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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Jul 2017

    Default Moving a hard drive between windows activated computers.

    I'm looking into building a new computer. At the same time my parents are starting to grumble that their computer is being sluggish. Since my old computer is probably more than adequate for their needs, I might as well hand it down.

    I'm currently running on an oem copy of Windows. Since their computer is a prebuilt, I'm assuming they are too. Thus, I just want to check how much fuss it would be to simply swap around hard drives. Basically, if I popped their drive into my machine, would there be any problems beyond just entering the key I'm currently using? And similarly, would I need to jump through any hoops beyond just getting a new key for myself and entering it for a new activation?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Jun 2007

    Default Re: Moving a hard drive between windows activated computers.

    IIRC... you can't.

    OEM licenses are bound to the machine they were installed on. Or, more accurately, the motherboard.

    You can swap all the other parts, but the key stays with the motherboard. Lose the motherboard and ... well. Bye OEM license.
    May you get EXACTLY what you wish for.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Titan in the Playground
     
    tyckspoon's Avatar

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    Nov 2007
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    Indianapolis
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    Default Re: Moving a hard drive between windows activated computers.

    You may have to phone in for an authorization to reuse the install. IME as long as each install/key is only being used on one system at a time Microsoft is not very harsh about issuing an activation, but the automatic system usually balks at it and will often require manual authorization.

    (In my relatively limited experience of building systems and trying to move hard drives, it'll boot up and go 'oh hey this.. isn't the same system I used to be attached to, that's a different Everything. Did you reinstall me to a new system? Is this the only computer I'm being used on? Ok.. hold on a second.. here's your new key/please dial this number to request a new activation key. But that was with the 'system builder' editions of Windows, which aside from having warning labels that the person installing the system takes responsibility for any tech support are basically plain Windows installs - an HP/Dell/Lenovo/etc image may have stricter locks on it.)

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    ElfPirate

    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Default Re: Moving a hard drive between windows activated computers.

    Depending a bit on, sometimes you can tie the license into your Microsoft account which would let you move it. When I was looking into it seemed like it was possible but you had to do it before removing the harddrive. The scenario they were solving was if a mobo had burnt out, but in my case I was just swapping out the hardware and didn't realise my Win8 upgrade would not transfer. Am still not clear on the issue but not bothered trying. I got the mobo, memory, drive and now even gfx card available if I just had another box to install it into. Technically am short a PSU I should have gotten months ago but hasn't arrived yet and am totally migrated from previous hardware.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Erloas's Avatar

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    Oct 2006
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    Default Re: Moving a hard drive between windows activated computers.

    You might have some issues depending on how much of the system changed. Switching from an AMD to Intel or vise versa might cause some issues for instance, Windows can usually deal with that, but it it will be a few extra steps in the setup. MS, especially lately, has been pretty easy on Windows activations so I wouldn't expect any problems there.

    I did my last build because my MB went out, and since I was using a RAID 0 I lost everything and couldn't find a copy of my key. Thinking MS had it saved to my account I just installed a fresh copy of Windows, it turns out they didn't, but the only thing that happened was it said it wasn't activated and I couldn't do a hand full of customization things but otherwise worked without issue for weeks until I finally got around to ordering a new copy.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Feb 2007
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    Manchester, UK
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    Default Re: Moving a hard drive between windows activated computers.

    Quote Originally Posted by sihnfahl View Post
    IIRC... you can't.

    OEM licenses are bound to the machine they were installed on. Or, more accurately, the motherboard.

    You can swap all the other parts, but the key stays with the motherboard. Lose the motherboard and ... well. Bye OEM license.
    Agreed. OEM licences are not transferrable between machines.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Jun 2013
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    Bristol, UK

    Default Re: Moving a hard drive between windows activated computers.

    Quote Originally Posted by sihnfahl View Post
    IIRC... you can't.

    OEM licenses are bound to the machine they were installed on. Or, more accurately, the motherboard.

    You can swap all the other parts, but the key stays with the motherboard. Lose the motherboard and ... well. Bye OEM license.
    This is mostly correct, but the bit that the license is connected to is the box the little sticker is stuck to, not the motherboard. Yes, having the box be the machine is silly, but it's what Microsoft chose.
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Imp

    Join Date
    Jan 2019

    Default Re: Moving a hard drive between windows activated computers.

    It is a little unclear what Microsoft's current actual policy is (as opposed to what the strict reading of what could be enforced under the contract), but if you link to a Microsoft account it seems to just work. When I moved my drive to a new computer it complained about activation for a while, then just worked. I hadn't linked my copy of windows to my account, and was dragging my feet about moving everything back onto the old hardware to link it from there, but they just seemed to figure it out before I got round to it. When I then tried to activate it (having found my key, rather than doing the online thing) it claimed it was already done! I think they can detect that a key is suddenly gone silent on a particular set of hardware, and reappeared on another with the same configuration (indicating an upgrade, even if you upgrade everything*).

    I do have an account for stuff like visual studio, which may have affected things. Also, not from an OEM I think (second hand originally).

    If you are struggling I think there is somewhere you can message. They seem pretty chill about it these days. In particular they seem fine with 'Ship of Theseus' computers, which makes sense given they can detect if a networked computer suddenly became 2 computers (and a non networked one is pretty hamstrung these days). They certainly don't like doing 'computer says no' to people any more, or being too aggressive with the cash grabbing from consumer stuff, so I would just try it and see what happens.

    *Upgrading a MOBO can mean new socket, and memory generation, meaning you basically have to switch out everything anyway.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Manchester, UK
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    Default Re: Moving a hard drive between windows activated computers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Rooster View Post
    I do have an account for stuff like visual studio, which may have affected things. Also, not from an OEM I think (second hand originally).
    If it's not an OEM copy of Windows then it's an entirely different situation, you can move that around between machines just fine. The OEM ones tend to be locked to a particular motherboard because they're usually set up to look for a particular string in the machine's BIOS on startup that simply isn't there if you replace the motherboard with a different one.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2017

    Default Re: Moving a hard drive between windows activated computers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Rooster View Post
    If you are struggling I think there is somewhere you can message. They seem pretty chill about it these days. In particular they seem fine with 'Ship of Theseus' computers, which makes sense given they can detect if a networked computer suddenly became 2 computers (and a non networked one is pretty hamstrung these days). They certainly don't like doing 'computer says no' to people any more, or being too aggressive with the cash grabbing from consumer stuff, so I would just try it and see what happens.
    Remember also that the big question involves setting up my old computer at my parents' place. I can do setup for them, but the goal is for everything to look and feel the same for them after I leave.

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