Moving OS X and Boot Camp partitions to a new higher capacity hard drive

25 Jul

The original HD that came with my Macbook Pro was a 160G 7200RPM Segate and suited my needs well. I had two partitions split about 50/50 between OSX and Vista via Boot Camp (~74GB-Vista) and 75GB-OS X). The solution was great as I was able to access my Vista partition through VMWare Fusion when running OS X and was able to boot straight into Vista when I needed to. I’ve had my Macbook Pro for about a year and have purchased and configured a variety of software for both Vista and OS X and was quickly running out of space to the point I couldn’t boot my boot camp partition via VMWare Fusion because I didn’t have more than 2G of available hard drive space. This quickly became a problem and moving files to and from my HD became too much of a chore so I decided to upgrade my hard drive rather than repartition OS X and take additional space from the Windows partition. There were several examples of how to backup and restore OS X HFS formatted partitions but only some untested suggestions on how to accomplish moving a boot camp NTFS formatted partition, so I thought I would share with you what I did to successfully upgrade the HD in my Macbook Pro and migrate the partitions to the new drive.

I’ll be making a separate post of what I did to upgrade the Hardware but below are the steps I took to backup and restore my system to the new hard drive:

What you need:

  1. Carbon Copy or SuperDuper for Backing up and restoring OS X volumes. Both work great!
  2. Winclone for backing up and restoring your Windows NTFS partition.
  3. Boot Camp Assistant for partitioning your new hard drive.
  4. A new higher capacity SATA hard drive and enclosure that you can put it in. I bought the Thermaltake BlacX hard drive dock which allows me to slip in any 3.5″ or 2.5″ Serial ATA Hard Drive for approx. $34.  My drive of choice for my 17″ Macbook Pro was the 500GB Hatachi 5K500 which I got for about $230.

First Step:

Connect your new hard drive to your existing Mac. We will be erasing all data on this drive so be sure you don’t have anything you want to keep on this drive. I had already formatted it in Mac OS Extended (journaled) using Disk Utility but this may be an unnecessary step but for consistency sake this is what I did.

Open SuperDuper! and in the first drop down list next to Copy choose your source volume or your existing Macintosh HD. In the next drop down choose your backup hard drive.


Make sure that the “Backup – all files” option is selected next to using. This will erase your external drive and begin to backup your current OS X volume and make the external drive bootable.  Note that the entire drive or partition is used for this step.  So at this point I had a single 465GB OS X partition after everything was said and done.

After this is complete I would ensure that you can boot to your newly cloned OS X drive by rebooting and holding down the “option” key on your keyboard during the boot process. When you are presented with the available boot device options choose the external drive you just cloned.  Make sure the drive boots up successfully before moving forward otherwise you may have trouble getting your system working when you physically install this new drive into your Mac.

Second Step:

Open Winclone and choose your current boot camp partition from the drop down list. My boot camp drive  was titled “UNTITLED” (Note the image below shows new HD not my old 75GB partition…I upgraded my windows partition for more storage but we’ll get to that in a bit).


Click on the “Image…” Button to start the backup process. You will be prompted for a location. I chose to store this file on the external drive formatted as HFS (Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from earlier.  What Winclone does is creates a single file consisting of all the data in your NTFS partition. (Note: Winclone now backups NTFS and FAT according to their site so backing up either should work for you). So, you need to make sure that the drive you are backing up to supports file sizes greater than 4GB which HFS+ does so we are in good shape. Once you have chosen the name and location for your backup file let this application work through your partition and create the single image of your Windows parition. The larger your partition the longer it will take.  For my 75G (60 Used) it took about 2 hours over a USB 2 connection.

Third Step:

With a copy of both your OS X partitions and Windows partitions you can shutdown and replace your current HD with your cloned HD. There are several sources that describe how to do this, like, but I’ll post my own efforts in another post.

With your new replacement hard drive installed and your Macbook all buttoned up your system should boot as it did before the upgrade.  If your Windows backup image from Winclone is on the same drive you just replaced then you are free to move to the next step.  Otherwise just connect a different drive with your Winclone image we performed in the previous step to prepare the next step of restoring your boot camp partition.

Fourth Step:

With your new drive installed and working properly with OS X you now need to re-partition your new drive using boot camp as you did initially when you first installed boot camp on your Mac.
Launch the Boot Camp Assistant and proceed to create your new boot camp partition.

2-Boot Camp AssistantHD_Resize.jpg

I decided that I would give my Windows volume a little more space so I expanded it from the original ~74G to 101G.  I simply moved the slider in the middle of these two drives to the left until I felt I had a big enough partion for both OS X and Vista.  My original boot camp share was ~74G with 15G available.  I work a lot in Windows sometimes for work so I wanted to ensure I gave myself enough room to install other software and keep files in this partition if I needed to so I increased the portion from my original 74GB to 101GB.  When you are ready just click on the “Partition” button.  The partitioning is fairly quick.  When you are done you will see the dialog box below…

3-Boot Camp Assistant-1HD_Resize.jpg

Since we are restoring and not re-installing Windows choose the Quit & Install Later button.  You now have a complete boot camp ready partition to restore your old boot camp partition to.

Fifth Step:

Now we are ready to restore your Windows partition you backed-up earlier using Winclone.

Open Winclone and choose Restore at the top of the application screen.


Select where your Restore Image is located by clicking on the “Select Image” button. Remember this can be local on your newly installed HD or come from a different external HD you put your backup image on.

The Destination location will be the newly created BOOTCAMP partion we just created.  Click on the Restore Button and be patient as the data gets restored back to your new Boot Camp partition.

After this is finished you are almost done… If you are like me an use VMWare to run your Windows partition as a virtual machine in OS X you need to make another step to get things working properly. If you try to boot your newly restored windows partition VMWare fusion will give you an error stating it can’t find the boot camp volume; least this is what happed to me.   After checking that everything worked by booting into Windows directly by holding down the option key during a reboot and choosing Windows I looked for another solution.  I found that if I removed the directory “Boot Camp” in Documents/Virtual Machines/ within OS X I was then able to boot into the new partition.

Overall the entire process took 4 hours to do the backups of OS X and boot camp partitions, about :30 minutes to do the hard drive replacement, and another four hours for the repartitioning and restore to complete but given the additional hard drive space 160GB -> 500GB it was well worth the effort considering I didn’t have to reinstall any operating systems or software and I let most of the backups and restores run while I was off playing with the kids or sleeping.  The best part was not having to go through the long process of re-authorizing my Vista OS or Office software on my windows partition. I picked up right where I left off on both systems.

I’ve finally got the space I need to keep my media and applications flowing smoothly and will probably move my Linux virtual machines back to my laptop instead of keeping them on a separate hard drive. Good luck with your installation!

Update:  I was experiencing a considerable slowdown when running the virtualized boot camp partition after this was finished however after a little digging I discovered that my virtual session was only allocating 512MB of RAM not the typical 2GB I had originally assigned before the transfer.  This occured when I deleted and re-added the boot camp profile.  VMWare uses this as a default value for new virtual machines.  So just be sure that you assign the proper amount of RAM back to your Virtual Machine when everything is said and done.

14 Responses to Moving OS X and Boot Camp partitions to a new higher capacity hard drive



November 13th, 2008 at 11:47 am

This and your HD replacement article were a huge help, thanks!! I’m experiencing one problem however, and I’m going to go hunting for an answer.

When restoring the XP image with Winclone, my Windows partition is changed from the 80GB setting down to the size of the XP image that I am restoring. I’ve tried this twice with the same result. I’m sure the fix is easy, just haven’t found it yet….



November 13th, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Ok, found the answer on the Winclone forums:

If your Boot Camp partition is in FAT32, you can simply convert it to NTFS by:

1) Logging into Windows
2) Click Start then Run.
3) Type “CMD” and press return
4) Type exactly this into the command prompt: “convert c: /fs:ntfs”
5) Follow instructions and you will reboot to initiate the conversion process

Did this on my MacBook with Boot Camp and had no problems, then proceeded to use Winclone!


Everett Hayward

January 11th, 2009 at 5:40 pm

If you don’t use BootCamp, is this a necessary step?


Cary Brown

January 13th, 2009 at 12:29 am

If you don’t use bootcamp this is not necessary step. Simply using the backup and restore of your HFS partition will suffice.


A F Sonbol

April 13th, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Thank you very very much for sharing such great information…



December 31st, 2009 at 2:22 pm

I had no idea that winclone existed and it plus your instructions helped me do a smooth upgrade. Thanks!


Cary Brown

December 31st, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Glad it helped Philip…



July 18th, 2010 at 1:05 am

Thanks for this tutorial. It worked very well with my mid-2009 macbook pro with a windows 7 bootcamp partition. cheers.



July 20th, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Thanks for the tutorial. I did everything you said but have been unable to test boot off my external esata HD. ( Seagate via blacx Thermaltake esata ). The cloned drive LOOKS good. It even read as “bootable” when I cloned it. But it’s just not booting. I tried both starting with the opt key pressed and also as startup disk (set in the system prefs) but it just isn’t working as the boot disk. Any ideas? All efforts greatly appreciated.
BTW I have a small secondary question: with a clone what’s the best way to tell for certain which drive I’ve booted to? I end up trying to eject the disk I think I’m booted to. (If it allows me to eject I know it can’t be the boot disk…)


Cary Brown

October 15th, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Hi Craig…

Might be your drive… Consider how it is connected to your Mac. Is your eSATA drive connected via Firewire or USB. Some of the docking stations allow for both to be connected. Remember the firmware has a limited ability to connect to all devices so try using a different external drive. To your second question you can try renaming the boot disk once you’ve booted to it or naming it when you format before you re-image. Good luck.



July 21st, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Solution found for now. So I can continue to make progress.
The eSata connection was prohibiting my new drive’s boot test. So I used the secondary USB connection instead. It boots fine from this USB connection.

So now I’m proceeding with your directions.
Thanks again.



August 24th, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Awesome, thanks for the tutorial!


Chris Cerrudo

February 17th, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Thanks for the tutorial. Upgraded my MacBook Pro HD today, and following your directions made it incredibly easy!



August 7th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

For those of you that are either experience very slow backup and restore times, finding that winclone 2.3 or windows 7 backup restore hang on backup or restore (despite disabling the AppleHFS and AppleMNT.sys drivers), find your bootloader stamped on, or find that the LION restore partition is victim to the process here is another approach.

You can do this all in one step with read/write speeds almost quadruple the unexplainably slow speed of carbon copy, super duper and winclone. Just download the newest stable release of clonezilla, burn the appropriate iso to a bootable disk, connect your target drive in an external enclosure and let it take care of moving all partitions in one easy swoop. You can resize them (down if you wish to rebalance) or enlarge on the fly despite a partition level movement without bothering with intermediate image files.

I mucked around with the traditional path (winclone, super duper, carbon copy and win 7 backup and restore) for a day with errors or problems in various areas. Finally located this and did the whole swap process for a 500GB disk in under two hours. (did swap like to like size, just improved to 7200 rpm with a 4gb ssd cache)

Simple as could be.:

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