Swap motherboard - Will Windows work ok?
October 7, 2005 9:29 AM   Subscribe

My motherboard died but I don't want to loose any data. Can I put in a new motherboard from a diff manufacturer and have windows xp work ok? If not, what should I do.

I had a ASUS P4C800-E Deluxe Socket 478 Intel 875P ATX Intel Motherboard with my windows drive on an EIDE drive and most of my other data on the SATA raid that the MB provides. The video on the MB stopped working (tried other cards). I need a new MB and I'd like to salvage my entire system. At least I'd like to save the stuff on the SATA drives. I want to buy a new MB and pop it in. What kind of problems can I expect?
posted by neodem to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
You can expect a whole load of problems, unfortunately, unless you go with the exact same motherboard.

I've seen people, in Windows, uninstall all hardware devices, including mobo drivers and such, and then hope that upon switching Windows will reinstall new drivers, but it seems like a crapshoot to me.

Maybe someone else can help a bit more.
posted by plexiwatt at 9:37 AM on October 7, 2005

Best answer: It depends. Normally, if you press F8 a bunch of times when you reboot after installing the new Motherboard, you can choose 'Safe Mode' and it should detect the new hardware.

However, sometimes if the IDE controllers are radically different (i.e. going from an Intel controller to a VIA controller) XP will not be able to logically address the drives. Essentially, XP sees your drive as 'Drive 0 on Controller 0' and if Controller 0 is missing, it can't access the HDD anymore.

You will know if this is happening, because when you reboot you will get a blue screen with a STOP error that reads BOOT_DRIVE_INACCESSIBLE. If that happens, you are in a bit of trouble.

In that case, you need to reboot with the Windows XP CD, go into the recovery console, and copy the ATAPI.SYS file from the XP CD to the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS folder and then reboot in safe mode.

Hope that helps.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:40 AM on October 7, 2005

Best answer: The few times that I've been involved in similar tasks, getting Windows to boot on a new mother board was a complete no-go. Though this link I found on Microsoft's site seems to bear promise.
posted by deanj at 9:44 AM on October 7, 2005

Get a new mother board and a new hard drive. Install Windows on the new hard drive and make that the boot disk. You will then be able to access the files on your old drives. Having the OS on a separate drive is preferred for just this reason.
posted by Mr T at 9:55 AM on October 7, 2005

I've done it and it worked out ok (not great, but well enough so i could back my stuff up, then format and start over) - you have to make sure the motherboards use the same chip set.
posted by soplerfo at 9:55 AM on October 7, 2005

I've successfully followed this guide in my upgrades:
Swapping your board without so much as a reinstall

(I'm still running a Windows 2000 install from when it was released.)
posted by smackfu at 9:56 AM on October 7, 2005

Best answer: The SATA RAID issue is the key to recovering any data you have on the RAID array. Whether you are able to get a new/different MB to recognize your RAID drives as an array will depend on how you had them set up on the ASUS board, and whether you were using the ICH5-R Intel RAID chip, or the embedded Promise controller on this board. At a minimum, you'd have to have the same RAID level specified, the same stripe size, etc., and not be using any OS RAID driver enhancements.

This is all less likely to work well with a different MB if you were using non-parity RAID 0, or had some RAID corruption to the array at the time your video went out.

If you have any kind of seperate video card around, that you know is good, can't you get into BIOS set up, disable the on-board video, and get some display? I'd really try all options to get some kind of video working on this board, before I went much further. Most MB will dump something to any video card they can find, even if it is just low-end VGA, once the on-boad video is killed in BIOS, and you don't have to know much to get there "blind." Check the ASUS site for a manual, if you've lost yours.

If you could at least do that, and if your SATA RAID array is still recognized by your system, you could at least copy your data files off the RAID array to your boot drive temporarily (assuming there is room), then change out your MB, set up your RAID again, if you want it, and copy the data files back to RAID.
posted by paulsc at 10:09 AM on October 7, 2005

Best answer: If you do go ahead and try this, and you can boot, be sure to identify the chipset on the new mobo and install the proper chipset drivers. This will make it much easier for Windows to detect the components of the new mobo. Here is a link to the Intel chipsets in case those apply to the new mobo, but there are zillions of other manufacturers.
posted by Brian James at 10:16 AM on October 7, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks paulsc.. you are right in some senses. Also Mr T. I specifically put the OS on the IDE drive so if I had to redu windows I'd at least have my data from the RAID (promise raid) alive. This board has no onboard video so I can't try that. I've tried 2 AGP cards and I can't see a damn thing. No bios, no nothing. I'm guessing something on the board related to video had a meltdown.

ASUS is going to repair/replace the board for me but its going to take 2 weeks. I'm hoping I can do without my primary pc for that long but more importantly I'm hoping a simple swap with the fixed board will be painless.

Thanks to all of you for your hlep. You've convinced me to at least stay with the same board.
posted by neodem at 10:31 AM on October 7, 2005

Just to be paranoid, I'd want to install the drive someplace else as a slave (or in an enclosure) and back it up before trying this. Almost certainly superfluous, but can't hurt.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:55 AM on October 7, 2005

Just to add to what paulsc said, it is possible to have SATA drives that are not in a RAID configuration. If it is a RAID array, and your boot drive is on the array you should really go with the same motherboard.

If it's not in a RAID array, or if you are not booting off the RAID array, then the instructions I posted above will at least get you booting onto the standard IDE drive, and then you can get at your SATA drives as normal.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:53 PM on October 7, 2005

On a contrary note, I had sucess taking a drive out of a Celeron VIA chipset mobo and installing it in a PIII Intel BX mobo. This was with Windows 98SE, and on boot Windows found all of the new low-level hardware, installed the drivers and ran. I kept meaning to do a complete install later, but I never got around to it. That computer ran fine that way for the 2 years I used it.
posted by rfs at 9:12 PM on October 8, 2005

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