Question Moving Windows

Jan 21, 2020
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Hi All

First post, my understanding is limited so please go easy on me.

Hoping someone can help with migrating windows 10 to another computer.

My original computer died. Motherboard overheated and is now dead. HDD was absolutely fine and still includes windows 10 and all my data.

I have bought a new reconditioned laptop, that comes without an operating system.

I have been reading about how to swap windows 10 onto a different computer, however most say to create a file using your original setup. Obviously I cant do this as the laptop is dead, and the hdd is currently sat in a caddy waiting for the information to be transferred somewhere.

So, how can I get windows 10 off the hard drive in the caddy and onto my new completely blank hard drive?

Note that I dont have a product key, so I assume that it was a digital registration.

Many thanks in advance.
 
Mar 26, 2019
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If the form factors of both hard drives are the same and both are HDD drives (quality of both drives are similar) you could just physically swap the drives. If they vary in type/quality the issue becomes slightly more complex, especially since you are dealing with a laptop and not desktop.

The easiest thing may be to try the following. There is an application called MiniTool Partition Wizard that is super easy to use to migrate the data of whole drives. The issue is that this works under the assumption that both drives are plugged into the same computer at the same time. Thus, it may be cheapest/easiest for you to buy a super old desktop computer with two Sata III ports (the data lines for most HDDs/SSDs), plug both drives in, and finally boot from your old drive to use MiniTool Partition Wizard. Hope this helps!
 
Reactions: Dallypro
You cannot just transplant a Windows installation from one motherboard to (totally dirrefent) another one, it does not work this way. You will need fresh Windows install on that laptop.

If your copy of Windows on the (now dead) desktop was legally activated, there're ways to extract the key from there, and activate your new copy. Same applies if you had your Windows license recorded in your MS account.
 
Mar 26, 2019
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Not really.... All you do is clone the drive then when you install it in the system you plan to use it in you simply download the drivers etc. I've done it 4 times now and haven't had issues.
 

onespeedbiker

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Apr 13, 2019
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Not really.... All you do is clone the drive then when you install it in the system you plan to use it in you simply download the drivers etc. I've done it 4 times now and haven't had issues.
I'm going to go with USARet on this. Trying to transplant a Windows install has three possible outcomes. It works, it doesn't boot, it boots but your forever chasing problems; the later is much more likey if you are going from a PC to a laptop. Saying that it won't hurt anything plugging your hdd into your new system and see what happens; it may work but even then your likely to experience some corruption. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. Have another hdd standing by so you can do a clean install on a different hard drive, https://forums.tomshardware.com/faq/how-to-do-a-clean-installation-of-windows-10.3170366/ then attach your old hdd and pull off all your data.

BTW Your Windows 10 license should be tied to your MS account. If it doesn't activate you may have to call the activation number, which is really no big deal.
 

DSzymborski

Glorious
Moderator
Also chiming in to note that it's poor practice to try to jury rig Windows into a new build this way. Unless you have a very specific Windows-to-Go install, Windows is not meant to be modular in this fashion. It may work, but even in many of the cases it does appear to work at first glance, you'll be chasing odd performance quirks and driver issues for months. The chances of this working are far lower for a laptop, which isn't made of standard off-the-shelf components, than your average desktop.

The method of how you obtained Windows 10 will depend on your success rate with the license. Microsoft eased up on moving "builder" copies from one PC to another a few years ago and for technical reasons, upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 gave a new digital license that could also be transferred.

But if this Windows 10 is from a preinstalled Windows 10 on your previous PC (you didn't even specify what the old PC was or even if it was a desktop or a laptop), getting authorized is going to be far more difficult.
 

onespeedbiker

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Apr 13, 2019
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As far as moving the Windows install from one hdd to another, you will need another working computer and a cloning program. Place both hdd in an exterior enclosure with a USB cables. Plug both cables into two USB drives and the cloning program will ask for the source and target.
 
Mar 26, 2019
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... it may work but even then your likely to experience some corruption.
Corruption is incredibly unlikely, quite far from likely. Sure if you're working with multiple terabytes of information that might be something to consider, but moving a drive that's most likely <1tb I wouldn't worry. On the notion of driver issues I also don't understand the concerns. As long as theres a network connection Windows can automatically install and update most drivers needed, and IF you have problems there's always DDU.

Finally, I wouldn't call migrating an old drive to a new drive jury-rigging. Forget whatever nonsense was mentioned about Windows-to-Go since you're using your own installation of Windows...
 
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DSzymborski

Glorious
Moderator
Corruption is incredibly unlikely, quite far from likely. Sure if you're working with multiple terabytes of information that might be something to consider, but moving a drive that's most likely <1tb I wouldn't worry. On the notion of driver issues I also don't understand the concerns. As long as theres a network connection Windows can automatically install and update most drivers needed, and IF you have problems there's always DDU.

Finally, I wouldn't call migrating an old drive to a new drive jury-rigging. Forget whatever nonsense was mentioned about Windows On-The-Go since you're using your own installation of Windows...
We deal with these types of lazy corner-cuttings that turn out to be disasters all the time here. USAFRet didn't get 19,000 best answers by not knowing what he was talking about. That someone successfully drove drunk four times (allegedly) without killing anyone doesn't mean we should start knocking back vodka tonics before stepping behind the wheel.

I'd recommend looking up what DDU actually does. And what Windows-to-Go is actually called and why it was referenced here.
 
Mar 26, 2019
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We deal with these types of lazy corner-cuttings that turn out to be disasters all the time here. USAFRet didn't get 19,000 best answers by not knowing what he was talking about. That someone successfully drove drunk four times (allegedly) without killing anyone doesn't mean we should start knocking back vodka tonics before stepping behind the wheel.

I'd recommend looking up what DDU actually does. And what Windows-to-Go is actually called and why it was referenced here.
Alright for that aggressive comment I have this to say. My suggestion is a legitimate solution using an app designed to do exactly what I said it could do. Now it sounds like no one but me has tried what I have suggested and are just speaking against it without any legitimate reasons. The drunk driving comment is a classic reductio ad absurdum because unlike drunk driving which is exclusively a bad idea that everyone recommends against, I suggested a piece of software that is literally made to do exactly what the OP was asking about.

Now further I know about DDU and Windows-to-Go. I suggested DDU if drivers continued to be buggy since that software removes display/audio drivers and allows for reinstallation of proper drivers (since people suggested drivers would be an issue). The Windows-to-Go comment is still totally useless because I never suggested booting from a USB, what Windows-to-Go does, and the fact that he threw that in there as a non-sequitur makes no sense whatsoever?.... (And yes I did technically misquote Windows-to-Go as Windows On the Go but simply due to it being colloquially called as such in other communities).

Either way it seems I've been the only one to offer a relatively easy, feasible solution. It would at least be worth a shot vs. doing nothing and not having your data. Another option you could do would be setting up the same configuration I suggested in my original post, then simply copy your data over to your new drive instead of using a migrating tool. You would need to be an admin on your account but once you gain access to the drive you can just copy stuff over. Now this wouldn't allow most apps to function properly, but if you were mainly copying files over that should work fine.
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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Bottom line - A Windows install is not as portable as we wish.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails, sometimes it sort of works. I've seen all three.
Roll the dice.
Don't be shocked when it fails.

Don't roll the dice with the only copy of this data.
 
Mar 26, 2019
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Bottom line - A Windows install is not as portable as we wish.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails, sometimes it sort of works. I've seen all three.
Roll the dice.
Don't be shocked when it fails.

Don't roll the dice with the only copy of this data.
I actually think Windows is quite resilient. Furthermore we're not rolling the dice whatsoever and I think you know you're portraying an inaccurate depiction to scare the person off from trying my suggestion. Migrating the data to the new drive just copies the data over to the new drive.... You still have the old data on the original drive - it doesn't get deleted. So worst case it fails and you either try again or seek another solution. You're not going to lose your data at all....

Either it works and you have your data on your new drive or it doesn't and you still have your old data on the original drive. Don't act like my suggestion is going to delete everything and do the total opposite of what the program is made to do. It's definitely worth a shot.
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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I'm not trying to scare anyone, I'm simply relating my personal experience, and that of hundreds of other people I've read in here.

"Don't roll the dice with the only copy of this data." specifically relates to doing it with a different copy. A clone.
And obviously, the original data still lives on the original drive.

Win 10 is better than previous versions, but by no means 100% guaranteed to work on new hardware. Original drive or a clone of that drive.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails.

Moving between 2 laptops (of which we do not know the type) is less likely to work.

Anyone that has never seen it fail simply hasn't done it enough times.

Moving between 2 drives in the same system? Sure. I'm a big proponent of cloning.
Moving between 2 different systems is a whole different story.

@Dallypro - I hope we've not scared you off with this descent into minutiae.
Try it. It might work, it might fail. Hopefully it works.
But do protect your personal irreplaceable data first. Have that copied off on to some other drive.
 
Mar 26, 2019
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Alright it's pretty clear you were using unnecessary scare tactics on that previous comment. Even what you just said doesn't make sense (I'll bold it)...

What you said:
"Don't roll the dice with the only copy of this data." specifically relates to doing it with a different copy. A clone.

I think you were trying to make it seem like data was going to be lost, when we both know that wasn't a possibility whatsoever, so no dice were going to be rolled. I even found this gem to prove it while looking around for similar situations.


@Dallypro I think it's definitely worth a shot. Like I said worst case it doesn't work and you can look around for other options. I would say you have a solid chance of it working though.
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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And that displays what, exactly?
We are in full agreement that a clone does not delete anything from the original drive (for good reasons)...:)

Don't roll the dice with the only copy speaks to simply plugging the old drive into a new system, and hoping nothing goes wrong.
As was suggested early on in this thread:
"If the form factors of both hard drives are the same and both are HDD drives (quality of both drives are similar) you could just physically swap the drives. "

But, whatever.
 
Mar 26, 2019
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And that displays what, exactly?
We are in full agreement that a clone does not delete anything from the original drive (for good reasons)...:)

Don't roll the dice with the only copy speaks to simply plugging the old drive into a new system, and hoping nothing goes wrong.
As was suggested early on in this thread:
"If the form factors of both hard drives are the same and both are HDD drives (quality of both drives are similar) you could just physically swap the drives. "

But, whatever.
Alright you're continuing to make less and less sense here. Two comments ago you said:
"Don't roll the dice with the only copy of this data." specifically relates to doing it with a different copy. A clone.

That means you meant something with a different copy/clone... whatever it was I have no idea. Now though you claim you weren't talking about a clone but rather:
Don't roll the dice with the only copy speaks to simply plugging the old drive into a new system...

It seems like you're contradicting yourself more and more.

Regardless though, even plugging in the old drive if they were same form factor runs no inherent risk of data loss. Yea you probably have to update a few drivers, but these drivers in most cases are simply added to the current driver list and old drivers aren't usually removed. This means that the drive could be swapped back to the old computer without issue (and even further the old computer is dead so losing old drivers isn't a concern). The bottom of the story is that putting the old drive into the new computer wouldn't cause issues to the drive. Even IF the drive fails to boot for some incredibly unlikely reason, the data will not be corrupted. It just means for some reason the hard drive couldn't load the drivers for that computer. The data will still be there in tact. And that is just in the INCREDIBLY unlikely scenario. It would boot without issue almost without fail.
 

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