My computer died this weekend. What to do? Upgrading from one computer to another is tough enough, but replicating a dead one is very difficult and time consuming (and it's never the way it was before).
Did a Hard Drive-ectomy, and put it into an external drive enclosure (after a quick refresher course on SATA vs. IDE drives). Drive still working. Yay! Went to Microcenter in Cambridge, and found what was supposedly the exact same computer (a refurbished Dell Optiplex GX520) for only $149. Back at home, opened the box and discovered it was actually a GX620, which is smaller and laid out differently.
Performed another Drive-ectomy, and then transplanted the original Hard Drive into the new computer. Closed it up, connected the external cables, and turned on the power. Amazingly, "Plug and Pray" actually worked--the BIOS accepted the new drive, and Windows came up. After Windows registered the new box's different hardware (Disk & DVD drive, USB Controllers, etc.) and rebooted, there was my desktop--exactly the way it was before!