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I would like to copy Windows operating systems to put on a new hard drive in case my old one breaks as I have paid for Windows os. I would like to transfer it to a new drive I have the product number key.

Is this possible?

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Not legally - unless you use the hard drive in the same PC/laptop.

You should have an installation DVD or a recovery partition.

If you have the installation DVD then you have nothing to worry about (apart from backing up your data). If you need to reinstall just use that.

If you only have a recovery partition then you can back that up to DVD and if you hard drive fails use that to restore the OS. There should be instructions on doing this on your PC or the manufacturers site.

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thank you for the speedy reply – steven Mar 26 '11 at 18:33
@Moab - true. I'll update the answer. – ChrisF Mar 26 '11 at 20:08

As far as i understand you have bought a PC with a preinstalled Windows Vista on it. Many PC manufacturers install the Windows Backup Image (for Windows Restore) on a separate Partition on the Hard Drive. Most of them suplly you with a Tool to burn this Windows Restore Image on a DVD too. Search for it on the Program list of your PC. If you dont find anything, please give us the Name of your PC Manufacturer so we can help you in more detail.

Greetings, mitsosc

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thank you for the speedy reply – steven Mar 26 '11 at 18:30

Many products allow one to take a disk copy.

Of course, such a copy cannot run on another computer : Once the hardware changes too much, Windows will require re-activation by using an unused serial.

Examples of such products:

Paragon Backup & Recovery 2011 (Advanced) Free
EASEUS Disk Copy
DriveImage XML

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It is possible, and the method of doing so has been answered in this question:

Easiest way to copy or clone boot partition onto new hard drive.

I have spoken to Microsoft technical support on a number of occasions who suggested taking an image of the drive before carrying out any of their instructions. As to legality, up to you to interpret that. It is just classed as a backup of your computer, unless you start plugging it into another computer or trying to boot from it at the same time. The OEM key is tied to the computer, not just the hard drive. Swapping a hard drive out does not go against the EULA.

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