Can you put a boot drive into a different computer?

February 18, 2014

Here is an excellent answer to this question i found online.


Posted 19 June 2008 – 10:54 PM

If you remove a hard drive ( in this case, the boot drive that has the operating system, applications, and all the other stuff in it) from one computer and install it on another computer, will it work?



Posted 20 June 2008 – 02:36 AM

Yes, it CAN work…but may not or you might run into some challenges.

There are a few caveats, however. As first noted, you will have to deal with the driver issue. If the computer has different equipment (which is rather likely unless you talking about two identical computers such as maybe where one has a problem and the second is a replacement and you want to swap drives and then will send the other one back), then they will use different drivers. This can potentially result in a system crash (and maybe BSOD) upon boot-up in many cases as the drivers will be different enough. To deal with this, you should first uninstall ALL drivers on the system while the drive is in the old computer. Then shutdown (do NOT reboot as that will go through the process of trying to reinstall drivers). Then move the drive to the new computer and boot it up. It should then use the Windows Hardware Wizard to try to load as many drivers as it can. You might then have to locate some drivers that don’t come standard with Windows and install them “manually”.

The second caveat is activation. If the OS is one of Microsoft’s more modern OSs (i.e. Windows Vista or XP…and maybe even Windows 2000…don’t recall for sure on 2000), then it has an activation function/”feature”. Part of activation is that if Windows detects a significant change of hardware (which moving a drive from one computer to a new computer will DEFINITELY do), then it must be re-activated. Generally speaking, this is more of just a hassle/speedbump, but it can be a deal breaker. Technically, if the old computer has an OEM license for Windows, then I believe you are NOT permitted to move that OS to another computer per the EULA of Microsoft’s OEM OS license. Thus, you might have trouble activating it. If it is a retail or upgrade license, then you should not have any problems strickly(sic) speaking and it should be just a matter of jumping through the hoops (which might be as simple as doing it online, but could mean having to call Microsoft and telling what is going one to get it activated). If it is a volume/site license Windows install, then you should have zero trouble with activation…same with older Windows OS such as Windows 98, 98se, and Me.

The last caveat is a small one…drive connector compatibility…this all assumes that your new computer supports the type of hard drive that is in the older computer. If your old computer has an IDE drive and the new computer for some reason does NOT have any IDE connectors, then you might hit a road block (there are some adapters out there, but I have not always heard good things about them). The parallel issue is that if the old computer is old enough, then you might not be too keen on using an older (and potentially smaller) hard drive. Now, the way to pontential(sic) deal with both these items is to clone the drive to a brand spanking new hard drive (just make sure to uninstall the drivers BEFORE you clone it…and then use a bootable CD of the cloning software so that you don’t start up the driver reinstall process).



I have performed this operation.


I cloned (Using Macrium Reflect Technicians) a 4th-gen Intel Core-i5 HP ProDesk machine
and tried to boot into a 1st-gen Intel Core-i5 Intel board machine.

It didnt work, but i used Macrium Redeploy and then it DID work!

Well, it booted.

This was Windows 7.

So upon booting, it auto-installed like 12 dirvers for the new hardware.


Then I tried the exact reverse direction
Disk from a 1st-gen Intel Core-i5 Intel board machine
to a 4th-gen Intel Core-i5 HP ProDesk machine.

Here Macrium Redeploy did not work.

But I WAS able to boot into safe mode with networking.

Windows 7 then proceeded to install a few drivers.
I kept rebooting into safe mode with networking.
It kept installing drivers.
Including chipset driver.
Until it was finished.

Still blue screen’ed when trying to boot into regular mode (not safe mode).
Error message was igdkmd64.sys;
Which i looked up–hd graphics.
Sure it’s the wrong one–these PCs are 3 generations apart. gen 1 and gen 4.
So in safe mode I uninstalled the graphics driver
And rebooted into safe mode.
It then automatically installed the right graphics (display) driver.
And then it booted in regular mode (not safe mode).
It then auto-installed better HID mouse and keyboard drivers.
And it was up and working.

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