Migrating to Win7: How to Mount Your XP Drive Image

Dennis Faas's picture

I've decided to put together step-by-step instructions on how to use Acronis True Image 2010 to migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7. I'm doing this for two reasons:

1. We currently have a sale on Acronis True Image on our website at 25% off. The proceeds will go directly to support our site.

2. Most folks will have time during the holidays to perform the Windows XP to Windows 7 upgrade. It will take a few days to do because it will require you to do a fresh install of Windows. But before that you need to backup what you have and then be able to access the data later after Windows 7 is installed. This is what this tutorial is going to explain.

Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7

Recall: yesterday we published an article that explained how using Acronis True Image (a backup program) can help you easily migrate to Windows 7 from XP.

Here's a quick recap: before I started the Windows 7 install, I backed up my entire Windows XP ("C drive") using Acronis True Image. The backup file is referred to as an "image file" because it's an exact copy of my Windows XP operating system.

The image file backup allows me to do two things:

1. Access ALL my files stored on my Windows XP harddrive at a later time (after Windows 7 is installed).

2. Allows me to revert my entire computer BACK to Windows XP if, for example, my Windows 7 install causes problems.

Accessing your old Windows XP "C Drive" in Win7

The purpose of this tutorial is to show you how to access your Windows XP image file backup from within Windows 7. The best way to access the image file is to mount the image as a virtual drive. This will allow you to:

a. Access your old Windows XP "C Drive" just like it were still there -- available via My Computer.

b. Allow you to search the backup using Windows 7 Search facility: using simple and advanced methods: both explained in this tutorial.

Mounting Your Image Backup File as a Virtual Drive

Here are the steps in detail. The methods below can be used for searching for personal files, system files, program configuration files, bookmarks, contacts, and whatever you had stored on the drive when you backed it up.

Step 1: Before Win7: Create XP (C Drive) Backup

Install true image; launch it. If you don't own Acronis True Image you can get it through our site for 25% off the retail.

Start your backup. Store the backup file locally on an external harddrive or remote network share if available. Pay attention to where you save the image file backup.

Step 2: After Win7 is Installed: Mount Image File

You can mount your image backup after your backup has been completed. This can be done in Windows XP so you can verify that the backup is working and before you start the Windows 7 installation.

That said, you will primarily be accessing this image file backup after Windows 7 is installed, as a way to access any of your older files and to copy them over to your new system if needed.

Once the backup is complete, go to My Computer and locate the backup file you just created.

Step 3: Read Only Mode

Choose Read Only Mode when opening the image file. You don't want to accidentally overwrite your backup files, so Read Only mode is the safest choice.

Step 4: View Virtual Drive

When your drive image is mounted you can view it under my computer. You can use it like any drive letter -- you can even search for contents using Windows Search.

Step 5: Use Windows Search (simple mode)

Windows 7's new search is extremely useful and easy to use and makes finding files a snap!

Step 6: Use Windows Search (advanced mode)

Limit your results to your virtual drive only, instead of the entire computer. This will save time searching for files you want to extract into your Windows 7 system and help to avoid confusion.

That's it. I'll be answering questions and explaining some finer details in the next few days. Keep your eyes peeled!

Reminder: Get Acronis True Image 2010 at 25% Off

A reminder: our sale on Acronis True Image 2010 will get you 25% off the retail price -- expires December 21st, 2009. If you are upgrading from a previous version of True Image we have a discount for that as well (details here). If you have never owned True Image before, now is the perfect time to grab it while it's on sale!

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