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Windows OS migration to dissimilar/new hardware. How to move your system to new hardware without OS reinstallation.

noxchoSenior Consultant


I think many of us have had this question - how do I transfer my well-adjusted and smoothly running OS plus all applications to new hardware. Because normal attempts (normal to user's point of view) to move the HDD with OS from one PC to another and trying to boot from will result in BSOD. Usually such error looks as follows: STOP 0x0000007B INACCESSABLE_BOOT_DEVICE
Microsoft techs provided article on this problem:  BSOD

There are also ways to Sysprep and deploy the image to dissimilar hardware. But this is not a solution for a one shot server migration or a home task to move your old laptop configuration to your brand new machine. You need to be an advanced technical specialist to handle Sysprep.

Root of the problem

Currently we have two main players in the CPU competition: AMD and Intel. With temporary success they reach leading positions one by one providing us better performance, better productivity and acceptable prices for their hardware.
If  you have an Intel based machine and decide to got to AMD or vice-versa you have a big dilemma - whether to reinstall OS from scratch or migrate current configuration to the new hardware. This is because of drivers problems. Drivers for AMD will not fit Intel, nor Intel drivers for AMD. Same for RAID or network controllers. The lack of driver compatibility creates complications for all of us.

Spheres of use

For business solutions this solution is even more acute - regardless of whether we are migrating because of hardware failure, RAID controller exchange, migrations of old servers to new monsters with less stop time and efforts, etc.
All of the same problems of dissimilar hardware migration are faced by the home user - but they tend to be a single individual trying to deal with all of the same problems. The quicker the hardware and software demands develop the faster we change hardware. And we all need something intuitive to help us here.

What tools can do migration

All these requirements are fulfilled by the P2P (physical to physical) feature which is currently offered by many vendors. Some of them are:
Hardware Independent Restore by Symantec, Universal Restore by Acronis and Adaptive Restore by Paragon Software.
The first two brands are well known and well marketed, but I have been testing the products from a new player in this competition - Paragon Software
With its new version of products such as Backup & Recovery and Hard Disk Manager Paragon announced Adaptive Restore (available in P2P Adjust OS Wizard) functionality in these products.
For a newbie in backup & recovery process these terms could sound strange and frightening but Adaptive Restore makes the work of migration as easy as possible.
The feature itself is designed as a single and understandable wizard that performs the necessary steps in a highly intuitive way. The most attractive thing is that Paragon did not stop the development by this release. Improvements are going on and the feature is going to be as polished as possible.

Paragon Adaptive Restore

Let us have a close look on the process of Adaptive Restore performed via P2P Adjust OS Wizard:
First of all one should know that P2P Adjust OS Wizard is available in both installed copy of Backup & Recovery or Hard Disk Manager and Microsoft WinPE based Advanced Recovery CD. It is the same wizard but the one you run from WinPE Recovery CD is very useful.
Once you backup the existing system you can boot the new hardware from WinPE Recovery CD with no fear of missing drivers. Even if Microsoft forgot to add support of your hardware to the WinPE package, the Add Driver tool inside WinPE will let you load the driver(s) for better hardware detection. There is no need for slipstreaming.
As backup restore is done apply Adjust OS to system.

Step by step:


Boot new system from WinPE

Load drivers if needed

Restore from backup image if backup\restore process of migration is used

Start P2P wizard and select Adjust OS

Install chipset or RAID controller diver if needed

Apply changes and restart

How it works:

Adjust OS. This will leave generic device drivers only.
Upload Driver action lets you upload\install drivers for your new hardware (chipset or controller) without booting into Windows. Yes, drivers are installed in WinPE Environment. And all done by wizard. Just point it to driver repository (it can be your internal drive, USB drive or driver CD that came with motherboard or controller).
Apply changes and restart to Windows. You could have to install drivers for video and audio if completely dissimilar hardware is used. But this is not a problem once you are in Windows.
The benefit or this feature is that you can boot from WinPE and apply P2P Adjust OS in cases when you copied/cloned HDD, changed controller or motherboard. Backup & restore is not necessary anymore if you simply move HDD to different PC with dissimilar hardware.
I did perform various tests on test and live machines including production servers. Following migrations were done:
Migration from Intel based Lenovo R61 laptop to AMD Turion 64 x2 laptops

Migration from AMD Phenom II X4  940 based machine to Intel Core i7 950 machine

Migration from various Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad machines to AMD and verse

Migration of physical machines to virtual machine via P2P Adjust changes to image

Laptop to Desktop and verse
These are live and true stress tests performed with Windows 2000, Windows XP (32 & 64bits), Windows 2003 (32 & 64bits), Windows Vista (32 & 64bits), Windows 2008(R2)/2012/2012R2, Windows 7/8/8.1/10 OS of both x32 and x64 bits.
Main aim of the tests was proving if the advertised feature works as it should. And my conclusion - yes it works.
And its price is attractive as this functionality of Adaptive Restore is included in main product. No additional software and payment are required. Just download the package of Paragon Advanced Recovery CD based on WinPE which is part of Backup & Recovery and Hard Disk Manager product line. And you are ready to migrate.
Backup & Recovery Home for personal use
Hard Disk Manager Business Edition for business
Other vendors who offer dissimilar hardware functionality:
Symantec Backup Exec 2010

noxchoSenior Consultant

Comments (9)

I have had great success with the following method:
1. Have drivers for everything in your new PC, ESPECIALLY the NIC you connect to the Internet with.
2. Ghost your HDD. (Just in case.)
3. In device Manager, delete EVERYTHING that is unique to that PC.
    (Video/Audio drivers, motherboard/chipset info - EVERYTHING!)
4. Turn PC off.
5. Install HDD in new PC. On boot, it will churn through the system looking for drivers. I suppose as long as you have the NIC driver, you can get the rest from the Internet, but I try and have them all in advance.
That's it! No BSOD, no money spent, and your HDD is now where you want it to be. Simple.
noxchoSenior Consultant
Top Expert 2009


The most important driver is RAID controller or SATA controller drive. Without it you will not even get to the step where NIC driver is used.
I agree. And it's so obvious, I feel silly: No disk, no PC. I'll add that to my little doc.
That doesn't negate the elegant simplicity of my solution, though, does it, noxcho?
Adam LeinssSystems Administrator

Drive Backup has been renamed to Backup & Recovery.  May want to update the links.
noxchoSenior Consultant
Top Expert 2009



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