Acronis True Image - cloned drive won't boot

I recently upgraded two laptops from Windows 7 to Windows 10. I bought a new SSD for each one and cloned them using Acronis True Image 2017.

My goal was to create a dual boot Windows installation for each laptop. I wanted to be able to boot up Windows 7 to check the existing software installation, so I could replicate that for the new Windows 10 install. This seemed to work as expected on my Lenovo X230 laptop. But I could not boot up the Windows 7 partition on the Fujitsu T725 laptop.

I literally spent two weeks researching this, and I couldn't make sense of what I found online. I decided to drop back to Acronis True Image 2013 and try again. After that did not work, I decided to purchase an upgrade to Acronis True Image 2020.
The next time I cloned the drive, I saw some useful messages near the end of the cloning process. BUT - I still could not boot up the Windows 7 partition on the Fujitsu T725 laptop.

I did a bit more research on the Acronis forums, and gave up. I finally found the answer in their Knowledge Base:

"It is recommended to put the new drive in the laptop first, and connect the old drive via USB. Otherwise you will may not be able to boot from the new cloned drive, at Acronis True Image will apply a bootability fix to the new disk and adjust the boot settings of the target drive to boot from USB. If the new disk is inside the laptop, the boot settings will be automatically adjusted to boot from internal disk. As such, hard disk bays cannot be used for target disks. For example, if you have a target hard disk (i.e. the new disk to which you clone, and from which you intend to boot the machine) in a bay, and not physically inside the laptop, the target hard disk will be unbootable after the cloning."

In summary, what I have always done for cloning hard drives was WRONG - I did it backwards. I had to put the new hard drive inside the laptop, and have the old hard drive in the external drive case.

After cloning the drive with that procedure, I was able to boot both Windows partitions on the Fujitsu T725 laptop. But, there was a Gotcha in the end. The cloning process changed the partition layout from MBR to GPT. It was quite difficult to get Windows 7 to accept the new drive layout. It literally took about 20 Windows restarts to get it to boot up without any software / device driver conflicts.

In the end, I kept loading up Device manager to check the device drivers. One at a time, I deleted the one that were not working properly and restarted Windows. It eventually got all the drivers set up correctly.

Last modified: March 21, 2020