Switching hard drives

I have an older box running Windows 98 whose motherboard (Abit BE6) has died. I plan on buying a new case, motherboard, CPU, and RAM, but physically transfer everything else, including the hard drive, from the old box to the new one. My question is if I physically transfer the HD from the old box to the new one, will the new computer boot up with minimal complaining? I realize that there may be some problems (e.g., IRQ/driver conflicts, etc.), but maybe someone out there who’s done this already can chime in with some feedback or comments on what may happen. Thanks! :slight_smile:

98 is pretty long in the tooth at this point and may not fully support all the bells and whistles of a new MB. It should boot up OK, but you will probably need your windows OS disk for when the system has to refresh the driver sets.

Why don’t you upgrade your OS as well? XP is a far, far better OS than 98 and I’ve used them both extensively.

I’ve done this, and it’s usually no problem. Windows 98 won’t have native drivers for most of the new hardware, so use the supplied driver disk that comes with the new mainboard. Once you get everything running, go to the manufacturers website and download the latest drivers for your OS, and also go to Microsoft’s site and do any necessary OS patches or driver updates. Do consider an upgrade to XP at some point. You won’t be sorry you did.

You shouldn’t have too many problems. I did essentially the same thing a few years back and didn’t have too many problems with it. I don’t even think that the boot time slowed down any that first boot.

The only thing you might have problem with is if you’re running a version of 98 that’s been “tweaked” by whomever made your current PC. In that case, it might not work if you slap the drive in the new box, since you won’t be using their hardware. If you’re running a pure MS install of 98, you should be fine.

Thanks for the feedback guys. First off, the box is actually not mine, but a friend’s, but he doesn’t have the money to upgrade or buy a whole new computer, which is why I’m helping him with only buying select components. It is a pure native install off an MS 98 disc, and there haven’t been any tweaks done to it. My only concern now is that the HD is still functioning; I don’t really have any way of telling, short of physically switching the HD from one machine to the next. On the old machine, it doesn’t even get to the BIOS upon powering up, which is why I suspect that only the motherboard is shot and nothing else. My friend is crossing his fingers that the HD will still function, because he hasn’t made any backups of any data on the machine! :smack: I think this will teach him a good lesson! :slight_smile:

If the data is valuable and the hard drive is possibly questionable if would make a lot more sense safety and reliability wise to get an 80 gig or so hard drive for $ 40-50 and do fresh install of 98 assuming you have the install key, and add the older drive as a slave. A fresh install of 98 will likely be more stable than the older install re-configured for a new mobo and CPU.

The real trick to this is whether or not win98 will recognize the CD-rom and drive controller in the new machine. If not, you’ll have a heck of a time getting the new drivers onto the hard drive where windows can use them. Expect to go through an annoying number of reboots, and after each one windows will recognize more and more of what is in the computer.

The first driver you want to install is the motherboard driver. Without this driver, windows won’t know what all devices are connected through PCI bridge chips and such. The second driver you’ll probably want to install is the video driver. That 640 by 480 16 color screen can be a bit hard on the eyes.

Note that all win9.x operating systems (95, 98, and ME) have a problem with too much RAM (I think 512MB is where they have a problem… not sure off the top of my head). There’s a note on microsoft’s web site on how to get around this. If I recall correctly, it’s just an entry you have to add to win.ini to stop it from using more memory than it’s capable of using, which means it will just ignore any more RAM that’s in the machine.

If you don’t use the same sound card, any special utilities that came with the old sound card probably won’t work right. Games will probably work ok, but any high end audio software (if you have any) may need to be reconfigured, or at worst, re-installed. This generally only applies to things like multi-track recording software or music editing software and stuff of this nature, not the type of software that is found on a typical desktop PC.

Generally speaking, I’m a little cautious about recommending a change from 98 (or any 9.x version of windows) to XP, simply because quite a bit of hardware and software may not work correctly. XP certainly has its advantages, for example I refuse to do pretty much anything on the internet from a 9.x box, but XP doesn’t run older software very well in my experience. Check that all of your hardware and software is guaranteed to work under XP, or make plans for what won’t, before upgrading. In some cases the only solution is to dual boot 98 and XP if you still want to use all of your software.

Also, since you are probably going to stick with 98, double check that all of the new hardware you are buying has 98 drivers available. Some newer stuff doesn’t.

If you do a fresh install of 98, here’s a tip. Copy the win98 directory off of the CD onto the hard drive, then run setup from the hard drive. Then, instead of asking you for the CD every time you change something, windows will be able to find the files right on the hard drive and you won’t have to go digging for where you left the stupid CD.

Are you sure it’s 98 and not 98SE? I ask because someone just put out a third-party patch for 98SE that will fix things like the 512MB memory limit. I wouldn’t be surprised if MS fixed it in their service pack for 98, but they never released an SP for 98SE, which is why someone put out their own patch.

In terms of practical operational benefits, except for some fairly specialized situations and software, loading more than 256 megs of RAM into a WIN 98/WIN98SE machine is largely a waste of time and money, and as others have pointed out can actually be counter-productive.

In fact under 98 and 98SE the improvement in going beyond 128 megs of RAM is fairly limited in terms of real world impact on system responsiveness.

BTW, you’d be better off if you first booted the OS into safe mode and deleted all the old hardware before you boot into the “properly” for the first time. Just slapping the old drive into the new machine without removing the old hardware can create all kinds of confusion within Device Manager… If you cannot do a clean install of 98, at least do this to keep the hardware separate. Simply boot into Safe Mode and delete all the hardware you see in Device Manager - be sure to delete the keyboard and mouse last - back when 9x was all that companies used, I used to do this on a regular basis and sometimes the mouse or keyboard would stop working if you deleted this too early.

I’ve never actually seen this happen, even though I’ve done it on hundreds of machines. Even if it does happen, that’s what a DOS boot disk with CD-ROM drivers is for.

Such as? Anything that won’t run in XP is probably too old to be useful anyway.

Or you can copy the files to the hard drive and change the value of HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Setup\Install Path to where the CABS are located. A minor quibble - I’d install 98 from the hard drive too - and use the SETUP.EXE /ie /id /im /IW switches - skips the “enough disk space” check, the boot disk creation, “enough RAM” check, and licensing screens respectively.

As Astro said, anything over 256MB of RAM is pure waste in 9x. NT\2000\XP can use as much RAM as you can throw at it, but 9x stops being productive with anything over 192MB of RAM.