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Using old HD with Windows installation on a new PC

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August 31, 2012 4:48:06 PM

My old PC died recently, luckily the HD survived. So I had a new one built (completely different hardware) and I'm planning to use my old HD with it. I could install a new OS but what I really want is to be able to access the installed Windows XP on the HD as I have so many important programs with configurations and files that I wish to keep (or at least see again, so I can accurately recreate everything when I do fresh installs). I have two questions:

1. I've read that the best way to do this is to do a Repair Installation, will this clean up old drivers?

2. Will doing this be safe for my new PC? I won't mind too much if it won't boot but I do not wish to risk damaging the hardware. Will incorrect drivers do this?

More about : windows installation

August 31, 2012 7:53:50 PM

Before getting to any of that, there are a couple of other concerns.

First is that only retail copies of Windows have transfer rights, so if this is an OEM copy of XP, it will not activate on the new hardware.

The second, is that even if you take care of the drivers already installed, will drivers exist for the new hardware you have now? In an ever growing number of cases, that answer is no, but you'll need to investigate that first.

Either one of those can torpedo your plans, so before you get too far ahead of yourself, you should investigate the both of them.
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September 1, 2012 2:42:29 AM

Thanks. My copy of Windows is retail. I also checked the MB manual, it says the included CD has drivers for XP. Im sure my video card (GT440) also has drivers for XP. Im not so sure about the processor (intel G620) but I think it won't need them?
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 1, 2012 3:12:53 AM

cl-scott said:
...First is that only retail copies of Windows have transfer rights, so if this is an OEM copy of XP, it will not activate on the new hardware. ... The second, is that even if you take care of the drivers already installed, will drivers exist for the new hardware you have now? In an ever growing number of cases, that answer is no, but you'll need to investigate that first...


I've activated OEM windows more than once on new MB, CPU. It works. I've also actually read the OEM license and the win support site rules for ME and XP. Neither had the restriction you claim ("it will not activate on the new hardware"). Can you provide a ref? Maybe win7 is different.

I've moved copies of windows from one chassis to another. If you change video card vendors you can hang, so if you know you have a disk with an nvidia driver on it (and you clearly can't delete the driver and shut down, your old PC is dead) see if you can come up on the same brand of video card.

Doing a repair install is a good idea, but I've never done that when I've moved copies of windows. Maybe that would have fixed the video driver hangs.

My most recent move was last year from a thinkpad t61p to a thinkpad t420 by moving the SSD. Different processor, different CPU, different video. In this case the PC was a work PC with a corporate license so ignore the license ramifications. When I connected the laptop to the network win7 called home and informed me that it had re-validated the license. No other actions needed on my part. No issues with finding/installing the hardware. I did later update the thinkpad with lenovo t420 drivers to get optimus video working, etc.
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September 1, 2012 6:54:03 AM

Cool, thanks for the info. My old video card is also nVidia, however as you're right I can't remove old drivers, I will probably try the Repair Install. My remaining concern is with the processor, I've read somewhere that doing this from an Intel processor to an AMD one doesn't work because of differet power configuration or something. Although both my old and new processors are Intel, I want to know for sure if there's a risk of damaging the processor by doing this. TIA
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 1, 2012 1:36:02 PM

flushfire said:
... I want to know for sure if there's a risk of damaging the processor by doing this. TIA


I read through the microsoft support steps for restoring an OS image on a different computer a year ago. This is used, for example, when a critical server fails and you do not have the equivalent hardware. You need to force the old system's image to boot on the new system. Microsoft said they would not support fails if you did this (it is a non-supported use of backup restore) but that it generally worked and gave essentially the steps you listed.

The point: NO WHERE did Microsoft call out any possibility of HW damage, nor were there any concerns or war stories in any of the appends/comments/ Q&As. I think this is pretty safe.


EDIT: almost missed this. "access the installed Windows XP on the HD" IF the disk is a SATA disk you are OK. That means you are at service pack 2 or later in win XP with SATA support. If the disk is an older IDE drive (wide flat cable) then the disk will most likely not plug into your new server's MB. You'd need an IDE adapter card (probably a PCIe x1 card, doubt your MB has PCI slots either). If your old drive is IDE and you want help post your MB model number or PC model number and people will suggest solutions.

Aside, if all you want to grab is data off the old drive, then using the old drive as an external data drive USB attached is really easy. There is a $20 adapter for IDE to USB. But that won't really let you run your programs as you ref'd in your first post. That also would give you a clean win7 install on your new PC. Win7 is really stable, but systems with lower stability are more likely to be the ones that did an upgrade from XP rather than a format/wipe clean install. Eventually you will need to get off xp onto win7 since security fixes are drying up for xp applications.
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September 2, 2012 5:15:20 AM

Thanks! I will definitely do a fresh install eventually. HD is sata, though my WinXp copy is pre sp1 if I remember correctly. Anyway Ill get that sorted out somehow. My main concern was if this was dangerous to do, and you've reassured me it isn't. To be honest I was skeptical of my own concern, I always thought there was a very very low chance that faulty software can damage hardware. But it's always good to hear someone else's info whenever unsure. Thanks again for the help. :-)
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September 2, 2012 5:16:25 AM

Best answer selected by flushfire.
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