Moving OS to new PC

I often do mainboard\PC upgrades at work, our clients usually expect to keep their current OS, applications and data the way they are configured on their hard drive. I do what I can to ease Win95's (or '98's) transition to it's new hardware environment, but my method is kind of haphazard. Techs must do this hundreds of times a day, surely someone has already published a how-to. So the question is:
Where is a document on the WWWeb that gives a concise explanation of how to prepare Windows 9X for a PC transplant and common pitfalls of doing so and how to avoid them?
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This answer comes from my personal experience as I have done this probably hundreds of times. I will try to be a detailed as possible.

General steps.
1. Boot old machine and remove copy everything in the startup group to another group to prevent things from starting at boot

2. Go into registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
and create a backup of that key. Then remove everything from it that is not standard to Windows (i.e. SysTray)

3. Open Config.sys and Autoexec.bat and rem out any device drivers that are specific to the current configuration.

4. Go into System Properties under performance and disable Virtual memory.

5. ReBoot machine into safe mode.  Remove EVERYTHING in device manager. This will clear out all old 32-bit device drivers and such

6. Remove drive and place in new machine as Primary drive (assuming IDE). If you intend to copy to another drive slave it off of the old one.

7. Boot machine. It may require several reboots to get all the drivers loaded.  Then go into Device manager and see if there are any problems.  You may need driver disks at this point.  Get rid of all yellow exclamation points before proceeding to next step.

8. Go back and restore the reg key you backed up previously and restore the startup group.  Remove anything that no longer applies to the hardware in the new system.  Do the same with Config.sys and Autoexec.bat.

9. Once everything is working properly if you are moving to new drive you want to format it and go into explorer and drag the contents of the old drive to the new one - (this only works if Virtual memory is still disabled, you may also have to kill any running apps). Once that is done shutdown and remove old drive and place new drive as master.

10. Boot with Windows boot disk and SYS new drive

11. Reboot and once 95 loads then open the msdos.sys file and remove the multiboot setting and clear the first line that says ";FORMAT"

12. Re-enable virtual memory.

13. DONE!

Cavets: Some external hardware - such as scanners and such may require reinstallation to work propery. Especially SCSI devices.

Hope this helps
No need for that i guess, look for a util called "ghost" put the old and new HDD in the machine , run ghost and "clone" the old disk to the new, after that windows will start finding the new mainboard etc and you will still have to update drivers, it's the easiest way i know and we do it like that always, FYI ghost will also clone disks over a network on i don't know how many machines at a time, lovely util!

I know this is not an answer to your problem, but maybe worth looking into, chaintech even puts it on their driver cd-roms! :)

Good Luck
I find myself doing this a few times a week as well, but have some bad news, there is no 'easy way' to do it.  We have tried to use utilities such as 'GHOST' to copy the machine, but this causes as many problems as it fixes.  What you have to remeber is 2 things: A. When you install a new motherboard, you are installing many new crtical compents (not like a modem install or soundcard install) - these HAVE to be loaded or things will not work properly.  B. You CANNOT copy the machine down to the new motherboard.  Oh, technically you can, but it wont work properly.  For example, we order PC's for others in my office.  When they arrive we used to use 'GHOST' to make an image of their machine and then place the image on their new machine.  This is bad for a few reasons:

A. If the motherboard is different in any way (supports USB or IR or doesnt have a PCI bus, etc.) it will not find the proper drivers and will not function proprerly.  Many of theses advacned features are not known by simple installation, only the auto config feature in Windows can find them, and only during setup

B. If there are drivers is doesn't need, it won't get rid of them, and will sometimes cause REALLY bad things to start happenening.  Sometimes it's just a blue screen of death, other times you get a 'Windows Protection Error' on bootup.

C. If your using an NT machine, GHOST also clones the SID on your workstation, therefore causing MANY issues on your network.  (SID = Station IDentifier, cloning them causes issues wih your trusts and policies on an NT network).

So what do I suggest?  Do a full inventory of the machine, look at all software, mapped drives, and shortcuts. Make sure to check out the serial #'s on the microsoft software as well.  Then do a full reinstall of everything from scratch.  Alas, this may not seem to be the easiest way, but it is the only surefire way to be totally safe.  I mean, sometimes it may seem the machien works fine after you clone it down, but then 2 weeks into using it it begins to lock up at random intervals or you install some new software and it stops booting or stops at the 'Please Wait' screen during shutdown.  It may take more times but in the end it is worth it.

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dudleyfAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the effort you put into your anwser, mwhitworth. You have pretty well identified the problem -- that is old hardware drivers are often left behind, making new hardware more difficult to be recognized properly. Ghosting is not the issue, as more often than not the customers old hard drive and a couple other useable parts are put into the new machine. What I'm looking for is a published way to maximize the possibility of a successfull transition to a new mainboard, possibly by deleting devices from the Device manager, renaming the inf directory or  something similar that will both stop old drivers from being loaded and allow win9x to autodetect it's new home. Wether it is best for the OS or not, moving a hard drive \ OS to a new mainboard happens every day. When I have about 1.5 to 2.5 hours to get it out the door and maintain a profit, there is no time to reload the apps & data and save or recreate all the things that make each users environment unique.
When I do this, I remove EVERYTHING under Device Manager while in Safe mode, shutdown, remove the drive, and move it to the other system.  Then I use "Add New Hardware" in Control Pannel and let it search for all devices.  Then shutdown and reboot.  The system will then find more devices.  Usualy this will work for me.  Any questions, let me know.
Well.., i have upgraded my hardware (at home & at the office) more than once, new mainboard new cpu, memory etc, and windows ALWAYS found the new hardware.
Am i just lucky several times or what? same goes for upgrading from win 3.11 -> 95/98 etc.
I also do that a lot with client machines and never ran into too much trouble.
Of course the old drivers are left behind, only way to get rid of those is a clean install or keep track of what's being installed.
The old INF files are (normaly) not a problem since the devices they are fore, are not present any more.
We manage a 1200 user LAN here and we have a semi-automated installer. It generally works ok, but is not trivial.

GHOST works well when the machines are identical or at least 100% functionally equivalent. But if you have a variety of NIC cards, video drivers, HD geometrys, etc. it starts to get hairy in a hurry. NT is even worse and the machines all need to have a unique signature.

There are commercial utilities out there that are pretty good at rolling out multiple machines, but they aren't cheap.

We basically do a full up install every time we roll a machine.


Hi dudley!

The answer is to do the clean install.

Apparently you are selling your time, and in this case, there's no pat shortcut to enable you to do it right.
If you can't install the customer's software & enviornment in the time you have allotted, then you need to determine a new price for your services.
After all, they can't expect a miracle.
Good luck and I hope this helps.

dudleyfAuthor Commented:
Thanks for trying mark2150, I think I wasn't entirely clear in my question, so I've gotten a lot of anwsers and comments about ghosting, or otherwise cloning the OS. That isn't the problem.

If rmarotta is right, then the anwser I rejected by mwhitworth would also be a correct anwser. If jason_S is right, it would be the anwser I was hoping for. In either case, I was requesting an authoritative document on the Web explaining how it should be done -- or why it shouldn't. A reference from Microsoft on the web or in print would certainly be authoritative.
Uilleann is right, it does often work, or appears to work, but not always. Usually the more dissimilar the two mainboards are the more likely it will work. Two similar, but different boards can wreak havoc. I'm going to reopen the question and raise the points to 100.
>  "A reference from Microsoft on the web or in print would certainly be authoritative."

Now please, don't take this the wrong way, but think about it.

Can you see Microsoft publishing a recipe to make cloning their operating system easier for pirates?

Can you really wonder why they made it require so much effort & expertise to do it correctly?

dudleyfAuthor Commented:
Actually it would be far easier to pirate the .cab files than a pre-configured system, especially if each leech would need the cabs to set it up to their machine specs anyway. Likewise, if MS said that moving a pre-configured hard drive to a new mainboard should not be done for technical reasons, that would be an equally valid anwser.
Jason S has a good method.  I use it and it works perfectly for Win9x.  Of course, it won't work for NT.  
Obviously one needs the same number of licenses as number of machines to be cloned, please don't think i'm promoting piracy here...
heathprovost:  If you remove everything under Device Manager, then you need to use Add New Hardware to have the system recognize the devices again.  Otherwise the system will never find the hardware.
dudleyfAuthor Commented:
Healhprovost, looks like the kind of anwser I wanted, though jason_S had the kernel before you. I tried jason's method today but hit a snag.
Regarding piracy, let me explain what this question was about by using today's example.
A customer brought in his AST P-60 with the 540 meg hd and Windows 98. He wanted more speed. His OS was customized with a Star Wars theme, his dial-up networking, applications and saved data and saved games all over the HD. He didn't want to sacrifice all of this to upgrade to an Asustek P5A mainboard with a K6 chip. He brought in his Win98 upgrade disk with the serial #, but didn't want to lose the way he had personalized his computer over the last 5 years. The build went smoothly enough, but came up with 1 exclamation under the Ali hard disk controler. I picked at this like a ripe pimple until I had 3 exclamations. Since the system never goes out the door with an exclamation point, so I've spent 3 times as long as it should take with a fresh install trying to clean up a couple of controller errors (and I'm still not done). This is I presume the main reason mwhitworth and rmarotta advocate clean installations.
On the possibility that I screwed up the instructions, I'm accepting healthprovost's anwser and hope that anyone who does a search on this question reads ALL the comments before attempting it.

Dudley, your current problem is EXACTLY what I was referring to!
That ALI controller can be a bummer.  There are other device issues that cause trouble sometimes.  For example, legacy soundcards without Win9x drivers.  And what happens when the pretty screen saver or game won't run with a new video driver?
I charge for upgrading accordingly.
Sometimes, customers just have to "bite the bullet" (why should you?) if they want their custom setups carried over.
Good luck,
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