Reviving Windows 10 on harddrive


New Member
Hey guys,

My PC croaked on me what has been 3 years ago now. I tried moving my hard drive to a different computer and that's when I discovered Windows 10 is very particular about what computer it's on with the licensing. Gone are the days apparently of just moving a hard drive to a new machine and going. So I gave up on that. Put the other hard drive back in PC #2. Since then both computers have just been stored. I finally found some free time recently and decided to fiddle with both computers. Since this time, I had gotten a newer computer, PC #3, but really was wanting to expand my storage in it which made me think of these other two computers. I managed to revive my original computer, however, the machine seems to recognize the hard drive yet it doesn't take it as a bootable drive. One step I intend to take is putting it into PC #2 as a secondary drive just to see what I can see on it. Essentially I'd like to see what is on it, see if there's anything that I need to backup still or copy over to my newest PC #3 before formatting the drive and using it as a secondary on PC #3.

Lost yet? Hopefully not. What I want to know is what my options are. Is there a way for me to at least boot my old PC up to the command line so I can browse the hard drive since it won't boot directly? Old PC seems flaky still. I was running diagnostics on it, moved the computer a foot and it restarted on me. Not sure where the flaky connection is but definitely something there. So I'm going between formatting the drive, once I know what is on it still, and using it as a secondary on PC #3, or keeping the drive as is and using it on PC #2 instead since the drive is larger than what is there. Honestly I don't know if PC #3 could even handle a secondary because of a power supply that isn't overly impressive, thus keeping PC #2 in mind as an alternate.

If I were to revive it under PC #2, what do I need to do, if anything can be done at all, to get Windows to cooperate with a new system? I've seen talk about deactivating on the old computer first but if I can't get it to respond on that computer....

I don't know. Thus I'm here to get some opinions of what can possibly be done. Annoying that a Windows key is limited to the machine it's installed on. Please fire away with any questions you have! Hope to get a better feel for where I go from here. Thanks guys!


Principal Cybersecurity Architect
Staff member
Well licensing depends a few things. Was this a custom PC or store bought system (HP, Dell etc)? If it was store bought then it has a OEM license which are nowadays often embedded in the firmware. These licenses regardless are tied to that system and are not legally transferable. You would need to purchase a retail license to be able to legally transfer it to a new system.

There shouldn't be anything from preventing you from plugging it into another computer to pull data and then format for use as an additional drive. If it's not being detected in the new computer then I would suspect the drive is failing.


New Member
The computer was originally purchased straight from Dell. I believe at the time I bought it, the machine came with Vista but it was back during their transition to Windows 7 so they sent me an upgrade disc. And then from there I upgraded to Windows 10 when Microsoft was offering the free upgrade to qualified systems.


New Member
Bummer. Oh well, appreciate your input! Looks like this will be a secondary drive then on my current PC. I'll enjoy the added storage anyway.


Extraordinary Member
If you'll need a new copy of Win 10 for the new PC, then you can probably just insert the boot drive in it and re-activate the OS by buying a new key: