Using old hard disks in new system


I'm going to buy a new system, and I have 2 hard disks from my old system. One is installed with a Linux OS, the other with Windows Vista.

Will I be able to simply use these 2 hard disks on the new system and boot up, retaining all my data? If not, how do I transfer the data from my old hard disks to my new hard disks? My old system is faulty (no signal to monitor), so I can't just copy everything directly using, say, a portable hard disk.

Thank you.

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  1. Best answer
    Yes, you should be able to connect them and use their data. Some items to watch for:

    1. If these are IDE units, review how to set their jumpers for Master and Slave roles and how to connect. If they are SATA, do NOT change any jumpers - there is NO Master or Slave in SATA units.

    2. When they are installed, check in your BIOS Setup screens where you set Boot Priority Sequence. Make sure neither of these units is part of your boot possibilities.

    3. I am not sure how a Windows OS will read or deal with a HDD that contains LINUX OS and data, presumably in a File System that is not what Windows is used to handling. I'm kind of assuming you've already familiar with this issue.

    4. Although some people have set up systems that can boot either from one HDD containing Linux or from another containing Windows, I doubt you could simply tell your new machine to boot from that old Linux HDD. I would expect you'd have the same problem as trying to use a Windows OS from another machine - the OS installed on the HDD contains just the right drivers for the devices in the OLD machine, and not the ones for the new machine. In the Windows world there is a procedure called a Repair Install you can do from a Windows Install CD to fix this (sometimes). I don't know how it is handled in Linux.
  2. Both old HDDs are SATA.

    My main objective is to be able to copy data over to the new HDD. I don't really need to boot from the old HDDs.

    Just like my old system, I'll have one new HDD installed with Linux OS, the other with Windows Vista. So is it possible for the new Windows HDD to read and copy data over from the old Windows HDD, and the same for the Linux HDDs? How will the new HDD see the old HDD?

    I'm also assuming when I want to copy from the old Windows HDD, I should just connect the old Windows HDD only and not the old Linux HDD, and vice versa, so as to not confuse the system?
  3. Yes, the new Win Vista will be able to read and use the old HDD, so copying etc should work fine. What you suggest about using the old Win HDD only when booting into Windows, etc. may keep things simpler, all right, but it does mean you are frequently opening the case and juggling cables and adjusting the BIOS Setup. Maybe that's OK for a few rounds of copying. But it probably is not necessary IF you are very careful not to try to access the Win HDD under Linux, etc. Unless you have a Linux system that fully understands HDD's formatted to NTFS (and I hear there are none that are perfect), there is a risk of corruption of the Win NTFS unit by Linux IF you write to it.
  4. Best answer selected by lancer6238.
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