Moving HDD to new identical computer

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My 2 week old Dell XPS developed some intermittent malady and even
with a new motherboard and power supply the Dell Tech was not able to
get it running again.

Background: (you can skip to Question if you want)

  It was working perfectly, I had just finished all the major updating
and setting up of my programs.  I had the new computer on the kitchen
table where it had been running and it turned it off, turned off my
old computer, and swapped the two, meaning I disconnected all the
wires from each, then moved the old computer out and put the new
computer in where the old one had been.  Hooked up all the wires
(keyboard, mouse, power, speakers, Ethernet cable) and pushed the
power button.  NOTHING.  Computer would not power on.  Pulled the
power cord out and used a different cord from a different outlet.
Still nothing.  Disconnected everything, took the computer to the
table, pulled the side panel off, poked at the wires, put the side
panel back on, put it back in position, hooked all the wires back up
and pushed the button.  Computer came on and worked perfectly.    Shut
it down.  Pushed the power button. NOTHING.  

Called Dell and set up a tech to come and fix it.  He arrived, pulled
the side panel, poked some wires, pushed the button and it fired up
and worked.  Then turned it off and tried to restart.. nothing.

So he put in a new motherboard.  Hooked all back up.  Pushed the power
button.. Nothing.  He put in a new power supply.  Nothing.
Disconnected the HDD I had put in that was a Storage drive that had
been in the old computer.  Pushed the button.  It started.  So he says
"maybe your drive is bad".  He power cycles.  Tries to start it and
NOTHING.  So he disconnects ALL the drives.  Still nothing.  So he
gives up, too many other things and he doesn't have every possible


So Dell is supposed to send me a brand new computer.  Here's my
question.  The first computer had a regular 2T Hard drive as a "D"
drive.  It had a M.2 form factor SSD as the "C" drive.  

Since I have already installed all my programs on the original new
computers C drive, and all my data on the original new computers D
drive I'm thinking I should just swap in the drives from the original
new computer that broke into the new one Dell is sending.  The
computer is supposed to be identical.

I'm not worried about the D drive but If I do that will it somehow
cause a problem with the C drive since the "asset tag" numbers, which
the tech said get "put into the motherboard" are going to be
different?  Also I presume my Win10 was validated on the original
computer and now it's going to be in a different computer.  I hate to
reinstall all the software on the new C drive but I don't want to
create some other problem either.

Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

 >>>Ashton Crusher wrote:
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Well, that's a bit of a mess.

The M.2 as C: should make this interesting.

Normally my answer would be:

    "No problem. Image both drives using Macrium Reflect Free,
     to an external hard drive. Then restore as desired."

So what's our first problem ? Your broken machine has the M.2,
and you don't have another machine to install the M.2 .

OK, you could shop for one of these.

    Fully compliant with PCI Express M.2 Specification Version 1.0

    PWM Power IC / 1.4MHz 5.5V synchronous buck converter

Translating from Chinese to English, that means it uses 5.0V
from two USB connectors, to make 3.3V at 3A to power the
solid state drive. Implying the M.2 runs off 3.3V.

That's a total of ten watts. When the USB3 connector might
handle 5V @ 0.9A each. 5V @ 1.8A total. Or around nine watts.
So it's in the right ballpark. The 3A current flow, only
flows if the device needs it, and a low-powered M.2 might
not be all that stressful.

You'd probably want to know a little bit about the M.2,
look it up, it probably doesn't draw 10W or anything close
to that. It would depend on the controller. If it had
a controller designed by staff from SandForce, it
might draw 7 watts, or if designed by other companies,
perhaps half that power.

So the purpose of owning an adapter cable like that, is
so you can do maintenance on your spiffy new (fast)
storage device. It gives you a Plan B, in case the
Macrium emergency (WinPE based) boot CD doesn't
have a driver for M.2 .


You could certainly move the storage devices to the new machine,
image them using Reflect, then put the new drives back in,
and restore to the new drives. Then put the old hardware
(serial numbers and all) back into the old machine. So all the
internal hardware matches the original manifest and you
don't invoke the ire of the staff at Dell.

The other tricky bit, would be whether the Macrium Reflect Free
emergency boot CD, has a driver for an M.2 storage device. I
don't have the details as to what the driver stack looks like
for M.2 . You'd probably want the latest WinPE kit for Macrium
Reflect Free, to try to get support. There are four different versions
of WinPE or so, that you can select during download.

I think I could pull this off, but it would probably
involved a couple days cursing and swearing. Now, which
is easier. Installing all the programs again, or imaging ?
I have the spare drives here, to do something like that.

What I don't have, is an M.2 to USB3 for emergencies.

You can still move the assets around, between machines,
but take note of the serial numbers before doing that.
Yes, the staff at Dell are going to run a scanning wand
over the internals, so they will check. I'm sure an infinite
number of customers have tried to cheat them out of a
nickel or two, by swapping in non-Dell hardware in
the returned item.

1) New machine. Install Macrium Reflect Free.
    Create Macrium Reflect emergency boot disk.
    You need this to restore external_hard_drive MRIMG to
    internal M.2 drive. If you happen to own a USB3 to M.2
    adapter, you may be able to arrange restoration on your
    technician machine. Even one with USB2 ports would do - as
    long as the M.2 doesn't draw too much power...

2) Now, with emergency boot CD in hand, install
    old_drive and old_M.2 into new computer. Image
    both storage devices to your external_drive.

    Optionally, you might want to consider doing a
    "factory restore" when the old_drive and old_M.2
    are still in the computer. In the hope this will
    wipe C: of any personal items. You can augment this
    with a zero-fill of white space (using dd on Linux
    or Windows to get the job done).

3) Install new_drive and new_M.2 into the new computer.
    Boot with the macrium emergency CD. Restore both storage
    devices, using the MRIMG files created on the external_drive
    in step (2).

There are many more details, such as trimming down what you
backup and restore. You want C: certainly. It has your
programs. The contents of the data drive D:, you could
almost handle those with a simple copy from D: to external_drive,
so really nothing fancy is needed there.

So my idea is to preserve serial numbers, keep the contents
of each box as Dell shipped it. And move the fiddly bits from
one machine to the other with Macrium. The "mystery item" is whether
there is anything special about accessing an M.2 from Macrium. If
there were, a USB3 to M.2 adapter may give you another mechanism
for dealing with it.

You could even own two USB3 to M.2 adapters, but if the M.2 adapters
were pigs, you might end up overloading the 5VSB rail of the power
supply. Modern USB power comes from 5VSB - a typical supply might
have 2.5A. So running a USB3 to M.2, assumes the M.2 is relatively
low power. If the thing is a vicious pig, running two of them
would be too much load for the 5VSB rail. This wasn't always an issue - on
older motherboards, there used to be jumper blocks so the user could
move some USB interfaces to run off the regular 5V rail. And that
rail has at least 20 amps on it, so there would not be any
anxiety regarding powering stuff like that. But they removed that
header scheme at least five years ago. And decided it would be
"more fun" to run it off the relatively weak 5VSB.

That USB3 to M.2, could really use its own external adapter...

There are other ways to get an M.2 into your technician
computer. For backup and restore. I don't know enough
about the various flavors of M.2 , to tell you what to watch
out for. Knowing the model number of the M.2 (which is likely
to use a popular brand), would probably help in your search
for potential (Plan B) tools to use with it. I like to have
Plan B materials on hand, before getting "wedged between
a rock and a hard place".

See, isn't technology fun ? Why do you think
Paul doesn't own an M.2 ? :-)

I certainly would not object to a standard 2.5" SSD drive,
because with those, just about every modern computer I have
here, could be used as the technician computer to
handle that. I've owned a 2.5" SSD here, for a grand total
of one day, before returning it because it was crap
(a problem with slow sequential access). I tried to use
it first, and ignored the temptation to benchmark it.
But immediately discovered it wasn't very good at all,
and I had to benchmark it anyway. Grrr.

So of the many options available, to some extent
the procedure you use, may be gated by the time
available to do the transfer. Does Dell like to
have two boxen on customer premises for long
periods of time, or do you immediately have
to ship back the defective one ? That's what
I'd need to understand. Some companies handle
things like this, with a CC charge for the second
machine, placed against your card.


Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

Paul wrote on 01/22/2016 8:50 PM:
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Achievable, but a ton of effort for a 2 week old device, even if one has  

the time and inclination to accomplish the above tasks.

Imo, the safer route is to just install imaging software on the new  
machine and image the new machine on arrival, setup user Win10 preferred  

options, install the balance of the desired user software, image again.  
  Ship the bad unit back to Dell intact per the Dell required instruction

msft mvp windows experience

Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

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Paul, I may not have understood your reply but I'm not sure you quite
got the picture of what I'm asking.

I will have the OLD "new" machine.  Then I will get the NEW machine.
I'll have them both at the same time.  They are supposed to literally
be identical, clones, all the same parts.  So I will have the disc
drives from the OLD machine,  (Seagate 2T D drive and a 256G SSD M.2 C
drive) and at the same time I will also have the disc drives in the
NEW machine.  

So my question isn't can I save the data on the current C and D
drives, I've already got it all backed up with Acronis and I could do
a restore. But why not just use the drives from the failed computer
(I'm presuming the drives aren't what caused the failure) and simply
swap the failed computers drives with the new replacements drives.  My
hesitation with that, or with doing an image restore of the Old C SSD
drive to the NEW C ssd drive, is whether there is any reason to think
there is some key info on the C drive that literally ties the whole
system to the asset tag and/or the windows activivation and by
swapping drives I will have confused all of Dell record keeping.  So
I'm wondering if anyone thinks the physical swap of drives is going to
move some "key numbers" that will make the New New computer appear to
Dell and MS like its the old new computer and the next time I call if
something breaks they'll say, that computer was replaced, that asset
tag number is no longer valid or I'll get a pop up from MS saying
"Your WINDOWS is not valid.  I realize this may be an unanswerable
question.  I'm not worried about swapping the D drive but the C drive
has me wondering.

Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

 >>>Ashton Crusher wrote:
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The license key is in the BIOS, so the materials
are at hand to fix any problem. I don't know if
you're going to have to "click something" or not.

Commands for dealing with licensing issues are "slui" and
"slmgr" or "slmgr.vbs". I don't know of anything specifically
tailored to your situation, so would assume this is
"all automated" in your case. It should "just work".
If not, maybe you could try "slui 6" from an
administrator command prompt window (accessible
by right-click of Start button) and do it from there.

On a fresh install of Win10, the newly booted OS would
fetch the key from the BIOS automatically. What I can't
predict, is if a token is already sitting on the C: drive,
and doesn't match, is the logic in Win10 smart enough to
pull the key from the BIOS again, and reactivate it
without you knowing/seeing/caring. I don't know
the answer to that. I presume "slui 6" would give
some sort of appropriate option, if the process
wasn't automated. In the past this was certainly
automated with SLIC activation. But I don't know if the
new licensing method (MSDM table instead of SLIC table)
works the same way or not.

You will face that issue, whether doing the right thing
with the hardware components or not.

If you put the OLD components in the NEW machine,
and put the NEW components into the OLD machine before
shipping it back, then the "stock keeping" will be screwed
up. I'll leave it to you and Dell, to work out whether
this is a problem or not. Dell should certainly be able
to use the serial numbers on the storage components,
and figure out you've done the swap in question.


Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

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I decided to just start over except I"m going to switch the D drives
between the old-new machine and the new-new machine since I've got all
my data on it.  While this has been going on I put the old-new D drive
in an external USB enclosure hooked to the old computer so it's got
all the up to date data on it.  Although I am toying with the notion
of using Actonis to clone the old-new to the new-new.  Seems like more
trouble then it's worth though since I have to pull the new-new D out
to get my backup drive mounted next to it inside the new-new computer.

Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

On 23/01/2016 16:51, >>>Ashton Crusher wrote:
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 From the Dell community boards I gather that the Dell Asset Tag "is a  
secondary tag, set by the user in BIOS, that can be used by  
organizations to track a system for inventory purposes."

There is a Service Tag too, which "can ONLY be set using a special  
non-public utility from Dell.  Typically if your motherboard is  
replaced, you can boot to the BIOS and have a single attempt to set your  
Service Tag to the Service Tag of the machine/chassis.  If not, then the  
utility is needed."

Also, they say,
"afaik the Service Tag is set by Dell and cannot be changed. The Asset  
Tag is something you can set for yourself.


Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

On Sat, 23 Jan 2016 18:23:52 +0100, edevils

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From what they tech said, he was planning to boot it up and set the
service tag into the motherboard.  Since he could not get it to boot
he could not proceed with any further diagnostics.

Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

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I read your post again and thought more about it and I think what I
said in my earlier message was incorrect, I think you did understand
what I said the first time and I didn't quite get your reply when I
read it before.

I used Acronis for my backup of the original new C drive and they do
have some kind of "restore to different hardware", I think they call
it "universal restore"  program so I'm thinking my best option short
of swapping SSD's would be to use that to do the restore of my backup
with the presumption that it won't wipe out critical parts of the SSD
in the new new machine.  Or I may throw in the towel and just
reinstall everything.  If anything goes wrong with the restore or
something hidden gets messed up fixing that will probably take longer
then the day I'll spend doing reinstalls.  

Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

On 23/01/2016 01:39, >>>Ashton Crusher wrote:
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Counter-Question: Did they say you can keep the SSD drive? Isn't it part  
of the "bad" computer that is going to be replaced with a brand new  

Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

On 1/23/2016 8:23 AM, edevils wrote:
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I think I would get rid of everything from the new computer CPU, hard  
drive, etc.

You don't know what is wrong with the new computer, therefore you do not  
know what caused the unit to fail.   What if there is a defect in the  
hard drive that caused a failure in one of the other system of the new  
computer.   If that is so and you keep the new drive, you are risking  
the replacement and any computer you use it in.

There will be those who explain why this can not be, BUT is it worth the  
hassle and the future risk to your computing pleasure?

Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

On Sat, 23 Jan 2016 09:55:28 -0500, Keith Nuttle

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That is one of my concerns but the way the computer failed doesn't
seem HD related to me.  For the D drive (a rotating classic drive) for
example, the computer sometimes started fine and other times would not
even start to start even without the D drive connected.  So that would
see to rule out the D drive as the reason for it not being able to
fire up.  For the C drive, the SSD drive, when the computer did fire
up it booted perfectly.  I guess the C drive could be intermittently
the problem but I don't see how it being bad would literally stop the
computer from even powering on.  This isn't that the computer powers
on and gets a BSOD,.. when it worked, it worked perfectly, when it
didn't work it simply refused to "accept" the fact that it was turned
on, it acted like a dead power supply.  

Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

On 23/01/2016 16:35, >>>Ashton Crusher wrote:
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If I were you, I would check that the brand new computer is working just  
fine *before* doing anything like removing disks or attaching disks.
Actually I would not tamper at all with hardware for a while, let's say  
the first week, just to be on the safe side (apart from adding your old  
data disk in case you need it).

If the brand new computer comes with Windows 10 preinstalled, I would  
leave that alone too.

Just my 2 cents.

Re: Moving HDD to new identical computer

On Sat, 23 Jan 2016 18:46:47 +0100, edevils

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That's pretty much what I've decided.  I'll get it going and set up
windows.  Then I will swap just the D drives, because the  old-new one
has all my data already on it.  I will put in my backup storage drive
which I store my Acronis backups on.  And then install all my programs
and let it perk for awhile.

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