I recently purchased a Seagate 1TB Gaming SSHD SATA 8GB NAND SATA 6Gb/s 2.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive (ST1000LM014) (FYI: this is an Amazon affiliate link) in hopes to provide my wife’s old Gateway NV79 laptop a new lease on life.
Here’s some background:
- The existing drive was still functional and served as the root drive (drive C).
- It had a capacity of 500GB but was short on space due to the massive amount of photos my wife was saving on her existing desktop.
- These photos are priceless. I can’t imagine losing these pictures as they are irreplaceable.
Here’s what I planned in order to get the new drive to take over without having to redo everything (from re-installing the operating system and re-installing all her existing applications):
- Do a backup of her profile, along with all her files, create a recovery image of the system, and create a system repair disk
- Remove the old disk drive, then install the new larger disk drive
- Boot of the recovery/repair disk and restore the system image
Backing Up User Profile/Create System Image/Create System Repair disk
Using Windows 7’s built-in backup and restore utility, I proceeded to do three things:
- Backup my wife’s user files
- Create a System Image
- Create a System Repair Disk
Backup My Wife’s User Files
Of utmost importance is to first ensure my wife’s priceless photographs are safe. To do this, I purchased a Seagate Expansion 5TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STEB5000100) (FYI: This is an Amazon.com affiliate link). This should serve me well for storing file backups as well as the system image I will be creating in the next section.
To launch Windows 7 Backup and Restore utility, click START, then in the search field enter “backup and restore” and this will show the Backup and Restore utility. Select it to open. You should see this simple utility interface pop up:
Now click Set up backup and follow the prompts. You should see a screen just like below. In the image, you see arrows pointing to potential backup destinations. In this particular example, my 5TB USB drive isn’t connected, but if it was, it would show up as another disk drive with over 4.5 TB of free space. That was the drive I actually selected for my backup destination.
In general, you will want to select the target drive with sufficient space to take on large backups. After you select the destination drive, click Next and follow the prompts. At a certain point, you will have the opportunity to change any default settings, but in general, unless you really know what you are doing, you can leave default settings as they are. Then invoke the backup now. Depending how much data you have, it could take anywhere from several minutes to a few hours. Mine took a few hours (around 3 hours I think).
Create a System Image
During the backup process, you will have the option to select to have a system image made. Make sure to set that. I did this to save myself a lot of time doing software and driver re-installs. Believe me, it is worth it.
Note that I had problems creating a system image. I figured that this was due to not having enough disk space left on the root drive (drive C) as my wife’s photos used up most of the disk drive space. Having backed up the photos, I proceeded to delete all her photo folders. This was a scary thing because at this point, I am putting my trust in Microsoft’s backup utility to save me should something go south with this process. After doing this, I was able to build a system image.
Create a System Repair Disk
When the system finishes creating both the user file backups and the system image, it will prompt you about creating a system repair disk. I opted to do this. I readied my DVD-R disc; it takes one.
Remove Old Disk Drive and Install New One
At this point in time, I turned off the computer and removed the old disk drive and placed the new one.
Use System Repair Disk to Restore the Saved System Image
This is where the actual recovery process begins. Before I using the system repair disk, I configured the system BIOS to seek the DVD drive first as the boot device, then pressed F10 to save and exit the BIOS setup. I placed my system repair disk in the DVD drive my Gateway NV79, then restarted the computer by simply turning it OFF then turning it ON.
The laptop began to boot from the DVD and determined that I will be doing an image restore. At this point, I still had my 5TB external USB drive connected to the laptop. After the utility gets started, you will opt to restore from an image.
It was at this point that I encountered the error that the system could not restore the image because the system repair disk says “No disk that can be used for recovering the system disk can be found.” After seeing this, I thought perhaps I needed to match the partition configuration of the original drive, so I ran diskpart.exe and tried this. It didn’t work. After trying a few things that didn’t work, I finally gave in by doing a search on google. I found the answer at answers.microsoft.com. It turns out, all I needed to do on the disk drive was to run diskpart.exe, select the drive, and invoke CLEAR on it.
After I did this, the image restore process worked as it should have in the first place.
Everything that was on the original disk drive was restored, less the photos.
To fix this, I simply invoked the file/folder restore within the backup and restore utility and selected the photo folders to be restored.
What I thought was going to be a routine process turned out to be one heck of an effort. What really screwed me up was Windows 7 image restore now working the way it should in the first place without having to execute the DISKPART utility’s CLEAR command on the new drive.