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Thread: How To Move Primary Hard Drive to Different PC Keeping All Software

  1. #1 How To Move Primary Hard Drive to Different PC Keeping All Software 
    Elder bossapplesauce's Avatar White-private
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    Easiest way to move a hard drive from one computer to another with Windows and all other software intact with no blue screens. Can go from an AMD to an Intel system, or vice versa, older hardware to newer, or vice versa.

    Note: I've done this a few hundred times without issue, but I changed jobs a few years ago and don't do IT professionally anymore. This works with everything up to Windows 7. Never tried on Windows 8, 8.1, or 10. Just FYI.

    Go into control panel, and then device manager (exact path varies for different versions of windows), look under "IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers". For each item under that heading, right click, tell it to uninstall. Don't check the box to delete the driver software, and DO NOT reboot - tell it "Restart Later". Then close out of Control Panel. Do not reboot/restart Windows - you must "Shut Down" from the Start Menu. Once the computer has shut down completely, move hard drive to new computer/laptop or install your new motherboard/CPU. Start up normally, Windows will boot and install all the new drivers.

    Tips:

    - Make sure the source and destination PC/Laptop have the same setting in the BIOS for Hard Drive mode. I.e., if old computer was set to AHCI, make sure new one is too. This not matching is the only thing I've found outside of defective hardware that will cause blue screens with this method.

    - Download your new network drivers to a folder on your hard drive BEFORE doing this. If Windows doesn't have a built in driver for your new network adapter, it cannot connect to Windows Update to get all your new drivers. You'll have to install the network driver manually.

    - Windows activation hates this. Works fine if you have a loader (non-legit Windows), or an enterprise activation setup, or an OEM copy where the manufacturer is the same on source and destination computers.
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  3. #2  
    Junior Member jayinoz's Avatar Black-private
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    That's brilliant. I've got to try that.
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    VIP Member Arthur Drummond's Avatar Australia
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    I don't wish to "upset the apple cart" but this will ONLY work with very old computers. With UEFI it won't work and it seems a real waste of time getting a new system and disabling AHCI. It's like buying a Ferrari and putting a wooden block under the accelerator pedal. Do yourself a favour and do a fresh install.
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    Elder bossapplesauce's Avatar White-private
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    Appreciate that you called this out. I haven't messed with UEFI very much, so will defer to your experience. Believe UEFI support in Windows started with Windows 8, and as I said, I'm sticking with Windows 7.

    I disagree with the "very old computers" part of your post; my laptop is about 4 years old and my home server is 2 years old and it worked fine with both of them. Same with the kiddo's and wife's 2 year old computers, and my 6 month old work computer (and the 18 month old one before that one). In all these cases I disabled UEFI and enabled legacy boot support. I don't have over 2TB boot disks on any of these PC's, so it works fine.

    Also, you don't have to disable AHCI, just need to make sure if the old PC was using AHCI, then set the new one to this (as opposed to RAID or UEFI).
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    Valued Member Smee777's Avatar Black-private
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    Way easier changeover if you use a linux distro. In that case you may have to remove video drivers if you've installed closed source blobs. Once that is done just transfer the HDD, go into BIOS/UEFI, setup the drive and booting order, boot up, reinstall closed source drivers drivers if need/wanted, and you are done.
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