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NFT: Swapping hard drives between two desktops

Bramton1 : 2/10/2020 9:22 am
Hey, I'm a librarian/tech guru at a public school. The teacher next to me had a Dell desktop that won't power on. The power light has a solid amber color, which apparently suggests either a power supply or a motherboard failure (blinking amber is definitely motherboard, but the light isn't blinking). I've assured the teacher that there is a decent chance the data on the hard drive is safe.

Since the desktop is a Windows 7 device, it's unlikely the school system itself will do any tech support on it. However, I have the same model desktop collecting dust in my library after the hard drive crashed last year. So wondering. Would I be able to take the hard drive out of his desktop and put it in mine? I've never done this before, and don't know if the new CPU would accept the hard drive without a reformat. Or should I try swapping out the power supply and see if that does the trick?
on the one desktop  
JINTin Adirondacks : 2/10/2020 9:31 am : link
with the amber the fan spinning on the back of the unit ? if not try swapping power supply's 1st
It's complicated  
JohnF : 2/10/2020 9:56 am : link
Microsoft does not allow a straight drive swap, since your installed version of Windows 7 is setup with specific hardware drivers for your old PC.

1) First, I'd determine if your old PC is toast. Swap out power supplies, and see if that does the trick. If not, it's likely the old PC is toast (bad motherboard).

2) You'd want to get a new HD for your "new" PC (you REALLY don't want to use an old HD that crashed). You can get a cheap 250 gig SSD for around $35 on Amazon. Use the Windows 7 product key to download and setup a Windows 10 install flash with these instructions.

3) Once you've installed W10 and it's working on your working desktop, you can slave the old drive (instructions). If that does not work, you can get a cheap conversion kit that turns your old hard drive into a USB hard drive ([url=]Amazon[/url]).

4) If you can't get into the old hard drive, you can try booting up with a Linux Rescue disk (I like using Linux Lite), and then copying data from the old hard drive to another. You won't be able to copy the programs themselves.

5) You really don't want to keep running Windows 7, it's end of life, and is vunerable to viruses, malware, ransomware, key loggers, etc.

6) In a Library situation (where normally people are just surfing on the web), Linux is a much better option. Easier to maintain, and if the hardware goes, you can just pull the hard drive out and place it in another PC...normally, it just re-installs the hardware drivers, unlike windows.

And yes, this is a PIA, and tough on boomers (I did this kind of thing for years at work). You may want to get some help from your local Wiz kids on this, since a lot of them are the new equivalent of car jockeys, only today they go under the PC hood instead of car hoods. Good luck!

See below for the Amazon link that didn't show up
Amazon - ( New Window )
Why not just get an external enclosure for about 20$?  
NoPeanutz : 2/10/2020 10:12 am : link
Then, you can access the HDD in a working Desktop like a USB drive.
link - ( New Window )
Easier thing to do may be to just swap the power supply  
nyjuggernaut2 : 2/10/2020 10:19 am : link
instead of the HD.
RE: Why not just get an external enclosure for about 20$?  
Dankbeerman : 2/10/2020 10:20 am : link
In comment 14807927 NoPeanutz said:
Then, you can access the HDD in a working Desktop like a USB drive. link - ( New Window )

This works wonderfully for me and easy to do. copy over what you need all the time and then treat it as an archive.
Found a disassembly video on youtube  
Bramton1 : 2/10/2020 10:57 am : link
So I swapped out the power supply, and now it's working again. Thanks!
Actually its not complicated at all  
Ron from Ninerland : 2/10/2020 11:38 am : link
You can swap drives on desktops. I've done it myself. if the problem with the old PC is indeed something other than the disk, a working PC should be able to boot. At boot up Windows 7 will attempt to load the neccessary drivers for the new PC. If it is unable to do so, you can still boot Windows 7 in safe mode and copy your data off to external media. If you intend to use Windows 7 on the working PC for any length of time, you will have to activate it.

It goes without saying that after you recover from this crisis you should update to a newer computer with Windows 10. Or MacOS, Or Linux
RE: Why not just get an external enclosure for about 20$?  
jlukes : 2/10/2020 12:56 pm : link
In comment 14807927 NoPeanutz said:
Then, you can access the HDD in a working Desktop like a USB drive. link - ( New Window )

Came here today suggest this.
So easy
Yeah, I've done the HD enclosure before  
Bramton1 : 2/10/2020 2:51 pm : link
Years and years ago, my wife's hard drive crashed, taking with it most of our second child's baby pictures. We got an enclosure to see what we could salvage from the HD, but it was a total loss.

A few years later, I got a warning on my work laptop that the hard drive was entering HD failure. I got a new HD, cloned the new HD with the old HD's data, and installed the new system. There was a little I had to do to get the HD talking properly to the computer, but most of it was automated by the cloning software.
if the desktop models are exactly the same  
Platos : 2/10/2020 4:47 pm : link
drivers shouldn't be an issue

but you may have to relicense your software like windows and office.
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