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Installing Used Hard Drive

10605 Views 11 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  scoopy60
ok, heres the deal. This other computer in my house that no-body uses is much better than mine, I got a eMachines T2682... its ok but i want the HP Pavilion a420 with 512 mb ram thats in the basement. Right now, my mom and my brother and sister use it, their not to computer smaret nor are they security smart so im tryin to basically switch hard drives so we wont need to go through the whole process of formating the hard drives. Does it matter about the specs or anything and what do i need to do in the BIOS. Basically, all that in a nutshell...

How the heck you install a used hard drive. :)
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You can't transfer the master hard drive from one computer to another without having to reformat it or doing some serious operating system repairs. The computer probably won't even boot up into the operating system when the master hard drive from another computer is configured as its master hard drive. Most of the hardware must be perfectly identical in order for something like this to work. Switching drives and then booting up with the XP CD and performing a repair installation may allow you to keep all your old files and settings, but you'd have to update Windows again and reactivate it (Which would be a real pain to do, especially when transfering the license from one computer to another).

Edit: If, by some sheer luck, you manage to swap the hard drives and the systems do boot up into XP, their activations will be reset. :(

I presumed you're using XP on both systems. Activation only applies to XP and Server 2003, not any previous versions of Windows.
hey, thanks for the post. Ill try it when i get back home...
Before you even take the drives out of the computers, you may want to back up your activation.

I don't remember if you could perform a repair install in Windows 2000, but here's how to do it in XP.

I'm not 100% sure if doing a repair install will work, but I think it's a high possibility that's worth trying if you must swap hard drives.
for best performance its better to reformat the drive and install a fresh copy of your o/s. but if you dont want to reformat, then here is a way to do it. ive never really tried it but people said this is one way to go.

basically assume you havent switch hdds yet, you will need to go into both computer's device managers and delete all the hardware installed in there. then transfer the hdd and it should detect the hardware on the computer. you can try this but its just best to reformat your hdd.
thats a pretty good suggestion, so, your saying to uninstall all HDD's and all new devices that didnt come with the computer, or ALL.... devces. -razz:

i might try this first, then a repair install, then last solution is to format.
Hi Guys
These are all good suggetions but at the end of the day we want to achieve the most stable system required.

There is no one way to totally migrate your HDD XP o/s to another box. Not to say it can't be done as said above but to actually to it is not advisable. The way around all this is to image the drive with something like Gargantuan or drive image software and image it to a partition on the same HDD. (You may have to make that partition first, or burn away to something else if you have removable media or another HDD as slave.) Once the drive swapped into the new machine its truely a matter of blow away and give it a fresh install. Then mount the old HDD image that you created so it is assigned a drive letter then go through and migrate all stuff such as My documents, downloads, emails, saved stuff in odd locations. Best things is that it is backed up and if you have forgotten something it is still retained on the image for you to retrieve later on. That is the simplest way i have seen to move a HDD from one P.C. to the other.
But do remember if it is XP then the Activation will reconfigure to your new P.C and so on. so even if you backup the activation license it will no longer work as the spec of the machine has changed.

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If you back up the activation files from a machine, and reinsert them after you have changed the hard drive, it might work. I'm not sure if changing the hard drive is enough to trigger the reset of Windows activation.

And FYI, activation through Microsoft servers isn't 100% necessary.

your making this way harder than it needs to be !!! use SYSPREP / and swapping out a hard drive is a piece of cake / I have dont it tons of times never a hickup (sometimes activation is required but no biggie if your situtation is legit / no computer seller is going to give you a fit about replacing a "burned" up drive)

here is the link:

upon completing the sysprep and restart the OS & hard drive in the "other" computer you WILL have to load mobo chipset drivers and other device drivers if win xp doesnt and you will need to reinstall windows updates and patches / but you WONT have to reinstall the OS or any of your progs or files (but of course a relaible back-up is a NECCESSITY just in case Murphy's law strikes)

here is the sysprep how to


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I actually didn't say "xxxxxxx". The helpful administrators/moderators here have distorted the name of the tool. :4-guns:
since it's illegal to bypass activation, i can understand why.
I have a used 40g HDD without os, I want to install it as slave since I am running out of space on My original HDD. Do I have to do anything before installation? like checking for virus or install os system? Please help!
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