Part of me had been dreading this day. Once I had thought my 30 GB hard drive was spacious; then I acknowledged a bit of crowding by adding an external USB drive; but finally I had to admit that C: was just too small - I kept running out of sufficient free space to run Neverwinter Nights, which uses a lot of temp space on C: even though the program runs off the external drive. So I ordered a new drive (500 GB, it should be big enough for awhile) and waited for my first day of vacation to deal with it.
In my experience, when getting inside the box, it's more likely that something on this scale will go wrong and need troubleshooting than that it will just work. Knowing that, I first reviewed the basic procedure (found a wonderful primer on cloning XP at PCstats). I made a backup. I upgraded Acronis True Image, which I planned to use for the cloning.
Step one, install the new drive as a secondary drive. Minor fumble here, because the primer recommended booting to the BIOS to make sure it was recognized (it wasn't) but on the next attempt I missed the window for the boot menu and when XP started, it found the disk and offered to initialize it. Cool.
Step two, clone C: to the secondary drive. I used the manual option so I could make the future C: use the full space. (Yes, I know there are performance and security arguments for multiple partitions, but over the years I've learned that I'm most satisfied with one large space.) Cloning the 30 GB to the 500 GB took almost exactly three hours. I read a book.
Step three, swap the cables from the 30 GB to the 500 GB, change the jumper setting on the 500 GB, remove the 30 GB, boot.
Flawless. And faster. It doesn't get much better.
I'm clearing out some of the blog posts I've clipped over the years and came across one that I saved