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My laptop running Windows 7 Ultimate (non OEM) died on me today and it has tonnes of stuff on it - my projects, Visual Studio and office installations, etc. etc.

I am getting a new laptop from somewhere and was wondering if I could just unplug the hard disk from my original (dead) machine and plug it into the new one.

I remember trying this once with Windows Xp (on a desktop) and the OS crashed on boot and I had to reinstall everything again.

I have read about sysprep but by the looks of it, it can be used only when the host computer is alive and kicking -- which mine isn't.

My old laptop was a Compaq Pressario v3000 (3 years old) on an AMD and the new one is going to be a new dual core Intel HP laptop.

Any ideas?


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The (chipset driver) reasons you couldn't migrate an XP install are supposed to be fixed from Vista onwards. Can't say I've tried it yet though. – bobince Dec 23 '09 at 13:19
up vote 2 down vote accepted

the drivers in use are completely different between your old computer and the new one. You can plug it in and turn it on, but be prepared to spend a lot of time updating drivers, if it works at all. you should try booting into safe mode first, and then update your chipset drivers first. HP should have a list of drivers for your machine and the order to install them.

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I've never been successful in swapping harddrives around for the issues Nathan mentions above... If you're unsuccessful swapping HDDs out like that, you could mount the old HDD in an external caddy and get your data off that way, but that won't solve the issues with your installed apps :/

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This could only work if the two machines are reasonably similar (of same manufacture).
However, be prepared that you'll need to re-activate Windows 7. If you'll wish to use the old Windows 7 serial number on the new machine, this might work, or you might need to explain (beg) the issue to Microsoft Support.

If the two machines are not similar, you'll need to reinstall all programs and copy all data. If you don't have written down all serial numbers and need to recuperate them, you can put the disk in the new machine and do a Safe reboot, recuperate the serials, then restore the new disk (the old disk can stay as a 2nd disk if there's place for it).

See this article : "Top 13 Free Product Key Finder Programs".

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At work I can take a Ghost image of an IBM T60 and apply it to a HP EliteBook and get it to run. The first thing I do is once I have put the original image on the new laptop I run a repair on it. After the repair, that's when the fun starts in terms of updating the drivers. So yes, I absolutely think this can be done.

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You can't boot off that hard drive, as the drivers don't match between the two computers. You'll get an instant BSOD on boot. To recover your data, boot to a Linux LiveCD, and copy your files to an external HDD, flash drive, or couple of discs.

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by the time you're done sorting out all the little tidbits (drivers, permissions, explaining to a microsoft rep why the activation has failed, etc.) you could have installed windows 7 from scratch on 10 machines.

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