Changing Primary Disk System After Installation

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Article ID: 112019 - View products that this article applies to.
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This article describes how to change the primary physical disk and controller while maintaining user accounts and desktop settings after you have installed Windows NT.


This situation may occur when you need larger disk capacity or a more versatile disk controller. For example, if Windows NT is installed on an IDE drive and you want to upgrade to a large SCSI drive without losing user accounts or desktop settings.

NOTE: This procedure is not recommended by Microsoft and therefore is not supported. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of this procedure.

To change the primary physical disk and controller while maintaining user account and desktop settings:

  1. Create a startup MS-DOS disk and copy FDISK.EXE, FORMAT.COM, and SYS.COM to it.
  2. Configure both drives.
  3. Place a primary FAT partition on the new drive and format it.
  4. Use XCOPY to copy Windows NT files and directories from the old drive to the new drive.
  5. Create a directory called CONFIG off the root directory of the new drive and copy %WINNT_ROOT%\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\*.* to it.
  6. Remove the %WINNT_ROOT%\SYSTEM32 subdirectory and all of its subdirectories on the new drive.
  7. Shut down the computer and physically remove or disconnect the old drive.
  8. Restart the computer, run CMOS, and remove the old drive reference.
  9. Insert the startup disk and "SYS" the new drive (A:\sys c:).
  10. Remove the startup disk and verify the new drive starts.
  11. Reinstall Windows NT over the old installation.
  12. After you reinstall Windows NT, start MS-DOS, and change to the CONFIG directory you created in step 5.
  13. Delete *.EVT and SYSTEM.* files.
  14. Copy the remaining files to the %WINNT_ROOT%\SYSTEM32\CONFIG directory.
When you restart Windows NT, user accounts and desktop settings should be maintained.


Article ID: 112019 - Last Review: November 1, 2006 - Revision: 2.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
kbother KB112019

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