I would like your take on installing a C: Hard drive from one
computer into another computer. Would that computer boot up normally
with the C: Hard drive from another machine?
This is a classic case of “maybe”.
Ultimately, it might work, and it might not. Or something in
It depends on how similar the two machines are.
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When you install Windows onto a machine, the installation process
configures Windows to the specific hardware configuration of that
machine. It selects and installs the drives appropriate to, for
example, the specific network card, sound card, hard disk interface,
CD-ROM drive and so on that you actually have installed in that
In fact, it even selects drivers and settings for things you don’t
normally think of, like chipsets, CPUs and other low-level
If the machine you take your hard disk to is identical to the
original machine, then yes, you stand a pretty good chance of having
everything work. You might have to deal with Windows activation, since
that incorporates things like serial numbers to detect hardware
changes, but that too can often just work or be handled with a phone
happen is further confused by Windows ‘plug and play’
If the new machine is dramatically different, then I’d not
expect this to work. The problem is I can’t point to a specific thing
and say that “this will break it”. A different CPU? Maybe, maybe not. A
different disk controller? Perhaps. Different amounts of RAM? Probably
not an issue.
It’s difficult to say, but the more different the machines are, the
less likely I would expect it to work.
Part of the problem is that knowing what will happen is further
confused by Windows “plug and play” architecture. As you may have
already experienced when adding new hardware, Windows often just
notices, and either installs the new drivers, or prompts you for the
new drivers, without your needing to do a thing.
The copy of Windows on your hard disk, when booted in a new machine,
may simply treat the differences it finds as newly detected hardware;
a lot of newly detected hardware. Your chances of success then
depend on Windows ability to then install all the drivers for the
hardware that it sees as different.
I have to say that, ultimately, I would never rely on this
approach to work. There are simply too many pitfalls; too many ways
that things could go wrong. I’d expect the result to be “half-baked”
and prone to hardware issues. The safest approach, by far, is to
reinstall Windows on any new machine after backing up the old hard disk, of course.
Which, to be frank, if you’re planning on trying this strategy you
should do anyway.