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Two separate systems - Swapping Hard Drives?

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February 11, 2011 4:39:23 PM

Hi all,

I have two notebooks, and would like to essentially "trade" hard drives. Is this possible?

I'm assuming there would be some driver issues, but that should be easy to fix. What other issues could I run into? Would different versions of windows cause a problem?

System 1 - Current Primary - Gateway P-7805u FX running Windows 7 Pro 64-bit

System 2 - Future Primary - MSI FX600-002US running Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

*I should note that neither hard drive is stock.

There are 3 reasons I want to take System 1's current hard drive with me to System 2.
1. I have many important programs/apps/settings on it, basically I don't feel like starting over.
2. I bought Windows 7 Pro and would like to keep it.
3. It has a faster hard drive.

So do you guys think I can trade System 1's hard drive with System 2's and expect both systems to run great still?


Thanks in advance for any help.
a b $ Windows 7
a c 342 G Storage
February 11, 2011 7:08:26 PM

This is definitely a maybe if you're lucky. And you are right, the drivers are the most likely issue. But there may be another.

Sometimes the drivers issue can be solved with a Repair Install done on each machine with its new HDD. This requires that you have the original Win 7 Install disk for each HDD's installed OS. You put it into the machine's optical drive and boot from it just like starting a OS Installation. BUT you do NOT do a normal install. You look for the menu place to do a Repair Install. Do this on each machine after the swap, and maybe the drive update will fix most problems.

The other potential issue is that each installation of Win 7 will detect that it is now installed in a very different machine, and may decide you have an illegal second installation. In that case you will need to call M$ Tech Support and explain what you have done, and see if they will re-authorize BOTH of the moved OS installations to make them "legit" again.

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a b $ Windows 7
a c 114 G Storage
February 11, 2011 7:36:54 PM

If you manage to get it to work doing a repair, it will be a serious "kludge".... expect performance and various other issues when done.

Proper preparation tho can prevent this .... via partition planing.

At its most simplistic level......

C:\ OS and Drivers
D:\Programs & Games
E:\Data

When I swap a drive to another computer, I simply format C and install the OS. D & E remain intact. More and more it seems, many games and a lot of programs are "self contained" and will not need to be reinstalled to set up registry settings. Best way to accomplish this s to open explorer and try and load the program in the first folder on D:\ . If it loads move on.

If it doesn't , grab the install disks and reinstall. All customizations and tweaks from your old installation should be retained as these are stored in the program folder and the install won't write over and files newer than that on the install disks.

Usually doesn't take me more than 30-45 minutes, excluding of course the installation of windows and the 5 or 6 Windows Update runs.

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February 11, 2011 8:13:29 PM

Ah shucks I should have mentioned that I don't have the original Windows 7 Pro install disk... I bought it through my school for cheap and installed using a flash drive.

I'm starting to think it would just be smarter to not mess with anything. I guess I'll have to deal with not having Win 7 Pro. Would I have any major disadvantages with using Home Premium vs. Professional?
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February 21, 2011 12:18:05 AM

HI, why don't you just use the upgrade anytime feature? it should work as long as you have the CD Key for windows 7 pro. Then go to the msi web site get all the drivers and put them on a CD. Swap out the drives and install the new drivers.
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February 21, 2011 12:22:35 AM

you may have a problem because gateway/ all prebuilt systems usually put drivers for there system on there. So going from gateway to MSI might not work correctly .... Its basically a 50/50 shot ... and worst case scenario is redoing your setup even though u mentioned you didnt want to
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February 21, 2011 11:56:23 AM

Best answer selected by amk09.
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