The Hard Way?

 There were two computers. One with a working software build used every day on a 10G drive in a slow box. The other a very fast machine with only an operating system on its 70G drive. The job was to transfer the day-to-day software to the fast machine.

There were three ways of doing the job…..
First… to take the 10G drive with Win98 and its working business software system and upgrade it to WinXP Pro, then copy the result to a new 70G drive, carrying a sacrificable WinXP Home system
Second… the contents of the 10G drive could be copied to the 70G drive, over-writing the unwanted WinXP Home then converted to WinXP Pro
Third… there was the way the customer wanted it done.. copy the applications and data from the 10G Win98 system to the 70G drive carrying WinXP Home then upgrade this to Pro.

Which is the easiest? Probably option two, maybe option 1? Which is the most difficult? I think option three.

The choice I made was option 1. The reason was that I didn't realise that the customer wanted to use the new system, not only for its previous day-to-day use, but to store large amounts of image data. Hence the reason for wanting the 70G drive. I thought the 10G build would do if copying didn't work.

As I approached the job I was a little concerned, as although I'm adept at cloning working Win 98 systems, I've never attempted to clone a working Win XP system. Win98 is fairly straightforward. Copy everything from one drive to another except the Swap file. If this isn't knocked off the file list, the result will be an error message and copy grinds to a halt. Why on earth the designer of the copy program didn't just mention the fact in passing that the odd file couldn't be duplicated I don't know. As it is, after the halt, you've then got to find out which files it hadn't got too. Not always easy if the Swap file is buried in the windows folder.

Copying the whole of a Windows XP drive proved next to impossible, done the way I do a Win98 drive, as far too many files are barred from being copied. I half-heartedly tried to copy these individually using the special XP file copy command. Not easy as for some strange reason these new commands don't allow the wildcard "*" as MSDOS does. This means that the name of each file has to be laboriously typed in. After some time I found that there must have been far too many more than I could readily identify as, try as I might, the new drive would not boot up.

Once or twice it tried and displayed "XP Home", its previous incarnation, or "XP Professional", its new guise. It did try quite hard and occasionally displayed the name of a missing file, but eventually even this helpful hint went away and it just froze.
I tried a few of the new commands and these proved partly successful. Fixboot and Fixmbr certainly helped and some progress was achieved but never enough to get to a desktop.

After many exasperating hours I decided to try a proprietary drive copier. This sort of thing is available free from the hard drive manufacturers. As both the 10G and the 70G were branded as Maxtor, I logged onto their website and downloaded their software. This has to be downloaded first onto your computer hard drive, then run so that it provides a floppy disk and finally, if you wish you can then make a CD with the relevant files. I think the business of making a floppy is so that the computer can be booted into Caldera DOS, staying well clear of troublesome too-complicated operating systems. C-DOS provides all the functions necessary to carry out such things as inspecting hard drives and copying their contents, and even supports the mouse and sets pretty colours on one's monitor.

Unfortunately my customers computer has no floppy drive and the "bootable" CD didn't boot so I had to dismantled the thing and hang a spare floppy drive in the innards. The software worked OK and after keying in the odd bit of advice the copy program started. I might add not without lots of warning messages causing me repeat over and over to myself out loud such silly things as "the source disk is the one with my data and the destination disk is the blank one".

I needn't have worried though as the first message on the screen after getting underway was that it couldn't copy from FAT32 to NTFS.
Fortunately I was able to knock the 70G drive into shape with FAT32 and try again.

Not a fast way of doing things this method. Despite there being only about 4G of data on the smaller drive some 2 or 3 minutes must have elapsed before the 1% figure had been reached on the progress bar. I left the thing to its own devices and went to watch TV for a few hours.

About midnight I remembered the computer in the workshop and went out to see if it had finished the mammoth exercise. It had and I couldn't resist removing the 10G and trying the 70G to see if it would boot up.

After a few rattling noises it booted up. Not all the way, but up to the Windows screen, where it froze. Oh, and I might add, it said "Windows 98" not "Windows XP Pro"! I turned off the power and the lights and turned in.

Next morning, and a lot nearer to my deadline, I wiped the 70G drive and ran the copy again, with fingers crossed, from "source" to "destination". Another few hours the re-boot worked better… the frozen screen said "XP" not "98". Don't ask me why.

At this point I decided that everything must be basically in place but the Maxtor program hadn't got the system files organised quite right. If it had been Win 98 I'd pop in a floppy drive and do a SYS C: but Win XP doesn't really understand such things does it?

With the aid of the XP Installation CD I found the MBR and BOOT fix programs. These helped a lot and almost got things going. So much so that I decided that a System Repair would be on, and tried that option from the Installation CD. This effectively re-installs XP over the top of the old version but tries to re-build the user files.

After close enough to the declared 79 minutes or whatever, I was rewarded with a nice new XP Pro desktop, complete with my customer's treasured applications and data.

All well? Not quite. For some odd reason the zip drive had been allocated the letter "C", the CDROM, its correct "D"… but the hard drive had been relegated to "E". On reflection that explained the odd error message that had appeared during boot-up.

I managed to re-letter the zip drive to "F" but try as I might I couldn't get the hard drive back as "C". Well I almost did by tackling the Registry, through the Regedit command, which is still available in XP. "My Computer", now displays C, D, E and F. Why is this? Because the hard drive is listed twice, C and E. As this didn't cause much of a problem I let it remain…. to be sorted out in the future?

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