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I have a Windows 2000 Server (SP4) whose motherboard has failed, but whose hard drives (a total of 5 PATA IDE drives) are still good. If it matters, the server is a member of an Active Directory domain (and it must remain so), but it is not a DC. What are my options for reviving this server? For reasons I will not go into here, I need to avoid reinstalling the OS or any programs.

Can I just put the hard drives together with some new server hardware, and have a reasonable chance of success? What kinds of gotchas can I expect to encounter while taking this route?

How feasible would it be to, instead, create a virtual machine to replace the old server? What VM software would be best for that?

Are there any other approaches to consider?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Transplanting windows installation on systems using XP/2003 and older is often problematic.

I think that it would be best to get some disk imaging software and make an image of the system hard drive before changing anything, just to be safe. After that you could try with virtualization. There are solutions which can use a preinstalled system inside a virtual machine.

If VM doesn't work, you could try getting a new server and seeing if it will work, but I doubt that it will be easier than reinstalling whole system.

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Sound advice. My success rate on transplanting disks from Win2000 systems over the years is about 50%. Once I have a disk image backup I'll try a transplant. If this doesn't work I'll see whether I can get a replacement, identical motherboard off Ebay. If not, I'll start thinking about Plan B, C etc.. – Linker3000 Jan 24 '11 at 9:25
Thanks for your input. I will take your advice to make images of the drives (especially the system drive) before doing anything else. Some of my other investigations confirm that it may be tricky to get this to work, mainly due to issues with drivers. Virtualization will be my Plan B. – Steven Monday Jan 24 '11 at 18:55
I am accepting this answer. I was able to image the system drive to a box with a new mobo that was similar enough to the old one that it was able to boot. One nice thing about Windows 2000: no (re-)activation nags. – Steven Monday Jan 25 '11 at 20:58

It should be feasible/possible to connect your components to a new motherboard. Windows can use standard/default drivers to talk to most motherboards until you install specific drivers.

Perhaps the only problem that may arise is if Windows 2000 cannot talk to some of the newer motherboards/components using default drivers.

My bet is you will be fine.

I don't know much about virtualisation, sorry.

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