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Moving: How to best bring old HDD into new system?

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November 12, 2007 8:17:46 AM

Hi -

The question of how to move a HDD from an old system to a new one has been asked before, but I've seen so many different answers (from "completely impossible" to "no problem at all") that I'm very confused. My apologies if it's a dead topic for some of you!

I'm moving to a new country for a few months. Since it's a relatively short time, I don't want to ship my big desktop computer. It's easier to just buy a different computer in the new place, and sell it when I leave.

My question is how to best and most easily bring my current computer set-up (files, programs, total environment) and put it onto the new computer system? Can I just bring my current HDD and slap it into the new system?


I know that I can put all my files and data onto a portable hard drive, and then access that drive from a new computer.

And I know that I can bring along the programs as well, and just reinstall those onto the new computer.

However, transfering files and data takes a while, reinstalling my many programs takes a verrry long while, re-jiggering all the settings in every program and system takes forever. Setting up my system took days. Ideally, I'd like to avoid having to re-do all this work I've already done in creating my personal computer environment.

So how feasible would it be to simply take my WD 250gb HDD with me (it's small and light!), and replace the HDD in the new computer with my current HDD?

Will I then have "my" computer on the new computer? Programs, OS, etc?

What steps could I take now (before I move and while I'm using my current computer) to make sure that it'll work well when I get my new computer?

Regarding the OS, I have a purchased copy of WinXP SP2. The nice thing about this is that I'm legally allowed to transfer this OS. (In other words, it's NOT a bundled, non-transferable OEM version. )

Also, to what extent do I have to get a new computer which matches the hardware of my current set-up? I currently have a Gigabyte P35 mobo, Q6600, Powercolor VGA. I was hoping to get a slightly less powerful configuration in my new set-up: mobo with vga onboard, a less powerful CPU. Can I still slap the new HDD into this different set-up?

Thanks for your help .... I definitely need advice as I really don't know how to do this!

THANKS!

- Julia

(fyi - not sure which section of the forum to post this; I'm putting it into New Builds and Storage, but please feel free to move as appropriate!)
November 12, 2007 9:27:24 AM

What about using one of those online backup companies to back up your current harddrive, and then when you get to the new country you can just restore your backup to the new computer? At a site like caronite (haven`t used it, not endorsing it ) you could try to do it within the 15 day free trial, or pay $50 for the year. The benefit of this route is that you have an offsite backup, which is never a bad thing.

FYI, I moved across the ocean with everything I needed in my luggage, including my PC in an Antec Super Lanboy case.
a b G Storage
November 12, 2007 2:03:37 PM

Typically, the answer will be no. That's because the hard drive with the Operating System will only have the necessary drivers for your current motherboard. Without the proper motherboard drivers (and rarely CPU drivers; i.e. specific for AMD or Intel) the computer may not boot up or function properly.

If your current PC is a brandname, then it should work as long as it is the same model number from the same company. For example, if you have a Dell XPS4000 (I'm just making that up) and you stick your OS hard drive in another Dell XPS4000, then you will have no problems because the hardware will be same (excluding any options).
Related resources
a b G Storage
November 12, 2007 2:44:36 PM

julia1981 said:

Also, to what extent do I have to get a new computer which matches the hardware of my current set-up? I currently have a Gigabyte P35 mobo, Q6600, Powercolor VGA. I was hoping to get a slightly less powerful configuration in my new set-up: mobo with vga onboard, a less powerful CPU. Can I still slap the new HDD into this different set-up?


Dropping in a less powerful CPU should not be a problem. Just make sure your PC uses the same motherboard. On boot up just go into BIOS and select onboard video instead of the PCIe port.

When you get into Windows just uninstall the Powercolor driver and install the video drivers for the onboard GPU.

Sorry, I skipped this section on my first read.
a b G Storage
November 12, 2007 5:16:04 PM

I would suggest uninstalling as many drivers as you can - especially the video drivers. Try to uninstall any chipset drivers you do need to boot - ethernet port for example.

Gigabyte motherboards are available world-wide. They are easy to find here for example. If you want to be sure, pack an extra motherboard of the same model. In that case, uninstall the video drivers for your graphics card, and use the generic Windows driver. When you get to your destination, build or have someone build another computer using the same motherboard and a video card of your choice. Load the video drivers and you should be up and running.

For extra insurance, I would buy another hard drive and use a drive copy or imaging program to generate a backup.

If your PC is going to sit idle while you are gone, you might consider stripping the CPU and memory out of it.

Where are you moving from and to?
November 12, 2007 6:47:15 PM

There are ways to do what you wish, should you have the required disk and patience. If it were my system, the first thing to do is to make a complete backup on DVD, external drive or another hard drive so if anything fails you still have your files. (I use Acronis True Image 11, but there are many good imaging programs) Then, after you have purchased the new system, remove that hard drive completely and place your hard drive in it. Place your copy of Windows XP in the CD ROM and boot from it, at the second screen the installation will search your drive, find the old installation and ask if you wish to "repair" it. This is what you want to do as it will then search for drivers specific to that machine and will boot properly with all of your programs, settings, email in place. The original hard drive and the system will be like new when you are ready to get rid of it since you took it out at the onset of this procedure. The only downside to this method is that you must then install all the patches since the service pack on your original CD to bring yourself up to current security.
November 13, 2007 7:03:38 AM

Hi - Thanks for your responses to my question about moving and how to transfer my current HDD to a new system. Thanks, onestar, jsc, jaguarskx and jerrado!

To answer your question, jsc, I'm moving from the US to France.

So let's see. If I combine all your responses, here's the plan. What's your expert opinion of this solution:

- Uninstall video drivers on my current system
- Unplug the HDD and bring it with me when I move
- When I arrive, buy a new computer which has a Gigabyte mobo and Intel CPU
- Replace the new computer's HDD with my HDD
- On booting, select on-board video instead of the VGA card
- Boot from my (purchased) WinXP CD, telling it to "repair"

Then I should have "my" computer on the new system.

Note that I currently have a Gigabyte P35 mobo, PowerColor VGA, and Intel Q6600 CPU. Under this moving plan, I'd buy a computer in the new country which also has a Gigabyte mobo and Intel CPU, but it would be different models (cheaper and less powerful, as I'll only be there a few months and don't want to waste on a high-end set-up that I don't need) and would have on-board video instead of a VGA.

Thanks for your help!
- Julia

:wahoo: 
November 13, 2007 11:44:40 AM

Have you thought about this? I assume you are going to be flying to your new home? At airports they xray your luggage, don't you think all those magnets and what not are really going to mess with your hard drive?
November 13, 2007 12:44:31 PM

If the new mobo has the same chipset there should be no problem. If the mobo chipset is a different manufacturer, uninstalling the chipset drivers beforehand is the key!!!!!! This gives you the highest probability of success. Don't count on booting to safe mode if the chipsets are different. Might work, maybe not. I recently moved an XP drive from from an NForce2 to a VIA K8T800pro system and it worked fine. No need to do a repair install at all.
November 13, 2007 1:11:05 PM

First, don't take your existing drive to France because when you get back you will have to go through the same crap all over again. After that you can pretty much assure your OS will be garbage. Get another drive and use the manufacturers tools to clone the existing drive.

There are all kinds of articles on the web about doing exactly what you are talking about. Don't believe for one instant that the posts you have gotten here are complete, they are not.

This is not a simple task and you had better prepare. Do some serious research. Bring your programs etc. and a separate copy of your files on CD/DVD, so that if/when you grenade the OS you have a fall back position.

Don't forget this ARTICLE: HAL Upgrade -- Uniprocessor to Multiprocessor HAL Upgrade

Edit: If you stick with a dual core or better you probably won't need to mess with the HAL. If you get a single core, God forbid, then you probably will.

Good luck
November 13, 2007 1:44:01 PM

julia1981 said:
Hi - Thanks for your responses to my question about moving and how to transfer my current HDD to a new system. Thanks, onestar, jsc, jaguarskx and jerrado!

To answer your question, jsc, I'm moving from the US to France.

So let's see. If I combine all your responses, here's the plan. What's your expert opinion of this solution:

- Uninstall video drivers on my current system
- Unplug the HDD and bring it with me when I move
- When I arrive, buy a new computer which has a Gigabyte mobo and Intel CPU
- Replace the new computer's HDD with my HDD
- On booting, select on-board video instead of the VGA card
- Boot from my (purchased) WinXP CD, telling it to "repair"

Then I should have "my" computer on the new system.

Note that I currently have a Gigabyte P35 mobo, PowerColor VGA, and Intel Q6600 CPU. Under this moving plan, I'd buy a computer in the new country which also has a Gigabyte mobo and Intel CPU, but it would be different models (cheaper and less powerful, as I'll only be there a few months and don't want to waste on a high-end set-up that I don't need) and would have on-board video instead of a VGA.

Thanks for your help!
- Julia

:wahoo: 


Uninstalling the video drivers is not required with my method.
It will not matter what motherboard or chipset you purchase with my method.
The "repair" will discover the new video card (or onboard VGA) and prompt at 1st boot for the driver and the new system SHOULD come with a driver CD for that operation.

The reason I recommended a complete backup of the current drive is so that you will have it to restore from upon your return. It is assumed you would back up your data on your temporary machine in order to copy it upon your return to the restored system.
November 13, 2007 9:05:55 PM

Yes, Ethel, it appears Julia started the thread in two places.

London must be rather cool about this time of year.
December 16, 2007 3:07:33 PM

Better yet (assuming you are talking about a primary drive with Windows on it), do a repair install. Hook up the old drive and boot from your XP CD. Select 'Install' (not Repair), then 'R' for Repair. The OS will overwrite itself keeping all (well, almost all) of your settings. Then reboot and load your new drivers.
a b G Storage
December 16, 2007 4:14:05 PM

[:wr2:4]Make sure you back up every thing before messing with the HDD. I have seen too many people loose data messing with the HDD for one reason or another.
!