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How to: Swap motherboard without clean or upgrade installing Windows

By Per Hansson ยท 18 replies
Apr 17, 2006
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  1. So you have had that Windows XP or 2000 install working very nicley over a year or more and it's only working as good as it ever is going to get with countless of tweaks and hundreds of installed applications and updates, all configured to your liking, next you decide to buy a new/other mainboard and start cyring over either having to do a clean install (the proper way) or a repair of your Windows installation (resetting your registry to default meaning most of your apps and config changes will no longer work...)

    There is a better way, it's called Sysprep. It's real use is in big organizations where you can configure a system the way it must be to be able to work in your organization, then you run sysprep and it removes the machine specific drivers/settings allowing you to make a Ghost image of the install and push it out to thousands of different machines which will all be configured peoperly by the mini setup that Sysprep configures the machines to run on the next bootup... Well that is the theory anyway :D

    We will use it in a similar way, but only on a single system...

    1: Download all the latest drivers for your system, especially remember the LAN drivers since XP might not support it by default and then it will be difficult to download the rest of the drivers when you have no net connection ;)

    2: Extract sysprep from your Windows install CD, it is under \support\tools\deploy.cab) to c:\sysprep (it can also be downloaded for XP or 2000.

    3: Start Sysprep.exe choose Mini-Setup, PnP, and then Reseal. Your machine will shutdown when the process is completed.

    4: Install your new mainboard and any other hardware, when you boot it up Windows should launch a mini setup wizard, similar to the normal 2000/XP install... The setup should prompt you for drivers it does not have, so lucky you that you downloaded them in step 1 :D

    Possible issues with Sysprep:
    Unsupported Scenarios
    'The Password Is Not Valid' error in recovery console.

    Adding 3rd party OEM drivers.
    Add OEM Drivers

    *Note* this thread is based upon this thred at hardocp and this one at dfi street...
  2. Glynderi

    Glynderi TS Rookie

  3. skay

    skay TS Rookie Posts: 16

    Do all the exact same issues apply to W2K? I'm thinking very seriously about upgrading my current system, an AMD XP 1800+/Asus A7V333, to an AMD X2 3800+/MSI K8N Neo2-F. At first I thought it would be a simple matter of just unhooking everything, taking the old mobo/cpu/psu/memory out, then putting the new stuff along with the old stuff back in. But then I came back to my senses, and figured that was just way too many changes to go off without a hitch, so I started checking help sites and found this thread.

    I learned a while back to scale down and partition my system drive to +/- 20GB, store data on other partitions/drives, and back up the C-drive regularly with Power Quest's Drive Image. I always save a couple of older C-drive images, in case there's a bad MS Update, a program that totally hoses the system, or the system gets hit with some trojan/virus, etc. And so I haven't needed to do anything resembling a full system install/re-install in years. I've finally gotten everything tweaked and running exactly the way I want, except lately I've been running into what appears to be some sort of looming hardware failure. I haven't set about to pinpoint it as of yet, but the system is over 4 years old, I don't game or overclock but I do a lot of audio editing, d/l'ing, and it runs pretty much 24/7, so I figure it's probably time for a major upgrade.

    Fortunately, at least if I do end up needing to do a total reinstall as a result of installing the new mobo/CPU/PSU/memory/SATA II's, (note: My goal is to try to use the same IDE system HD I'm currently using in the new setup, if possible) in addition to the PQ images, I have also over the years grabbed screenshots of my most-used programs' configurations, and have stored them on a separate drive. I also wrote down/stored the installation sequence, including the major utilities I use (like an unzip program, lol. nothing worse than getting ready to unzip all the goodies, only to realize the unzip utility is ZIPPED. heheheh), and whatever pitfalls I ran into so as to avoid them the next time around, etc. (Although it's been a couple of years since I've had to do a re-install. But since I haven't changed the core programs/utilities, the sequence should still work) I also stored every utility and freeware program I use on redundant drives and DVD backups, along with exporting all my favorites to another drive, and using Easy Outlook Express to save all my settings there. But still, even with all of that (and it helps, don't get me wrong), the thought of having to start from scratch is just not a pleasant one for me, and I'd definitely like to avoid it if at all possible.
  4. Glynderi

    Glynderi TS Rookie

    Changing hardware etc

    Can't say if these issues apply to Win2K.

    Apart from a personal view that I'd shift from Win2K to XP Pro (if you can afford it) the principle always seems to be to prepare carefully. Backing up data is key and making sure you have the wherewithall to reinstall programs helps. If you are using Win2K (which is fine, but slow), a change of OS to WinXP would make a difference - if your hardware is up to it.

    Even with XP (which I find v stable) a reinstall every 9-12 months is good as one's hard drive gets cluttered. However, if you stay with Win2K, make sure your existing setup is up-to-date. Clean the drive with this approach:
    search the drive with this command - *.tmp,*.chk,~*.* and delete all that this search finds. Defrag and then backup. My Docs and a folder called Downloads is key for me - plus the good old Outlook .pst file.

    A very useful CD is one created following instructions found after search for Ultimate Boot CD for Windows. That's great for XP, but there's probably a similar one for Win2K.
  5. skay

    skay TS Rookie Posts: 16

    Thanks for your response. However, I don't agree that W2K is slow compared to XP, especially with all the eye candy engaged on XP. The only thing that I think is faster with XP is the time it takes to reboot. My g/f's XP home seems to reboot faster than my W2K. But there are just things about XP that I remember having to undo when I used to use it that I never had to undo in W2K. For example, the annoying system balloon popups (I think they were generated by the messenger service, that had to be disabled). And just a ton of additional typical MS call home stuff and promotional stuff (i.e. Here, click this link to get more themes...oh, but they're not free...you have to pay for them, etc.) not to mention the hassle of the 30-day limit/activation-validation process for a product I'd already fully paid for, etc. But I know there are XP advocates and W2K advocates. Essentially, however, when it comes to performance, W2K will run easily on systems that XP will not, due to the additional required ram for XP. And from all the test reports I've read, the conclusions were always that XP and W2K share the same engine, so speed -- apart from the reboot factor -- was always virtually identical, for all practical purposes.
  6. Plague

    Plague TS Rookie

    I upgraded my motherboard and cpu around january, a whole different brand, chipset and all. Suprisingly, windows had no boot issues at all, it started up without a glitch. I went through and uninstalled any of the old drivers just in case but overall, I found the transition to be effortless, and all my benchmarks are where they are supposed to be or beyond.

    Using win2k. Went from a shuttle motherboard (amd chipset) running an athlon thunderbird to a MSI (via chipset) running a amd64 3800+
  7. Jesse_hz

    Jesse_hz TS Maniac Posts: 475

    This is all very nice, but what would a person do if the original motherboard is fried?
  8. cfitzarl

    cfitzarl TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,892   +9

    I tried this some time back....and...to say the least, I ended up not sleeping for a night trying to make the hard drive recognized...and then the cd drive wouldn't work for an install...so I had to plug in another cd drive from another computer...there were 2 computer hooked up to each other running on one monitor trying to install Xp :haha: !
  9. Efi

    Efi TS Rookie

    How To Move WinXp SP2 to Another Motherboard

    A full automated prcedure to move winxp from one hardware to another can be found at this link:

    It works ONLY on WINXP sp2;

    The soft takes care of things as hal detecting and change; also takes care of adding critical drivers and modify the system registry hive to prepare windows to found all hardware on next boot;

    you can sysprep prior to run this util;

    then you can deploy with one image for any motherboard

    You must run winpe or bart pe on target motherboard with the target disk (with old os on it) installed in the motherboard
  10. Blekk

    Blekk TS Rookie Posts: 53

    Sorry I don't quite understand, does this app get all the drivers that will be needed?

    Also, what is winpe or bart pe?

    Sorry for being a newbie,

    Any reply is appreciated,

  11. Cinders

    Cinders TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 867   +12

  12. Efi

    Efi TS Rookie

    You MUST get bart pe from the internet and make your bart pe (winpe) cd to boot your machine with the old disk (old windows) installed on your new mobo. Then run the software and give the path to your old windows folder in your old HD.

    This will modify the registry files on your old windows and will add some critical drivers along with the correct hall and kernel images for your new mobo.

    After that the old windows (old cd) will we ready to boo on the new mobo and start finding all the needed drivers for optimum performance.
  13. Blekk

    Blekk TS Rookie Posts: 53

    Ah thanks that makes sense now. I will do it in the next week I think once I've ordered all my new parts.
  14. Lumalee

    Lumalee TS Rookie

    Hmmmm, well as fools go I suppose I must be a good old fashioned 24carat version. I decided to upgrade my CPU, bought the chip then realised it wasnt compatible with my MB, so at a great push I manged to raise a few more funds to buy a new MB (Asus P5QL-CM) my CPU is Intel Q9400 quad. I dont know why, I will never know why, but I presumed it would be ok to just swap them over and my Win XP media Centre Edition would be fine. Well after a few activation issues, it did boot fine, all my stuff was there, most programs function fine, wow my COD 4 really flies too, but every so often, could be 20 mins, could be 2 hrs, especially it seems when under a bit of stress (gaming or rendering video) the whole system just hangs, bang stops, with whatever I was doing just frozen on screen. The only way out is press and hold power button for 5 - 10 seconds and re-power up. Strange also that Bios wants me to F1 to go to setup each time too.

    Ok so after a liitle wall punching for stress relief, I read for 3 hours straight on all kinds of sites, but found Event Viewer, and all the lockups coincide with the following errors in the log.

    Ftsata2 cannot find file
    Quick Resume Technology cannot find file
    Roxio HD watcher timeout
    Log Me In Kernel failed to start.

    I really hope someone may be able to help, I really, really, really dont want to re install the OS, as I have so much stuff on there that I dont have discs for anymore, not to mention having to start my COD 4 from scratch again. Forgot to mention, that old MB was thrown out so cannot get it back.

    I would be most grateful of any assistance , and thanks in advance

  15. nazartp

    nazartp TS Booster Posts: 178   +13

    Interesting. Will be upgrading my son's XP computer in a couple of months, that will come in handy. On a separate note, on my machine running Vista I just swapped the motherboard, CPU and memory and it booted with no issues. On driver gave me trouble - Linksys wireless network adapter. Just reinstalled it. Total process took 15 minutes in addition to actually swapping the hardware.
  16. TheChoddo

    TheChoddo TS Rookie

    Nice guide man, I might need to use this later.
  17. hgeorges

    hgeorges TS Rookie

    bartpe question

    Hello; I realize that this thread is a couple years old. Hopefully the authors are still around... I've reread the above guidance several times, trying to decipher what exactly should be the command to issue to "give the path to my old windows folder", in such a way that it will "modify the registry files, and will add .. critical drivers"... etc.

    How do I boot the from "old cd" the new m/b, hard drive etc. It is not at all clear and BartPE site is equally mysterious about a typical recovery procedure.

    How I ended up here? I had an XP installation running on an old socket A Athlon, and I wanted to move the hdd and run it with a Pentium E6700 (dual core)m/b. I did the sysprep procedure as found somewhere, sealed the xp installation, and moved the hdd. Started the (new) PC, and my XP is now continuously rebooting, after loading a few of the drivers. Tried to start it normally, and in safe mode, but the same thing happens each time.
    I've built BartPE disk, and been able to boot from it, I see my HDD once booted (through the BartePE file manager), but I'm not sure what to do to correct the boot problem on the HDD.
    Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you!
  18. vicky

    vicky TS Rookie


    All the process seems to be quite confusing. can you please explain in a point to point way
  19. nork

    nork TS Maniac Posts: 303

    thats just what i was thinking. A lot more info needed here if you really want to help people like us.
    thank you

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