Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Replacing a motherboard may require a reinstall, a repair install, or you might get lucky and it'll just work.

I currently run Windows 7, 64 bit, using an Intel E8400 Dual process, but I would like to upgrade my motherboard to run an Intel i7 Ivy Bridge processor. I did a full backup of my C drive. Would it reinstall with all my current programs on the new system?

In this excerpt from Answercast #42, I look at the steps that might be necessary when replacing a motherboard.

Replacing the motherboard

Unfortunately, the best I can offer you is a maybe.

The problem is that what you have on your backup is a system that is configured for, and has the drivers for, your old motherboard. In other words, it may not have the drivers necessary to work properly on the new motherboard.

Give it a try

Now, you can try it. What I would actually recommend you do is to go ahead and give it a whack.

Reinstall that operating system (or in fact, if you're just moving the hard drive, you get the same effect). Restore that backup image on to the hard drive of the machine with the new motherboard:

  • If you're just changing the motherboard, the hard drive that's there will already have what it used to have.

  • Replacing the motherboard isn't necessarily going to erase the hard drive.

  • So it could be a matter of just trying to reboot with that new motherboard installed.

If it works, well, great. Then, off you go.

Repair install

If it doesn't, or if it seems unstable, a technique you can try is to boot from your Windows installation media and perform what's called a repair install.

That will cause Windows to essentially treat what's on that hard drive as an old version of Windows that is about to be upgraded. You'll end up choosing the upgrade path when you do a repair install.

  • So, it will reinstall Windows as if it were a new version on top of the existing Windows that's there.

  • And at that time, it will then select all the right drivers for this new motherboard.

  • It will also preserve the settings and installed software that comes with it – that you already have there.

Possible full reinstall

Now, if that doesn't work (and it's possible that it may not), the only solution that I know of that is one hundred percent guaranteed to get you a working system is to reinstall Windows from scratch.

In other words, use the installation media and do a completely new installation of Windows 7.

  • That will erase everything that's already on the hard drive.

  • You will then need to reinstall all of your applications from their original media or original downloads;

  • And then you'll need to re-copy your data: presumably from your backup, or wherever else you may have it.

But you may get lucky; it may just work. You may need to do a repair install. Worst case, you're looking at installing from scratch.

Next from Answercast 42 – How do I remove Skydrive?

Article C5671 - August 8, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

1 Comment

August 12, 2012 5:16 AM

use acronis with the + to restore to a new board,or computer.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.