I installed a new SSD and put a new copy of Windows 7 on it. I have my old HDD (which has a lot of programs and files on it) still installed as storage, and it should still have the old OS on it. For 2-3 weeks I ran programs off the old HDD just fine, just had to navigate to that drive to open them. However, today my Windows popped up and said it wasn't genuine (which it was, Windows just never asked for the key when I installed it). Once I put the key in, now My Computer sees the drive, but can't access it; it says it has to be formatted. But I can't format it, all my stuff is on there...PLUS there is no way I can have those programs installed on the SSD, it's only 128 gb and was installed only for the OS really. Any suggestions on how to get to that drive without reformatting? Also, if I use an external (if I MUST) to back up the HDD, and then reformat, then put the stuff back ON the HDD, will I still be able to run programs from it, or would that mess up the OS and therefore keep programs from running? Clearly I need assistance
First try to access the HDD in safe mode. You should have the chance to access it. Then buy another internal HDD not external (cause they are not reliable),
partition it, and transfer the data to new HDD.
Then first check the old HDD(in question) with chkdsk, if it works than the problem is solved you can continue using it, if it doesn't then format the HDD with a bootable media(DVD/USB) and continue using it.
Note : When formatting the old HDD leave the SSD unplugged.