Question How to migrate an older hard drive to a new computer

Dec 29, 2019
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My parents have recently upgraded from an older HP system (circa 2009) to a brand new Dell Inspiron 3670 desktop. They want to use their old hard drive in the new system. I am having trouble getting the computer to set it as the first boot order. The BIOS has me all backwards as I am used to building my own computers from scratch. How do I get the BIOS to get the old hard drive to boot on the new computer. The old hard drive has Windows 10 on it.
 
This really is not advised. I can almost guarantee there will be both performance and crash issues doing this. Fresh installs are mandatory when you switch hardware (specifically the mobo/chipset)

As far as BIOS, Dell BIOS' are not really user friendly and its been a long time since I've used one but I do know you can find the boot order/sequence somewhere in there. If you have only the old HDD plugged in it should boot automatically from it if there's no other drives detected.


If they want to save data, you can always either plug it in to a free SATA port or buy a relatively inexpensive HDD Dock, enclosure or SATA to USB cable. All need to be external powered if dealing with a 3.5inch HDD.
 
Dec 29, 2019
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I understand what you're saying. The computer has a m.2 ssd and a 1 tb installed. I swapped out the 1tb with their 1 tb. I just hate dell bios as I am used to buying all the parts myself and building mine from scratch. Im just going to transfer files over and call it good. Thanks for the help!
 

USAFRet

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My parents have recently upgraded from an older HP system (circa 2009) to a brand new Dell Inspiron 3670 desktop. They want to use their old hard drive in the new system. I am having trouble getting the computer to set it as the first boot order. The BIOS has me all backwards as I am used to building my own computers from scratch. How do I get the BIOS to get the old hard drive to boot on the new computer. The old hard drive has Windows 10 on it.
Ancient Dell to new HP, and trying to use the old drive and its OS?
No.

Presumably the new HP came with its own OS? Use that.
It is highly unlikely you can force the old OS to boot up in this new hardware. And even if you could, licensing/activation issues come into play.
 

andrew73249

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I understand that doing so is strongly discouraged, but assuming that it's essential, what exactly are the options for booting up a Windows system drive in completely new hardware? I have a Windows 7 installation in a computer with ancient hardware that has finally died. However, the hd with the system image is almost brand new and is working fine, with all data intact.

Ideally I want to get a new Windows 10 computer and use it to access the old Win7 system drive. I would then convert the Win7 system to a virtual machine that will run from within the Win10 system. Is it possible to do this if there is no way to boot the old Win7 drive in the context of its original hardware installation?
 
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USAFRet

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It's not that it is discouraged.
It is simply that it Might. Not. Work.

Win 10 is better than previous versions, but by no means 100% 'yes it always works'.
Being 'essential' to you does not change things.

Can you access an old drive from a new system/drive/OS? Sure.
Can you run the applications on that old drive and OS? Mostly, no.
You can absolutely locate and copy off personal files. Doc/Music/Video/whatever else you created. (Permissions and access might be a small but manageable issue)

Booting up the old Win 7 drive in all new hardware?
3 possibilities
  1. It boots up just fine
  2. It fails completely
  3. It boots up, but you're chasing issues for weeks.
I've seen all 3. There is no magic to force it to one outcome or the other. Windows simply is not that portable and generic.
We all wish it were, but it isn't.

So, let's discover...what is specifically in that Win 7 OS and drive you actually need?
 

andrew73249

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Thank you for your reply. I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at, but perhaps I can refine my question. Assume I wish to attempt to boot an old Win7 system drive under completely new hardware, and assume that I am OK with buying a new Win10 system. Are there any serious pitfalls with the following approach?

  1. Get a new Win10 computer.
  2. On the Win10 computer, use a SATA->USB adapter to access the old Win7 system drive as an external storage drive.
  3. On the Win10 computer, use disk2vhd to save a *.vhd image of the old Win7 system drive.
  4. Open and use the *.vhd image with Virtual PC or a similar virtual machine app from within the new Win10 system.
 

USAFRet

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Creating a vhd out of the old Win 7, and booting from that is possible.
WirtualBox or Hyper-V can do this.
Of course, accepting the performance issues from running in a VM.

The question remains, What exactly are you wanting to do with the old Win 7?
Keep running it? Or a one time access to retrieve whatever data you need from it?
 
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andrew73249

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Creating a vhd out of the old Win 7, and booting from that is possible.
WirtualBox or Hyper-V can do this.
Of course, accepting the performance issues from running in a VM.

The question remains, What exactly are you wanting to do with the old Win 7?
Keep running it? Or a one time access to retrieve whatever data you need from it?
Thanks again for your help. The performance hit from a virtual machine didn't occur to me until you mentioned it. That raises a second question, if I may.

If I want to have the best chance of booting and running the old Win7 physical drive in the new computer, my understanding is that I can use sysprep /generalize for Windows 7. The problem is that it sounds like sysprep must be run directly from the running Win7 system that is being prepared for transfer to the new hardware. Is that correct? How do I accomplish this if I can't boot that system drive in the old computer? Is there some utility other than sysprep that lets me do this?

To answer your question about the old Win7 system: I am interested in keeping the old system running during the migration process. The main reason for this is the time it will take to set up and reconfigure some of the more complicated software installations that I had in the old system, such as different types of databases.
 
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ohio_buckeye

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In that case you might try to use disk 2 vhd and create a hyper v vm of the system. You may have activation issues with Windows 7. I know at work we have taken older servers and migrated the essential ones to hyper v doing that. That would at least give you a running machine with that data.

Or if the older system is still operable, keep it running, back it up and migrate data as you can.
 

USAFRet

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  1. Yes, sysprep needs to be run from the original system. I do not believe you can generalize a random drive in a whole different PC.
  2. Sysprep is not for an old extensively customized install. It is for building a new OS and a few applications, generalizing it for deployment across a company.
As I see it, a "migration" is not in the cards here. The original Win 7 system does not work.
If it did, you could have (probably) upped it to Win 10, and then the potential to moving to different hardware is a little bit better. Still not a guarantee, though.


Create a vhd from that Win 7 drive, and use it within a VM tool like VirtualBox.
That is the only real way forward I see. ANd that, only short term. The Win 7 license will balk after 30 days. A VM is literally a "different PC" and a Win 7 wants to be licensed in that "different PC".

So you'll have a new system running WIn 10, and a guest VM of WIn 7 on that system.
You WILL need to install whatever applications you use on the WIn 10 system, and then possibly/maybe export whatever settings exist in that db software in the Win 7 VM.


Also, you can try booting up the Win 7 in the new hardware. But I wouldn't do that with the only copy of that data, and I would expect a greater than 50/50 chance of complete fail.
 
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ohio_buckeye

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I think...if you have Windows 10 pro, that you can install hyper v for free. So if you can use disk 2 vhd to create a vhd, you may be able to import it and have it boot. We use hyper v at work. Used to do more with vmware, but we are a Church organization and have a Bible College a few miles down the road and we help manage their IT infrastructure. They were previously using hyper v, and we started moving things over to hyper v in our own environment for the sake of simplicity of not maintaining 2 seperate types of systems. IE if a tech has to work over there or over here, it's a pretty similar environment at least from dealing with VMs.
 

USAFRet

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I think...if you have Windows 10 pro, that you can install hyper v for free. So if you can use disk 2 vhd to create a vhd, you may be able to import it and have it boot. We use hyper v at work. Used to do more with vmware, but we are a Church organization and have a Bible College a few miles down the road and we help manage their IT infrastructure. They were previously using hyper v, and we started moving things over to hyper v in our own environment for the sake of simplicity of not maintaining 2 seperate types of systems. IE if a tech has to work over there or over here, it's a pretty similar environment at least from dealing with VMs.
Yes.
Hyper-V or VirtualBox (from Oracle) are free and easy.
 

ohio_buckeye

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Yes, those are options as well. I'm getting spoiled to hyper v. We have 2 hyper v servers running about 4 vm's each. Then replicate back to one another. Getting in a routine of doing an export of all the machines about once a month to an external hard drive that gets disconnected from the network just in case anything would ever happen that hopefully we could bring a clean server online and import those back into it.

Next project is trying to fix an older HP Proliant Server from about 2010 that we've got. Raid battery failed, but found a guide on using a typical 4.8v battery, and connecting the leads to the + - of the charging board by soldering. If that works, the server has 4 2tb drives in it now with 4 bays available. So populate all of those and then run backups via robocopy to it. We have a business class unlimited drop box account. So the idea is to set up dropbox on that server. I figure if I can do raid 6, that will give us about 12tb of space for backups which would be plenty for that. And have that system's only purpose to be syncing files to dropbox.

Just waiting on the battery to arrive. Had ordered a used raid battery specifically for that system, but alas, the battery we ordered seemed dead like our first one So I figure if we can't get this system working, it's not like we were utilizing that system anyway. But if we can fix it and make it do something, might as well.

For reference, the system is an HP Proliant DL180G6 with I believe the P410 raid controller.

Anyway, enough of me hijacking threads.
 

andrew73249

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  1. Yes, sysprep needs to be run from the original system. I do not believe you can generalize a random drive in a whole different PC.
  2. Sysprep is not for an old extensively customized install. It is for building a new OS and a few applications, generalizing it for deployment across a company.
As I see it, a "migration" is not in the cards here. The original Win 7 system does not work.
If it did, you could have (probably) upped it to Win 10, and then the potential to moving to different hardware is a little bit better. Still not a guarantee, though.


Create a vhd from that Win 7 drive, and use it within a VM tool like VirtualBox.
That is the only real way forward I see. ANd that, only short term. The Win 7 license will balk after 30 days. A VM is literally a "different PC" and a Win 7 wants to be licensed in that "different PC".

So you'll have a new system running WIn 10, and a guest VM of WIn 7 on that system.
You WILL need to install whatever applications you use on the WIn 10 system, and then possibly/maybe export whatever settings exist in that db software in the Win 7 VM.


Also, you can try booting up the Win 7 in the new hardware. But I wouldn't do that with the only copy of that data, and I would expect a greater than 50/50 chance of complete fail.
Thanks very much! I think I understand my options much more clearly now.

I've come across Acronis Universal Restore, which may be of help in my situation, but I'm not 100% sure without some more research. Just mentioning it in case anyone else comes across this thread and is trying to sort out similar issues.
 

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