Portable Windows 7 (Dissimilar hardware)

Hello all

I wonder if anyone could help me. I have Windows XP installed on a harddrive that I carry around with me in the office. I come across a PC that I have to fix, plug in my drive and boot. At first I had the issue of having to do repairs on the XP when the hardware was dissimilar to the original I used to make the drive. I went crawling through the web and found the cause of my problem was the drive controller driver (IDE Controllers change across chipsets it would seem). After I got the needed files off the XP CD and the right registry entries, I had a "universal" XP that would work on virutally any computer.

A lot of people would say "But why not use a PE or Hiren Boot" and the answer is simple, they are generally read only and/or give problems when installing new software. With my solution, I can install all the applications I want and keep them up to date with minimal effort. Over time, I have built up a host of drivers in my portable windows for the various hardware configurations around the office. So, 9/10 times, I plug it in and it detects hardware that is in the machine as if it was just unplugged and has now been put back. No need for a repair and within minutes and a single standard reboot, I am on the machine like I was sitting at the original.

I want to switch to Windows 7... This brings forward a whole host of new challenges. I am now using a second drive for testing. On the original machine, it boots and works beautifully. I move it to any other machine and it won't boot. Safe mode won't work either. It keeps asking to boot with the Startup Repair. Ok, lets go. "Startup Repair Failed" or some other error like it. On hunting through the short log I see "Problem Signature 07: BadDriver"

Hey, wait, we have had mention of this before... The harddrive controller driver? Could this be the only thing stopping me from moving the harddrive between the various computers? Someone suggested I get into Windows and just do a Upgrade Install... Ummm... Hello? I can't get into Windows to choose the upgrade option. I REALLY don't want to have to do a full install of Windows 7 each time...

On further hunting and testing, I disabled automatic restart and encountered a BSOD. Error 0x7B which is the code for an inaccessible boot device... Solidifying my theory that it is a harddrive driver error. Apparently the second parameter passed to the error is the one to look out for so... 0xc0000034... That means:
STATUS_OBJECT_NAME_NOT_FOUND This is the most common status code and is usually caused by a missing or corrupt driver.


Can anyone help me solve the driver problem? It is probably just like XP where a small registry entry and maybe one or two files will solve the problem... But I have hunted in a lot of places... No luck yet.

Help would be GREATLY appreciated by me and our office.

I don't know how to make a "universal" 7 drive, but you may want to try to open Device Manager and configure as many devices as you can to use the generic Microsoft Standard drivers instead of the vendors' native. Just an idea.

Hmmm... I have just finished trying that. Didn't seem to make a difference. I'm sure Windows 7 has got the actual drivers needed... it is just a case of getting it to use them when the hardware changes. And I think it is only the HDD controller drivers.

Hunting through the registry entries for XP that solved the problem, I found they all relate to the HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services key set. Some entries are changed to 0. I'm assuming the entries refer to whether or not the driver is "disabled". Now I have found the same entries under Windows 7... however I am not 100% sure which entries would be useful to enable.

Is there no way to start an automatic hardware detection on boot. I think SysPrep did it for XP. Is there an equivalent for Windows 7?

Right! After some playing and fiddling with the registry (And many, many, many backup restorings) I have solved my problem. Oddly enough, it was very simple and almost identical to the XP solution. After changing a few registry entries and making sure files were available, I got Windows 7 to boot on completely dissimilar hardware.

I used a Foxconn 45GM (Intel Chipset) with a LGA775 Core 2 Duo and 2Gb of RAM and a 80Gb SATA as the master.
I cloned it to a 40Gb IDE drive (Prevent from having to redo EVERYTHING) and now I am successfully running a System Rating check on another machine. A Gigabyte GA-8S650GXM (SiS chipset) Socket Celeron 2GHz with 256Mb RAM. A HORRIBLE system rating (2.4 : 1.0 : 1.0 : 1.0 : 4.3), but it is up and running. A Windows 7 running on completely different hardware.

Portable Windows 7? Successful. This worked when I cloned it too although the HDD had to be a single partition before the Windows 7 Setup otherwise that little 100Mb partition created by Windows 7 causes complications after cloning.

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