Help restoring ASR backup to smaller drive (and no floppy)

By Mugsy
Apr 27, 2011
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  1. Two problems in one.

    I'm trying to move my XP installation to another drive so I may free up my primary drive for a new install of Windows 7.

    I tried doing a standard full backup of my primary C: drive, then installing XP from scratch on the new drive, booting the new XP drive and Restoring the backup to it (while in it). But it didn't replace the Windows installation with the back up. Just the files.

    To make an exact copy of my XP installation, I probably need to make an ASR backup and restore it from ASR Recovery Mode (via booting from the XP CD).

    Two problems with that idea: 1) I don't have a floppy drive (and I'm not buying one, so don't waste my time telling me to get one), and 2) The drive I'm restoring to is smaller than the source drive (though still with plenty of room to hold all my files with room to spare.) ASR refuses to restore to any drive that isn't *exactly* the same size.

    So, here's my thinking: Is there a way... while in my primary install of XP... to restore a backup of XP to the new drive with the fresh bootable copy of XP on it, replacing the existing install, config and all?
  2. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 438   +31

    [Solved] Cloned XP to a smaller drive using ASR and no floppy.

    I found the answer myself, so I'm posting this update for anyone that comes across this post in the future looking for an answer to the same problem. I'm working off memory, so let me know if I forgot to mention something. Please read everything before doing anything.

    (Note: If you aren't familiar with using "Windows Backup" or dual-booting a PC with multiple OS's on it, you probably shouldn't be attempting this.)

    I had WinXP installed on a 1TB Raid-0 partition and wanted to move it to a spare 250GB drive so I could install Windows 7 on the Raid, keeping my working and nicely configured copy of XP as a backup since not everything works with Win7 (most notably, some legacy hardware.)

    Not only will you need your Source and Destination drives, but a third drive/partition big enough to hold your backup, PLUS any backed up data, such as documents, video/music files, program configurations and maybe even Save-game data. I recommend dividing your backup this way (instead of including everything in the .bkf backup file) for the smallest/fastest possible backup/restore AND so you can move any data you intend to use with the new OS w/o having to extract it from the backup first.

    And, of course, you need a working copy of Windows XP (with serial number) on CD. We won't be booting from CD to do this ASR reinstall.

    Your first step should be to install a fresh working copy of XP on the new drive, one, to make sure you can boot into it, and two, because you must be IN a working copy of XP to restore a cloned backup (I learned this the hard way). Don't worry about installing any drivers or configuring it. Your cloned copy will overwrite everything anyway.

    After I backed up any data/configuration/etc files that I wanted to keep, since I was moving XP to a smaller drive, I then went through the process of uninstalling every program I didn't need in the new copy. I plan on reinstalling most of my programs under Win7, so I don't need duplicate working copies on XP. This also greatly speeds up the backup/restore process (which is helpful if you screw up and must do it multiple times like I did.)

    Once you have XP stripped down to just what you want to keep, spend some time with it to be sure you didn't accidentally uninstall any crucial drivers or delete important data. This is important because THIS is how your copy of XP will look/work after you clone it. Launch any programs you didn't uninstall to make sure they still work and make sure you can still get online. For the smallest possible backup, I recommend a free app called "SequoiaView" to help you find any large files you don't need in your backup. Also run a good Registry Cleaner to delete references to any uninstalled programs or now defunct menu links.

    When you are sure everything is good, using "Windows Backup", make an ASR backup of it. Use the Wizard to create your ASR backup, not manual mode because it changes some options. Leave the settings at their defaults. Don't check/uncheck anything in the Advanced options. Don't worry if you don't have a floppy drive. At the end when it prompts you for the floppy, you can just click Cancel. You can't use a normal backup because it won't include the "System State", just the data. And the ASR floppy is useless anyway if your new drive isn't the EXACT same size as your current drive. All it contains is partition info anyway.

    After you've created your backup, I recommend changing the wallpaper so you can distinguish between copies of XP, so when you reboot, you'll know for sure which copy is running. Last thing we want to do is delete/format our working copy of XP thinking it's been restored when it hasn't.

    Reboot into your fresh/unconfigured install of XP on the new drive. Run "Windows Backup" and restore your ASR Backup to your C: drive (I made the mistake of trying to Restore my ASR backup to the new drive FROM my configured copy of XP. This does not work. ASR applies the "System State" to the XP boot drive (typically C:). So even if you set Backup to restore to an Alternate Destination, ASR will only copy the raw data to the new drive and simply overwrite the System State of the copy of XP you're already on. Drive letter assignments will also be different, confusing things further. If you make this mistake, when you boot your new copy, you'll have all of the raw files in place with none of the installation information or drivers. You MUST be in your destination copy of XP to restore an ASR backup from Windows.

    "Windows Backup" will prompt you to reboot when done. If all went well, you should boot into a perfectly cloned copy of XP.

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