Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Can I take the hard drive with Windows installed on my Toshiba laptop and have it work on my HP laptop?


I have Windows 7 Ultimate, hard drive built up on a Toshiba laptop. I want
to replace the internal hard drive on my daughter’s HP G60 laptop. Saying I
boot up the HP G60 laptop in safe mode with the hard disk from the Toshiba hard
drive installed in the HP computer, will it find the right/correct drivers?

In this excerpt from
Answercast #57
, I look at the problems that can occur if you try to swap
hard drives between computers and some possible fixes that may help it

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Boot with different hard drive

Unfortunately, the best answer I can give you is maybe.

This is not a technique that I recommend simply because it’s just a maybe.
And even when it appears to work, you’re never really certain that everything’s
been fixed up properly.

The right way to do what you’re doing is to install Windows from scratch on
the new computer (or on your daughter’s computer, in this case.) That insures
that you’re getting the right drivers and the right software installed for that
particular hardware.

Reformat and reinstall

It’s very possible that the hardware on your Toshiba is so dramatically
different from that on the HP that the installation of Windows on the Toshiba
may not even have the right drivers necessary to run on that HP laptop. So, I
don’t recommend what you’re doing.

My strong recommendation (if you can do it all) is to do a true, clean,
proper install of Windows on your daughter’s machine.

Possible repair install

Now, there is one caveat I’m going to throw out at you and that is this:

  • Let’s say that we’ll go ahead and take that hard drive out of the Toshiba
    and put it in the HP.

  • Before you boot that machine, instead boot from a Windows
    installation DVD, the one that corresponds to the version of Windows that was
    originally installed on that Toshiba.

  • Boot from that DVD and then proceed to do what’s called a “Repair reinstall”
    of Windows.

Typically, that involves choosing the upgrade path. It will
fix up and essentially reinstall Windows without changing anything else. The
process of reinstalling it should get the right drivers in place from the
installation media.

Now, it’s still a big if. If the installation media was originally a
Toshiba OEM CD or DVD, it is possible that it still doesn’t have the drivers
necessary for the HP hardware.

But it should get you closer than just plugging the hard drive in and
praying it will work.

Backup all data

Now, the last thing I’m going to suggest (regardless of which attempt you
decide to use)… backup first!

Make sure you backup what’s on that hard drive before you do anything to it
because any of these steps (be it just inserting it and hoping it works, doing
a repair/reinstall, those kinds of things) are going to change what’s on that
hard drive. The result may be something that just doesn’t work; it may be
something that’s even worse than what you had when you started.

So, if you want to for example put that hard drive back in the original
Toshiba, you’re going to want to be able to restore it to the state it was in
when you took it out.

So my recommendation is: backup before you try anything. Then, if you need
to, certainly try a couple of these other alternatives.

But my strongest recommendation is to reinstall Windows from scratch on this
new machine.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

2 comments on “Can I take the hard drive with Windows installed on my Toshiba laptop and have it work on my HP laptop?”

  1. Leo you missed one vital point here: you can’t do a repair install by booting from your Windows DVD under Windows 7 or Vista unlike previous versions of Windows.

    What Microsoft suggest to do, is to boot Windows on the original computer, then insert the Windows DVD and from the setup menu that launches do an inplace/upgrade install.

    After the first reboot, and before Windows starts loading again, shut down the laptop and then put the hard drive into the second laptop.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.