How does reactivation of Windows 10 on a device linked to a Microsoft account work exactly?

Eddlicious

Commendable
Jul 14, 2016
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Hey,

I've been looking into upgrading my current computer's CPU to a newer one (from i5 6500 to i5 8400 to be precise) lately and came across information that I would likely have to reinstall Windows 10 on my PC, as the device would no longer be recognized as the same after swapping out my motherboard for a newer one that supports the Coffee Lake-chipset.

Then I came across that apparently I can reactivate Windows 10 on my computer even after a serious hardware swap by having my Microsoft account linked to the device. Here's where a few questions arise:


    ■Does this process involve loss of data? All I've understood for sure about this is that my device will be recognized as the same after reactivation via a linked Microsoft account and I won't have to buy a new Windows 10 key, not whether or not I will have to reinstall Windows 10.

    ■How about the old drives? Will these be automatically uninstalled from the computer upon Windows recognizing that there's some new hardware in play or do I have to manually get rid of them?

    ■Will Windows automatically update the drives on my new hardware?



Thanks for any answers in advance. My knowledge on computers only really goes as far as what the parts inside of a one are called.
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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1. License activation has nothing to do with the "data".
It is simply the license.
In a new system, you will likely need to do a full reinstall. Depending on what you have and how you do it, it may or may not involve "loss of data"

2. Other drives have nothing to do with it. Whenever you change stuff like this, you should have 'other drives' disconnected an offline anyway.

3. No. Again, this "activation" is only the license. It has nothing to do with the OS install or drivers.

I's like putting new license plates on your car. Or moving your old license plates to a new car.

For the license/activation...
Read and do this before you change any parts:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/20530/windows-10-reactivating-after-hardware-change
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-3164428/windows-build-1607-activation.html

For the actual install...
You may or may not need to do a full wipe and reinstall of Win 10.
There are 3 possible outcomes:
1. It boots up just fine
2. It fails completely
3. It boots up, but you are chasing small issues for weeks.

Prepare for a full OS reinstall.
 

Eddlicious

Commendable
Jul 14, 2016
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Thanks for the response, this cleared it all up for me. Got any recommendations for an external hard drive (I don't have a spare disk on to which back my files)?
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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They're all pretty much the same. I don't have a rec for a specific one.

And to be clear, you're just backing up your personal files.
And maybe an export of your browser settings.
 

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