Computer experts please help!  What

problems when swapping mobos in xp sys?

My internet computer motherboard died and I would like to put the mobo from my DAW into my internet computer and buy a new mobo for my DAW. Can I leave the existing OS’s (XP) and data on the hard drives? What kind of problems am I going to run into? I have all my data set up the way I want it on the hard drives and I’m praying that I can do this without having to reformat the drives and reload XP and all my programs! Thank you.

A roll of the dice I’m afraid. Xp will try to load the drivers needed for the old mobo devices. If the new one is different you will have problems. What you could try is install the mobo, boot from your Xp install CD and either install over the top of the existing OS or try the “Repair” feature. Either way it’s a crap shoot… at least that’s been my experience.

Good luck!


I recently swapped motherboards and a new processor. I had to do the Windows Repair because it would not boot at all with the existing install.

Once I did the repair, everything has worked great and I had to only reinstall a couple of programs. These were programs that have to be reinstalled anytime you swapped harddrives.

But like Diogenes said, it is a bit of crap shoot. I may have just been lucky.

Dave T2

It’s more likely to work better if the old and new boards have the same chipset (eg VIA).

Be prepared to re-activate windows.

This is a useful site (checkout the XP link on the left)…



Yeah, I forgot to mention I had to call MS to re activate Windows, but it is a free call to India and took about 10 minutes.

Dave T2


This is a useful site (checkout the XP link on the left)…

Actually the site seems to be full of adverts now. What a shame. Info is still good but you have to pick your way to it now…

Yup, you’re just asking for trouble.

When Windows installs, it picks and chooses components for the hardware it finds. Doing a major swap can lead to lots of frustrations.

You’re better off to save your data and resinstall everything fresh…

I agree with Tim.

You’re better of archiving all important data. If you don’t have a swap drive bay and second hard drive, now would be a great time to do it. This way you get organized. Then you can try the short cut, but IMHO most shortcuts end up being through a morass and you wish you’d stayed on paved roads!

You might want to get an external USB drive bay that you can switch between computers, while you’re at it. Either that or a swap bay on each computer. (By swap bay, I mean a drive bay that’s open in the front so you can swap hard drives without pulling the case apart. You do have to shut down, though, which you don’t with a USB or Firewire cage.) Then every now and then buy a cheap fast drive that’s 4 times as big as the old one and copy your data over to the new one. Bingo: simple archive.

Also, if you get an external, get a cage not a drive, and then stick a normal drive in it. Costs a little more at first but then the upgrade path is much cheaper. I wish I’d known that before I got my Firewire/USB drive.

My understanding is you have two computers: one for surfing and one for your DAW. The internet MOBO died and your DAW is fine. But you probably want to upgrade your DAW and you thought you’d just put the internet MOBO in the DAW, and buy a new MOBO for the DAW, maybe with a performance increase. Right?

If they are the same MOBO’s with the same BIOS you should be fine. And you can upgrade the BIOS so that’s no big deal. Make sure the BIOS settings are the same (F2 on boot; boot settings, et cetera…)

If they are two different MOBO’s read on…

The two motherboards need to have the same HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer). You then have to prep the disk using Microsoft’s SysPrep utility. But SysPrep isn’t all it’s prep’d up to be. Here is a link on overcoming the shortcomings of SysPrep:


My theory is: if you have to ask, you probably don’t know enough to make it work.

Well said Learjeff