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Re-use Recovery Disc

  1. Aug 28, 2008 #1
    I bought a computer from a store over a year ago and it came with a recovery disc for the OS. i know you can't use the disc on a different computer but can it be used on the same machine if the motherboard is changed out. it seems like it wouldn't since the motherboard and processor are what make the computer unique. I'd like to upgrade my PC with a new motherboard and i'd like to figure out how to make it compatible with my recovery disc. is this possible and how would one do this?

    thanks all,
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 28, 2008 #2

    mgb_phys

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    It's unlikely that anyone would bother making individual recovery disks for each particular motherboard/CPU serial number.
    It might assume a certain partition size and only include drivers for network/video/sound chip used by that maker - but in general it will work with most machines.
     
  4. Aug 28, 2008 #3
    Ok. i'd like to be as reasonably sure as i can before i do this so i'm going to ask follow up questions to make sure. i have backed up all my data i just want to deal with the disappointment of having to return the motherboard because it didn't work or having to buy another operating system.

    i have previously tried this on another computer i had from a store. they give you a recovery disc, that's what they call it, that let's you reinstall the operating system and return it to factory conditions. i tried installing the disk on another pc but it said it couldn't because it was not the pc the disc was designed for. since i have added hard-drives, memory, and other parts to the machine, i assumed that the problem was with it not recognizing the motherboard. i was wondering if there's something i can do with the bios or other settings to make the disc think it's the factory parts on the pc. does any of this make sense? it's kinda hard to explain thru writing.

    thanks again,
     
  5. Aug 28, 2008 #4
    Recovery disks are usually designed to only install the operating system if it detects that your computer is the correct model. Changing the motherboard will likely cause the recovery disk to refuse to install the operating system image. There may be a way to hack it, but even if you manage to use the recovery disk, and the OS does not crash, it will not have installed the correct drivers for your new motherboard, so you will have to install them yourself.

    Now, assuming the computer came with a windows operating system, you are entitled to install that version of windows on that specific computer as many times as you want. Your problem is that, unless you have a Gateway, Dell, or a few other brands, it probably did not come with an operating system disk, so you will either have to get one from the manufacturer, from Microsoft, or from a friend.

    Let us assume that you are licensed for Windows XP professional. You need to get an XP Pro OEM disk, install professional, and then enter the XP professional license key that should be attached to your computer somewhere. Now, you just need to go to another computer, go to the manufacturers website, and download the drivers to a thumbdrive or cd, then install them on your computer. You will also need to install the drivers from the disk that came with your motherboard. Now you should be set. Keep in mind, that you will only have installed Windows. Any other software that came with your computer will not be on there, though you may be able to figure out how to install it from the recovery disk.
     
  6. Aug 28, 2008 #5

    mgb_phys

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    It likely reads the motherboard model number from the BIOS, it doesn't read a serial number from an individual motherboard is what I meant.

    If you can borrow someone elses windows install (rather than recovery) disk it might install using the serial number printed on the hologram sticker on the PC case.
     
  7. Aug 28, 2008 #6

    russ_watters

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    I guess I was under the impression that a recovery disk was typically not an installation CD but a disk image, in which case it would be computer type (though not serial number) specific. Since manufacturers turn out thousands of identical computers, that's how they set them up: by copying an identical disk image onto each hard drive. Making a recovery disk of that image would be a piece of cake.

    I have a recovery disk upstairs. I suppose if I ever feel like getting up off this couch, I can see what's on it...
     
  8. Aug 28, 2008 #7

    mgb_phys

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    They tend to use windows preboot execution to do a regular windows install but with all the questions answered. Using a disk image is specific to a particular disk geometry, manufacturers like the flexibility of being able to source disks from a variety of makers to improve their negotiating position.
     
  9. Aug 28, 2008 #8

    Ben Niehoff

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    Here is what you can do, assuming the OS is Windows (XP or otherwise):

    1. Microsoft will replace your missing disk if you ask. Your copy of the OS belongs to you, and you are entitled to install it on one computer. You may have to call them for a replacement disk, or download an ISO image, but you can get it.

    2. If your computer has changed significantly (i.e., motherboard and CPU), then you STILL have a right to install the OS, as long as it is only on one computer. However, you will not be able to activate Windows automatically, because it will no longer recognize your computer. For this, you must call Microsoft again, explain to them that you had to change out your motherboard, but you are still only using your copy of Windows on one machine. They will then give you a new activation code, and voila! It will work.

    Others have mentioned that you will need drivers for your motherboard, which is true. You motherboard should have come packaged with a driver disk for exactly this purpose.

    Note: I recently built myself a new computer and installed my old copy of XP on it. I called up Microsoft and got an activation code just as I described. They did not demand that I "prove" that I was not running it on more than one computer; a simple explanation that I had taken the old one apart and built a new one was sufficient. It went over with no hassle.


    The biggest issue with XP is that it does not come with AHCI (SATA) drivers by default. Therefore, if you have SATA drives in an AHCI configuration, the XP installation disk will not recognize them and will fail to install. The solution is to slipstream the drivers onto the disk. There are good instructions for doing this online; google "slipstream sata drivers XP". You will use a program called nLite (published for free by Microsoft) to create your own ISO image of an XP installation disk, with the SATA drivers added; then you burn this ISO to a blank CD-R, and use that to install. It sounds complicated, but it worked easily for me.

    (Your other solution is to use IDE drives, or to set your BIOS to IDE emulation mode; but AHCI is more advanced and faster).
     
  10. Aug 28, 2008 #9

    The XP installation disk does have plenty of SATA drivers, it just does not have every driver, especially the newer ones, although I suspect the SP3 disk might have a lot more. Unfortunately (at least with SP2 and earlier), the only way to load a SATA driver is from a Floppy Disk (Vista can use thumb drives). If you use a SATA hard disk that XP does not have drivers for, you can just load it off the floppy (I would suggest buying a USB floppy drive and returning it to the store after you are done with it). You could alter the XP ISO to change the driver configuration as you suggest, but I think the floppy method is a lot easier.
     
  11. Aug 28, 2008 #10

    Ben Niehoff

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    I didn't have a way to create a floppy (and I didn't want to buy a drive, even to return it later; Fry's is about 45 minutes away).

    Also, XP SP3 did not have the SATA drivers for my board. At least, not for running under AHCI.
     
  12. Aug 29, 2008 #11
    Ultimately, the most important question is whether the method works, which it obviously does, I just think in most cases it is more trouble than it is worth.

    I did alter the installer in the ISO in order to alter the installers to allow windows XP to install and boot off a USB drive.
     
  13. Aug 29, 2008 #12

    Ben Niehoff

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    Another thing to consider is whether you think you will ever have to re-install Windows again, which you may. I thought it would be nice to have a ready-made CD around, with SP3 and all my drivers, rather than having to bother with the floppy each time.
     
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