1616: Cloning a Windows System to Different Machine

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Last update: 21-12-2010

How a Windows XP, NT, 2000 or Server 2003 system can be prepared for cloning to different hardware

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In order to clone your Windows system a to different machine, you should first prepare Windows using Microsoft System Preparation Tool (sysprep). According to Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 298491, "One problem from duplicating an installation of Windows 2000 is that each cloned computer has the same security identifier (SID) and computer name. This may prevent the cloned computers from functioning correctly in a workgroup or a domain. To work around this problem, administrators use the System Preparation Tool (Sysprep.exe) to remove configuration settings that are unique to the computer such as the computer name and SID. The resulting image can then be safely reused for installation on other computers." This issue also exists in Windows NT 4.0, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, and thus computers running those operating systems must be prepared as well.

To download Microsoft System Preparation tool, click on your operating system: Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP Service Pack 1, Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP Service Pack 3, Windows Server 2003.

In brief, here is how you prepare your hard disk drive in order to clone it:

Create Acronis Migrate Easy bootable rescue media with Bootable Rescue Media Builder available in Acronis Migrate Easy program menu.

  1. Run sysprep.exe. Microsoft provides you with the option to specify the following keys:

    • -nosidgen - If you plan to erase all data from the original hard disk drive and/or do not plan to use both original and new hard disk drives in different computers simultaneously, use this option.
    • -mini - If you plan to migrate your operating system to a different computer.
  2. Reboot the computer and boot it from the Acronis Migrate Easy bootable rescue media. Now run the "Disk Clone" wizard, clone the prepared hard disk to a new one.
  3. Install new hard disk drive into your new computer or configure your current computer to boot from the new hard disk drive and start it.

More information

(!) If there is dissimilar hardware, then the target system will not boot after cloning. To transfer a Windows system to a machine with dissimilar hardware, you will need to use the Acronis Universal Restore add-on. Please see Restoring to Dissimilar Hardware.