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Building a new computer and I want to use my old hard drive but I'm getting a new operating system

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May 6, 2014 12:24:27 PM

Hello everyone. I have been referencing this site for a while now, and it's finally time for me to ask my own question. Here is my situation. I have an old Dell Inspiron 560 which is currently running Windows 7. I am in the process of building my own computer and have decided on all of the parts I need except for the hard drive. I would like to use the one from my Dell because it already has everything I want on it. Also, as a college student, I have access to a cheap copy of Windows 8.

Now I don't really want to change operating systems, but it looks as though I'm going to need one for the new computer. Before I switch, I was wondering if I can use the startup disks that came with my Dell on the new parts of my new computer, namely the motherboard and processor. I have a feeling that this is a no go, but it would make my life so much easier if I could just boot up my new computer the same way I did when I started up my Dell for the first time.

If that is not doable, I want to know if there is a way to hook up all of my new parts with my old hard drive and then install the Windows 8 operating system. Some of my own research on this matter has led me to believe that this option is also not possible or at the very least very difficult to do. Should this be the case, then I need to know what I should do instead.

My new processor is an AMD FX-6300

My new motherboard is an ASRock 970 Pro3 R2.0

Thank you for the time taken to read and respond to my post.
May 6, 2014 12:37:38 PM

I had a lenovo and successfully used the HDD for a while on a new build by deleting all of the main drivers and re installing the ones from the new components. You would need the windows ID for windows 7 because the computer will know you changed the motherboard so you will have to reactivate the widows install. I did end up just doing a fresh install though because it was a bit buggy. You could easily use your old HDD is you are ok with a clean install just wipe the drive.
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a b G Storage
May 6, 2014 1:18:16 PM

Legally you cannot use the OEM copy of Windows that ships with any major computer manufacturer, such as Dell. They are licensed only for that Dell and will fail to activate on the new PC, even if you do manage to jump through a lot of hoops and get it to actually run without blue-screening.

What you should do is to use your cheap student copy of Windows 8 and install it on your new PC, even if you do have the old PC's hard drive. Just boot up the PC with a Windows 8 install disk and install it, it's pretty easy. During the first part of the installation process, just delete all existing partitions on the old hard drive, then install.
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May 6, 2014 1:22:11 PM

mbreslin1954 said:
Legally you cannot use the OEM copy of Windows that ships with any major computer manufacturer, such as Dell. They are licensed only for that Dell and will fail to activate on the new PC, even if you do manage to jump through a lot of hoops and get it to actually run without blue-screening.

What you should do is to use your cheap student copy of Windows 8 and install it on your new PC, even if you do have the old PC's hard drive. Just boot up the PC with a Windows 8 install disk and install it, it's pretty easy. During the first part of the installation process, just delete all existing partitions on the old hard drive, then install.


I replaced the PS and MB on my lenovo and MS activated it for me when I called in with the Windows 7 sticker on the lenovo supplying the product key. Again not saying this is the best way to go but it can be done.
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May 6, 2014 1:47:17 PM

A quick followup question. If I do take the hard drive out of my Dell, can I still get my Dell to run if I get a new hard drive for it? Or will that require a new operating system?
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May 6, 2014 2:03:57 PM

jadedlithium said:
A quick followup question. If I do take the hard drive out of my Dell, can I still get my Dell to run if I get a new hard drive for it? Or will that require a new operating system?


If your thinking about keeping your dell better to just get a new HDD for your new build. You could use a new HDD to put in your dell as long as you have the restore disk it came with but thats a lot of trouble when just getting a new HDD for the new build is much easier.
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a b G Storage
May 6, 2014 2:07:24 PM

It will require a new OS, especially if you somehow manage to use the original Dell license key on your new build. If you're planning to use or sell the Dell you have, then leave the hard drive in it with Windows installed. It will be a lot less hassle.

cburke82, they may have let you activate it again because some parts were the same -- you refer to it as "my Lenovo", so I assume all you replaced was the mobo and the PSU. Microsoft varies in their response. Years ago when I tried it with Windows XP they were very strict and asked if the motherboard had been changed, and when I replied yes they refused me. Then a few years later they just asked me if the license was being used on more than one computer, and of course it wasn't (the mobo had fried) so they let me activate it on the new motherboard. I'm not complaining, but their stance seems to change over time, so who knows how they'll react?
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a b G Storage
May 6, 2014 8:01:07 PM

If you have a purchased Windows 8 license, you can move it to another computer, as long as it's only installed on one at a time. Unlike Windows 7 OEM, Windows 8 isn't tied to the first motherboard it was installed on. BUT . . . Your old Windows license is Windows 7, so it should not be able to be activated on another computer, especially since it's a Dell license.

http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-2133456/reused-w...

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May 7, 2014 6:08:37 AM

Thanks for all the help. I think I will just get a new hard drive since I'm saving money on Windows 8 anyway. I didn't realize you could switch Windows 8 either so this was a nice piece of information to find out. Thanks again!
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May 7, 2014 8:31:20 AM

mbreslin1954 said:
It will require a new OS, especially if you somehow manage to use the original Dell license key on your new build. If you're planning to use or sell the Dell you have, then leave the hard drive in it with Windows installed. It will be a lot less hassle.

cburke82, they may have let you activate it again because some parts were the same -- you refer to it as "my Lenovo", so I assume all you replaced was the mobo and the PSU. Microsoft varies in their response. Years ago when I tried it with Windows XP they were very strict and asked if the motherboard had been changed, and when I replied yes they refused me. Then a few years later they just asked me if the license was being used on more than one computer, and of course it wasn't (the mobo had fried) so they let me activate it on the new motherboard. I'm not complaining, but their stance seems to change over time, so who knows how they'll react?


Oddly enough I replaced everything new case mobo GPU they still let me reactivate. I told the lady on the phone that I needed to replace the mobo she activated it lol. Again though I re installed anyway it was to buggy for me.
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