Switch Vistax64 boot drive without fresh installation

Have searched on this forum for comparable scenarios but no luck, so here goes.

I have a pretty new system that has a 1TB drive in it. I also have a spare 300GB drive I prefer to use as the boot drive (it's faster and quieter).

I don't really intend to do anything fancy - I just want to have the 300GB drive be the one that I boot Vista x64 from, and leave the 1TB drive as a data drive (or maybe I'll get another one or two to RAID it).

Easy enough, right? Here's the trick: I want to do this without having to do a totally fresh install. As in, I have all of the relevant disks (Vista x64 sP1, various installation driver CDs for the graphics card, motherboard, optical drives etc.) but am wondering whether I can use some combination of partitioning software, backup / restore software, system recovery to forklift the entire image and all its dependents over.

Anyone got ideas or recommendations?



Super Moderator
Staff member
Hi 3am_surfer, welcome to NST.

Its that 3am surfing that gets me into trouble :lol:

Anyway, here is excellent and free disk imaging software, bootable from disc and available for download as an iso. Good alternitive to Acronis True Image (the paid bootable GUI for disk imaging). Use ImgBurn or another burning software to burn the iso to disc and boot from it.

Now this is assuming you have been running this install in this system before. As long as that's so it shouldn't matter what drive you have it on. If not, it can be done but might not work due to piracy checks that cause Windows to panic if the hardware it used to be running on is significantly different.
What is target is smaller?

Thanks kairozamorro for the welcome and the tip! Didn't know that software existed.

One followup: would you recommend the same, or rather the Partition Manager from the same company, if the target disk is smaller? Most of these programs seem to be optimized for the case where you're going from a smaller HDD to a larger one - certainly Disk Copy is.

In my case, I'm going from an essentially unpartitioned 1TB to 300GB. (The "unpartitioned" part is that it has a recovery partition of about 13GB, leaving me with over 900GB in a single partition.)

I tried to use the standard disk management utilities in Vista x64 to shrink the 900+ GB partition to something more manageable but it doesn't want to go any smaller than 600 GB or so.

Since I have to pay anyway (Vista x64 requires that I use their Professional Edition), I'm open to checking out other utilities e.g. Acronis.

Thanks again!


Super Moderator
Staff member
As far as I know you can only shrink half the partition at max, but you can keep on doing this til Vista has a fit. Now disk management is built in. Don't know where you got the impression you needed to pay for it. Regardless of 32/64 bit it is part of the operating system.

I've never used third-party partitioning tools. The installer of the OS has been all I ever needed. Unless partitioning is part of your job and you do it regulary, there is no need to pay for a third-party tool.

The link to the site I gave you above oferrs such tools, but they are not free. GParted is a live cd you can download for free to do this, but anytime I've ever used it its been kinda iffy. If I ever do get a partitioning tool it would either be from the site I linked to above or get Acrnois Disk Director.

Sorry, let me restate for more clarity.

1) I looked at the partitioning utilities on the EASEUS site you suggested because of the use case I mentioned - that I'm going from 1TB down to 300GB. Disk Copy doesn't seem to do this trick.

2) The cheapest edition of their software that allows me to do the partition resizing for a Vista x64 drive is the Partition Manager professional version. (They have a free Partition Manager Home version, but it only does the 32-bit version of Vista.)

3) I was assuming that I needed to buy this or something comparable so as do what I needed (again, going from 1TB to 300GB). The reason I made this assumption was because I had tried earlier to shrink the 1TB partition down to something that could be cloned (and could therefore use the free EASEUS Disk Copy tool, as opposed to needing another tool that also did the partition shrinking) using the built in disk management utilities of Vista, but it wouldn't let me get down any smaller than about 500GB.

4) This was contrary to your advice, which suggested that I could use Vista disk management to do the shrinkage multiple times to get down below 300GB. Thinking I had probably missed something, I went back again to see what I could do. Unfortunately, it won't let me shrink it any further (despite the fact that only 30-some GB of the space is used).

5) All this leads me to believe either (a) I've done something wrong, and there is another option within Vista disk management that will let me shrink the partition further, or (b) I need to purchase something that will do the trick.

If 5(a) is accurate I'd be pleased to learn where I made my Vista newbie mistake. If 5(b) is right, on the other hand, then I'll think about whether I want to spend the small amount of $ for one of these software packages in return for a few hours of my life not spent installing from scratch:smile:

Thanks again!


Mostly Harmless
Staff member
Hi 3am_Surfer, welcome to NeoSmart Technologies.

Have a look at the free GParted: GParted -- Welcome
It should do exactly what you need.
Wow you guys are responsive

...and I am thankful!

So before I saw these other tool selections, I found a reasonably good walkthrough of how to shrink a Vista partition using a variety of tools and tricks at

Working Around Windows Vista's Inadequacy Problems :: the How-To Geek

This got me down below the 300GB limit, and I then used the EASEUS Disk Copy utility suggested first. Unfortunately, although the copy operation was successful I appear not to be able to boot directly from the copied partition.

Any other ideas? I could go and use another one of these suggestions - BING or GParted - but having gotten a certain part of the way with just EASEUS and a trial version of PerfectDisk 2008, I'd be just as happy finishing that out.

Thanks again!


Super Moderator
Staff member
The mbr should have been backed up, but this I guess for thier product only works if you're imaging an entrie disk. If you want a real simple tool that a lot of us here use personally, I would invest in Acronis True Image 11. It will allow you to resize partitions and change thier type during restore just like you wanted assuming there's enough room for the files that were copied into the image. You also get the added feature of password protected archives. Though it doesn't have full partitioning capabilities (you need disk director for this), they are nice enough to include support for setting up a new disk with the ammount of partitions you want.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Have you thought of just installing a nice clean fresh Vista onto the smaller disk (Vanilla installs don't take very long, and have the virtue of simplicity and reliablity)
Vista provides a "transfer the settings from my old machine" facility at install time. It's designed to use networking or DVD transfer, but I can't see why it should have a problem if the "old" system is just sitting there on a hard drive.
Anybody done that from a second HDD ?