Question Moving HDDs with W10 to another motherboard/computer

Titanion

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Old school wisdom used to be that you do not just take a HDD with windows installed on it and plug it into another computer with a different motherboard, CPU, ram everything.

Now I see some younger people doing that all the time. This is still stupid, right? Are there times when this will work out just fine, with similar chipsets, etc., or does this remain a terrible idea?

Obviously a fresh Windows 10 install would be better.
 

USAFRet

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Old school wisdom = New school wisdom.

If the 2 motherboards are almost identical...it can sometimes work. Even then, sometimes it fails.

3 possibilities:
  1. It works just fine
  2. It fails completely
  3. It "works", but you're chasing issues for weeks/months.
More and more #3 is the outcome.

Many people try and claim "Succes! You guys are WRONG! It worked just fine."

After a couple of weeks....'hmmm...maybe not so much'.

Yes, it is still a bad idea.
 
It's all about the drivers that are installed on the HDD. I don't imagine machines with Intel and AMD CPUs will respond very well.

I have installed a different CPU on a motherboard but it was from the same "Family" and upon booting the machine loaded a new driver for the different CPU.

I have also replaced a motherboard while keeping the same HDD but it was with the same motherboard that went bad. It booted right up.

But change motherboard models, CPU family's or manufacturers, and/or DRAM module versions (DDR2, DDR3, DDR4, etc) and you shoudln't expect anything good to happen.
 

lvt

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That's what I did for more than a decade now, you just plug the HDD with Windows installation on another motherboard and the machine boots up right away. If the new motherboard is different from the old one, you will have to install the drivers that comes with it.

Windows 10 is a little different, changing the motherboard will deactivate your registration with Microsoft. You'll have to reactivate your "new" installation, sometimes you just enter the product number and boom your new machine is again registrated. But sometimes you have to use their automatic chatbot to have it done online.
 

USAFRet

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That's what I did for more than a decade now, you just plug the HDD with Windows installation on another motherboard and the machine boots up right away. If the new motherboard is different from the old one, you will have to install the drivers that comes with it.

Windows 10 is a little different, changing the motherboard will deactivate your registration with Microsoft. You'll have to reactivate your "new" installation, sometimes you just enter the product number and boom your new machine is again registrated. But sometimes you have to use their automatic chatbot to have it done online.
Licensing/activation is a whole different thing than just booting up and operational.

With Win 10, you can generally transfer the license to new hardware. No 'chatbot' needed.
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


But that has nothing to do with it 'working'.
 

lvt

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Licensing/activation is a whole different thing than just booting up and operational.

With Win 10, you can generally transfer the license to new hardware. No 'chatbot' needed.
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


But that has nothing to do with it 'working'.
I work exclusively on machines with retail licenses so I know that it's transferable, but for some reason the reactivation process won't work automatically as expected. The last time I have to use their chatbot to validate the registration on one of the machine that needed a new motherboard.
 
It's actually remarkable what kind of hardware changes a Windows 10 install will survive, nearly as good as Win9x which had 16-bit MS-DOS compatibility mode to fall back on. There are some big exceptions of course: UEFI/GPT perhaps the biggest one.

I figure this is from going to a live image type install which boots on anything and then goes to Windowsupdates to get drivers. Speaking of which, the security patches aren't actually patches anymore but now entire sections of the image (which is probably why they are so ridiculously large and dial-up unfriendly).

In any case it's nearly like the good old days when you could simply boot up a dead machine's disk in another PC to recover documents, as same install means no permissions problems. Windows 10 can even be used unactivated this way for as long as it takes or even indefinitely, very unlike XP or 7 which might not even give you 3 days and demand immediate online activation before loading the desktop (something difficult to do when none of the right network drivers are installed)
 

lvt

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In any case it's nearly like the good old days when you could simply boot up a dead machine's disk in another PC to recover documents, as same install means no permissions problems. Windows 10 can even be used unactivated this way for as long as it takes or even indefinitely, very unlike XP or 7 which might not even give you 3 days and demand immediate online activation before loading the desktop (something difficult to do when none of the right network drivers are installed)
Yes Windows 10 can run "unactivated" like a Lite version, if you just want to browser the web you probably don't need an activation key. But many business and production software require a fully activated Windows 10 to install.
 

OrlyP

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Windows 10 is quite resilient to seeing vastly different hardware at boot time. I have moved SSDs/HDDs from AMD to Intel and back to AMD. Aside from it booting twice in between the "Getting devices ready xx%" screen, they never ran into issues.

The last one was when I upgraded my main PC to make it more work-from-home ready.... from an Intel Q9550 LGA775 to a Xeon E5450 (LGA775-to-LGA771 hack), and finally to an AMD R5 3600. Same Windows 10 instance I'm using for, I don't know, ever since Windows 10 came out? No hiccups, still.

Should you do it? If you have made a backup beforehand and you can't be bothered with reinstalling all your apps and customizations, go right ahead. However, if it can be helped, it's always better to start with a clean slate.
 

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