New system, Old HD?
October 22, 2008 10:22 AM   Subscribe

New computer, how do I keep the old programs?

It looks like my computer has finally bit the dust. It crashes to no video and beeps one long beep. Then it must be switched off at the power supply, and won't restart for 10-15 minutes. The crashes come randomly. It can die in 5 minutes, or run all day. "One long beep" is supposed to mean memory problems, but I've had it tested, no problems.

So I guess it's time for a new box. I want to just move my current hard drive into the new box, but I know that won't work, as any new motherboard will want different drivers. I could install the old HD as a D: drive, but I don't think the old programs would work without the proper Registry entry's. Moving the data is easy, but I want to keep my programs as well, and having to reinstall everything isn't possible. I don't have some of the disks, and haven't a clue where I downloaded some things.
posted by Marky to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You might be surprised to find that the old drive boots fine in Safe Mode when set as the primary on a new box, which gives you the chance to install the appropriate drivers for the new hardware. Since network card might be one of those drivers necessary, it's a smart idea to borrow someone else's computer, grab all the drivers associated with your new box, and stick them on a flash drive or burn them to a CD.

The one wrinkle that comes to mind might be something like SATA support out of the box, but there are a couple of ways to get around that -- if the old drive is SATA, you could use a SATA-IDE adapter or try using the XP install disk to add the new SATA drivers to the existing installation. If it's IDE, just stick it on the IDE port.
posted by holgate at 10:39 AM on October 22, 2008

Not answering your question, but it sounds like your computer is overheating, especially the part about how it won't restart for 10-15 minutes after it dies. Use compressed air to blow dust out of the fans, and try replacing the thermal compound between the processor and its heat sink. This will cost about ten bucks and may resurrect your computer.

As for moving programs: I don't know how to do that reliably on Windows. You could probably run your old OS in a virtual machine like VirtualBox or VMWare, though, and use your old programs that way.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:43 AM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I just last week swapped motherboards out from under a Vista 64 install. I made sure the mobo driver disk was in the drive when I booted up for the first time, and only had to install one driver manually - the rest just took.

If you're doing a homegrown for your new build, I *would* suggest at the very least, staying in the same family (amd vs intel), and if possible the same mobo manufacturer. I was lucky that the socket has stayed the same (am2) from mobo to mobo, too - if I'd have had problems, my backup plan was to try new mobo with old processor, let it up date, then new mobo and new processor - something of a two-step build.
posted by notsnot at 10:52 AM on October 22, 2008

Only way this will work at all is to ensure that no old drivers are present.

If you can boot your old system, open the Device Manager (right-click on My Computer, choose "Manage", select Device Manager on the left-hand side) and remove all devices listed. It will ask if you want to restart after removing everything. Say no, then shut it down.

On first boot in the new machine, it ought to auto-detect all of the devices present. It will likely take a while. After it finishes it will likely prompt for a restart. Do this. After restarting, use the disks that came with your new hardware to install all the motherboard-specific drivers, device drivers, etc. that Windows didn't already find and install.

If you can't get the old system to boot, you ought to be able to do as holgate says and boot the drive in a new computer in safe mode, uninstall all devices from there and reboot.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:56 AM on October 22, 2008

If the drive is good you can mount it onto your new machine and then boot from your windows disc and do whats called an in-place 'repair install.' Instructions here.

The method caution live frongs mention doesnt work often. It usually works when the hardware is similiar (same chip or similiar chipset). This method will not work when moving from single to dual-core chips either. You need to do a repair install to get the HAL to use both processors.

Of course, back everything up before doing this. There is a good chance of failure with both methods.

Lastly, once this works you really should clone that disk onto your new disk. You dont want to use this old disk as your main disk, it has too much mileage. This app is a free cloner and works fine.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:21 PM on October 22, 2008

If you're not opposed to spending a little money on software (~$100 unless you can find it elsewhere cheaper), Acronis makes an add-on product to True Image called Universal Restore which will replace your old drivers with the ones for your new computer. You will not need to move your hard drive, but you will need to move all the data somehow (many ways to do this).

I have had great success using this to migrate from, for example, a laptop to desktop. I can't say enough about the usefulness of this program. If you go this route, drop me a line and I can coach you through some of the details...
posted by masher at 1:34 PM on October 22, 2008

@odinsdream: Agreed, except that Universal Restore allows you to move everything without physically moving the hard drive to the new PC (preventing any IDE to SATA complications, etc).
posted by masher at 7:56 PM on October 22, 2008

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