Question Changing all parts except SSD which has Windows 10 installed and personal data, will I be able to keep that stuff?

Sep 1, 2020
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So basically, in the future, I plan on upgrading all parts in my PC; CPU, graphics card, RAM, motherboard, everything. Everything except for my SSD which has Windows 10 installed on it and all of my personal data and programs. Is there any way to keep the stuff on my SSD without losing it and without having to reinstall Windows? Like how does it work? Thanks.
 
So basically, in the future, I plan on upgrading all parts in my PC; CPU, graphics card, RAM, motherboard, everything. Everything except for my SSD which has Windows 10 installed on it and all of my personal data and programs. Is there any way to keep the stuff on my SSD without losing it and without having to reinstall Windows? Like how does it work? Thanks.
W10 is pretty forgiving that way. I managed some really strange setups, like installing it in Ryzen system and transferred to Intel 775. It really helps if now system is connected to internet with wired connection and BOOT to safe mode first, after few turns it picked up necessary drivers for at least main functions. If it works you will have to renew all drivers.
Now comes a problem, if it doesn't work you can intentionally loose everything so fully backup is needed badly.
 
Sep 1, 2020
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W10 is pretty forgiving that way. I managed some really strange setups, like installing it in Ryzen system and transferred to Intel 775. It really helps if now system is connected to internet with wired connection and BOOT to safe mode first, after few turns it picked up necessary drivers for at least main functions. If it works you will have to renew all drivers.
Now comes a problem, if it doesn't work you can intentionally loose everything so fully backup is needed badly.
I see, so essentially, after I have completed my upgrades, I boot into safe mode and choose to boot using the SSD with Windows installed on it?
 

DSzymborski

Polypheme
Moderator
I see, so essentially, after I have completed my upgrades, I boot into safe mode and choose to boot using the SSD with Windows installed on it?
You can, but it's not the best practice, which is a full wipe-and-reinstall on a significant hardware change. It could not work at all and even if it does work, you could be hunting down random gremlins like odd blue screens and mysterious underperformance for months.

You don't typically take a shower and put your dirty clothes back on, do you? Anything worth doing is worth doing correctly.

Hopefully all this data is being backed up regularly. If not, that's your primary concern, not an upgrade; it's a basic part of owning a PC, no different than changing the oil in your car or the filter in your furnace.
 
Sep 1, 2020
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You can, but it's not the best practice, which is a full wipe-and-reinstall on a significant hardware change. It could not work at all and even if it does work, you could be hunting down random gremlins like odd blue screens and mysterious underperformance for months.

You don't typically take a shower and put your dirty clothes back on, do you? Anything worth doing is worth doing correctly.

Hopefully all this data is being backed up regularly. If not, that's your primary concern, not an upgrade; it's a basic part of owning a PC, no different than changing the oil in your car or the filter in your furnace.
So you'd recommend just doing it the right way and performing a full wipe and re-installation of Windows, then just redownloading my stuff again?
 
Sep 1, 2020
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Yes, that would be most desirable but that doesn't preclude my first option with a backup.
Well I've had some of my friends who work in IT tell me that I'd be able to just put the SSD into the new PC and then boot it up like I normally would and that Windows 10 would automatically pick up on the hardware changes and work as usual, is this true?
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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Well I've had some of my friends who work in IT tell me that I'd be able to just put the SSD into the new PC and then boot it up like I normally would and that Windows 10 would automatically pick up on the hardware changes and work as usual, is this true?
If your friends are saying that it ALWAYS works like that, they are mistaken.
Win 10 is better than previous versions, but by no means 100%

There are 3 possibilities:
  1. It boots up just fine
  2. It fails completely
  3. It boots up, but you're chasing issues for weeks/months.
I've seen all 3

With all new parts, a clean install is strongly recommended, often required.
 
Dec 3, 2019
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There is another issue that could happen with this. Windows tends to be connected to the motherboard when you install it as a way for Microsoft to prevent people from passing around the same copy of the OS to everyone. So with you putting in a new mobo, you could end up with the OS installing like it should and then after a bit running into problems with Windows not being verified or registered as legitimate. The OS will basically read the motherboard as a completely different computer, which considering the motherboard has the BIOS that makes you able to load operating systems to begin with and makes everything run, then of course a new motherboard is a new computer.

TL;DR You might have to buy a new copy of Windows or go through some steps for installing a copy of Windows you already own after a major hardware change. You should also do a clean install since what's on there will be drivers and such for a system that it's not connected to anymore, so you won't have the right drivers for the motherboard, GPU, or anything else.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
So you'd recommend just doing it the right way and performing a full wipe and re-installation of Windows, then just redownloading my stuff again?
I would recommend that when you buy the motherboard/CPU you ALSO buy a new storage device (whatever the best is at the time). Use your existing SSD as secondary storage AFTER you do a clean OS install on the new storage.
 
Sep 1, 2020
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I would recommend that when you buy the motherboard/CPU you ALSO buy a new storage device (whatever the best is at the time). Use your existing SSD as secondary storage AFTER you do a clean OS install on the new storage.
My original plan was to install a SeaGate 2TB HDD and have the 256gb SSD serve as the carrier for Windows, would this work? And if so, should I wipe the SSD prior to the upgrading so that it'll have a fresh install of Windows and nothing else?
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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My original plan was to install a SeaGate 2TB HDD and have the 256gb SSD serve as the carrier for Windows, would this work? And if so, should I wipe the SSD prior to the upgrading so that it'll have a fresh install of Windows and nothing else?
You have ONLY the desired drive connected when you power up and install the OS.
You can wipe it clean during the install.



Later, connect any other drives.
 
Sep 1, 2020
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You have ONLY the desired drive connected when you power up and install the OS.
You can wipe it clean during the install.



Later, connect any other drives.
So long story short, my best option would be to complete a clean installation of Windows onto the SSD, and then once the installation is complete and everything is sorted, install the HDD and then redownload my things and that's basically it, right?
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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So long story short, my best option would be to complete a clean installation of Windows onto the SSD, and then once the installation is complete and everything is sorted, install the HDD and then redownload my things and that's basically it, right?
Mostly, yes.
Prepare for this clean install.

Have all of your username/passwords/serial numbers documented.
Download and save to a USB stick any required drivers for your new hardware.
Create a fresh Win 10 install: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10
Any personal files, save those to some other location.

For the OS activation, read and do this before you change any parts:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/20530/windows-10-reactivating-after-hardware-change
 

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