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Copying files across drives

If you're having trouble copying Windows XP files across multiple drives, follow this advice from Windows hardening expert Jonathan Hassell.

Within the last year I upgraded my computer by adding a larger hard drive, making this the primary. I kept my old drive as a secondary, hoping to pull off data and programs so I wouldn't have to reload everything. However, I am unable to copy or transfer these programs, receiving the message that access is denied. I am running Windows XP at home. Any ideas?
Your problem could be a couple of things:
  • You are running Windows XP Professional and the SIDs on the files don't match, meaning you are getting permissions errors when you try to copy protected files.
  • You are trying to copy program files themselves, which won't work. You need to reload/reinstall the programs themselves, and then you can simply copy over the data files created in those programs.
  • You are trying to copy Windows XP system files over to the new drive. This won't work either. You need to reinstall Windows, and then begin copying just data files over.

If none of these are your problem, I suggest running the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard – you can find this on your original Windows CD – and then reinstall Windows. That will get the majority of your data and personalizations onto a new version of Windows.

This was last published in December 2006

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