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Hard Drive Problems/Booting to WinXP on a Win8 machine


Hi, I just got a new Dell that runs Win8. I put the hard drive from my old computer (which ran Win XP) in a USB enclosure and would like to boot to it.

However, Win 8 boots in UEFI and Win XP doesn't. So I told the BIOS to boot in legacy mode and updated the boot order. When I restarted, the WinXP logo flashed, but then I consistently got the blue screen. It said something like the computer quit to prevent further damage.

I also tried booting to the USB drive using the default UEFI settings. However, I just got a black screen that said, "system recovery" and nothing happened. Are there other options? Thanks.

Hi Jessica!

No version of Windows can be run from "removable" media ... it is against the licensing agreement for all versions of Windows (with a special exception for the ENTERPRISE version of Windows 8, called Windows To Go) and is generally disabled in the Windows software.

On a more secondary note  ... moving an OS to different hardware can have several implications.  The biggest one is that the hardware is more than likely incompatible.  The driver database built into (and installed on) XP is VERY small and specific (compared to later versions of Windows), so moving it to another system is "almost" guaranteed to fail, unless the systems are nearly identical.  Even putting your XP drive inside your computer as a fixed drive, it probably won't boot due to driver issues there too.  Moving Windows 7 and 8, which have extensive and broad driver support built-in, is much more likely to succeed, although even those OS's can have issues, depending on the hardware in question.

Another potential problem ... if your old drive with XP came from a computer that included XP from the manufacturer/factory (HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc.), then the licensing agreement granting you the right to use the Windows software is tied exclusively to the original machine and is not allowed to be moved to another.

As far as UEFI vs. Legacy goes ... an OS installed in Legacy mode can only be booted in Legacy mode; an OS installed in UEFI mode can only be booted in UEFI mode.  They are not interchangeable and are not convertible - an OS must be INSTALLED in that mode.

Feel free to follow up with any additional questions you might have.

Good luck!

Hard Drive Problems

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I can answer questions about server hardware RAID and general storage for servers and PC's - hard drive issues, troubleshooting, advice, specs, and information. While some apparent drive/RAID array failures can be recovered, I can only provide advice/recommendations in the event of catastrophic data loss. I don't assist in actually recovering from this type of data loss on this forum.


I worked as an analyst in Dell server support for 2 years, and have since worked with many Dell PowerEdge servers. I am currently employed as IT Manager. I am currently ranked in the top 5 All-Time in Server Hardware and Hard Drives in a very popular and large forum similar to AllExperts.

I have a BS in Computer Science and have earned the following certifications: CompTIA Security+, A+, Project+; CIW Web Design, Database Specialist; Microsoft Windows 7; Dell DCSE Server. I am also an expert in Windows 7, Servers, and Hard Drives (I don't normally do XP - not because I don't know it inside and out, but because I have "retired" personal support for XP, and I want to see it die :)).

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