Windows 10 fresh install after a HDD change?

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ySiek

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Hello there!

I'm one of the many people willing to get Windows 10 on their PC, and I have been waiting patiently for the "Upgrade to Windows 10" app in my tray to finally say my PC is ready. I'm running a Windows 8.1 upgraded from Windows 7 in Microsoft's cheap offer some time ago (believe it was $40).
I've been waiting patiently even though i knew I can get the Media Creation Tool and install the newest system straight away. I didn't hurry, though, as I wanted to spare myself any problems with a freshly released OS.
However, trouble I've been having with my HDD some time ago returned and kept getting worse pretty quickly (random spikes of 100% HDD usage causing PC to freeze, failing manufacturer's diagnostics tests, SMART claiming C5 and C6 values are to high, as well as chkdsk always hanging at 13% and not being able to proceed). Being the moderatly tech-aware person that I am, I sensed trouble and RMA'd immediately. I went for an advanced RMA, and today the HDD arrived - and as a fresh install of Windows is inevitable, I decided to go Windows 10.
A quick session of googling later I found out I will not be getting any activation key. Instead, Windows 10 will bind to my hardware during the upgrade. I also found out Microsoft allows for fresh installs to be made on machines that are registered by them as upgraded.
And here comes my doubt. I am interested in getting to the final result of having a fresh install of Windows 10, and not an upgrade, on the new HDD. Should I:

1. Perform the upgrade on the old, damaged HDD to get my PC checked as eligible for a Windows 10, then swap drives and make a fresh install of Windows 10? or

2. Swap drives right away, install an older Windows on it, upgrade it to Windows 10, and then wipe the drive and perform a fresh install of Windows 10?

I'd honestly prefer the first method, as you can possibly see it's much less of a hassle. However, if it would mean me getting the upgrade somehow bound to the old HDD, I will choose to swap drives before upgrading.
Now I seriously doubt the OS minds a change of HDDs. I'd much rather expect it to bind to a motherboard, maybe also CPU or GPU. Still, I have no actual idea.

Please advise.
 

USAFRet

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Either 1 or 2 will work.
The Upgrade must be done from within a running qualifying OS.

So either Upgrade first, then swap drives
or
Swap drives and get the existing OS on the new drive, then do the Upgrade
 

USAFRet

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Either 1 or 2 will work.
The Upgrade must be done from within a running qualifying OS.

So either Upgrade first, then swap drives
or
Swap drives and get the existing OS on the new drive, then do the Upgrade
 

10esseetony

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I too would like to know the answer to your questions, regarding clean installations. I can only tell you that after having received the upgrade, WinTen doesn't mind that I've since switched (same family of) video cards 3 times already, that last change being dual cards.

The closest you can get to a clean install, is to go ahead and switch the HDD, do the Win7 install, and either upgrade to Win8 or on Win7 you need to upgrade to IE11 and upgrade to SP1 (download from MS to save time in the update process). A few updates later you will see the GetTen logo, then do the Media Creation upgrade once you see you're eligible.
 

ySiek

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I'm happy to hear that HDD swap will not influence this, my problem seems to be resolved. However I have one more doubt now - can I actually do a completely fresh install after having my PC upgraded?

What I mean is: say I do the upgrade from within my Windows 8.1, then I restart the PC, go into UEFI, change boot order, boot the pendrive, and go through a normal installation process to end up with an activated Windows 10?

I expected it to be possible because Google told me so. 10esseetony's answer seems to indicate otherwise - "the closest you can get to a clean install...".

Just to point out some sources:
http://lifehacker.com/how-to-do-a-clean-install-of-windows-10-1720775893
http://winsupersite.com/windows-10/windows-10-can-be-clean-installed-during-and-after-free-upgrade
http://www.howtogeek.com/224342/how-to-clean-install-windows-10

I don't want to waste any more of your time, I just got scared. Please help.
 

ySiek

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Anyway, I did some more research and I'm confident it is possible to make a completely fresh install - after upgrading first, obviously!

Thank you very much for the quick help!
 
Once you've upgraded (doesn't matter what storage device you did this on), you can do a clean install afterwards. However make sure that after the upgrade, Windows 10 shows as activated before proceeding with the clean install.

For example, when I did the six computers in my house, my oldest son's computer had a HDD as his boot drive. I told him if he wanted to upgrade his system to a SSD, then the Windows 10 upgrade would be the perfect time. So I upgraded the Windows 8.1 install on his HDD, and made sure it was activated. Then I disconnected it and connected his new Samsung 850 EVO 250GB drive and did a clean install on it. I was asked twice during the install to give a Product Key, I just skipped through this. Once I reached the desktop and connected to the internet, Windows activated on it's own.

Of course then I reconnected his HDD, reformatted it, and restored his data to it. Worked like a charm.

So as long as you can successfully upgrade first, you'll be fine.

The only issue I see in your case is that if you decide to upgrade the old "failing" drive, the upgrade could fail due to the HDD failing. This could leave you in a bad position. Either way, I would be backing up any data you need off of the failing drive first. It's likely that if the drive is in fact failing, and from your description, it most certainly is, putting it through the stress up upgrading your OS is likely to push it over the edge.
 
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