Question New components, old drives?

Nov 29, 2022
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Just wanted to pass this by the collective here. I'm upgrading both mine and my son's machines with new mobo, CPU, GPU, & RAM but plan to use our existing drives (both machines have SSDs with OS installed and HDDs for data storage).

Will we run into trouble just dropping the old drives into the (essentially) new systems or should we expect this to be relatively seamless?

Aside from backing everything up prior to the upgrade, what other preparations might we need to make in order to ensure success?

TIA for any advice!
 
when you build or buy a new pc and try to install a previously purchased copy of windows you will eventually get stopped from using it because microsofts system checks will know it has been used before so they may think you have sold it on as a bootleg copy , this is because the op sys is electronically tagged to the motherboard you were using at the time.

Even if you already have the op sys on an ssd the same senario may flag your legally bought op sys as a bootleg as it has been previously used.

Maybe some guys a bit cleverer than me can confirm this.
 
Last edited:

Lutfij

Moderator
Welcome to the forums, newcomer!

Thumb rule = reinstall the OS when you migrate platforms, saves you all the hair pulling, grey hairs and even unintentional balding that comes about from troubleshooting(like finding hay in a needle stack)!
 
do this before installing

this is because the op sys is electronically tagged to the motherboard you were using at the time.
no. It might also be tied to an email address if you used a Microsoft Account to logon. Only OEM PC like Dell and Lenovo have licences you can't move. Most of them can be moved to new hardware. The "tied to hardware" thing ended with introduction of win 10.
 
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My experiences of migrating Windows from one PC to another have been painless—a very quick reactivation with MS. So that should be fine.

Main issue is your current system SSDs will have drivers for your current hardware, not the new stuff. So I'd go with @Lutfij's suggestion to start afresh on your system drive. Which of course means all your software will have to be reinstalled—so have a list of it, plus where to get it… good idea to get any installation downloads beforehand.

HDDs should not be affected. But one tip—don't put them in the new PCs until you've done all the OS & hardware setup, this avoids any possible confusion about where Windows might put stuff.

Are you on Win10 or Win11? If 10 now, you should go for 11 as your new hardware will support the better security in 11.

Make sure you have browser access to your email, and a printout of any vital logins.
 
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Lutfij

Moderator
Just to add, if the storage drives were the only things changing and the motherboard remained the same, then you could've gotten away with cloning the original OS drive onto the new SSD but yeah, reinstalling is the way to go.
 
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Nov 29, 2022
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Wow, this is all really great info; thanks, all, for the help! Sounds like I've got some good steps to take prior to and during the upgrade process. Much appreciated!
 
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Hello Colif .... i just seen the comment you made to me about " tagged to mobo " ... i was not aware of the change
Because Win 10 was offered as a free upgrade for anyone with win 7 or 8, they had to have a way to move the licence or at least convert it into a win 10 licence. So at same time as 10 was released, they also let people link their licence to an email address. This in turn lets you move the licence from an old PC to a new one, but only once... retail licences can still be moved more than OEM ones. At least 3 times.

Motherboard is one of the few parts you can't swap out of a PC and keep it as the same PC. As far as Windows is concerned, swapping CPU & MB means you have a new PC. But win 10/11 let you link licence to an email address and swap everything. That has been the case for at least 5 years as I have suggested it before and seen it done.

you can't do it with laptop licences and anything from Dell/Lenovo/HP etc as they have special licences that only work in the device its installed on.
 
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Nov 29, 2022
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Wanted to revisit this since upgrading. I thought I'd go ahead with a clean install of Windows but can't get past UEFI boot menu(s). I tried using a Windows recovery disk to repair or reinstall but eventually got the following message:

"Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI system, Windows can only be installed to GPT disks."

I can't seem to get beyond this error message but I'd love to find a way to proceed without formatting if possible. (I have OS & most apps on an SSD; data & user folders on an HDD.)

Any extra advice on this would, again, be much appreciated!
 
You can't clean install windows and keep data on the drive. A clean wipes the drive, if you want to do this it helps to copy everything off C you want to keep

"Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI system, Windows can only be installed to GPT disks."
the answer to this is delete all the partitions on the drive windows is on and click next. Don't do that until you ready to clean install.

Your current C drive is formatted as MBR, Windows will insist on GPT if it recognises PC can run it.

Explanation of terms:

UEFI - Unified extensible Firmware Interface

If your PC is less than 11 years old, you have a UEFI bios now



In 2006 or so Intel decided the bios as it was at time was too limited and needed to be replaced so that it supported newer technologies as they were invented

By about 2009 a consortium of hardware makers had combined to create UEFI standard



Old bios were limited, they didn't know what a mouse was for, so everything was keyboard driven

they weren't expandable, everything had to fit in a small amount of memory

they only supported Master Boot Record (MBR)formatted Drives, which can only have 4 partitions per drive (there are tricks to get around this) and max drive size is 2.2 TB



UEFI bios overcame all the limitations of legacy bios (as it came to be called)
it supports mouse, it has a GUI so it looks better than previous bios could
Its expandable, it can be added to to grow as new hardware is created.

UEFI supports MBR & GPT formatted Drives

GPT = GUID Partition Table
GUID = Global Unique ID = Every GPT drive on earth has a unique ID
GPT drives can have a max of 255 partitions on them
Max size of a GPT drive/partition is 18.8 million TB


data & user folders on an HDD
what do you mean by User folders? if you mean library folders like documents, or music, or Videos, then they can be reused on new install. If you mean the actual USERS folder, it might be difficult.
 
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Nov 29, 2022
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Thanks for your continued input on this! A couple other thoughts:

Your current C drive is formatted as MBR, Windows will insist on GPT if it recognises PC can run it.
Would it be possible, then, to convert the C drive to GPT without data loss?

what do you mean by User folders? if you mean library folders like documents, or music, or Videos, then they can be reused on new install. If you mean the actual USERS folder, it might be difficult.
Yes, this was referring to library folders (i.e. Documents, Videos, etc.). I've backed up the contents of these folders and am familiar with manipulating/moving them around but was hoping there might be a way to avoid a clean install, unless that's my only remaining option.
 
Would it be possible, then, to convert the C drive to GPT without data loss?
Yes but is this install from the last PC?

You can use: https://it-infrastructure.solutions/how-to-switch-from-legacy-to-uefi-boot-mode-mbr2gpt-convertion/

But if its from an old PC, you really better off clean installing as drivers will be different on your new PC compared to old, and you can get really weird errors if you use the old install. You might also get a benefit using the right drivers for the hardware. It might be faster, for instance.

I used to move my library folders around, now they all on Onedrive so I don't bother. I just download them if I need the contents.
 
Nov 29, 2022
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More researching took me to this article (among others):


Seems like the method under the header "Convert MBR to GPT partition style (offline)" may fit my situation appropriately. Any known caveats to watch out for (other than the precautions listed in the article)?
 
Nov 29, 2022
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Yes but is this install from the last PC?

You can use: https://it-infrastructure.solutions/how-to-switch-from-legacy-to-uefi-boot-mode-mbr2gpt-convertion/

But if its from an old PC, you really better off clean installing as drivers will be different on your new PC compared to old, and you can get really weird errors if you use the old install. You might also get a benefit using the right drivers for the hardware. It might be faster, for instance.

I used to move my library folders around, now they all on Onedrive so I don't bother. I just download them if I need the contents.
Oops, just saw this; thanks again for your responses here! The drivers consideration is a good one so, again, I'm leaning back toward the clean install option.
 

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