• Changing my wife’s computer to be mine

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    #2605497

    Last year, on Black Friday, I made the mistake of buying a new Dell XPS 9315. i have had to go through all kinds of gyrations to use my stand-alone monitor, separate keyboard, mouse, etc. and I have cables everywhere.

    My wife has a Windows laptop that has all kinds of ports. She doesn’t use it.

    Of course it is licensed to her and she is set up as the Administrator on her computer.

    Is it possible for me to transform her computer to be mine (i.e., with me as the Administrator etc.)?

    if it is possible, what would be the steps I would have to go through to accomplish this?

    Thank you,

    southieguy

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    • #2605505

      Several things you can do, but the first thing is to do a full disk image of the current installation on an external storage drive and make a separate file backup of any data she may have.

      If you want to use an Administrative ID, you can just create a new Admin ID for yourself and stop using your wife’s. Then transfer your data to your new ID.
      You could even convert her ID to a Standard ID which will reduce its privileges.

      If you want a Standard ID for everyday use, you could create a Standard ID for yourself and leave her ID unused except for Administrative tasks.

      If you do either of these, I recommend that you retain tie original ID (do not delete it after creating a second one) as it has ownership on whatever has been installed on the computer.

      Finally, you could use the Dell Recovery to return your computer to the day you got it, basically start over, and create you ID from the start. It will require doing all the current updates, reinstalling all the third-party programs, going through all the settings, etc.
      Before doing this, you should record all the current passwords & PINs (in case you have to restore the image), check to see if the drive is encrypted, be sure you have all the license keys for the installed software, etc. In never hurts to have a printout of the system h/w from Speccy, Belarc Advisor, or the like, in case you have to hunt for drivers.

       

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    • #2605522

      Thank you PKCano.

      Your last paragraph made me wonder . . . could I do the Dell Recovery, install Macrium Reflect, which I use on my current laptop, and “restore” my backup onto my wife’s?

      That would eliminate the need to reinstall my software on the target laptop.

      southieguy

      • #2605530

        Interesting question. Not sure if that would work, or not.

        Post the brand/model, OS specs, and the more important h/w specs on both and see what you get for opinions on the matter.

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      • #2605547

        SouthieGuy,

        All you really need to do is save your wife’s files (Image using Macrium as I see you’re using it).

        Then, assuming you’re using a paid version of Macrium, boot from your Recovery USB drive (create one if you don’t have one already) and then locate the Macrium Image for your computer restore it. After you select the image of your machine before pushing the Finish button select the partitions on the target drive, the one on the bottom, and delete them all one at a time using the “delete partition” option on the left hand side. Now press the Finish button.

        This is possible with the paid versions as they have technology to adjust the drivers to fit the new machine. It may not get them all but should get the most important then your can go to the manufactures site and download any necessary ones as shown in “Device Manager”.

        Remember before you start:

        1. Make a complete image of your wife’s machine, and remember to check the automatically verify option in settings.
        2. If you don’t have a Macrium Recovery USB MAKE ONE! In any case make sure you can boot from it.
        3. Review the help information on the Macrium website on how to restore to different hardware and make sure you understand it.
        4. Proceed as above.
        5. If things go south just restore your wife’s image taken in step 1.
        6. Of course all this assumes that you want to NUKE your wife’s information on this machine!

        May the Forces of good computing be with you!

        RG

        PowerShell & VBA Rule!
        Computer Specs

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        • #2605585

          Even though windows is now pretty good and finding the correct drivers this might be handy.

          Before you re-image the drive in your wifes computer, you can backup all the existing drivers using the this command line from an administers CMD window:

          DISM /online /export-driver /destination:(?):\WindowsDriverBackup

          Just add the destination drive letter.

          Custom desktop Asus TUF X299 Mark 1 16GB RAM i7-7820X
          Four 27" 1080p screens 2 over 2.
          Laptop Clevo/Sager i7-9750H - 17.3" Full HD 1080p 144Hz, 16GB RAM Win 10 Pro 22H2

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      • #2605604

        . . . could I do the Dell Recovery, install Macrium Reflect, which I use on my current laptop, and “restore” my backup onto my wife’s? That would eliminate the need to reinstall my software on the target laptop.

        I would not advise that.

        While Windows is better at dynamically reconfiguring itself when you move an installation from one computer to another than it used to be, it can still lead to problems, like that the OEM Windows installation is tied to the hardware in question, and when it finds itself running on a completely different PC, it may deactivate itself.

        I would advise creating a new user ID for yourself on the desired laptop (your wife’s) and make it an admin account. You will need to reinstall the things your PC has that your wife’s does not, but otherwise, anything installed to system directories should be owned by SYSTEM, which is the same regardless of which administrator accounts exist on the unit. You can then decide whether or not to keep or remove your wife’s account (after you have copied any important stuff of hers to whatever unit she is using).

        Also, might I ask, what was the problem with the XPS 9315? If you get a dongle like this one (just an example of the type, not a specific recommendation), you can plug your keyboard, mouse, power adapter, and monitor into the dongle, and leave them like that, and when you are ready to use the 9315 docked, so to speak, just plug in the single USB-C cable from the dongle to either port on the laptop, and all get connected at once. It’s simpler than plugging the mouse, keyboard, monitor, and power connectors in one by one.

        I too prefer laptops with more ports, but in this use case, with a laptop that is sometimes used standalone and sometimes as a desktop replacement, I would prefer a dongle or docking station rather than having to plug in or unplug four or more things at once.

        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
        XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/32GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
        Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11)

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        • #2605628

          Thank you for the heads-up about OEMs.  Both of ours are OEMs from Dell.

          What dongle are you referencing? I will try that route first.

          Also, thank you RG and Tech Tango. What you suggest will be my Plan B.

          southieguy

          • #2605646

            I use a MOKin 9in1 USB-C HUB (Model MOUC0501), but here are a bunch of examples.

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          • #2605820

            Hmm… I linked one in the message, but for some reason it did not come through. I’ll add it back in and hopefully it will work. It’s the same idea as the one @PKCano suggested.

            As for both units being Dells… Windows would still detect that the unit is different from the one that copy of Windows was originally installed upon. The actual method they use to detect this is a bit of a mystery, but it is known that it takes info from several components on the system into account, including things like MAC addresses on network adapters and motherboard serial numbers, so even if it was moved to another unit of the same type, Windows would still detect it. Whether it chooses to deactivate or not is not really predictable until it happens, and if it does, whether you could still have it activated by going back to the old setup is a concern too. If MS flagged that installation as potentially pirated, it could be a problem.

            I had Windows 7 deactivate on me after my motherboard failed and I replaced it with a different model (with slightly less features than the original, so it was definitely no upgrade) that worked with my existing CPU. I called MS and told them it was a repair, not an upgrade, and they allowed the reactivation (giving me a code to enter, I believe… it’s been a long time, so the details are fuzzy).

            Had it been an upgrade, they would have likely told me that I would have to pay for Windows again to activate it on the new board.

            How things work in the modern era of digital licenses, I do not know. The “fingerprint” of the original PC is presumably associated with a digital license for that unit, so it is possible that even if you restore your Windows on the wife’s computer, which would normally make it deactivate, it might detect that the unit has a valid license and reactivate itself anyway, if it was the same edition of Windows as the original Windows on that machine. If anyone has tried something like that in the Win 10/11 era, I would be interested in knowing how it went…  I just would hate to have someone try it and lose their valid license.

            Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
            XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/32GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
            Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11)

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            • #2605964

              Here how the Digital license routine went on my Aunt’s old HP laptop when we upgraded her to a new PC.

              The laptop originally came with Windows 10 Home OEM that was upgraded to Windows 10 Pro using a retail license she purchased.

              She finally got fed up with how slow the internet on the laptop was (only 10/100 ethernet and the WiFi never connected faster that ~45 MBps) so she bought a refurbished Dell Optiplex 3050 SFF from Best Buy with gigabit ethernet and Windows 10 Home OEM.

              I made a full backup of her laptop and then deactivated the Windows 10 Pro license on it.

              I restored the laptop backup to the SSD on the new Dell, booted it up (took a while for Windows to install all the proper drivers) and then updated Windows 10 Home OEM to Pro using the retail license key with no problem.

              Finally, I did a clean install of Windows 10 on the HP laptop using the Media Creation Tool and, after everything was done, it showed as activated with a Windows 10 Home OEM digital license.

              So, I’d say…

              If both PC’s have the exact same OEM version of Windows on them and you deactivate the digital licenses on both PC’s “before” swapping the contents of the drives around, the digital licenses will most likely reactivate without problem because they’ll still be on the same PC they were originally licensed to (i.e. Windows won’t care some of the “other” software is now different, the hardware will all still be the same.)

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            • #2606092

              In that case, though, if I followed it all correctly, what happened is that you restored the original Windows 10 Home OEM to the HP (the way it came out of the box) and moved the retail Windows 10 Pro to another PC. Windows retail editions, of course, are more flexible in that way than OEM versions.

              The difference here is that you installed Win 10 Home cleanly to the HP after Windows 10 Pro was moved, and that activated as expected. The clean install started off with no license associated and picked it up automatically from the hardware ID process that Microsoft uses to identify a given PC.

              If you had done a backup on a whole other PC and restored that backup to the HP, though, it would already have been activated and licensed with a hardware ID that was based on the original PC, and generally, in the past, when you move an already activated OEM version of Windows to another PC, it will deactivate when it discovers that the hardware has changed, and complain to the user about it. I am not sure if it would do that or if it would deactivate, then automatically try to reactivate with the new hardware ID, find that there is a digital license there, and reactivate on its own.

              Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
              XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/32GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
              Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11)

              1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #2606217

              To be more specific here’s exactly what I did.

              The laptop had an activated digital license of Windows 10 Pro “retail” and the Dell had an activated digital license of Windows 10 Home OEM.

              1st, disconnected the laptop from the internet (an important step since, if it’s still connected when you deactivate the license it’ll automatically reactivate itself.)

              2nd, deactivated the Windows 10 Pro license using these two slmgr commands from an elevated command prompt.

                slmgr /upk (uninstalls the Windows product key)

                slmgr /cpky (removes the Windows license key from the registry)

              3rd, made a full backup of the laptop’s SSD.

              4th, wiped laptop’s SSD back to an unpartitioned/unformated condition.

              5th, restored the laptop’s backup to the new Dell and, once it completed updating the drivers and stuff, it still showed an activated digital license for the Windows 10 Home OEM it came with.

              6th, used the retail license she’d purchased to update the Dell to Windows 10 Pro (which simply required a reboot to complete.)

              7th, used a copy of Media Creation Tool saved to a USB to do a clean install of Windows 10 to the laptop.

              8th, once Windows 10 finished installing on the laptop, we created a user account for the cousin she was giving it to.

              After it was all done, the Dell desktop showed an activated digital license for Windows 10 Pro Retail and the HP laptop an activated digital license for Windows 10 Home OEM.

              So, even though the last time the laptop had been connected to the internet it’d had an activated digital license for Windows 10 Pro, the clean install reverted it back to the Windows 10 Home OEM license it originally came with.

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    • #2605894

      After PKCano’s response, I went ahead and bought a MOKin 12 in1 USB-C HUB and I am awaiting delivery from Amazon. I will go that way to hopefully avoid deactivation and/or all the other hassles pointed out in all the other helpful responses.

      I’ve said it many times here on the Board over the years:  without all the help I have and continue to receive here, this mid-80’s person would probably still be using an abacus.

      Thank you!

      southieguy (aka Dick-Y)

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      • #2605921

        I’ve said it many times here on the Board over the years: without all the help I have and continue to receive here, this mid-80’s person would probably still be using an abacus.

        Hmmm. The advice given was from an early-40’s person. (That’s year, not age)  🙂

    • #2607728

      Again, thank you for all the help.  After being asked by Ascaris what was wrong with my laptop, I did buy a suitable Mokin hub, plug everything into it, and all is well.

      southieguy

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