I bought an OEM version of Windows Vista 3 and a half years ago when I built my own computer. I now want to buy a new hard drive for the computer (keeping the old one for storage) and install my same copy of Vista on the new hard drive. I know that OEM copies can only be used on one computer at a time, so how do I go about installing it onto my new hard drive and deleting it from my old drive so I can use it simply for storage. Thanks!
Plug in only the new hdd, then install windows on the new hard drive. Once windows is installed and working shut down the computer and plug in the old HD in addition to the new one. When you reboot it will show up as the D: or e: drive and you are good to go.
If windows fails activation online you will have to call MS. Just tell them its the same computer but you had to reformat the hdd, and reinstall windows.
I agree with all that bucknutty has told you except I would not re-install the old HDD until after re-activation. Also, I would not lie to Microsoft about re-formatting the old drive because I believe the HDD identifier is transmitted to Microsoft when activation fails. If they know you're lying it gives them a reason to deny activation. Instead just say you replaced the old drive as a precaution and have reformatted the previous HDD.
Ms always makes me nervous. I have never had a bad experience with activating a product 2 or 3 times, but I always hear these horror stories. My buddy claims he replaced the network card and then could not reactivate. He then claims when he called MS the automated phone system would not work and he got a tech who then yelled at him about being a pirate.
Yes, Microsoft can see the hardware profile of your computer so there's nothing to be gained from lying to them. Microsoft are pretty lenient when dealing with home users who have a valid (meaning legal) OEM copy of Windows.
I replaced the motherboard, RAM and hard drive in my computer then discovered I could not re-activate the OEM copy of Vista the came with the original computer. I had no idea how OEM licenses are designed to work, so thinking MS was making a mistake, I phoned them. The guy at MS explained to me why MS wouldn't activate my Vista installation. I asked the guy whether that meant I had to put the old hardware back in the computer, and he just relented and gave me a new product key and it worked.