Three hard drives : One for Windows 8, One for windows 7 and one for common storage.

Hi everyone,

I am about to build a new PC and I am planning to do the following (basically the idea comes in two different “versions” A and B).

A) Install two drives: One SSD (or hybrid ssd) AND one HDD. Partition the SSD (or hybrid SSD) and in one partition to install windows 7 ultimate 64 bit and in the other partition to install windows 8 professional 64 bit. As for the HDD it will be used for COMMON storage (i.e. can be accessed from both operating systems).

B) Install three physical drives: Two SSDs each for a different OS (as in the partitions above) and one HDD for common storage.

As variants of the above it can be all the drives to be of the same type (i.e. all HDDs or all SSD/HSSD). Also None if the drives will be installed in RAID configuration. Just an independent master-slave (SATA) configuration for each OS partition/drive with the storage drive.

Now the questions are:
(i) Is it a bad idea for two separate OS to share a common separate drive for storage. I mean is there a problem regarding windows restore points, updates etc?

(ii) What is the best way to implement such a scheme in order to achieve
(a) multiboot during start-up.
(b) freedom to remove any of the drives (or format a partition) without affecting the others. Also in version B to be able to completely unplug a drive and later being able to plug it in again but meanwhile being able to work with the the OS on the other without the hassle of reconfiguring anything when doing so. So in version B is it better to install the OS in each drive with the other two being physically unplugged and when finished plug all three? In version A is it better to install the OS in the partitions and then plug in the storage drive or it doesn't matter? Also the same applies on buying another storage drive later on and wanting to add it together with the others.

(iii) Can version (A) be applied with more than two operating systems. Say for example also include a Windows 7 32 bit version? Or is a 32 bit version going to cause trouble because of the usage of the common HDD?

(iv) is there a problem in using drives of different type. If yes could you please elaborate.

Thanks in advance
4 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Answers
    There is no problem for using 1 drive for both systems as long as you dont install things on it because that will affect the registry
    Just install Win8 over win7 "after it" and you will get the options of MultiBoot
    II-B I do not understand this much, but you want to remove partition drives without hassle? i cant do that even on only ONE windows 7 installation good luck on it.

    Yes it can be applied but i would choose Option B over Option A anytime.

    What do you mean different type? do you mean HDD.Hybrid SSD, or SSD? if yes then there is no problems using different types, and if not, then i do not understand what do you mean by it.

    Edit: Just wanted to add that the best solution to installing different Windows is just using different harddrives be it HDD SSD or whatever and keep whatever you install on that specific operation system in its OWN drive "Example is that on the SSD Drive you installed Win7 so if you run windows 7 and wanted to install something then just install it on the SSD without pointing to the other drives"

    Edit2: on a slightly unrelated topic, why are you installing win8? if you are going by desktop "which is the reason you made this thread unless you are building a laptop somehow." then why use Win8? its touch based and actually annoying on non-tablet even if you have a touchscreen i do not see the reason to reach the monitor 60Cm away to move tabs i'd rather use the mouse which is just next to me, and i can place my hands comfortably on the arms of the chair.
  2. Best answer
    I have often done this. At one point I had, WinXP , Vista, and win7 on three seperate drives Plus a common storage drive with NO Problems.
    … Do NOT like two OSs on one drive and the Use of a software boot manager.
    … Method. Very simple, You disconnect ALL drives EXCEPT the drive you are installing the OS too. Install OS – Does NOT matter which OS is installed first. When drivers and software and windows updates are complete and you are happy with the installation, disconnect that drive. Connect 2nd drive and install 2nd OS. Allow all windows updates to complete, install drivers and Programs. Need programs must be installed in both OSs as You cannot run program installed on OS 1 when running OS on OS 2 – So Progams must be installed in both OSs.

    When done installing 2nd OS on drive 2, Power down and NOW connect all three Drives. When first powering up go into BIOS and set the Boot priority to the Drive with the OS you plan on using most often (can be changed at time) For Example Boot priority set to Drive 0 With Say Win7 on it. This will then letter your drives as follows. Drive 0 = C (Win 7), Drive 1(Win 8) = Drive D. Drive 3 (Storage) = E (NOTE I change the DVD drive to be drive F or G.
    To change to Win 8 on drive 1. Simply hit the “Hot Key” during post that brings up the Boot Menu. Select drive 1. On my Gigabyte MB it is F12 and on my Asrock MB it is F11. You will now Boot to Windows 8. NOTE drive letter change: Drive 1 = C (Win 8), Drive 0 (Win 7) = Drive D. Drive 3 (Storage) = E. Whichever OS you boot to you will be able to access all 3 drives. If You power down, or reboot you will revert BACK to the OS on Drive selected as First BOOT drive in BIOS, UNLESS you again hit the Key during post to reselect the 2nd OS.

    NOTE: You can remove a drive WITHOUT affecting the boot to OS on remaining drive. Removing the "storage" drive will NOT effect the Boot two either OS, UNLESS you have relocated files from OS to storage drive, ie Moved you "My Documents from Say Windows 7, or 8 to Storage drive.

    As Noted I have done this in the Past WITH NO PROBLEMs and prefer this method.
    ONE cavet, with Windows 8 + windows 7 with this method. When booting to windows 8 it may write something to windows 7 drive. I think this is to improve Boot time as Windows 8 has an very fast boot time. My Laptop with Windows 8, from the time I press power on, to IE up and displaying a page is ONLY 8->10 Sec. The irritation; when I then Boot to Windows 7 it say problem encounted, need to run Checkdisk. I then run Checkdisk, get a returned NO problem found and it continue to boot into windows 7. As I indicated it did not cause a problem, it's just a irritation.

    Added: If you intermix a 32 Bit OS with a 64 Bit OS - The only cavet is if you have more than 4 gigs Of ram, when booting to the 32 Bit oS you will ONLY be able to access 4 gigs of ram when running the 32 bit OS.
  3. I currently have your version "B" running. 2 physical drives for 2 different OS's. Win 8 and Win7. Neither of the OS installs knows anything about the other. Can remove either drive, and the other blissfully rolls along.

    Like RetiredChief, I'm not a fan of software boot managers. Prefer to choose it at boot time in the BIOS.

    On boot, choose which drive to boot from. Use as normal. Either OS can access the other storage drives as normal.

    However, I will say that my Win 7 installation is getting far less use these day.
  4. Many thanks for all of your answers.

    I agree with you that solution B is the best solution. Separate drives for separate OS and on each drive/OS separate installation of my programmes. A "storage" drive (i.e. for bulk storage such as large videos files etc) may not be needed or added at a later time since with two drives I can still access each other for storage purposes. Nonetheless a “storage" drive is mandatory in case the two “OS/applications drives” are small SSDs. I also agree with the BIOS boot option. Actually I didn’t have anything else in mind other than selecting the OS from the BIOS by pressing the hotkey during boot time.

    (i) Yes, by different type of drive I meant SSD, hybrid SSD or HDD.
    (ii) I will install Windows 8 but I will strip it down to the Win 7 format by using stardock start8. This is how Microsoft should have done windows 8 i.e. giving you the option to avoid using that Metro User Interface which clearly is not desktop friendly. But otherwise Windows 8 is a great piece of software engineering. The reason I want to have both Win 7 and Win 8 is because I have some programmes that currently have some issues running on Win 8 (according to users who tried to use them in Win 8). But a new version of these programmes will be released which will be compatible with Win 8.
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