Changing a Motherboard or Moving a Hard Drive with XP Installed

  Advisory: Changing an OEM XP system motherboard to a non-factory replacement motherboard or moving a hard drive with OEM XP preinstalled to a non-OEM system is not advised. Besides the possibility of being in non-compliance with the OEM EULA, and the practice of OEM's electing to provide a set of restore disks or hidden restore folders on the hard drive to satisfy Microsoft's restore requirement. The lack of a proper bootable XP CD will not allow a repair install to configure XP to the new hardware.  Since the repair install in my opinion is an absolute necessity when changing a motherboard or moving a hard drive with XP installed, I would not attempt booting into the new configuration when the option to do a repair install is not an option. If you do make the choice to boot Windows XP without doing the repair install, I highly recommend you either create an image of the hard drive or make sure you have all important data that can not be replaced from other media backed up.  

This article explains:

  1. Preparing for a motherboard change with XP installed.
  2. Changing/Replacing/Upgrading a computer motherboard  currently running XP. 
  3. Moving a hard drive with XP installed to a new computer.
  4. Setting XP to new motherboard or hard drive.
  5. Activation

    Preparing for the Change

    1. As with all changes that have the potential of data loss, you must backup all important data that cannot be restored from other media. You should either create an image of the hard drive using third party imaging software, tape backup, backup to CDRW, floppies, or the Files And Settings Transfer Wizard located on the XP CD. (F.A.S.T), etc. If you have information located in non-standard locations, do not expect the backup device or software applications default settings to backup the data. You will need to make custom adjustments to the backup settings.
    2. Check the motherboard manufacturers web site for updated drivers and any drivers that need to be loaded from a floppy at the beginning of XP installation.
    3. Check the motherboard manufacturers web site for BIOS updates for the new motherboard. As with all hardware, you should always check for updates.  Download and Flash the BIOS to the latest version before setting up your motherboard with the hard drive setup with XP. BIOS

    The Change of hardware

    1. With  XP running, insert the XP CD in the CD drive and after closing all currently running processes shut down the computer from Start > Shutdown.
    2. Remove power cord from computer.
    3. Open Case.
    4. Use either an anti-static wrist band, or make sure you touch bare metal before handling or touching a component.
    5. After labeling all cables and other power connectors; remove cables from motherboard.
    6. Remove old motherboard and replace with new motherboard.
    7. Attach cables and power connectors by consulting the motherboard user manual, and the labels you made when you disconnected them from the original mother board.
    8. Reboot and access BIOS
    9. Depending on the BIOS and OEM manufacturer, set date and time [very important], hard drive detection, CPU settings [if necessary] and boot order. You will need to set the CD DRIVE  before the Hard Drive in the boot order.
    10. Reboot
    11. Your new motherboard should support booting from CD,  look for text at the bottom of the screen for the Prompt to press a key to boot from CD.
    12. EXIT and SAVE BIOS settings.
    13. Click HERE and follow instructions to set XP to new hardware

    The following information works if the hard drive being moved is a single partition or multiple partitions on a single drive on the computer or if XP is installed on another hard drive [other than the primary master partition Disk 0] and all hard drives from the system XP is moved; are also moved and cabled exactly as the previous computer.

    1. Before shutting down Windows on the computer the hard drive/s are to be removed, end all processes.

    2. Shutdown from Start> Shutdown> select Shutdown.

    3. If multiple hard drives are being swapped, write down and label how they were configured. It is very important to preserve the cabling so all drives retain the same drive letters.

    4. Remove the hard drive or drives

    5. Install hard drive with XP installed to new computer, making sure to duplicate the cabling of computer hard drive/s is moved from.

    6. Power on the computer and access the BIOS by pressing the key combination prompted by the BIOS, configure as in step 8 above. You will need to set the CD DRIVE  before the Hard Drive in the boot order.

    7. EXIT and SAVE BIOS settings.

    8. Look for a text prompt at the bottom of the screen to boot from CD.

    Back to top

    Repair Install to SET XP to New Motherboard  Back

    1. Do Not BOOT into Windows XP on first boot after Motherboard or Hard Drive change! If  booting from CD is not an option, return to BIOS and make sure booting from CD is the first boot option. Booting into Windows is only an option when you do a direct replacement of the Motherboard, otherwise it is like playing Russian Roulette. If you lose, it is fatal!

    2. If your computer does not support booting from the CD, check your OEM or Motherboard makers web site for updated  BIOS.


    3. Perform a Repair Install by following the step by step below.

    When you see the "Welcome To Setup" screen, you will see the options below  

    This portion of the Setup program prepares Microsoft
       Windows XP to run on your computer:

       To setup Windows XP now, press ENTER.

       To repair a Windows XP installation using Recovery Console, press R.

       To quit Setup without installing Windows XP, press F3.

    Press Enter to start the Windows Setup.

    Accept the License Agreement and Windows will search for existing Windows installations.

    Select the XP installation you want to repair from the list and press R to start the repair. If Repair is not one of the options, read  this Warning!!

    Setup will copy the necessary files to the hard drive and reboot.  Do not press any key to boot from CD when the message appears. Setup will continue as if it were doing a clean install, but your applications and settings will remain intact.

    Blaster worm warning: Do not immediately activate over the internet when asked, enable the XP firewall before connecting to the internet. You can activate after the firewall is enabled. Control Panel - Network Connections.  Right click the connection you use, Properties, and there is a check box on the Advanced page.

    KB 833330 Blaster removal

    What You Should Know About the Sasser Worm and Its Variants

    Microsoft Security Bulletin MS04-011

    Reapply updates or service packs applied since initial Windows XP installation. Please note that a Repair Install from the Original install XP CD will remove SP1/SP2 and service packs will need to be reapplied. 

    Service Pack 1

    Service Pack 2

    An option I highly recommend is creating a Slipstreamed XP CD with SP2.

    Slipstreaming Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2)

    Another Slipstream step by step

    Activation Back

    1. What happens when you change a motherboard or move a hard drive depends on the accumulated changes made within a 120 day period since initial activation. As a precaution the windows\system32\WPA.DBL  and WPA.DBL should be copied to a floppy before doing a repair install. For more information see Alex Nichol's article on XP activation.

    2. It also depends on the version of Windows XP intended for the move.

    • Retail versions of XP

    1. Retail versions of XP can be moved from and reinstalled as many times as you want as long as it is in compliance with the EULA. The EULA states: You may install, use, access, display and run one copy of the Software on a single computer, such as a workstation, terminal or other device ("Workstation Computer")

    • OEM versions of XP

    1. OEM versions of XP preinstalled on systems according to the OEM EULA cannot be transferred to another computer. This is defined in the EULA.

    2. OEM versions sold with a piece of hardware are thought to be tied to the original computer it is installed on. From the link [clarification], hardware can be upgraded  and only the change of mother board will qualify as a non-original computer.

               For clarification: Contact

               Microsoft Corporate and Legal Affairs
               Microsoft Corporation
               One Microsoft Way
               Redmond, WA 98052-6399

    • What information you are required to give?

    1. As long as it is installed on only one computer, nothing needs to be said other than it was uninstalled from one computer and installed on another or the hardware was upgraded on the same computer. You do not need to or have to provide more information.

    •  Why was activation added to XP?

    1. The purpose of Activation is to make the general public aware it is a violation of the Windows XP EULA agreement to install a single licensed copy to more than one computer at a time. It was not expected to stop the ability to disable or work around the activation.

    2. I have provided enough information on this web site to activate in most situations. You decide if you comply with the EULA.

    Michael Stevens MS-MVP XP SHELL              Back

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