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Reusing old Hardrive For a New PC Build

Hey everyone, I'm working on my first build for my pc, but I kind of ran into a problem. I'm wondering if it's possible to reuse my HDD that I used in my old computer. Everything will be new in my pc except this and the optical drive (which I found out it will work since it's a SATA)

1.) Do I have to uninstall my old drivers since they might conflict with each other? My old computer has a radeon gpu and an amd processor. My new build has a nividia gpu and intel i5.

2.) If it is yes to the question above, will just installing my unused copy of windows 7 be able to clear my hardrive/drivers? (when I boot up my new build for the first time)

3.) If no to question #2, do I have to use something like dban just to erase everything before I remove this hardrive? When I go to device manager, I have no idea what drivers to uninstall... so I don't mind erasing the entire HDD. I already saved everything i want.

Thanks again for reading.
4 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. A simple format should be enough but the drive is probably partitioned as well. So when running that Windows 7 installation remove all partitions if you'd like and select that drive (probably have to choose advanced option to be able to do this).
  2. I think the answer to the first question is NO. My old hard drives can be used on new computer after it is connected to motherboard. I don't need to do any other operations before I store or access data on the old drive. One thing need to note is that you should shut down computer first before connecting old hard drive
  3. Wow-wow-wow, first you say hard drive, then you throw in the optical. Stop right there.

    Any change of hardware, specially CPU/Mobo, you need to reinstall Windows from scratch period. The copy of Windows on your HD doesn't work for the new setup. You cannot re-install drivers, I wish it was that simple. Hope u still have original disc and license#.
  4. Best answer
    jsmithepa is right. Even more importantly, you have made MAJOR changes to both the CPU and the graphics system, and I'll bet everything else! You MUST do a fresh Install of Windows. So it is a good thing you have an unused Install of Win 7 available, AND you already have backed up your stuff to somewhere else. Just check to be SURE that your copies or backups (whatever) CAN be read cleanly so you will be able to use them.

    Now, the simple process, as Ephemerally suggested, is to do a normal Win 7 Install from the CD BUT at the very first step you need to Delete all existing Partitions on the HDD so it is empty. From then on the Install process will create a new Partition and Format it cleanly for you.

    HOWEVER, I like to take an extra step with older used HDD's. This takes more time and is NOT necessary - just extra caution. I like to Zero Fill that old drive before doing the Install. Why? A Zero Fill operation writes zeroes to EVERY sector of the unit, which wipes it clean. But more importantly, that also triggers a self-testing process that is done internally in the HDD unit itself - Windows does not even know about this testing. As the Sectors ALL are written to, the drive also reads them back looking for weak signals or outright errors. If it finds any, it replaces that weak Sector with a known-good one from a semi-hidden stock of spares and marks that weak sector so it is never used again. The final result of this operation is that the HDD appears to the outside world (read: Windows) to be completely flawless and containing NO data. Then you can do your normal Install, but you won't have to Delete any old Partitions because there are none.

    This self-check process is a behind-the scenes thing that goes on all the time as a HDD is used. As you might anticipate, eventually the stock of known-good spares gets low. All this is part of the self-monitoring process called SMART, and that can send out a warning message when too many bad Sectors have been replaced. If your computer's BIOS is set to check for SMART messages at boot time you will see any such warnings. Or, if you use HDD diagnostic software utilities, most will show you the SMART messages. IF you ever get a SMART warning about a high Sector Replacement Count, it means two things: (a) the stock of good spares is getting smaller, and you don't want to go too much further and run out; and, (b) since so many bad Sectors have been corrected, more will likely happen and maybe faster. So the smart move at that point is to buy a replacement HDD and clone your old unit to the new one while it is still able to give you all your data without errors.

    My preference is to do the Zero Fill and then check the SMART data to be sure there is no warning about high replaced Sector count. THEN you can be confident the used HDD is still in good condition and go ahead and use it. But as I said, it's not necessary - just my preference when re-using an older HDD.

    To get a Zero Fill utility I can suggest two sources. You mentioned DBAN, and that's certainly able to do that. Another possibility is to download the free HDD Diagnostic Utility package from the company that made your old HDD. If it's from WD, get their DataLifeguard utility. If it's from Seagate, get their Seatools. My own preference with these utilities is to download the "for DOS" version. It is actually an .iso image of a CD you make. You then need some CD "burning" software like Nero that is able to burn the .iso file onto a CD. Once you have that you're set. The huge advantage of this CD is that you can boot and run from it with NO working HDD in your system - you do NOT run the CD under Windows or any other OS. It contains its own OS, and it is bootable.

    To use that diagnostic CD you burned, you place it in your optical drive and boot directly into BIOS Setup to make sure that your Boot Priority Sequence is set to boot first from the optical unit, and second from the HDD. If you have to make a change to set this up, remember to SAVE and EXIT. The machine will boot from the diagnostic CD and give you info (like current SMART data, drive ID, etc) and offer a series of tests and processes you can run. Most tests will not damage any data on your HDD. Those that processes that WILL destroy data (like the Zero Fill!) will warn you first and ask permission to proceed. In your case, OP, you probably don't care about the warnings for this purpose. If you do a Zero Fill it takes a long time. After all, it is writing to (and reading back) EVERY Sector of the unit. So just let it run and do something else for a few hours.
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