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My C: drive might be failing. Will I have to re-buy Windows?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Vandelay, Mar 7, 2008.

  1. The C: drive on our oldest PC (8 years old, running Windows XP) is starting to make some ugly noises. I'm afraid it's about to crash. We don't use that PC for much other than web browsing anymore, and I've already backed up all my important documents. Now I'm wondering: if it crashes and I buy a new C: drive for that system, will it let me re-use its Windows XP license key? Or will Microsoft say, "sorry, that license key has already been used, please buy Windows again". While the current C: drive is still alive, is there some sort of "license file" that I can back up to cover myself?
  2. "Ugly noises" do not necessarily suggest that your hard disk is going to fail.

    Do you own a tangible copy of Windows XP with the CD-key, or is it an OEM product that came pre-installed on your machine? If it is the former, you can install it on another machine without a problem. The activation problem may give you issues, but you can call Microsoft and have them activate it over the phone. I have done that on a couple of occasions when I replaced storage devices. If it is the latter, you may have to find a disc that the manufacturer bundled with your machine. Unless you are a meticulous individual, 8 years is enough time to lose something like that.

    Good luck!
  3. Yes, your hard drive is failing and 8years is a good life span for a hard drive. Windows operating systems (OS) deteriorate from daily usage after 3yrs. IMO, every 3 years home users should reinstall their OS. You own a single license that means you are permitted to run Windows XP on only one machine for as long a time as Microsoft supports XP. Do you have your Microsoft Windows XP license in hand? As Marcus said, you must have the product key to install the OS.
  4. By the way, do you defragment your hard drive? If not, please do so! If you are comfortable, maybe you can take RMay's great advice and format. A clean install always helps quite a bit! I only wish I did not get 2 OEM bundles of Vista recently [​IMG]
  5. Thanks for the replies. I do own an actual WinXP "Upgrade" CD (I purchased it myself because this system originally ran Win98), and it has a CD key. I also run a defrag once a month.

    If it does fail, I guess I'll have to weigh the cost of a new hard drive plus all the reinstallation time and "activation over the phone" time vs. the cost of just getting a new desktop.
  6. Hard drives cost next to nothing these days. A 500Gb drive is just a bit over £50 here, when a 200Gb drive was over £100 just a couple years back.

    Reinstalling windows generally doesnt take too long.

    It could also maybe be one of the fans in the PC failing. Have you ever given your case a clean out with a spray duster?
  7. :D Funny! A few years ago that would not be an option. Today, desktops prices are low.

    Good Luck!
  8. Horny Toad

    Horny Toad Guest

    Mar 4, 2005
    Vandelay, I PM'd you.
  9. Trevor.A


    Jan 2, 2005
    Lubbock, TX
    Buy a new HDD, slave it with your current one, and format it. Install CasperXP and use it to image your 1st (dying) drive onto the second. It should be an exact copy, and nobody will ever know the difference :)
    The only problem you might have is the boot sector of the drive may not be formatted. This just tells the computer where on the drive the operating system is located. It's a little more complicated, but still an easy fix. Swap out the drives (before imaging, the new drive should still be fresh), boot from an XP disk and format the drive. You can quit setup from there. Then you can pick up from the beginning of my post, except when you format it do a quick format and then run CasperXP.
  10. By "Upgrade CD" do you mean that it was installed over 98, or 98 was required to be present for it to install. If 98 was required to be present to install XP, then you need a valid copy of 98 installed first.

    I had this happen last summer. That machine now runs UBUMTU linux because it was just too hard and expensive to get XP back on it.
  11. Guiseppe


    Oct 26, 2003
    Vancouver, WA
    It depends - on what the "ugly" noise is. Crack the case and blow out the cooties w/ a can of compressed air. While you're in there, you ought to be able to locate the offensive noise - usually something like that indicates a bearing either on your hard drive or a cooling fan. Cooling fans are a piece of cake to replace, you can get 'em for approx $10 and takes 5 minutes to replace. If it's the HD on the other hand, I'm thinking you're likely to be facing a problem. You mentioned that you have an "upgrade" CD...which leads me to believe you'll need the ORIGINAL software, then apply the upgrade on top of that. Truthfully, I think you'll be a lot better served by buying a new copy of the OEM operating system (XP, DON'T get Vista yet, it's still WAY too buggy). A lot of PC hardware stores will give you a great deal on an OEM copy for approx $140-175, provided you make a hardware buy at the same time (as in your new HD). After you get the OS installed, run windows update immediatey, then apply your firewall software (assuming you have it - if the computer is on the net, especially w/ DSL, you ought to) and you'll be golden, aside from installing your software you'll be good to go.
  12. wait ...people buy Windows? :eek:
  13. The noise is a louder-than-normal "thunk" sound that occurs sporadically, maybe once or twice per minute when I'm using the computer, so I do suspect it's more the hard drive and not the fan. But I'll open the case and clean with compressed air tonight, just to be sure.

    Next question: will I have to look for a particular type of hard drive that will be compatible with this 8-year-old motherboard? From my purchase notes, the current hard drive is an "Ultra ATA Hard Drive (7200 rpm) with ATA 66 controller card". It's a whopping 20GB in size, LOL. Any compatability issues with replacing it?
  14. :eek::eek::eek:

    Friend, do not spend another DIME on that dinosaur.
  15. LongHairFreak

    LongHairFreak Insert cool nickname? Nobody's given me one yet. Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2006
    Twin Cities - MN
    It's not as simple as installing a new HD w/a new OS.

    On a PC of that age, your CMOS...
    ...will not support partitions larger than 32MB
    ...will not even support a large HD.
    ...may not support memory cards larger than what is already installed. It could very well be that board used the short SDRAM sticks and I think they only went as high as 128MB. This would give you a maximum total of only 512MB for your PC; the absolute minimum to support XP
    Also, if/when(?) your memory fails, it's unlikely you'll even find those short SDRAM memory cards for that motherboard.

    Yes, upgrading your CMOS is possible, but one that old would need to use a 3rd party delivery. That is NOT advisable!!

    If your HD is the problem, you are far better off purchasing a new PC. Even if you picked up a very inexpensive one like E-Machine (since you're only using it for browsing and such), you'd at least be close to the front.
  16. RedCoatMonster


    Aug 14, 2007
    Thomas, OK
    If worst comes to worst you can buy a CD-Key from Microsoft, just call them up. Good luck understanding the phone operators though.
  17. fenderhutz

    fenderhutz Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Harpers Ferry WV
    Here is the deal. If you no longer use the machine your copy of windows is on, you still own a license. If you don't know your product key, Microsoft will not magically give you one.

    Do a google search for "Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder" and download it. It will tell you your current key and allow you to change your windows product key on the new machine as long as it is the same type of OEM product.

    Edit: On a side note, buy a 399 Dell deal. Really. Even though it's cheap, it will kick your 8 year old machines rear end.

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