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Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

Arthur Cohen
Advisor

Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

I discovered after 17 years of personal experience with PCs that hard disk drives with Windows installations may not be portable between two different personal computers.

I moved an IDE hard drive (Maxtor 80 GB, 5400 rpm) with several partitions including a bootable c: drive with Windows 98 SE installed from an older computer to my newer Compaq Evo W4000 Workstation. I was surprised to find that Windows 98 would not boot on the Compaq computer even though the Compaq BIOS properly identified and recognized the hard drive and automatically updated the configuration, indicating that the disk drive was properly connected.

I subsequently successfully installed Windows XP Professional, using the Compaq Restore CD as the starting point onto this hard disk drive. The installation proceeded without any problem, and the computer had no problem booting to this installation. I then moved the hard drive with the new operating system installed back to the older computer, reconnected the power and data cables, and then turned the computer power on. The BIOS of this computer also properly recognized the hard drive during boot, but reported Operating System Missing.

The older computer has a Tyan socket 7 motherboard with a VIA chipset, and an AMD K6III microprocessor. The newer computer has a Compaq motherboard with an Intel chipset, and a Pentium 4 microprocessor.

Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon? Is this the result of inappropriate drivers for the chipsets on the motherboards? If so, is it possible to update the drivers by booting with a separate disk, diskette, or CD, and manually replacing the drivers? Does the Windows Registry also have to updated for the drivers to work properly?

Art
11 REPLIES
Jon Finley
Honored Contributor

Re: Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

In DOS days, you could do this. But... with Windows, you need to have the correct drivers installed for the MB chipset in order for the system to even begin to boot.

You either do a partial install (through a "repair" function, which can be messy, or a full install when moving from one Vendor's system to another's.

There ARE ways to move a Windows install from one hardware type to another. None of them are perfect. Here's one process:
http://www.windowsreinstall.com/install/other/motherboard/winxp.htm

My perferred method is to have 2 physical disk drives. One for whichever OS I want to load, and the other disk only for data.

Jon
"Do or do not. There is no try!" - Yoda
Perignon
Honored Contributor

Re: Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

Hi Arthur

Let's present it like this. Plug-&-Play functions require that Windows "take a picture" of the computer on which it will install. Once this image is memorised, it becomes a part integral to Windows. Shouldn't boot once the disk is moved to a different computer because its configuration is not recognised.

Alain.
Frustrations surmounted are paving the way to expertise.
Antoniov.
Honored Contributor

Re: Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

Hi Arthur,
I agree with Jon and Perignon
Windows can't boot on different machine.
Perhaps, some BIOS can reset data configuration (i don't know the exact english terms) to force windows with reloading PnP device but you have to ready with CD in order to reinstall all drivers.

@Antoniov
Antonio Maria Vigliotti
Arthur Cohen
Advisor

Re: Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

I now understand that when Windows setup indicates that it is installing PnP devices and installing drivers it is customizing the installation for the specific hardware identified during setup, and that if the second computer has a significantly different hardware configuration, different drivers will be required before Windows will boot. Thus, portability of the the drive with an installed Windows OS is limited.

I also checked the link suggested by Jon, and I have reviewed the nine suggested solutions. I plan to play with these solutions to see if I can keep the original installation or restore it with an ASR backup after updating the configuration.

Thanks to all.

Art
ranthony2cfl.rr.com
Regular Advisor

Re: Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

Which is one of the good reasons to keep your opsys on a separate HD from your apps and data.
vitam largo et Deus omnipotens
Arthur Cohen
Advisor

Re: Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

After investing many hours into exploring the possibilities of moving a hard disk drive with a Win XP Pro installation from my newer computer to my older one, I have not succeeded in getting the boot process to recognize the OS. I tried booting from the Win XP Pro installation CD, running setup, and then selecting repair current installation twice without success. I then rebooted with the Win CD, selected repair, ran chkdsk, and repaired reported errors, and reran the install-repair routine without success.

Next I returned the hard drive to the newer computer and reinstalled with the Compaq Restore CD and Win XP. I looked at all of the suggested solutions for Win 2000 and Win XP at Probz.com. I created a duplicate hardware configuration as suggested in Solution 7 for Windows 2000. I then rebooted. The configuration menu appeared as expected, but it did not contain the None of the Above option, which was expected to have resulted in redetecting hardware by WinXP. The other suggested solutions for Win 2000 appeared unlikely to work for Win XP.

Finally, I considered Sysprep.exe, which is clearly designed for corporate use on multiple computers. I reviewed Microsofts brief explanation on the use of this utility. I then opted to use the utility from the command line of the fresh installation of Win XP as follows:
Sysprep -mini -pnp -reseal -forceshutdown

The computer did shutdown as expected. I then shut off power, and moved the hard disk drive to the older computer, installed the data and power cables, and powered up the computer. The BIOS recognized the HDD, but the system reported: Operation system missing.

Does anyone have experience with sysprep? Did I use it appropriately?

Art
Roger Faucher
Honored Contributor

Re: Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

Art:

I have never used Sysprep but I would think you'd want to insert the HDD in the new system and do a "Sysprep -clean". Other parameters may be appropriate as well.

HTH

Make a great day!

Roger
Make a great day!

Roger
Arthur Cohen
Advisor

Re: Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

Roger,

Thanks for the suggestions. The instructions at Probz.com indicate that sysprep is to be executed before the system board is changed. In addition, I could not execute sysprep on the new system since it will not boot.

Regarding the switches, I tried the -clean switch but it was not available in combination with -reseal and -forceshutdown. When I attempted execution, a screen popped up with a list of the available switch combinations.

I am about to abandon the Win XP Pro installation on the HDD, and partition it for a multi-boot configuration with Windows 98 SE and Windows 2000 Professional. I am hopeful that I can install Win 2000 from the i386 folder. I may later add Linex. Since this computer is redundant at this time, I have a number of options that I can try.

Best wishes.

Art
Roger Faucher
Honored Contributor

Re: Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

Art:

Just in case you haven't already seen this article:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;302577&Product=winxp

HTH

Roger
Make a great day!

Roger
Arthur Cohen
Advisor

Re: Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

Roger,

Thanks. I did see that article. It is helpful and does a good job of explaining the switches or parameters. However, it assumes that the reader knows the purpose of the utilitiy and has some experience with it.

Art
Arthur Cohen
Advisor

Re: Portability of Hard Disk Drives between PCs

I am beginning to wonder if I have a hardware problem. I took that 80-GB, 5400-rpm drive and reinstalled it in the computer with a Tyan motherboard (S1590) with an AMD K6III microprocessor, and 64 MB DRAM.

I used DISKPART from the Win XP Pro CD to delete the partition, and to create a 10-GB partition for Windows 98 SE. When I booted with the Win 98 emergency diskette, I checked it with FDISK, and discovered that DISKPART set it up as an NTFS partition, so I deleted it and recreated it with FDISK, and then formatted with FAT32, and proceeded to install Win 98. It went well, and I booted two or three times after installation.

Then I created a 20-GB partition with DISKPART for Windows 2000. When I tried to reboot, I received an error message, Operating System Missing. This happened repeatedly. I could boot from the Win 98 diskette, as well as from a CD. I could see the files on C: after booting to DOS with emergency boot diskette. FDISK reported partitioning information as expected, and the C: drive was reported to be Active. The boot process appeared to proceed normally until the OS was to load.

I had a problem about six months ago with the computer, when it would not boot for several months. Each time I turned the power on, the BIOS appeared to produce nonsensical characters, and could not even reach the memory check routine. I suspected a corrupt BIOS. However, one day it began working normally.

Would flashing the BIOS be in order? Could the CMOS battery be the cause of the problem? (The BIOS has never shown evidence of losing data; e.g., date and time.) Could the hard drive, which is about three years old (just out of warranty, I believe), be failing?

Art