Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Windows configures itself to the hardware it finds, but changing everything at once by moving the system disk to a different machine might be too much.
I would like your take on installing a C: Hard drive from one computer into another computer. Would that computer boot up normally with the C: Hard drive from another machine?
This is a classic case of "maybe".
Ultimately, it might work, and it might not. Or something in between.
It depends on how similar the two machines are.
When you install Windows onto a machine, the installation process configures Windows to the specific hardware configuration of that machine. It selects and installs the drives appropriate to, for example, the specific network card, sound card, hard disk interface, CD-ROM drive and so on that you actually have installed in that machine.
In fact, it even selects drivers and settings for things you don't normally think of, like chipsets, CPUs and other low-level components.
If the machine you take your hard disk to is identical to the original machine, then yes, you stand a pretty good chance of having everything work. You might have to deal with Windows activation, since that incorporates things like serial numbers to detect hardware changes, but that too can often just work or be handled with a phone call.
If the new machine is dramatically different, then I'd not expect this to work. The problem is I can't point to a specific thing and say that "this will break it". A different CPU? Maybe, maybe not. A different disk controller? Perhaps. Different amounts of RAM? Probably not an issue.
It's difficult to say, but the more different the machines are, the less likely I would expect it to work.
Part of the problem is that knowing what will happen is further confused by Windows "plug and play" architecture. As you may have already experienced when adding new hardware, Windows often just notices, and either installs the new drivers, or prompts you for the new drivers, without your needing to do a thing.
The copy of Windows on your hard disk, when booted in a new machine, may simply treat the differences it finds as newly detected hardware; a lot of newly detected hardware. Your chances of success then depend on Windows ability to then install all the drivers for the hardware that it sees as different.
I have to say that, ultimately, I would never rely on this approach to work. There are simply too many pitfalls; too many ways that things could go wrong. I'd expect the result to be "half-baked" and prone to hardware issues. The safest approach, by far, is to reinstall Windows on any new machine after backing up the old hard disk, of course.
Which, to be frank, if you're planning on trying this strategy you should do anyway.
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