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One Computer Using 2 Different Operating Systems On 2 Different Drives

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March 23, 2013 6:50:15 PM

How does one setup one (1) PC computer to use two (2) different operating systems on two (2) different hard drives?

Each of the two hard drives are connected to the motherboard via a typical SATA connection. In this specific case, partitioning a hard drive (i.e., 1 drive with 2 operating systems) is not desired.

The goal is to be able to boot from either of the two operating systems (i.e. either of the 2 drives) without mechanical switches.
a b G Storage
March 23, 2013 6:56:25 PM

You have one hard drive plugged in, and you install an OS to it, running all updates.

Then you unplug that hard drive and plug in the other one, and install an OS to it, running all updates.

Then plug them both in, and go into the BIOS. There will be an option to select boot disk order - put the one you use primarily as your first, then whenever you want to switch, reboot, go into the BIOS, and flip 'em.
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March 23, 2013 6:56:25 PM

Which two OSes do you want to install?

You have to install one on one hard disk and the other on the second. You can select where to install during the installation.

UPDATE: When you install two OSes, they will come up in the boot manager and you can select which one you want to boot into.
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March 23, 2013 7:04:42 PM

Regarding "Which two OSes do you want to install?"

The computer already has Windows XP Pro being used on one drive. Windows 7 Pro will be installed on the new hard drive - the new drive has not yet been installed. The full retail version of Windows 7 Pro has been purchased but the box has not yet been opened.
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a b G Storage
March 23, 2013 7:08:23 PM

It will depend on what OS you want to install. That is because OS other that Windows will create a new bootloader that allows you to select the OS to run. Typically you always install Windows first and then the other OS, typically Linux.

If you don't want to have to mess up with bootloader there is a more generic way:
1- Turn off computer, plug in drive 1 only. Install OS1. After completion turn off computer and unplug drive 1.
2. Plug in drive 2 only. Install OS2. After completion turn off computer and plug drive 1 back in.
3. Turn computer on, press whatever Function Key (Fn) that your motherboard uses to manually select which drive you want to boot from. For example, for my motherboard BIOS is F11.
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March 23, 2013 7:09:28 PM

So run the Win7 install and choose to install it on the second drive when you put it in the machine. If all goes to plan, when you reboot your computer, in the Boot Manager you should see two options to boot into. One XP and one 7.
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June 3, 2014 9:37:52 PM

The Stealthinator said:
Which two OSes do you want to install?

You have to install one on one hard disk and the other on the second. You can select where to install during the installation.

UPDATE: When you install two OSes, they will come up in the boot manager and you can select which one you want to boot into.

VERY helpful. Thanks so much! I joined Tom's just so I could vote UP your answer. (I have used this site for years but never joined, it is about time!) I have a dead MOBO on my Vista (Yikes!!) computer and I don't want to replace the MOBO, it's a 2009 computer. However, I don't want to reinstall all the programs on another HDD let alone another OS. I'm going to purchase a Windows 7 Refurb (love W7!) and want to access both Operating Systems/sets of programs.

UPDATE: This isn't going to work for me from what some geek friends have told me -- the HDD is forever linked to the MOBO and I don't want to reformat and start from scratch. Great info though!
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