Swapping a hard drive, concerned about OEM license re-activation

By Squiggly1 ยท 5 replies
Aug 22, 2009
  1. A customer of mine has a Dell laptop that has a failed motherboard but a perfectly healthy, intact C: drive. (All of their programs and data is on the drive the way they want it) They are buying the exact same computer model and want me to simply swap hard drives. I know that OEM Windows is tied to the motherboard. My question will it have to be re-authorized? I've read that you can usually change about 5 pieces of internal hardware before triggering the necessity to activate; But is it serial numbers of parts or model numbers of parts that triggers this? Again I'm moving the hard drive to a duplicate Dell model number.

    Will the manufacturer allow a swapping of licenses if you call them? Anyone have any experience with this?

    I want to avoid doing a "repair install" (to match to OEM license to the computer) if possible.
  2. bushwhacker

    bushwhacker TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 783

    No, OEM license won't be provoked if you replaces the hard drive.

    It will be provoked, ONLY if the critical parts are changed, such as motherboard or CPU.

    You still can re-activate it at any time.
  3. Squiggly1

    Squiggly1 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 44

    But I'm replacing a hard drive with another hard drive that has a DIFFERENT Windows installation on there (a different OEM license). The drive is coming from another computer that is being "retired". So the "old" hard drive will "see" new EVERYTHING. You still think it will go smoothly with no need to do a repair install?
  4. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    If your first post is correct, the installtion of windows will see the same hardware, and thus should boot without problems. Your concern relates to the fact that the Windows Genuine check will not find the same motherboard serial number (assuming there is one), and thus will require re-registration.

    I think you should not worry. One of five things will happen
    (a) Windows will not notice
    (b) It will request registration, but you will be able to do it via a website with the New PC sticker number (assuming it is not a blank PC and already has a sticker on the case)
    (c) It will request registration, but you will be able to do it via a website with the original PC sticker number
    (d) It will refuse the website possibility, but it will run a process that generates a number that you use to obtain a new key via an automated telephone link
    (e) It will bump you up to talk to a human operator (usually an incomprehensible gentleman in India)

    Whatever happens, you have a perfectly valid and legal reason for requiring a registration, and MS has no grounds to deny you one. Therefore the entire OS does not have to be either repaired or re-installed,
  5. Squiggly1

    Squiggly1 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 44

    Thanks y'all...
  6. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,999   +2,529

    Window asks for re-activation by assigning a points value to each piece of hardware. Some hardware has a higher point value than others. The LAN is considered a high value piece of hardware. Since you change the LAN when you change the Motherboard, you actually change 2 high value components. Accordingly, a mobo change is enough to trigger a reactivation request.

    I do think that Windows "forgets" some hardware changes, after the passage of a certain amount of time.

    One thing to note, any restore disc from any specific model of a particular computer, will restore all computers of that model. This is absolutely true of Emachines, and is more than likely true of other manufacturers as well.

    Keep in mind, that a motherboard of the same model, is not the same as a manufacturers replacement board. The OEM board may have BIOS passwords, designed to prevent restoration of the system, by anything other than the OEM restore disc, which at the same time, prevents the OEM restore discs to be used as an actual copy of Windows eleswhere.
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