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Upgrading from an HP desktop

  • Prebuilt
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Windows Vista
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Last response: in Systems
May 9, 2012 9:02:29 PM

So, my mother in law has a pretty pitiful HP computer, and she does some really light casual gaming on it, but the thing is pretty slow (it's a single core processor, ddr2) and nearly un-upgradeable for any reasonable price. It's running Windows Vista.

I just upgraded my wife's PC with my old parts, they wouldn't fit in her old case, so I got her a new case and bought a PSU to put in the old computer with her old stuff, leaving me with an almost complete system.

I would like to take the HDD and optical drive from the mother in law's PC, and put it in my wife's old box, along with the new PSU, all of this should be fine. The sticking point is Windows. Windows Vista came with the machine, and is (90% certainty here) in the form of a system restore disk.

I would like to do a clean format of the HDD, and reinstall Vista, but I'm not too confidant that the system restore disk will allow me to install vista without all the HP drivers and bloat.

I haven't dealt with prebuilts much and I've never done a mobo swap without a format, and I would like to be able to format at a later date if she accidentally catches a virus.

Is there any way I can get a clean vista install with her existing license? (She can't afford a new OS, I'm simply giving her the stuff, and bought the PSU for her)

If not, how would I go about getting the system to accept the new hardware, and what is some good-free software for making a system image i can restore from later?

(PS: sorry if this is in the wrong forum section, it's kinda complicated :)  feel free to move it or redirect me if needed)

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a b α HP
May 9, 2012 11:59:42 PM

"I would like to do a clean format of the HDD, and reinstall Vista, but I'm not too confidant that the system restore disk will allow me to install vista without all the HP drivers and bloat. " Nope, it only restores to the way you buy the PC.

The restore process is tied to the MB. If you use the new MB from your wife's PC then you cannot use the HP restore media. You could get a clean recovery while the disk is still in your mother in law's PC, then move the disk.

Note: Windows Vista probably does not have all the drivers needed for you wife's PC. You'd need to install them yourself. (The ones that came with the MB for your wife's PC, or their equivalent.)

Note2: You can create a clean copy of a clean vista install by using disk imaging software, then save this for use when the disk fails, etc. I use Acronis true image. There is other software that does this. Plan on burning a copy of DVDs or creating an image on an external disk drive. Win7 lets you create a disk image w/o other software -- not sure about Vista.

Note3 you will get a lot of noise about the MS Vista license. As I read the license you are fine as long as you are only running one copy, but I'm not a lawyer. I've moved hard drives with OS to new PCs a number of times and validated the license over the phone and over the internet. No problems. My personal belief is that MS was trying to block people from cloning a single copy of Win to a bunch of PCs, not to block someone from getting a new MB/CPU. In any case here is how you revalidate:

Here is discussion of swapping MB, CPU, etc.

Note4: If you are switching between nVidia and ATI graphics then uninstalling the video driver before removing the disk from the old PC is a good idea.
May 10, 2012 2:01:08 PM

The last time I tried moving an HDD without a format was back when windows XP was only a few years old, and it wasn't successful (blue screens on boot). Is there any prep work that needs to be done to move the HDD and keep the OS functional?
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a b α HP
May 11, 2012 1:21:55 AM

When you move the HDD windows will need to revalidate, no big deal.

If you are switching video cards, uninstall the old driver first. Have the MB chipset drivers loaded if you can before you move. Windows update after you move. Post if you hit problems.
May 21, 2012 1:27:23 AM

Hey, thanks for the help. Unfortunately when I went to setup the system this weekend, it didn't work (no post). I'm thinking the mobo got damaged during the trip over there, as I put it in the trunk for some stupid reason instead of the backseat like I normally would... :( 

Thanks anyhow.
May 21, 2012 1:27:33 AM

Best answer selected by djscribbles.