Saving programs on old hard drive

By chathamjoe
May 15, 2012
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  1. I had an HP Pavillion with XP that crashed. I removed the HD and mounted it in an encolsure and it is fine, I can access all my data files. I am purchasing a refurbished Dell 620 with XP Pro. My ? is can I & if so how use all my programs and information as is or must I reload each program and
    search for the data files.
  2. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 12,411   +281

    The stuff that is in the Program Files directory of your old HD will have to be reinstalled. There isn't a way around that.
  3. chathamjoe

    chathamjoe Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thanks for the reply. I was afraid of that.
  4. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,327   +49

    Well, that is the general rule, because the installations write to the registry, and also to the start menu in XP. In the odd case, however, software will run quite happily in an 'uninstalled' state, and in more advanced cases, there will be a 'repair' option which will actually write the necessary registry entries.
    Depending on how much work is involved, you can simply try creating desktop shortcuts to the software on the old drive and see what happens.

    <edit> You can also copy the entire menu of the PC from the old drive onto the new.
    You will need to apply 'see all system files' to view it.

    It is located at C:\Documents and settings\[local user name]\Start Menu (and 'programs' is below that. There is another one under c:\Documents and settings\All Users\Start Menu. That one is for when old software is installed which does not use the ability to have individual installs for individual users. The final menu you experience is the merge of those two menus. It does not harm your PC to merge your old menus with the new one resulting from your new OS install. There is a good chance that when you edit the 'old' sections of the menu so as to point to the software location on the old drive, it will work.

    You edit the .lnk files by just right-clicking them and choose properties. Of course, all that is a lot of work, so re-install if you have the media is easier and quicker, but if the software has no install (all too often if you download it and execute the install immediately) then there may be no other alternative.
  5. bobcat

    bobcat TechSpot Paladin Posts: 688   +67

    As SNGX1275 said, old system and installed programs go together, you can’t have a new system with the old programs.

    But, depending on the cause of the crash, if you’re lucky and both system and HD are intact, you could restore the old system with its programs in the new computer. The possibilities are as follows:

    If the (intact) HD is compatible with the new computer (same size and connector type) you can install the HD in the new PC.

    If the system is damaged, you can in many cases repair it using the MS repair tool and do as above.

    If you don’t want to keep the old HD in the new computer, you can make an image of its entire system partition, which will include system and programs, and restore it on the HD of the new computer.
  6. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TechSpot Booster Posts: 808   +51

    Technically speaking, you can't port programs from one OS to another on to different physical drives. They need to be registered by the Registry. And, with Windows, moving a HD b/w different h/w is not really possible. It's not Linux after all. The drivers are sort of...locked. So IMHO copying a system partition from one PC (assuming w/ different hardware) to another isn't advisable. However, as Bob said, restoring a "profile" can "trick" the OS (only if identical) into thinking the old programs belong to itself, and reinstalling them with all the valid registry signatures.
    Since I personally have never tried it, I can only speculate and give a what-can-happen idea.
  7. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,327   +49

    The old PC was an HP, the next one will be a Dell. I would not expect a simple image copy to a new HDD will boot, as the HP will probably have a 'lock-and-key' with the HP bios. Even if I am wrong, you are going to need a complete repair install, with new drivers, I suspect.

    But since you expect the Dell to come with XP already, your best bet is mount the old HDD as well (becoming drive E: or whatever), and try linking into the software on it.
  8. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TechSpot Booster Posts: 808   +51

    Aye, but that would be way too difficult, especially if (like a Nero or Nokia PC Suite installation) it depends on registry entries.
  9. bobcat

    bobcat TechSpot Paladin Posts: 688   +67

    Yes, of course, hardware is different, so there will be driver problems. Though new drivers can be installed, this may not be simple, the proposals would only provide simple solutions for similar hardware. The conclusion of this discussion, mine at least, is that SNGX1275 got it right in his first post and various other solutions would be too complicated and uncertain.

    But I take the opportunity to add support to the growing tendency of using portable apps, which require no installation and would even work from a USB stick. As their name implies, these can easily be carried over to a new system. Plus, they do not slow down the computer and do not cause instability/conflicts as do installed programs. Lastly, they can be easily removed without leaving any significant debris in the registry.

    For the above reasons, for some time now I give preference to portable apps and fortunately, their availability seems to be increasing. There are also methods for converting program installers to portable, but these are not always lawful as per some EULAs.

    Not forgetting the OP, in view of the above, the easy advice is to go thru his apps and see which ones are portable, so they can be carried over to the new PC.
  10. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TechSpot Booster Posts: 808   +51

    Exactly what I was about to post! Good point, Bob.


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