Move a Hard-Drive to Another System and Re-use Windows Operating System Product Key - Reactivate
Transferring a Hard-drive From One Computer to Another.
Here we cover the aspect of licensing and the question of operating system activation after moving a hard drive from one computer to another containing the C: drive letter, which is most often the Windows system drive, to another different system.
For anyone doing this for the first time, the aspect of the actual physical moving of the drive from one computer to another is not so bad at all and is not covered here. It's what happens to the operating system and in particular to the activation status of the Windows installation that is covered.
Moving the Windows System Hard-Drive to a New Computer
Not so often, we are faced with the situation of needing to move our computer's hard drive from one computer to another. when that time arises, it strikes fear into many as it should. The reasons may vary but more likely than not, we are faced with a computer whose motherboard has past it's most effective days or no longer functions. One of the quickest thoughts to remedy the problem is to move the hard drive to another computer to access the data on or even to make it run in its new hollow home. Although its the quickest thought to enter many minds it's not always the best choice and the reason for this is hardware differences of the old computer to the new. Then there is the other factor, licensing!. Other options for bringing the old system back to life include virtualization. To many that;s still a foreign concept but it works. The option of imaging the source computer's hard drive with a partition level backup program and then restoring that image to the new is of course more technologically challenging.
How to Tell What Type of Windows XP CD or License Key You Have
Determine in advance of moving the drive what Type of DVD/CD or License Key You Have
For folks how are not-so-techie, not all Windows OS CD/DVDs and Licenses are the equal nor the same. There are many different types of OS CD/DVDs available:
- OEM – Usually sold with the computer more often from the bigger manufacturers
- Retail – Brought stand alone in retail stores like BestBuy, Staples, etc..
- Upgrade – To upgrade from a previous operating system
- Branded – Specifically branded copies from large computer manufacturers like Dell
- Volume License – Typically used in large businesses, government and educational institutions
The problem of course with different versions is the license key from one OS version typically won't work on another version. If you have an OEM license key, it wont work on a retail disk
Retail, Volume Licencing, or OEM Product Keys
Perhaps the dominating factor to determine whether or not you will have an issue moving the hard drive form one computer to another successfully will the type of product key that is in use on the source computer. Assuming you get past the hardware differences. One way to quickly determine if the source computer’s operating system product key is OEM is by looking at the product key and checking to see if the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) is part of it. If they are in the product key, then you could very well have a problem moving the drive to another computer. Transplanting the OS drive into a new system may not be successful even if there are no hardware compatibility issues. Let's say for example the product key is retail, not OEM, after moving a hard drive the operating system will have to be re-activated. This is usually done online right from the computer. When a regular retail key for Windows 7 (I suspect Windows 8 too), XP, Vista, and it does not have OEM in the product key, moving the drive stands a better chance of success.
A Call to Microsoft May be Required
Occasionally there is a problem with activating Windows even an OEM license is not the issue. I've had mostly good experiences with this recently and did not have the need to call Microsoft for assistance but also had the unwanted experience of having to call MC licensing support and explain what I was doing. Should there be a problem re-activating online, a call to Microsoft’s license clearing house will helps resolve the issue. If you have a license then you have nothing to worry about and this is a better option than trying to find a pirated one on the web. It's a toll free number and the call does not last long. Many problems can be solved through the automated system. If an agent gets on the line during the call, simply tell them what you are doing - the hard-drive with the Windows operating system was moved to a new different computer
Re-activation Will Be Required
Microsoft has built into the operating system a kind of counter, a sort of trigger, that kicks in with a certain number of hardware changes. This counter/trigger was put into place starting with XP because with Windows 2000 and earlier editions of Windows, illegal copies were being made and used over and over.
Suggestion for Reducing Some of the Hard Drive Move Pain
Upon the first boot-up after the drive has been moved, plug-n-play will detect all the new devices. So expect the first boot-up of the hard drive to take a little time. The target computer should be on the hardware compatibility list. It's highly recommended to download NIC drivers for the computer the hard drive is going to be moved. Have them ready before moving the drive. Have at least the NIC drivers for the target computer.
Assuming the source computer still works and has Internet access, download the network card drive. Being ready with network card drivers is especially important if the source computer just happens to the only readily available computer with Internet access .With the NIC drivers ready, after the drive is moved the NIC driver can work and connect back to the Internet to retrieve additional drivers if needed.
More Information From MIcrosoft
Suggest SSD SLC Drives for New Computers
In the past recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the SSD drives for desktops and servers. Now, there is a difference between drives for servers and those that are designed and intended for desktop use. The difference mainly lies in the usage of the drives in terms of the number of write cycles that they can tolerate before a potential failure of cells that store data occurs. For desktop drives, the common and practical SSD drive is MLC. This solid state technology is mean to be in desktops as it has a shorter number of write cycles compared to SLC drives. The price difference between these two technologies is enormous. If you have not purchased a new desktop are have stumbled across this post while trying to find some answers as to what hardware would be best, I do recommend MLC drives for your desktop and even more so for your laptop. The added bonus for laptops is that bumps and even drops of the laptop cannot hurt this type of drive. The speed gains seen with SSD versus spindle drives is enormous too. If you've come across this hub while searching out information or recommendations for hard for an upgrade, definitely get yourself a flash SSD solid state drive for your hard drive upgrade. It the next best thing to adding RAM for speed.
Warranty and Support
Most often 1 year for desktop and laptop drives
The warranty on drives, spindle drives or solid state, is most often just applicable for a year but there are also drives that can have the warranty upgraded to three years for replacement and support. Many server class drives will have three year by default, desktop and laptop drives usually not. Support will come in various formats. Although I have not had the opportunity to use all brands of solid state drives in production or lab, some drive manufacturers will use remote support software to assist customer with related issues when possible. Chat is another commonly used method to initiate support. Remote support is usually the method for manufactures to assist and aid their end-users through the web. The support and return policy is most important with solid state drives because when solid state drives begin to fail, it is not a gradual decline, they just cease to work. The failure makes it improbable that any web based remote support is going to helpful and generally requires the drive to be replaced.