise. One in my favor (with fingers crossed. ) I’m thinking I will try this configuration out for a while and see how stable it is and whether I can live with it (isn’t that what compromises are all about anyways? ) Time will tell, and of course I will too…

You’ll be the first (okay second after my wife ) to hear about it!

Till next time…

End Article

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