What better way to herald in the new year than with a new computer?
Perhaps you want to purchasing a new PC because simply thinking of your current machine makes you grimace. Or maybe you were fortunate enough to receive a new laptop on Christmas and now you’re wondering how to move all your stuff over.
It certainly seems like an onerous task to re-install all your programs, move all your photos and transfer all your files to a new computer. That’s why the smartest and easiest way to get all your stuff onto your new computer is to use the built-in Microsoft Easy Transfer Wizard.
But audacious geeks may wonder: what would happen if I installed my old hard drive into my new computer? Would it work? After all, the system board, memory modules and processor are different; therefore, moving drives isn’t really viable right?
Windows is smarter than you think
Windows 7 ships with little program called the System Preparation Tool (sysprep.exe) that we can use to make the hard drive swap easier..
There are a few things you should know before we get started.
- Most of your personalized settings will vanish after the swap so you’ll need to reconfigure things like stored passwords, browser settings and toolbar settings.
- You might need to reactivate Windows. Just click Start and type activate windows to get started.
- You’ll need to download the latest drivers
Now that you’ve got everything backed up let’s open an elevated command prompt to kick open sysprep.exe.
Click Start and type:
Then right-click that little icon in the search list and choose Run as administrator.
Click Yes on the User Account Control window
and enter the following command at the prompt:
Windows quickly pops open the System Preparation Tool.
You’ll want to change the System Cleanup Action to Enter System Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE) and flip the Shutdown Options to Shutdown.
The first time I read “OOBE” I gasped: What does having an out of body experience have to do with preparing my hard drive?
I didn’t realize that an Out-of-box experience is an industry term used to describe the initial experience a customer has when using a product for the first time.
I learn something new everything day – anyway… also make sure you click the Generalize check box on the System Preparation Tool. You can’t see it in the image below because the dropdown menu is covering it but it’s here.
After clicking OK Sysprep gets to work and diligently begins processing the request.
The time it takes to wrap things up depends on the configuration of your computer; however, it shouldn’t exceed 5 minutes. It completed in 30 seconds on my Windows box.
After you computer shutsdown you can remove the hard drive from your old computer and mount it to your new computer. The smart guys at iFixit created a myriad of guides featuring full-resolution photos that will walk you through every step of the hard drive swap. I strongly encourage you to check it out because it helped me a lot.
When you boot up your new computer, Windows will act as if this is the first time the machine has ever started.
Just let it go through the motions and configure the machine like a new system.
When the Set up Windows screen appears, you can create a new unique username and sign in with your old user account.
That’s all there is to it.