Switching boot HDs

I am not sure whether to post this in the software or hardware forum, so Mod if you think it should be moved, be my guest.

The ROM chip in my brother’s MB died (probably has other problems as well, but this ends it). Since he is on disability income, he has limited resources which means I have generally been his “tech support”. I have 3 choices: new MB, sell him my secondary comp at avg used price and get myself another one with better processor, or buy the cheapest new one I can.

The problem arises in the boot drive and Win XP. If I put in a new MB, how do I get XP to work without a full reformat/reinstall? Same thing with my second comp - I have programs that I have tweaked/modified that I don’t want to try to do over again (these progs are not on my main comp). I’d rather drop the boot drive in the new system and get XP to work with that system. I do have the original XP discs, both his and mine.

And with a new comp, the problem is that he has some programs with some sort of AI (speech to text etc) that he has invested a lot of time adapting that a fresh re-install would put him back at least several weeks in redeveloping to the point they are or were now.

Is there a way to re-install or install XP in either case and keep from having to re-format and reinstall everything else. And on a new comp, is there any sure fire way to move the prgrams intact from the old drive to the new comp without reinstalling?

What option I take is dependent on what I can do regarding the boot HD.

As the OS is XP you’ll have to reformat the drive because of the new hardware (MB) and anything else new.

The only way to avoid a fresh installation (that is anyway the better option regarding stability) is to buy or to find a hardware as much as possible similar to the old mainboard, aka same socket, same chipset, possibly also same brand because there are always some differences between similar hardwares from different brands.

If you can find another mobo with the same features, this should allow you to simply swap HDD on the new mobo and make the system work with the lowest amount of problems

That’s a good suggestion, geno. And even then (and certainly on a completely different system) XP may start to complain about too many hardware changes and cancel activation.

chiguai, maybe it just needs a new battery for the ROM chip?

Crap!! :a

I was afraid that would be the case. Does anyone know what would happen if I just installed XP again with the original XP still on the drive? Maybe going in with a dos boot CD and renaming the current XP directory to something else, installing XP again and then deleting that directory?


Tried that and when I got the same symptoms still, finally broke down and took it in to a professional. He confirmed what I had suspected - ROM chip was shot possibly from a minor power surge at some point. And per the tech - even if he could somehow get it working, whatever took out the ROM probably damaged other stuff as well

Are you referring to the old computer or to the new one?

Doing a fresh install you will obtain the most reliable solution, but in this way any configuration and any installed software will be lost, and this require again installation and configuration. Very boring, but the better solution.

If a fresh install is the best option, maybe you can also consider to buy a different hardware, more updated and with better performance.

This eliminates the MB option - not worth trying to find one (old P4 1.7 Ghz from Dell). For just a bit more money, I can get a better lowend system for him.

Now this still leaves me with trying to rescue his AI programs. With the old DOS based OS’s I could have done this in my sleep, but I have never had the time to tear apart XP as I did Win 3.1, 95 & 98.

Any suggestions? Could I put his HD in an external and use Norton Ghost to image, then restore the programs to the new computer?

And in doing it that way, I’d have to manually edit the registry right and find what files etc the progs put in the XP directory right?

If you buy a new and different hardware, even doing a ghost image of the old system you will obtain a blue screen at the best. The only option is a fresh reinstall.

Sorry, but for what I know the method you suggested will not work

I thought any MB would do?

You just have to change the BIOS settings before it checks the drives don’t you?

@chiguai - I don’t know if this link will help you but it might be worth a shot


There’s a Microsofy product called Sysprep which may help. Never tried it but it was recommended by a member here some time ago.

Look here

I would suggest the same thing, although I haven’t used sysprep for this purpose.

(I install Windows from scratch on new hardware, and then move things over from the old harddrive manually).

(too late to edit my previous post)

Using sysprep may not be a solution if the current pc is not bootable, because sysprep has to be run on the old system before cloning or moving the harddrive to the new system.

One problem that you are going to run into is with microsoft activation. Acording to microsoft, the motherboard is the one piece of equipment that you are not allowed to upgrade with an oem version of windows. Even if the motherboard fails, they require that you replace it with the same motherboard (its up to the computer manufacture to determine what is considered the same). Xp will know if it is a diffrent motherboard as has been said and you will run into activation problems. If it were a full retail copy of xp I would say that maybe a repair install would work (as it reinstalls hardware drivers but leaves installed programs intact). If the software is valuable enough and too hard to reinstall, prehaps it would be worth paying for another xp licience key (which would get you past activation problems) and perhaps this would work, depending on if the oem version disks you have are full windows xp install disks or not.

I think the BIOS EEPROM chip is replaceable. The usual way it gets clobbered is with a bad flash. I suppose a power line surge could damage that and other things as well. I hope you use a power line surge suppressor.

You might be able to get a new chip from the motherboard manufacturer. This company also sells them and has some info:

A good way to see if your mobo is working is to download and run a memroy diagnostic. You can use Microsoft’s memory diag, or memtest 86.

If you replace the mobo, you will need to do a repair type install unless the new mobo is identical. As mentioined above, michaelstevenstech.com has the info, although he makes it seem more complicated than it really is.

Also as mentioned in earlier posts, if you have an EOM license, you will probably have a problem activating it. I’ve heard that Microsoft is fairly lenient, and maybe whoever you talk to on the phone can get you going or at least tell you how you can buy another license that will work with your present install.

Many many thanks to all who responded - the above links were very informative and gave me a lot to think about.

Since repair of the MB wouldn’t be worth the time and effort, I have picked up a cheap lowend comp for him. I am going to try to put his drive in my external case and explore to see if I can identify the files that contain his “learned” data and get the reinstalled programs to use it.

If you put the old HD in a new system as slave, many of the programs will work when run from the drive. Some will ask for you to enter the serial number, and some won’t run at all. I had to do this a few years back, upgraded to winxp from winme, and put old drive as slave. Was able to use 90% of the programs on the old drive. With the AI software, there should be specific folders/files where the stuff he taught it reside. If you can figure that out, you can do a fresh install on the new HD, and copy the old files/folders over the new install to upgrade it…