Move HDD with OS to a new computer?
June 16, 2008 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Can I move a HDD with Windows 2000 to a new computer and expect it to load Windows 2000?

The USB ports on our current tower went caput and we bought a new PC. It was a great deal from newegg but it comes with Linux and we want Windows 2000. But, I don't feel like taking 3 bajillion years to download service packs and stuff.

Question is this....can I just take the HDD from the old PC and put it in the new PC as the master drive and expect Windows 2000 to load? Or will it get so choked up with "Found New Hardware" messages that it won't be worth it?
posted by ian1977 to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It most likely will not boot at all. What you need to do is a repair install using your windows 2000 disc and license key.

This may not even work because windows 2000 is so old it doesnt have some basic drivers (SATA etc) you'll need. To get around this you can slipsteam them in or load them via floppy. I'd recommend buying a copy of XP SP2 or Vista for the new machine and just migrating your data, unless you're familiar with loading drivers, etc.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:45 AM on June 16, 2008

I used to do this professionally. Here is my recommendation:

1) Boot the hard drive in the new computer in Safe Mode.
2) Go into Device Manager and remove EVERY device in the list since they are all devices and drivers from your old system.
3) Reboot normally. You will have to install drivers for every component in the new system, same as a system format.
4) Profit!! (kidding)

We would often have customers who wanted hard drives put in new computers or all info copied to a new computer. We did this and always told the customer that this isn't as good as a clean format, but it's quicker (read: saves them money on the hourly charge).

We never had any complaints, it worked 100% of the time. But I will always think the systems were still weighed down with unnecessary registry tags, DLLs, etc. A clean install is preferable, but if not possible the above should get you running.
posted by arniec at 8:47 AM on June 16, 2008

damn dirty ape makes a good point about the SATA driver...I was going under the assumption that the hardware HAD Windows 2k drivers.

One thing you can do (which we also did from time to time) is get an XP Upgrade (or, shudder, Vista Upgrade) disk. If you can get the OS to run even just in Safe mode (and you have an IDE, not SATA or USB CD/DVD drive) then you can start the upgrade process. It will keep all your data, all your apps, but be somewhat similar to a "clean" OS.

BTW, did I mention BACK UP EVERYTHING before beginning? ;)
posted by arniec at 8:49 AM on June 16, 2008

It really depends on how different the motherboards are.

If they are motherboards with similar chipsets (for example they both use Intel D865)... then your chances are fair to good.

If the motherboards are quite different (one uses Intel D865 and the other uses VIA chipset).. then you might have some pretty big problems.

Arniec's advice is the strategy I've used in the past... but in my experience it was no where near 100% success. My success (with Win2000) was probably somewhere between 50% and 75%. (XP is a little more forgiving about redetecting hardware)

If you want to have faith in the stability of your system.. the (obvious) best answer is to do a clean install. (in the long term.. its worth it)
posted by jmnugent at 8:53 AM on June 16, 2008

If you're concerned about the motherboard drivers, just locate and install the correct drivers before moving the drive. Definitely do this with SATA drivers if it's a SATA drive, or the drive might not even boot properly.

Installing Windows 2000 these days can be a huge pain with all the updates, so I understand the motivation in doing this. Worst-case scenario is that it simply won't work, but chances are it will.
posted by neckro23 at 9:50 AM on June 16, 2008

You could always run sysprep with a /generalize to move the drive.

That would definitly work. You would just have to make sure to point to the sata drivers inf files in the sysprep.inf though because the mass storage drivers need to be installed\pointed to before the sysprep minisetup wizard runs.
posted by zephyr_words at 10:17 AM on June 16, 2008

I had to do this a couple dozen times at a previous job. Here's what I did:

1 - Download all the drivers you'll need for your new motherboard to the hard drive. Don't try to install them yet, just download and save them.

2 - Install the hard drive into the new computer.

3 - Boot up from your Windows 2000 CD - NOT the hard drive - and do a Repair install.

4 - When the Windows CD is done and your computer boots from the hard drive, install any missing drivers. This will be easy since you had the foresight to save them to your hard drive before you began. :)

posted by eratus at 9:41 AM on June 19, 2008

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