Copy files from one NTFS drive to another via a USB boot disk

  • John H

    I have 2 NTFS drives, and the one with my Windows 7 installation on it has died today. The drive is definitely on the way out but, after using a USB boot disk, I was able to see that the data is intact.

    My second NTFS drive also has data on it that I want to keep but, luckily, it's much larger than the bad drive, so I'd like to find a way to copy the bad drive to the good one.

    The problem is this: I've been unable to find a USB boot disk (Rufus, UBCD, etc.), or utility, that supports NTFS read/write operations - the ones I've found (I don't remember the names as there were multiple utilities that came with the boot disks) only seem to support read operations.

    Are there any free tools I can use that will allow me to copy all of the files from the first drive, to the second, without losing anything on either drive?

  • Answers
  • TKEyi60

    I appreciate that @John H!

    I'd put Hiren's BootCD in, and boot from MiniXP at the DOS screen. This gives you a Windows environment which plays nice with NTFS.

    I'm glad this worked out for you.

  • Yassar

    Have you tried Hiren's Boot CD? You could make another bootable USB stick or a bootable CD-ROM. You could boot into Mini Windows XP using Hiren's Boot CD and use one of the provided Recovery applications (DiskGenius is what I use) to check if you can copy the contents from one drive to another.

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  • daveh551

    When Win 7 went RTM, I upgraded my laptop from XP. But to protect myself against the possibility of having data inaccessible, I got a new disk and put it in the laptop, and took the old (XP) disk and put it in a USB enclosure.

    I have no trouble accessing the data on the USB drive under Windows 7. But I would like to be able to plug it in, tell the BIOS to boot from the USB drive, and be back on my old machine. The laptop is a Dell Precision M90, and it has a boot from USB option in its boot menu. But when I try to do that, it does read the drive, gets as far as putting up the Windows XP splash screen and starting the boot progress bar, and then reboots.

    What do I need to do to the old disk now running on USB to allow the machine to boot from it?

  • Related Answers
  • Greg Buehler

    Startup in Safe Mode with boot logging and see if you can identify where Windows fails in booting. You may then refer to the Ntbtlog.txt log file generated in the system root on the external hard drive to further diagnose the problem.

  • Kez

    Pop in your XP CD and do a repair installation (see below), with the USB device connected and set as the active boot device. Where you have swapped from an IDE/AHCI connection to a USB connection, Windows may have got into a twist.

    1. When the Press any key to boot from CD message is displayed on your screen, press a key to start your computer from the Windows XP CD.
    2. Press Enter when you see the message To setup Windows XP now, and then press Enter displayed on the Welcome to Setup screen.
    3. Do not choose the option to press R to use the Recovery Console.
    4. In the Windows XP Licensing Agreement, press F8 to agree to the license agreement.
    5. Make sure that your current installation of Windows XP is selected in the box, and then press R to repair Windows XP.
    6. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete Setup.

    I have seen the infinite boot-cycle problem before and the repair installation has usually fixed it.

    EDIT - Your next step could be to try FIXBOOT and then FIXMBR in that order from the Recovery Console, after booting into your XP CD again. I would definitely ensure your Windows 7 disk is disconnected for this step. If you are still then unable to boot into XP from your USB-connected XP disk, see if you then have the option to do the repair installation.

  • Peter Mortensen

    If creating a bootable USB drive with Windows only were as easy as drive cloning or a repair installation.

    Windows is not designed to boot and run from USB.

    I wouldn't say it is entirely impossible but it certainly is a tough enough task to do a fresh (fully fledged, not BartPE) Windows installation onto a USB drive.

    Over at we have a decent wiki, that'll keep you busy for a day or two, at least you'll get an idea what is involved in the process.

    Windows XP Professional Installation Onto SD or SDHC card

    Replace 'SD or SDHC card' with your external USB drive and have fun. Keep in mind that this was written specifically for the Eee PC so you'll have to change certain settings to your requirements.

  • Peter Mortensen

    You need to make that USB disk bootable, see "How To Boot From A USB Flash Drive".

    This show how to make the disk bootable, I don't know if you can boot the OS.