How to clone your Windows 7 hard drive

Recently I got a nice, new Dell Vostro laptop and wanted to upgrade the standard 250GB hard drive to a 500GB one. I wanted to take the disk image as it existed and clone it to the larger hard drive. This simple task was a bit harder to execute than one might think.

I went Googling on this topic and found a few software recommendations. The top hits included Paragon Backup & Recovery Free, Macrium Reflect Free, and EaseUS Todo Backup. Based upon positive reviews, I tried them one-by-one.

At first, I tried Backup & Recovery Free, but it wouldn’t install on Windows 7. Then I tried Macrium Reflect Free and it said the clone completed successfully. When the disks were swapped, Windows 7 would not boot. I used the Windows backup image (made by Dell Backup and Recovery Manager software) to repair that cloned image, but when it finally did boot properly, the fingerprint reader software wasn’t working and the OS gave several errors while running.

Getting desperate, I did another build directly from the Windows 7 backup/restore media. This worked, but again the fingerprint reader software was not present. Annoying!

Choose "Disk clone" from the Home menu

So I downloaded EaseUS Todo Backup 3.5 software and ran a Sector by sector clone with the source disk in the laptop and destination disk in an external bay. This completed successfully, but then the disk wouldn’t boot when it was installed into the laptop. The Sector by sector option also did not allow me to expand to the full usage of the newer, larger disk.

Select source & destination disks, uncheck Sector by sector clone

As an absolute last attempt before going to Linux, I left the 500 GB drive in the laptop, and used the EaseUS Todo Backup software to clone from the smaller hard drive in an external drive cage. This time I did not select Sector by sector clone and it allowed me to grow the final partition on the newer drive to use all the disk space. This clone completed successfully and the system booted. It seems this final approach worked the best.

Verify settings, drag slider to use full disk, and click Proceed

After several days of testing, everything appears to be working fine. No Windows OS errors, system updates have been successful and system restore point snapshotting is working properly. So I’m finally happy with this end result. This process took way too long and involved too many mistakes. Hope this write up helps you!

If you have advice on ways to improve this process, such as newer/better software to use or other tips, then please leave a comment.

The Power of Social Networks

This is, like, a graph of social networking and stuff.

What a year! 2009 turned out to be the Year of The Social Networks. Your mom joined Facebook. The news media wouldn’t stop talking about Twitter for months. And now everyone is a “Social Media Expert.” Actors and musicians connected with fans, as did sports stars. (I’m sure Tiger enjoyed more than a few ‘random’ TweetUps). People used social media to cover war, the loss of Michael Jackson, and the story of a small Oregon boy risking his life in an airborne balloon craft. The latter turned out to be a hoax, but the impact of these new forces of immediate social communication became very real. You could send out an alert if you were in trouble or you could post up some mind-numbing minutiae if you were feeling bored. You could connect with and ‘follow’ people of interest which you had never had access to before. It was an exciting time and this emerging trend served as a handy distraction from whatever else was going on in the world.

It wasn’t all just welcoming handshakes and joyous LOL’ing, either. A study was released that attempted to show social stratification amongst the social networking set. I believe the conclusion was that lower socioeconomic individuals gravitated towards MySpace, while those slightly up the scale were trending towards Facebook. This led to further musing on the idea of “segregated” online networks and the potential for online inequality. Authors and journalists decried the dissolution of language to a bunch of abbreviations, emoticons, and short burst induced incompleteness. (These same people don’t seem to like text messaging for the same reasons). Computer connected employee productivity has taken a nosedive to such proportions as to almost cause a global financial meltdown. Privacy experts are practically having a conniption over this whole exposing oneself idea. Clearly, all is not rosy in the social networking arena.

So, why then are these newfangled social networks taking root and growing so fast? What is the value add? What do we get out of it? And why are these ephemeral and immediate networks so powerful?

First of all, online social networking is not new. Supernerds have been convening on the Internet since the early 1970’s. There were early bulletin board (BBS) systems, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), and (of course) electronic mail (now commonly and coyly referred to as ’email’). [The first Web-enabled chat I recall was ICQ circa 1998. I found the “group-shout” interaction intriguing, but rather annoying. Clearly, I wasn’t ready for short burst communications just yet. But I digress…]

Anyway, these perfect new online social networks are full of pizazz! Full of allure! And full of potential vectors for malware and privacy invasions. But mostly full of pizazz and allure — The pizazz to show off your own unique self and super-fantabulousness to the universe and the allure that you can connect with ‘anyone at any time’ and likely for any reason. Lots of people use it to follow their preferred news sources or to catalog information regarding their industry or career. Yet the killer feature seems to be localization. You can find people near you who do what you do. Or you can follow your local politicians (check to see if they’re on there). You can ask questions like “Where can I find a great Italian restaurant around here?” or “What bands are playing in Raleigh tonight?” One of my favorite services for this type of localized search is Aardvark. You should go there and sign up. (Or let me know if you still need to have an invite.)

My favorite use of social networking technology is to remake connections with friends from the past. It has been quite interesting to see all my high school friends emerging online almost two decades later. Not only that, but many people I didn’t have the opportunity to know better in the past have connected and enhanced our relationship via online social networking. Beyond that, I have often gone to my vast legions of social network peeps and sought job leads, medical advice, shopping consultancy, and all sorts of things.

There is also the notion of communicating for communicating’s sake. I like to crack jokes and mash-up the day’s events into (quasi-)witty status updates. I rarely tell Twitter “What’s happening?” and instead just throw out “What’s on my mind?” I think there is a lot of value in the new social network scene, despite the non-extraneous time they seem to consume. If you can enjoy your time on these networks and not get carried away, then I guess you’ve won the battle.

What say you? Will the Web 2.0 social networks shepherd about the end of language? Will Twitter be responsible for the decimation of our final strands of time/information management? Will pictures of you holding a beer can in high school ruin your entire life? Why do you do (or don’t do) the online social networking thing? And how the hell did anyone solve any problems or research anything before The Google? Shout it below.

Image above:

Virtualize Me

2007 Virtualization Conference in NYC

So here I am in New York City attending the 2007 Virtualization Conference (a part of the larger 2007 SOA World Expo) and trying to learn a bit more about the future of enterprise computing. I had not done any traveling in a while and also had not been to a conference in ages, so I’m feeling very lucky to be here. And while this is essentially the premier SOA/Virtualization conference in the States, I still find the ambiguity of conference speakers to be frustrating.

I am so used to hands-on techie learning (a la SANS Institute) that to hear everything abstracted and spun into business-speak often leaves me less than satisfied. Thankfully, the speakers are not solely focused on plugging their companies and products. And from what I’ve heard so far, most of the large vendors are working together (via a SOA Best Practices Working Group) to make all of our lives easier in the future. (*fingers crossed*)

Regardless, New York City is beautiful right now and I’m enjoying it as much as possible. Nice sunny days and warm nights without the brutal humidity that usually keeps folks locked up in their air conditioned spaces. As a bonus, I got to take in a good portion of the massive Gay Pride Parade that took place yesterday. It was totally awesome to see so many happy dancing and smiling people flooding the city. When I get home I will post my photos to flickr, so please check back for that link.

Call Me GSEC 5730

Woo-haa! I keep those packets all in check!
When you go to write some shell code, best not disrespect!
Woo-haa! I gots you all in check!

GSEC Silver

That’s right, people. My week of buckled down studying has paid off and on Monday I took the two big exams. As Mark phrased it, I “gave those tests the smack-down.” Somehow I was able to pull a 96 on the Networking and Internet Security Technologies exam and a 94 on the Secure Communications and Windows/Unix Security exam. Woo-haa!! (You can verify that by going to the GIAC website and searching for my name.)

By Tuesday my name and scores were posted to the website and I had to go back to check it every hour or so just so the gravity of this accomplishment would set in. I am still surprised that I did so well considering how much material is covered. As you can imagine, I am totally on Geek Cloud 9. Many thanks to my excellent local mentor Doug Brown and to all the friends and family who were so supportive of me all Summer while I had my nose in the books. Yay! I can be social again!! 🙂

(Please note that my use of the GSEC Silver logo in no way implies an endorsement from nor a partnership with SANS Institute or GIAC. The logo is used only to indicate that I have passed the GSEC exams and obtained GIAC Silver certification. Proper permission for logo use has been explicitly obtained.)