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My parents' computer, which runs Windows XP, is old and slow. Is it possible to replace the machine's motherboard and memory while keeping the hard drive loaded as-is?

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Tell us the make and model of the PC or motherboard - there may be some easier upgrade options, like just replacing the processor. – Linker3000 Mar 7 '11 at 21:34
If you run into any of the troubles mentioned below, booting into Safe Mode after the swap on the first boot may allow you to load the new motherboard drivers – Xantec Mar 7 '11 at 22:56

It all depends on which motherboard you're using and which you're replacing it with. There are two main issues when swapping everything around your harddrive:

  1. The Windows XP doesn't have the necessary drivers loaded to boot Windows with the new hardware. You could try and download and install the drivers for your new motherboard just before performing the swap. You might want to remove the old motherboard software first. It doesn't always have to be like this, sometimes Windows can use standard drivers to boot on your new hardware.

  2. The connector for your hard drive is ATA and your new motherboard only has SATA connectors. You might want to get yourself a replacement motherboard that has the kind of connector that your hard drive uses.

Another thing that might happen is that Windows XP requires a re-activation after the swap. This shouldn't be a problem if you're using a genuine Windows version.

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Usually it isn't, especially for XP.

You can expect all kinds of errors if you just repaalce the motherboard. Also, windows may require reactivation after that.

Just upgrading RAM should work.

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For the most part, yes.

The only problem I've faced when swapping hard drives between different computers (which is basically what you're doing; forcing the OS to run with completely different hardware) was looking for chipset drivers (or motherboard drivers).

These drivers are used by the OS to allow you to use the motherboard's built-in hardware, like the ethernet port, etc. Not all mobo swaps, however, will cause this to happen, but it might.

NOTE: I use Linux.

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I suggest replacing the processor as well if you replace the motherboard ;). Otherwise you should be able to just do a repair on the install and keep all the data, no guarantees though I have had fail and work... You might also want to make sure the power supply is adequate for the new processor and as Bloodphilia mentions the hard drive uses the same connector (IDE, SATA).

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