Question How can I check if my HDDs are bootable, from a USB connection ?

Jan 24, 2021
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How can I check if my HDDs are bootable, from a USB connection ?

I have multiple HDDs that I recovered from old Laptops, and I'm building a desktop computer.
Since they all have Windows 10 installed on them I wanted to clone one of them onto a new SSD to have Windows 10 on that new computer.
(I've done that before with my current Laptop) The issue that I have is that, to check if my old HDDs are bootable I need to replace the current SSD of my Laptop with that HDD, then boot my PC to see if it works, but as my Laptop is old, each time I open it, it puts stress on the plastic and some bits are falling appart slowly.
I wanted to know if there was a way to boot my Laptop on a HDD that's connected trough a USB port or if I could use a Virtual Machine to check if it can boot the HDD.

Perhaps retrieving a Windows copy of an old laptop to put on a new Desktop computer is a bad idea, (I've seen people saying that Windows wouldn't work as the change of hardware would be too big).

But still, I wish someone had an answer to that, thx :)
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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Windows does not work like this.
You can't clone from one system, put it in another, and expect it to boot.
Especially coming out of a laptop trying to go into a desktop.

And you can't just put a drive in an external enclosure and have it boot up.

The desktop needs its own fresh OS install.
 
Reactions: Krotow
I'll answer only the topic question:
Yes you can determine if a hdd (partition) is bootable (1)

If you use Gparted, boot up and then connect the usb drive (do a refresh if Gparted is already running) - when you look at the partitions flags you'd look for the one called "boot".

(1) - That is - it doesn't check if the data is actually in a working condition and thus will actually run on a particular computer.
 
Reactions: Oudini
Jan 24, 2021
2
0
10
0
Windows does not work like this.
You can't clone from one system, put it in another, and expect it to boot.
Especially coming out of a laptop trying to go into a desktop.

And you can't just put a drive in an external enclosure and have it boot up.

The desktop needs its own fresh OS install.
I've used once an old hard drive that was in an Acer computer to replace a malfunctioning one in my current Laptop which is also an Acer. Also I just tested using a HDD that wasn't in an Acer, after copying some folders that I assumed would help the compatibility, and it worked fine once I replacer my current SSD.
I mean, as long as I install all the drivers required, Windows should be working the same, right ?
I had the idea that Windows on a desktop or on a laptop is the same, just different drivers, beause there is no laptop and desktop version of windows ?
I'm grateful for your answer and I'm ready to accept it if you could just give me more precisions, cause to me, the answer doesn't seem so clear cut.

(I might switch to ubuntu then or perhaps buy a Windows key)
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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Moving a drive+Windows between any 2 systems has 3 possible outcomes:
  1. It works just fine
  2. It fails completely
  3. It "works", but you're chasing issues for weeks/months.
Increasingly, we're seeing #3.
Simply booting up for the first time does not ensure full functionality.


And the Windows license is a whole different thing than the actual operation of the installation.
 

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