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Can I boot and run my Win7 OS drive from an external HDD?

History -

I have just shipped my Dell XPS 8100 from country to country, and took my HDDs with me in a special carrier. I have reinstalled them and tried to boot the computer but it doesn't work, showing SATA1 and SATA2 as missing, showing only SATA3 (the DVD ROM).

I then tried reseating the SATA and power cables, swapping out the SATA cables with the known good one (and the Mobo connectors) but it's clear that the HDDs are not spinning up due to no power - the DVD gets its power separately which is why it works. I can spin up and read the HDDs in a caddy on another laptop.

I've read that some power supplies have different sections and that it has been seen that one can fail, but not all - I assume this is what has happened in transit (or the Mobo is damaged).


Question -

I will claim on the insurance, but this is my primary PC and I need to have access to the software etc. I can accept it will run like a dog, but I now want to try and boot the OS HDD from the external caddy (StarTech SATDOCK22U3S) on the PC. I've tried it, and it blue screens briefly and restarts. It then goes to repair, which makes no difference. I've tried googling around but I see a lot of 'how to MAKE a bootable external win7' but nothing much that seems to help with what I want to do which is get up and running temporarily til the insurance settles. I'd assume I shouldn't have any deactivation issues (same PC after all) and the HDD is already bootable so I'm guessing I have some sort of USB issue?

Tools I have - Win 8 laptop (no CD), win XP laptop (no CD), bunch of recovery linux/ dell recovery/ win 7 system repair CDs, the Caddy (hence access to the OS disk via another machine), the target PC with a CDROM that I can boot to setup, or the recovery console.

Any ideas most gratefully received.
5 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Quote:
    but I now want to try and boot the OS HDD from the external caddy


    Short answer:
    No.

    Long answer:
    Getting Windows to run from an external can be done. But it is a PITA and will be dog slow. Your current instal will not work from an external. It would need to be reinstalled, with all of the mods to make it (sort of) work.

    The actual problem is why doesn't it work from the drive connected internally as normal?
    Check all the cables again, both power and data.
  2. Probably my ignorance, but the optical drive has the older type of thick wires and a block connector for power (plus the data cable to the Mobo), the SATA HDDs have just the small cable which is data and power? I've tried switching those all around and reseating both at the Mobo and HDD. My hypothesis is that the power supply has been damaged in the move, but has different 12v areas, one works, one doesn't.
  3. Best answer
    no, sata drives still have two cables, one is data and goes to the motherbd, the other is power and comes from the power supply.

    ................power.............................. data
    http://hardwaretexpert.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/sataconnector2.jpg" class="img lazy">
  4. And that would be the cable that was stuck way down the back of the casing... Retrieved, plugged in and working. As you can tell hardware is not my strong point. Thanks to everyone who took time to help!
  5. Glad you got your system working :-)
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