Question Can you migrate a hard drive to another computer without reinstalling Windows?

RTechT

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Aug 27, 2020
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I recently purchased a new PC with an i7 8700K and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070Ti and 16GB RAM, all installed in a Lenovo ThinkStation PC. I just wanted to know if I were to take the hard drive of my current PC and just put it into the new PC after uninstalling a few drivers, would that work with no issues? My current build has an i5 2400, 8GB RAM and GTX 750Ti installed in an HP Compaq 8200 MT. The problem is I don't have a spare hard drive to back up my data into and I don't have enough space on the cloud for my important data either.
 

Math Geek

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in general, you'll spend more time chasing issues around over and over than it would take to simply reinstall windows.

usually folks don't want to redownload a bunch of games and hope to save time. you can backup those games easy enough and avoid that effort. most major game apps let you do it and then restore them.

save yourself a lot of grief and do a fresh install :)
 

RTechT

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Aug 27, 2020
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I mostly had a ton of software that takes a long time to reinstall, but I guess that would take less time than just transplanting the hard drive
 

Math Geek

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i feel ya, do a search and perhaps a couple of them can be saved elsewhere and restored. some will let you, others can't.

i tend to just suck it up and have a movie day as i wait for it to slowly ever so slowly reinstall. just part of the pc game.....
 

Inthrutheoutdoor

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Feb 17, 2019
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The problem is I don't have a spare hard drive to back up my data into and I don't have enough space on the cloud for my important data either.
Yes that is a BIG problem, as it could easily lead to you losing ALL your data should the drive that it is on fail in any way.... as the old saying goes:

"A failure to plan on your part does NOT constitute an emergency on my part"

Get a backup plan, like now.... if you had this in place already, you could have spent your time migrating your apps & data to your new machine, instead of coming here to ask these questions :)
 

DSzymborski

Titan
Moderator
Yup, the lack of a backup plan is a major red flag, not something you work around. It's basically like seeing the oil light flash in your car and putting tape over it so that you can't see it. Not only does it ensure that sooner or later, you are likely to lose important data forever, you're now in a position where you're not even operating a PC properly in order to get around the lack of backups.

2 TB hard drives cost less than $50. Google will host 200 GB for $3 a month. There are all sorts of services that allow you to store data for a few bucks a month. If even a tiny amount of money was a problem, that would be one thing, but you just bought an 8700K and a 1070 Ti; you could have gotten a 1050 Ti and used the difference for years of backups if this were the case and I'm not sure why you'd be buying gaming gear if $3 a month were a significant imposition.

Just like owning a car or a house, there are things you have to do to responsibly maintain a PC that you own. You're not doing at least two of them, but it's better to start late than never starting at all.
 
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drtweak

Illustrious
Best answer - No reinstall windows

Can it be done? Yes. If it is Windows 10 the likely hood of it booting up is very high. I have swapped Win 10 HDDs as if it was nothing. Clone and moved existing windows to newer PC's sometimes with an age difference of 5-8 years between hardware. Most cases like that require to convert to uEFI first then transplant. Sometimes it won't boot after and you have to redo the BCD. If you are coming from a board with M.2 NVMe to a board with NVMe usually no issues. If you are going from a non NVMe board and wanting to move to a NVMe, you need to transplant normal SATA drive first, let it update all drivers, then clone to NVMe and most times it will boot.

Now this doesn't always work. Sometimes you may have driver issues. 80% of the time I do this i have zero issues. I have taken machines from AM3 Socket, to like a 6th gen intel, and then into a AM4 socket (this was my work PC and to this day have had zero issues with it). But I have had issues where older OS's like 7/Server 2008 and older have issues. Black screens on boot with cursor, BSOD's etc. Windows 10/Server 2016 I have had little to no issues.

Should you start fresh on a new motherboard? Yes you should. Can you just swap? You can try. If you bought a retail windows 10 key windows will no longer be activated. if it is bound to your MS account you can activate it on the new board. I know people might give me crap for saying "yes you can" well its true, you can. I wouldn't do this to some production server, but I have had a lot of cases where just starting fresh wasn't/isn't an option due to existing software installer no longer existing or being able to activate due to software vendors not activating/disabling activation servers.
 

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