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Barebones computers

Last response: in Systems
March 9, 2007 9:57:59 PM

I'm interested in buying this barebones system that has everything but the drives, memory, and video. I was wondering can I transfer my main hard drive, that has Windows installed, to the new one. Will that work? Or do I have to re-install the OS?

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March 9, 2007 10:33:40 PM

Yes, you can use your old drive, but your Windows is going to freak out with all the new parts. You'll probably have to re-activate your Windows by calling Microsoft. It's a pain, yes.
March 9, 2007 10:34:58 PM

Which barebones system (you didn't list anything)?
In general, unless the new MB is exactly the same as the old one, yes you will have to reinstall Windows. A "repair install" might do the trick, but you might have to do a full reinstall. You should also look into the File Transfer and Settings Wizard.
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March 9, 2007 11:09:41 PM

You might or you might not. For me, every time I managed to do it I did a re-install after putting up with the left over crap for a month or two. If you're geting a different MB type, different memory type, don't even try.

My 2p
March 10, 2007 2:59:45 AM

It depends. I found that I did not have to reinstall windows, but I had to reactivate it because of Microsoft's "disadvantage to genuine customers" program. Then, I had to move the hard drive back to the old PC and call Microsoft again and explain why the installation changed again.

Usually, I order barebones as a budget solution and because it's easier installing a new CPU and transfering everything else than to start from scratch. Most barebones need a better power supply, so think of upgrading that as soon as possible.

The barebones I bought is in my signature, but the motherboard's being sent out for RMA after a month of use, but it's partly my fault and partly MSI's own Live Update program glitching on me.

The problem was that I used MSI's Live Update at 4 in the morning and didn't pay attention to what was checked. I had only meant to automatically update the chipset, sound and graphics card drivers, but Live Update also updates the bios for both their motherboards and graphics cards.

I just clicked yes without paying attention while watching the local weather and Live Update ended up flashing the motherboard's bios from within Windows. That's a new thing to me, the old way is the safest, booting to a diskette with a backup of the old bios being made before the new one is flashed.

Well, I was very apprehensive once I realized I'd gone into zombie click mode. MSI Live Update flashed the bios and then rebooted. The motherboard was dead and would not reboot. It was obviously a bad bios flash and I could not find a jumper on the motherboard to set it back to factory. So I RMA'd it and will put it back together when it returns.

A coworker did the same thing with an Intel motherboard and had no problems. I guess it's standard procedure nowadays to flash a bios from within Windows? That is the worst idea I've ever encountered in my 14 years of building my own PCs and it probably came about because PCs don't come with diskette drives anymore. I recommend USB diskette drives for bios flash and third party RAID driver installs.

If you're geting a different MB type, different memory type, don't even try.

My 2p

In my case, all I did was uninstall the old drivers and Intel utilities before transferring the motherboard, so I only had to use Windows Update after reactivating Windows.

There has to be a circle of Dante's inferno for the guys who designed the "disadvantage for genuine Windows customers".
March 10, 2007 4:02:56 AM

I love the story.... Especially the part about blindly clicking on anyones' 'live update' @ 04:00...

Last time that I tried the 'disadvantage' program, it was actually fairly painless. Long, tedius, but fairly painless. I mis-hit a few keys, almost immediately got a person, read in my key to them then patiently wrote down the key that they generated, verified what I wrote, that was it. 30 minutes of my and Bill's time... Say an hour a year or so. I look forward (not!) to seeing how painful a re-install is with vista.
March 10, 2007 11:52:12 AM

I love the story.... Especially the part about blindly clicking on anyones' 'live update' @ 04:00...

Yes, it's the absolute dumbest thing I've done in years, and I would not do that at work. I simply trusted the company's own software to update the drivers correctly. The whole flash the bios in Windows bit was so new that I had not encountered it. My older PC is a Northwood and I don't have the responsibility of hardware upgrades at work.

It wasn't too much trouble, but this time the guy asked several questions about why I had moved the hard drive to the new PC and why I was moving it to another PC later.

Around the same time, I built a PC for my 6 year old using a new motherboard and older processor, drive and graphics card from two of my PCs I'd recently upgraded, and I used a 100 gig Maxtor with Windows XP Home. Windows genuine advantage couldn't identify it as a legal copy of Windows, and kept connecting to a "why you should buy Windows" page.

So, I repartitioned, reformatted and reinstalled, allowing it finally be recognized as a genuine retail copy. The funny thing is that the Via drivers on the new Asrock motherboard were recognized with no problems, so if Windows had properly identified the drive, I would not have had to reinstall. I'd have just uninstalled the software he wouldn't use and that would be it, the hard drive already had his educational games.

All that program does is add another buggy bit of Microsoft code to Windows. When my $12.44 upgrade OEM copy of Vista arrives, it will go on my X2 system and I'll get to experience the allegedly easy upgrade path Vista allows.

My wife doesn't want it on her machine, she's afraid it will be incompatible with her graphics programs that she uses for class and for modding Elder Scrolls games. She'll have to go Vista when DX10 games arrive that she'll be working with. I'm not sure I want to install it until service pack 1 arrives.

But yes, no more mindless clicking that early in the morning!