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Our lab uses a computer that runs windows 4 (ancient I know) to run specialized equipment. The software we want is rsview32, it runs a program that controls our specialized equipment. We would like to upgrade to a newer computer but we don't have the software nor the program on disk or anything. The only copy is in that computer. The question is, can I do something to get the software out of that computer? Could I copy the contents of the hard drive and run the programs on the new computer?

The computer only has ethernet port, usb 1.0 and floppy disk drive.

**EDIT: The computer uses the ethernet port to communicate with the equipment.

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When you say Windows 4 do you actually mean Windows NT 4 because there isn't a Windows 4. If this software is 16-bit you are going to have trouble running it on any modern equipment. So You have a floppy disk drive and USB. You can place the data on a floppy disk drive or mass storage device entirely your choice. –  Ramhound May 2 at 16:01
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Windows 4.0 was also known as Windows 95 I suppose. Please clarify your question otherwise its not very helpful. –  Ramhound May 2 at 16:06
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Moving RSView32 will involve not only moving the program, but also the HMI that it is running and any interfaces between it and the controlled equipment. Depending on the complexity of the controlled equipment you may want to consult with a SCADA integrator, starting with the one who set up the system in the first place. –  Jason Aller May 2 at 16:10
    
Can you let us know how the PC is communicating with the specialized equipment? For instance knowing if there is an OPC server on the machine, or if there is specialized interface hardware involved will help. –  Jason Aller May 2 at 16:23
    
It runs windows NT 4. The computer is connected to the equipment via ethernet port. –  user17338 May 2 at 21:01

2 Answers 2

The old system probably has a very small hard drive, so why not make a copy of the entire drive as virtual drive image, and then run that system on another modern machine as a virtual PC? You can do it this way:

  • Attach the old drive to some modern machine that has the same drive connection (EIDE? maybe not so easy to find).
  • Use Microsoft SystemInternals disk2VHD to create an image of the drive to a VHD file. (A virtual hard drive)
  • Open that VHD with your favorite Virtual PC tool (Microsoft Virtual PC or VirtualBox).
  • You can configure the new virtual system to share the host system's USB and serial ports, so if you need to connect your specialized equipment to a USB/serial ports, it would go thru there.
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In general that might work, but the RSView32 is connecting to equipment external to the PC, and at this point we haven't been told how that connection is being made. It could range from a specific interface card to a custom serial connection, to ethernet. –  Jason Aller May 2 at 16:20
    
@JasonAller - You don't know just look at the external equipment. –  Ramhound May 2 at 17:17
    
This is probably your best bet if the interface is RS232 or possibly Ethernet. I have previously converted a CMM inspector machine into a VM, and it communicates via serial port. Since VMs have a solid understanding of an Ethernet port, I would bet that VM conversion would work in this scenario. –  Lee Harrison May 2 at 21:01
    
The computer is connected to the equipment via ethernet. –  user17338 May 2 at 21:03
    
We did exactly this with an old Windows 2000 server that died. We made a virtual disk image from the physical disk and used it in Hyper-V. Unfortunately the virtual machine didn't quite work correctly – it just kept throwing bluescreens randomly. Perhaps some drivers were haunting in the background – we never found out the cause for sure. –  ntoskrnl May 2 at 21:47

Many complex Windows software suites will not only rely on files copied to designated locations in the filesystem, but also registry entries. Typically the registry entries are not only just simple keys in HKCU/SOFTWARE but may also include numerous registered COM components, type libraries, and classes. Such suites may also depend on other redistributable Windows components or packages such as specific versions of .NET, specific Visual Studio C library versions, or specific versions of MSXML.

If you are moving it to a later version of Windows, there is also the issue of compatibility and/or newer versions of Windows components that the specific version of your software may or may not work with.

So no, copying files over will probably not work if this program is of the decently complex type (and from installing some Rockwell software recently for someone in my workplace, it definitely has a lot of components and dependencies.)

If the operating system is new enough to run a P2V tool (such as Vmware's Converter), you can try moving it to a virtual machine.

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Also, it might have skipped installing some required components if (other software on) the computer already had those installed. –  Arjan May 2 at 16:35
    
@ultrasawblade - Some of the early "DRM" software used was literally the comlexity of the registry enteries it created. One could create keys that were "random noise" to humans but combined were something specific to the software. –  Ramhound May 2 at 17:17
    
Where can I find more information on moving the operating system to a virtual machine? –  user17338 May 2 at 21:05
    
+1 for the p2v recommendation. –  Colyn1337 May 2 at 21:16

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