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HD here means hard disk.

I am a complete beginner at messing around inside computers. But I have a computer with a hard disk with Windows XP installed on it. It uses an Intel Celeron Single-Core Processor. I have another PC that I want to put this HD into which uses an Intelsingle core Pentium III. (yes these are old computers)

Assuming both motherboards have the same ports (is that the right word?) for the hard disk, is it a simple process to take out the hard disk from PC A, plop it into PC B, start up and run?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

You can always take an existing hard disk and put it into another machine. To do that, just unplug the power and data connection from the disk, and plug it into the other machine.

If both machines are the same age, chances are good you have the same connection type for the hard drive. Judging from your post it seems like that's okay. If they aren't, you won't be able to just plug in a new drive into an old machine and vice versa, that's because hard disks now mostly use SATA which isn't available on old motherboards that still use IDE/PATA.

But: You won't just be able to run the existing operating system if the hardware specifications are not the same. That's because your installation has specific drivers for your hardware which don't work out of the box for other hardware.

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By hardware specs do you mean sound card, video card etc...? – JarvisP May 27 '11 at 9:02
Yes, exactly those! – slhck May 27 '11 at 9:03
Also see the answer from @ChrisF below, you may try, but if you just want to keep the data from the drive, you can add it to the machine as a "slave". – slhck May 27 '11 at 9:19

Theoretically yes, but in practice it's a little more complicated.

The drivers installed on the hard drive will be for the original hardware - motherboard, disk controllers, CPU etc.

Windows will attempt to sort things out but if the hardware it too different (e.g. the motherboards are different) it's most likely that it will fail to boot.

If you just want the data off hard drive install it as a second drive in the new PC. Remember to switch the Master/Slave jumpers on the disk first.

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+1 This is the most accurate answer. As a secondary HDD, it shouldn't be a problem. Running it as primary and expecting everything to boot fine off it is (very) hopeful. – Muffinbubble May 27 '11 at 10:28
You could try Safe Mode which might run a bit more nicely and give you a chance to install drivers and such. – tombull89 May 27 '11 at 10:45

It will most likely not work. This is because the Cpu and some other hardware. It is possible that it will boot but you will see errors and it will never run smoothly.

There is however no harm in trying this. You can always put the disk back in the original computer.

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The processors are both x86 32-bit, so I thought for the OS they were the same. – JarvisP May 27 '11 at 9:01
I tried it before. It will not be perfect but it has indeed a great chance to at least boot into the OS. You will see it will trow some errors and the performance will suffer. – Jarco May 27 '11 at 9:09

The physical procedure is simple if the hard disk is compatible(ex. the HDD has an IDE and both machines have IDE ports). However in order to boot windows on one that was installed on another PC, you will need to create a separate hardware profile. Here is a link to helpful article.

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Jarvis, to clear things up.

If you are planning on adding the other hard drive as a secondary drive, that is a drive you will store data on only, providing the connections are the same (IDE vs SATA, you can get converters), you will most likely not have a problem.

If you are wanting to take this hard drive out and put it in the other machine and expect to run Windows off it (as in, a primary drive) you will most likely run into problems. This is because the hardware is most likely to be different, unless your machines are identical.

I see your comment about the processors being the same bit, it's more than that.

You could have different graphic cards, different processors, different sounds cards. What's going to happen is you'll have all the drivers from your old machine on the new machine and nothing will match up (providing your hardware is different). If it doesn't crash, you'll be left with a lot of junk data (old drivers etc) on your hard drive.

Hope that helps, Ricky

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