SSD Migration Nightmare

The Problem

Samsung 840 250GB SSD
Samsung 840 250GB SSD

You may have noticed that prices for SSDs have come down quite a bit in the last year or so. And the sizes are now quite reasonable. A 250GB SSD will set you back about $200 and a 500GB SSD is about $350. So, I’ve decided that it’s time to begin migrating my computers to SSD system drives.

Casper 6.0 is among the tools I’ve had for sometime to migrate disks, so I gave that a try.

The test machine is an Alienware Aurora R2, circa 2008, with 8GB memory and a 1TB HD, running, Win7 x64. Only 180GB of the 1TB HD is used. As a test target before the SSD arrives, the migration target is a 320GB SATA Laptop drive.

The First Result
This did not go well at first:

  • Clone drive using Casper 6.0. But it would not boot. They later reported that in the case of copying only one partition of several, they “by design” do not fix the boot process.
  •  Then used Bootsect.exe from Win7 install disk to fix boot partition. Looks like a success, but the drive still won’t boot.
  • The target drive is seen in the BIOS and the drive looks ok when examined by booting the original disk.

So the problem is to fix the boot record so the drive will boot. The BIOS reports something about BOOTMGR not found on the cloned disk.

Off goes a support request to Casper, and in the meantime I posted questions to Overclockers forum and Microsoft Support forums.

Hopes for Another Tool

A post in a forum put me onto a tool called Paragon Migrate OS to SSD. This sounds promising. And at $20 it is reasonably priced.

The result is that it works much faster than Casper, copying the 180GB in 20 minutes rather than an hour and a half. It’s not clear whether this speed up is due to it’s not verifying the copy, which Casper does do.

However, the result did not boot either. So there is no joy in using Paragon’s tool.

Using the Windows 7 Install Disk

A reply in the Microsoft Support forums indicated that BootRec.exe might fix the problems. Here are the help pages for that tool.

Along the way the DVD drive had died in the Alienware machine, so I had to replace it with another drive from one of my other computers. Once that was done, it was possible to boot into the Windows 7 install disk and use the repair tools.

At first the Windows install disk attempted an automatic repair, and reported that it had fixed Bootmgr, which is the component that the BIOS was reporting as could not be found.

But this did not result in a bootable disk.

After that, the list of options were available in the Install Disk, including a command window, where bootrec.exe was used to:





The Fix options reported success.

The /ScanOs and /RebuildBcd options did not find the correct windows installation. This computer is used and along the way there was an older installation of windows which was renamed to xxxWindows.old. The new and current installation, called C:Windows was not found by the scans.

Cleaning Out the Kruft

At this point I rebooted the original disk and deleted the old installation of windows from the drive.

But restarting the install disk did not find the current installation of windows that was left.

However, this time trying the automatic repair choice from the install disk, reported the bootmgr as being fixed and Voila!!

The Laptop clone of the system disk booted.

 End of a Nightmare

Talk about Arcane??

It would seem interesting to be able to run these diagnoses from a running system on a clone rather than having to boot the install disk.

How about some enhancements to the Disk Manager snapin [Just assign a summer student to the project for goodness sake.] Or put this code in Casper or Paragon Migration or some other such interesting tool.

We still haven’t figured out why the repair tool fails to see C:Windows as a valid installation in the /RebuildBcd option. But the system works. So I can do these arcane spells when I get my SSD. Also it’s interesting to note that Paragon’s Migrate OS to SSD product copied the clone in about 20 min when Casper took about 1.5 hours.

I write this long post in the hopes that others may find it useful as they do this oft traveled path of migrating to SSD. May the force be with you; Live long and prosper; For the Horde!