I’m using Intel Core 2duo CPU, 2.8 GHz and a motherboard with 8 GB of RAM
and a 500 GB hard drive with Windows 7 Ultimate. I want to upgrade to an Intel
i5 3.1 GHz plus motherboard with 16 GB of RAM. My query is: can I simply put the
hard disk into the machine? Will it automatically configure for the change in
the hardware? I can run the motherboard installations from the motherboard CDs.
Doing so will preserve my Windows drivers, Windows installation, and many
programs installed on it, correct? I’m also worried that if I have to install
everything again, it will create a huge problem. I’m using the computer in an
office with five to six people having their accounts and they remote login to
In this excerpt from
Answercast #80, I look at upgrading a machine with numerous users – it can
be tricky. Although there is one thing to try…
Upgrade motherboard and CPU
Boy, that last one does make this a difficult process – just because, ultimately, the answer is, “It probably won’t work.”
In general, the answer to “Can I just take a hard drive from one machine and plug it into another and have it be the new system drive?” is no – because Windows is fully configured for the system that it was originally running on as part of the setup process.
You’re not running a setup process when you put that hard drive in a second machine or when you swap out the motherboard and CPU.
Windows will try to upgrade itself; to reconfigure itself; to do whatever it needs to do to work – but it doesn’t always work. It just doesn’t. So, I’m not hopeful.
A possible work-around
I want to start by saying that I’m not hopeful, however, I do want you to consider trying this.
Make the hardware switch.
But then before you boot the machine, boot it from your Windows installation disc.
And choose a repair install of Windows, or an “in place” install of Windows, onto the existing install of Windows.
Remember what I said earlier? We didn’t run the setup program if we just swapped the hard drives and turned it on.
What this allows us to do is to get the Windows setup program, the install program, to go through the motions of formally detecting all of the hardware in that machine and making the appropriate changes into the Windows installation that’s already there without reformatting and reinstalling from scratch.
That’s the direction I would have you try in this particular case.
Hopefully, you’ve got the Windows 7 discs ready to do the installation, and that would be the approach that I would take.
Full image backup first!
I absolutely have to stress that you backup first because there are no guarantees. But to preserve everything that you’re trying to preserve here, it’s the approach I would take.
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)
Next from Answercast 80 – Is there a way to test a machine that won’t boot to see if the BIOS is the problem?