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Possible to boot from a HD backup from a dead HD on a new HD?

Title might be confusing. I have a computer which its hard drive has failed and makes a clicking noise. I have the contents of the failed C: drive ("Program files", "Users", "Windows", all the rest in there) copied onto an external hard drive. These files are backed up from a couple years ago but not much has changed or been updated since then so I haven't lost too much. I've tried emptying the external drive so only the contents of the C: drive backup are in the external HD and booting the computer using USB. That did not work so I would like to know if buying a new hard drive and copying the files from the backup onto the new HD will work. Would it boot up normally with these files or will Windows not work properly?
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  1. If you originally just copied and pasted from your C drive to the external, no, just moving it back will not work.

    Every program you have in there will need to be reinstalled.
  2. So I'm assuming I would need to get a new hard drive and new copy of Windows. Then after setting it up I could put some of the files from the backup onto the new drive. I was hoping that I wouldn't need to get a new copy of Windows
  3. Depends on what copy of Windows you have now. If you're using Windows 10, you don't need to buy anything other than a new hard drive.

    If it's older than that, you may or may not have trouble.
  4. If you change just HDD, then there's no need to buy new windows license.
    What windows version was it? Do you have windows activation key for it?

    Also if you have brand PC/laptop, then it's possible that windows activation key is embedded into BIOS.
  5. SkyNetRising said:
    If you change just HDD, then there's no need to buy new windows license.
    What windows version was it? Do you have windows activation key for it?

    Also if you have brand PC/laptop, then it's possible that windows activation key is embedded into BIOS.


    I ran Windows 7 and the computer was purchased from Best Buy. I think there may have been an activation key somewhere either on the case or with the manuals. If I have the activation key and I transfer those files to a new hard drive will the files for Windows work? I have a Windows 7 disc for another computer, so could I use that disc and enter the activation key into it, when prompted, and allow me to install Windows to the new hard drive?
  6. Best answer
    Basically you'll be able to use only your backed-up user files (from c:\users\<username>).
    All the rest will have to be reinstalled.

    1. Get new HDD
    2. Install windows onto it (using windows disc and activation key)
    3. Copy user files from backup drive to new hdd.

    In future - if you want to make backup of windows, use
    Windows drive Image,
    Macrium Reflect free or
    Norton Ghost
    (or some other cloning software).
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