The Tax-Refund Build Day 3: Brain Transplant

Last time I had everything put together and running, but didn’t have the old hard drive with Windows on it.  All I needed to do was to put that old drive in the new system and see what happened.

Well, what happened wasn’t much initially.  The new configuration was so different that when Windows XP started it basically looked at the system and said “huh?”.  It simply would not boot to Windows.

The solution was to do a system repair.  I put in my XP disk and hit enter when the menu to set up XP came up.  I ran setup WITHOUT doing a clean install.  Doing so would have erased everything.  This also gave them a bit of an upgrade, as their version was XP home and mine was the Pro version.

After the activation nonsense (I had to call in as the ethernet drivers weren’t installed yet) it booted to XP.  First I installed the motherboard drivers so the sound and NIC would work.  I then installed Acronis True Image WD Edition, which was available from the Western Digital web site, to clone the old partition and boot record to the new disk.  That went very easily and after I took the old 20 Gb disk out it booted right up to the 500 Gb.

**note: the WD software only works with WD drives – visit your drive manufacturer’s site for similar software**

I then was able to get on the Internet and update XP with the latest service packs.

It took a long time to do all that – about 3 hours – but it went pretty seamlessly.  The only problem right now is with the HP printer trying to update itself for some reason and looping, but that’s not a hard fix.  Apparently I just need to get my sister to put in the installation disk and it will go away.

I’m impressed with the whole system.  Total cost (I waited until the very end to give the total, as I didn’t know what else I might have needed) was right around $550 for the entire system.  Not bad at all.  I haven’t benchmarked it, but I was able to run a virus scan, defragment the hard drive, update Windows and surf the web simultaneously without much lag.

As predicted, Windows XP only addresses 3.25 of the 4 Gb of RAM on the system.  While disappointing, this isn’t a huge deal as the Windows 7 x64 upgrade will address that.  It also shows the processor running at 2.81 GHz which is fantastic.  Again, nothing’s overclocked.

I hope this has inspired you to think about building your own PC and even showing how your kids to do it.  The software is a hassle, but installing hardware is not difficult and a good way to teach your kids about electronics, computers, and patience!

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Posted on April 24, 2010, in How To. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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