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Migrating Windows 7 to a machine with a different storage controller

I recently had to migrate a Windows 7 installation from a Precision T3500 to the newer T3600. Normally this would not be a problem, however at the time of the migration I did not realize the storage controller on the T3600 was different than its predecessor and Windows doesn’t have a built-in driver for it. This meant that when the time came to boot the system on the new hardware, Windows could not boot.

To save you time, the easy fix is: Prior to migrating the hard drive, install the storage controller driver and drop the other drivers (like ethernet and usb 3.0) on the c: drive to install after you boot into the new hardware.

If, like me, it is now too late to go back or you’ve already taken the step, you will need to install the driver after the fact following these steps.

1. Find the correct driver for your storage controller and copy it to a flash drive or similar.
2. Boot into Startup Recovery (Windows should do this for you automatically the second time you try booting the system as it won’t be able to find the partition and fail booting the first time).
3. Click on “Load Driver” from the System Recovery Options window and load the driver you have on your flash drive. This will now allow the Windows installation to be found.
4. Click on the “Use recovery tools…” radio button and then click on “Next” to begin the automatic repair operation and immediately cancel it as it will take a long time and may not fix anything. After confirming you want to cancel, look for the View advanced options for system recovery and support link in the Windows cannot repair this computer automatically dialog.
5. In the Choose a recovery tool dialog, click on Open a Command Prompt link to open a command prompt and then run diskpart.exe. Enter the command list vol to get the drive letter for your flash drive and your Windows installation. Exit diskpart once you obtain this information.
6. Find the path to the driver on your flash drive, you only need the directory path containing the files.
7. Type in dism.exe /image:<windows_drive_letter> /add-driver /driver:<path_to_driver> /recurse to install the drivers.
8. Once the drivers are installed, reboot the system by typing wpeutil reboot

You should now be able to boot into Windows to complete the migration.

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