Why can't one take system HD out of old PC and drop into new one?

So. I'm a computer professional but have never found an answer to this one. this issue has boggled me for years.

Every time I upgrade PCs, I am forced to resintall the entire "c" drive....and reinstall every single one of my HUNDREDS of programs (after tracking down CDs and install files), which takes days to weeks. I have tried to simply take old system drive out and drop into a new PC, but it never works....Windows inevitably won't run.

Why is this? Why can't the main drive just function in a new PC? If this is because of system-specific chipset/MB drivers and such, is there no way to "preload" these through my old PC and smoothly transition to the new one?

Is there no way to do this?
I don't have the time and patient to reinstall EVERYTHING all over again and again...
7 answers Last reply
More about system drop
  1. Each new system has different chipsets and devices on the motherboard, requiring different device drivers that Windows on the old hard disk drive (HDD) does not contain. So Windows, in many cases, will not know how to communicate properly with the devices.

    In addition, Windows license activation is keyed to the specific hardware in the system, in order to prevent casual copying of Windows. When the HDD is put into a new system with all new hardware, Windows is going to detect that and insist on reactivation, which of course will fail since the Windows license key is tied into your old hardware.

    I may have missed something, but that is the problem in essence.
  2. That's why I have an entire directory on my home server titled "Product Codes", wherein I keep every license key I've ever purchased, each in its own text file, no matter how old or obsolete. I also keep a library of software CDs and DVDs. The discs that I frequently install on new systems, such as MS-Office, games, and other things, I've made ISO copies of the discs and run them directly from the server, to both save time (network reads are much faster than CD drives) and in case the discs get scratched or lost. I also have a directory on the server of utilities that I always install, such as VLC, Revo Uninstaller, PDF Creator, 7Zip, etc. Much easier than having to download them from the Internet each time. If you don't have a server you could do this on an external HDD.
  3. being a computer pro (/snicker) i'm sure you have heard of the Hardware abstraction Layer.
  4. well your biggest issue is DRM .. because every install of windows has a unique key associated with that particular piece of hardware .. it takes a snapshot of what parts you have in your system and anytime you make a change or upgrade some times windows will ask you to enter the serial number again .. it will only allow you to do this so many times. also another thing to consider is that its typically tied to the motherboard so if you were to say take an oem version of windows 7 and install it on a totally different motherboard but expect to use the same keys it wont work. that's the same issue with your C:/ drive although any harware device you install will have a letter assigned as long as its a media device. thats why when you put a drive from a previous computer in it wont boot .. you have to purchase a new license for every computer you build. the work around for this is to buy a fresh hard drive and install which ever version of windows you want on it and after you have it installed you can put the other drive in and access the files from the drive that way an alternative method is to take what ever program files you have installed and back them up to a secondary drive. that way you always have the software on hand. mac systems are a little different though because typically the file system is set up in a way that the most you would have to worry about is preference files and things of that nature which are easily replaced so you just move whole program folders to drives and the software generally stays self contained where as in windows things get installed into multiple folders and you have device drivers and what so its a pain in the arse!
  5. I've always used Windows XP, so haven't had an issue with DRM/windows Keys, just keep using the same XP disc...and I dont recall XP having a hardware-based key issue, though I could be wrong.

    As well, I have all the old installation files and keys, but it's still a pain in the back o(ri)fice every time...

    I guess I knew implicitly the driver issue, but then...is there no way to pre-load chipset/MB drivers on my old drive thus preparing it for the new system? There MUST be a way to do this, no?
  6. And yeah, I know, it's about time to upgrade to Win 7 eh...
  7. Subscribe to Micromart magazine-deals with all issues.I will check + report the reply to a volunteer charity worker who repairs retired people's pcs and complained about spending hours with fresh installs.Suggested Burn to disk all the drivers ,better still Flash Memory have come down in price 64Gb about 20 quid + load All the drivers onto it as You use XP.Have bought Drivers Update DVD's cheaply but they direct to Drivers Update Websites who charge $30 for annual subscription. Prefer the manufacturer's Downloads. Tomshardware community forum is great with solutions.
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