Reuse OS and data (on hard drive) with new hardware


New Member
I'm not sure to post this here or at the hardware forum.

I'm going to put together a computer for the first time. I would replace everything except for the cd-rom drive and hard-drive (SATA II). This hard disk contains Vista 32bit and a lot of data. Is it possible to reuse the hard drive with Vista and the data? Will it start (and then install all new drivers manually)? The Vista is factory installed on the pc (Acer Aspire M5500, no Vista cd, only license key). I can't backup my data because the videocard and motherboard of my current pc seem broken and the last backup is months old.


old computer:
- Q6600
- moederbord: no idea
- Geforce 8600 GT
- 2gb RAM

new computer:
- E8500
- moederbord: Asus P5Q
- Geforce GTX285
- 4gb RAM
Hi WhiteWolf, welcome to NST.
Unfortunately your Vista licence will have an OEM key. It doesn't belong to you, like a retail version you can move from one system to another. It belongs to the broken PC.
If you put it in another PC, even one that looks superficially like the old one, it will detect the hardware change, and if the change is above a certain threshold level, the install will fail validation.
(A change of HDD, or extra RAM would be accepted, but a change of mobo will definitely exceed the validation criteria)
About the only way MS will validate an OEM OS on a new mobo, is if a defective mobo was changed for a new one of exactly the same model, and even then you'd need to get phone authorization. The online validation would still fail.
They won't reauthorize if the PC has been upgraded. Those are the exact conditions that the OEM licence precludes. If you want to use a Windows OS and take it with you from PC to new PC, it must be a retail version (full or upgrade)
You might be able to get it up in its unvalidated state for long enough to rescue your user files to external storage.
You could certainly boot a live Linux directly from CD and use it for the same purpose.
Rather than buy another Vista licence, you'd probably be better off getting Windows 7 while it's on introductory offer pricing.
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