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Will a larger replacement hard drive mess up recovery of data?

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Greetings David,

I am running Windows XP with a 60Gb hard drive that has several partitions created with Partition Magic.

This past week I had a failure within the RAM memory that caused the computer to appear as I had a hard drive that wouldn't do anything including allowing the machine fully boot. Man, I was sooo glad it was just a matter of replacing the memory stick, but this takes me to my concern today. Ya see, this little event has caused me to now have BACK-UP RELIGION! As I am now sooo glad I still have data to back up!

I have the Maxtor One Touch 300Gb exterior hard drive, and of course am running Retrospect backup software. Additionally I have downloaded and read your 10 Quick Steps Guide on making backups. Yes, you likely can you tell I do listen to you?

Anyway, I am a little confused mainly about the actual mechanics of the reinstall of the backed up copy (going from the Maxtor to the computer hard drive). My confusion is; in the event of a total hard drive failure (on the machine) I would likely replace it (the drive) with larger hard drive. So, upon replacing the hard drive with a different size (larger of course) would this cause a problem for installing the backup copy from the Maxtor? I am thinking that this would create an unused and/or unformatted portion of the machines new larger hard drive? I suspect I am over thinking this, or simply my thinking/understanding is flawed in some way? Please clairfy the details.

Thanks, love the show,

Jim Faucett
Dayton Ohio
Listening on XM Radio


First off, it's great that you're backing up regularly. Like I say, there are two types of computer users: ones that have suffered the shock and horror of losing data with no backup or recovery method, and ones that sooner or later will, if they don't protect themselves.

When you set up Retrospect (good choice, by the way), you set it up to take a look every day at what data had changed on your hard drive and copy those changed files over to your backup machine.

The first time Retrospect does this, it copies every single file over.

Say that on day 100, your main hard drive crashes. You have a complete set of data from which to recover from the prior day.

Your job at that point is to simply go purchase (and have installed if it's internal) a new hard drive. If it's been a while (a few years, maybe?) since you purchased the machine or had to install a drive on it, chances are that drives are a lot larger than they used to be

That's OK. Buy the largest drive you can afford. Your recovery is going go just fine.

Read on... (more ahead)

If you can't find a 60 gigabyte hard drive to replace your current one, just get the next largest size, or even larger. In fact you can get the largest hard drive they carry, and you'll be fine.

When you boot up with the emergency disk you've created with Retrospect (in anticipation of just such a disaster), and initiate the recovery process, it will stream all the backed-up data from the Maxtor right onto the new drive, no matter what size it is.

One twist is that you've used Partition Magic to separate your large drive into a number of virtual drives. That means you're backing up those partitions separately. You'll be able to reset those partitions once you get the data onto the new hard drive.

Not to worry. You're doing everything right.

Thanks for listening and for asking!

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