Click here to read the first part if you have not done so already.
The night I received my new hard drive enclosure to allow me to plug internal hard drives into a USB port, I immediately set to work trying to work out how to save get Windows working.
Attempt 1: Sony Drive Assist:
Many computers come with a partition reserved to recover a blank copy of Windows to the main part of the drive in case something software related goes wrong. There is a major flaw with this method, in that if the hard drive fails you have no way to restore Windows onto a new drive.
Sony’s included software on the computer is restricted and often has the bare minimum of functionality to work with their own products. Their drive recovery software is no different, not letting you restore Windows to a different drive than the original copy is installed on.
Attempt 2: Transfer the recovery partition onto the new drive:
As explained before, Sony Drive Assist does not allow you to recover Windows to a drive where it was not previously installed. At this point I did not realise this, and thought that it simply would not let you install Windows onto a different drive to the one it is installed on. Therefore, after attempting to try this method it also failed.
Attempt 3: Shrink the partition on my current drive and transfer it:
The method that eventually worked involved a very risky stage of shrinking the partition on my old drive with all my data stored on it in order so it could fit onto my slightly smaller SSD. I used gparted through a Ubuntu Live DVD, which basically a GNU operating system using Linux which will run straight off of a DVD. This is required because you cannot transfer a partition if it is ‘mounted’ or in use at that time, which it would be if you were running Windows.
The screenshot above shows an example of gparted. My particular drive had three partitions – an 18 GB one for recovery, which I had already transferred (and failed to be able to use), my data partition and a 100 MB boot partition. After shrinking the data partition, I checked everything was still working by booting back into Windows, after a very lengthy and anxious disk check when Windows detected something had been changed.
Feeling confident after this, I transferred my shrunken partition to my new SSD. The faster USB 3.0 interface on my drive enclosure came into its own here, taking far less time than it might have otherwise. I expanded the partition again to fill the free space on the SSD, so I would have ‘219 GB’ of space on my C drive. After setting the partition or boot flags to boot (for the 100 MB system partition) and hidden for the recovery partition. This allows the system to recognise which partition to boot off and hide the recovery partition in Windows to avoid accidental changes.
Rebooting onto the SSD, I was greeted with the black screen and flashing cursor. A quick Google search allowed me to discover that the boot partition, which is the 100 MB one which allows Windows to start, needs to be updated. Luckily I had previously burned a ‘Windows 7 Rescue Disc’ which lets you recover a Windows Backup (mine was on my failed drive), access Command Prompt and perform various rescue tasks.
This instantly detected a ‘boot problem’ and re-created the boot partition. After another automatic Windows disk check, I finally got into Windows, with all my files and programs working. After Windows restarted again, I decided to try launching a few files and programs to see if there was a speed increase, and I must say that it was (and still is) noticeably better.
After this whole saga, I definitely feel that the small speed boost, especially about startup and shutdown times and the improved battery life was worth the pain of the process. I also feel that this upgrade actually went better than most other technology upgrades I go through, since I seem to usually have bad luck with these things.
Finally, if you have recently put an SSD in your own computer, you might find this guide useful to you.
Finally finally, I can’t take responsibly if you decide to upgrade your computer and something goes wrong.