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Fred931's avatar

How do I swap motherboards without having to wipe out all my data?

Asked by Fred931 (9399 points ) September 21st, 2012

Early August, I built my first rig (which is sweet) and I’ve had no issues that I could not quickly solve so far.

I have a surprising amount of cash all of a sudden and want to upgrade my still-new-pc-smelling computer some more; I was idiotic enough to buy a B75-chipset board which doesn’t support SLI (I was planning on dual-GTX480 cards within a year or so), so I need to replace the motherboard, along with upgrading the power supply and of course getting the other GPU card. Like I said, it might be another month or two (or four… maybe Santa will be in a good mood) before I actually go shopping.

And, so, I’ve been reading a bunch online about how weird it is for windows to have its entire physical framework shapeshift from underneath; how one would use a new image or back up all data before the swap… I’m still confused as to what I need to do to swap the mobo without losing any programs and files.

I have one 128GB SSD with Windows on it + other programs and files and a 500GB HDD with some more programs and files. The first thing I tried to do was use the “Create a system image” option from the Control Panel to copy the SSD files to the HDD, but my second drive would not show up in the wizard. That was pretty much my only lead, so I am at a dead end as to how to prepare for a swap. Could you please enlighten me?

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11 Answers

dabbler's avatar

Depends on what you don’t want to wipe out.
I’ll suggest copy all your “data” (pictures, docs, non-windows app install files) to the 500GB drive and plan to re-install Windows fresh onto the SSD, and re-install all your apps fresh following all the service pack installs that Windows will want when it first wakes up.

It’s pretty true that you could expect some trouble if you simply swap out the mobo and turn it on. Several of your drivers could be incompatible with the new hardware
On the other hand, personally I’d try it, just for the heck of it. Plug and play.

Of course before either approach, back up ALL important stuff.

laureth's avatar

Make sure your new motherboard is compatible with your old hard drive.

Fred931's avatar

@laureth How do I check? AFAIK, the WD HDD is still for sale and worked with my current motherboard, I didn’t know there could be a conflict otherwise.

dabbler's avatar

@laureth Did you mean IDE/UDMA vs SATA ? Good point.
I’m going to guess that the “still-new-pc-smelling computer” came with SATA drives and that the new mobo will accomodate that. A lot of new mobo even have a UDMA header or two for an optical drive and old drives.

XOIIO's avatar

you just swap out the motherboard and redo drivers. Why would you need to wip
e the data?

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m with @XOIIO. What’s the angst? You have no data on the motherboard. Assuming the drives are compatible with the new board (and I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t be), you’ll swap the board, install your various cards and the drives, plug-n-play, and then have to install some new drivers.

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Fred931's avatar

@dabbler Yes, the old HDD is a SATA drive.

@XOIIO @CWOTUS Everything I’ve been reading made the process seem a lot more of a tightrope to cross. Of course, most of the articles were for XP/2003 after all…

And what about Windows? Does the CID/IP/anything not stay with the mobo? Are you saying I won’t have to reinstall Windows at all?

XOIIO's avatar

@Fred931 Nothing stays on the motherboard except the physical stuff. I’m not sure where you are getting your information.

dabbler's avatar

@Fred931 Your SSd is probably on a SATA connector, too.

I’d agree it certainly is possible that it will all come up running fine, and likely that it will be at least usable enough to let you do driver upgrades where needed.

The trickiest issue is usually graphics card, Which can totally hobble your system with an incorrect driver, and since you’re keeping the same graphics card .... consensus is why not try it.

Fred931's avatar

Thanks guys.

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