Can I run programs I installed on a second hard drive under Windows XP on my new Windows 7 computer?

Karen Vittorio April 14, 2013

I recently replaced my 10yr old HP computer running XP Pro SP3 with a shiny new HP running Win 7 Pro. I installed my old hdd into my new machine as a second hdd. I’d like to be able to continue to use the programs still installed on the old drive without having to re install on new drive (don’t have installation disks for some of them). Is there any way to run them from within Win 7?

  1. yudics
    April 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I thought it was impossible, because Windows runs based on what's listed on the registry, the only way is to reinstall the programs on win 7, or if you do not have the CD, maybe google can help..

    • yudics
      April 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      some programs could run simply by pressing the file. exe, but most do not, because this is a bug for a program and the programmer must immediately improve the program, if not then the program can be duplicated and used at will by the user without having to bother to install by entering the cd-key. so just click the exe file, if the program can run succesfully, congrat, but if not, you must install it to win7. if that program is freeware, just download it from the official web, and install, thats simple..

  2. Uchitha Jayathissa
    April 16, 2013 at 4:32 am

    You can, If there are any Dependancies the programme won't work properly. but most of the apps will work.

  3. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    April 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Some programs are compatible with win7, but I think you better go to the software's homepage to download the newest version. If you absolutely need the software and it won't work under 7, use Windows XP mode

  4. Oron Joffe
    April 15, 2013 at 11:20 am

    To transfer all applications, you would need either a dual boot setup or to virtualise the drive and run a virtual system (see Bruce's answer), but there are other approaches that my be satisfactory:
    1. Use LapLink "PC Mover" (costs around $40), which will move the applications and settings to the new system. This will work on the majority of programs, but mail fail on some (particularly if they're not Win 7 compatible!).
    2. You should make a list of the applications you want to use. Some of them may be upgradable to Win 7. Even if you don't have the installation media, as long as you have serial/product/licence no. you should be able to get an installer from the manufacturer's web site and install and activate the software. Other programs may be free, or you may find free equivalents. Finally, some programs will work without reinstallation! Testing is simple, just find the program folder in the old HDD's "Program Files" folder, locate the main program file (usually called progfile.exe where "progfile" is the name of the program, or a short version of it), and double click it! Larger applications may work partially (e.g. a word processor may work, but not the spell checker), but trying will cost you nothing!

  5. Athul Jayaram
    April 15, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Make sure the second hard drive is connected to your system and the programs have .exe (executable formats) if so, Just right on the programname.exe or shortcut and click "Properties" Go to "COMPATIBILITY" tab and select "Run this program in compatibility mode" and select Windows 7 and click OK Now run the application it would load perfectly :)

    • justinpot
      April 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Probably not, though, because most apps install dependencies in various folders beside the target. So a lot of what these apps need in order to run are on the old C drive.

    • Athul Jayaram
      April 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      is the Old C drive shown on your windows 7? If yes then my method is possible

    • Bruce Epper
      April 16, 2013 at 1:58 am

      Many programs still will not work with this method since they tend to drop other required files in C:WindowsSystem32 or C:Program FilesCommon Files and register their own DLL files in the registry. The new system will not have these files and registry entries so the program will not work.

      Also, most newer systems are running a 64-bit version of Windows while I would bet that OP was not using a 64-bit version of XP, so the files that would need to be in C:Program Files (x86) and C:Program Files (x86)Common Files will not be there either along with their associated registry entries.

    • Karen Vittorio
      April 16, 2013 at 2:29 am

      FYI: I sort of tried your method Athul - only right clicked and selected run program as administrator - so far it's worked for Photoshop, but not MS Publisher. Never even thought of the compatibility mode option - gonna give that a try now... Thanks!

    • Athul Jayaram
      April 16, 2013 at 4:47 am

      Then use XP Emulator for windows 7 and run windows xp on your windows 7 same time
      and bring all those files to windows xp folder and import the registry into the registry of new xp install

  6. Bruce Epper
    April 14, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    If you still have the old system, you can return its original drive to that machine and virtualize it, then move the virtual system to your new computer. By doing it this way, you are assured that all of your programs will run, otherwise you will need to reinstall most (possibly all) of them.

    When simply transplanting the original drive, any portable apps you have installed should work without doing anything but everything else will run into problems without a reinstall since required registry entries won't be present, files that are expected to be in specific locations won't be there, required DLL files won't be registered on the system, etc.

    Another possibility is to put the old drive in the new system as primary and do a repair install from the CD. If if has all of the required drivers (or if you can manually find and install all of them), you will then be able to use Windows Update to fully patch the system. Once you reach this point, you can do an in-place upgrades (followed by full patching each one) to Vista then to Win7 (so you will need original installation media and a working product key for both). This will literally take days even if it all works properly. And before starting this process, it would be an extremely good move to clone the original drive.

    • Karen Vittorio
      April 16, 2013 at 2:25 am

      I have the old system, but it's not an option because it's dead (thermal issues). I'd love to try the virtualization thing; however, I'm still trying to figure out how to enable hardware assisted virtualization (or if I even have it).

      So on a whim I decided to navigate to one of the program folders (Photoshop) on the old drive and click the application - nothing happened. Then I tried right clicking and running program as administrator and it opened! Yeah! Then I tried the same method with MS Publisher - nothing. Then I did the same with Angry Birds and it opened, but behaved like a trial version. No scores or users were saved and the activate full version button appeared at start screen.
      So, I'm going to spend a few hours attempting the "run as administrator" method on the programs I need the most and then, because I really like the virtualization option, figure out if I can enable HAV.

    • Bruce Epper
      April 16, 2013 at 11:03 pm

      Since using the old machine is not an option, you could use the old Sysinternals disk2vhd utility to create a VHD of the dead system's disk. In order for this to work, the resulting VHD cannot be greater than 127GB in size.

      If the original drive is less than 127GB in size, you can skip the following paragraph.

      If you are reading this, you need to trim some fat first. In this case, clone the original hard drive before doing anything else. Then go into all data folders and transfer any documents, music, videos, photos, etc that you want to keep to another drive and delete the original copies. (I believe in redundancy for this kind of stuff, so you could get them back from the cloned image or from this transfer.) Hopefully by removing all of the unnecessary items from the drive you will be able to get below the 127GB threshold.

      Run disk2vhd and select the drive from the dead machine as the drive to copy. Sit back and relax, this can take quite a while to create the VHD.

      Once the VHD is created, use Oracle's VirtualBox to create a new virtual machine. Ensure that you select Windows XP as the operating system, give it enough RAM to work properly (1GB minimum, probably more since you have Photoshop on it), and select the newly created VHD as the hard disk to use. Once the wizard finishes, it SHOULD be able to run your old system on your new one. There may be instances where running a repair install from inside the VM is required.

      From here you can run Belarc Advisor to grab product keys for installed software in case you want to get them installed directly on the host system instead of running them in the VM. You can also uninstall any software that you will not need to access through the VM.

  7. DalSan M
    April 14, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    You could try Windows Easy Transfer, thing not 100% sure it will work for all programs. More information can be found here:

    • Oron Joffe
      April 15, 2013 at 11:08 am

      Windows easy transfer is only for documents and settings, not for the applications themselves!

  8. ha14
    April 14, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    perhaps to try XP Mode in Windows 7
    How To Configure & Use Windows 7?s XP Mode

    How To Run Windows 7 In XP Mode & When You Need This

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