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Can I add a second hard drive with a different operating system without creating

Last response: in Windows 7
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March 18, 2011 11:19:41 AM

Hello,
I have an HP box (m8277c) running Vista 32-bit OS and the Asus IPIBL-LA (Berkeley) mobo.
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01...
I am upgrading the power supply to the Antec EA-380D, the processor to the Intel Q6600 quad core (64-bit), and the memory to G.Skill F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ 2x2GB. Here's my question: I would like to add a second hard drive with Windows 7 64-bit OS to this desktop. Will this cause any conflict between the two drives with different OS's running off the same mobo? Is it okay to switch back and forth between 32-bit and 64-bit OS's? And that leads to my last question, how do I switch at will? Is there a way, upon booting, to make my BIOS see both hard drives and ask me "which HD do you wish to boot from?", or do I have to go into the BIOS on startup and do this manually each time?
Thank you kindly, in advance, for your help - this is a great community!
Mark
Brookline, NH
a b $ Windows 7
March 18, 2011 11:31:41 AM

The short answer to your questions is "Yes". It's all possible and fairly straightforward.

Most BIOSes have a reserved key that you press at startup to display a boot menu (F11 is a common option, but there are others). Alternatively you can configure a menu from within Windows. Have a look at EasyBCD which makes this very easy in the Windows 7, Vista world. It may even be that just installing the new OS will automatically set up a boot menu.
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a c 228 $ Windows 7
March 18, 2011 2:22:40 PM

Installing win 7 with another OS already installed should automatically create a windows boot menu. If you don't want to use the windows boot menu and prefer to use the bios startup boot menu (assuming you have one), then disconnect the Vista drive before installing win 7 to the new drive.
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March 18, 2011 4:21:31 PM

Thanks so much for your help. Next, I am a little unclear as to the order of operations and would appreciate your help. Should I put the Windows 7 Disk in the DVD-ROM, shut down, install the 2nd hard drive, power-up, get into the BIOS, and select the option to boot from the DVD drive letter, in order to get Windows 7 installed on the new hard drive? How do I get the OS to load onto the new drive without knowing its assigned drive letter? In other words, how do I prevent the computer from just booting normally to the C drive and into Vista on the existing hard drive?

Also, down the road, when this is all set and done, and I have booted into the new hard drive with Windows 7, will I be able to access the C drive (even though it has an OS on it) and view its folders in order to transfer photos and files, like as if it was my Seagate external USB HD?
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a b $ Windows 7
March 18, 2011 4:53:39 PM

Boot off the DVD (after you have put the new disk in). During the boot process the install should ask which partition you want to install the Windows 7 to. Select the new empty drive and tell it to use all of it. (I'm not sure of the exact messages/options you get, but it's all fairly obvious. Just make sure that you don't ask it to install into your existing Vista partition.) If in doubt, record any messages, cancel the install, and come back and ask for more help. The OS will assign the drive letter; Windows 7 will call this new drive C:.

Both installations will be able to access the other drive, but you will probably need to go into Disk Manager to allocate a drive letter to the other systems drive (it doesn't matter what letter you assign but just use the next free one - probably E:) . I know that sounds a bit confusing, that you have a C: drive in Vista and a different C: drive in 7 but, trust me, it works. The drive letters aren't absolutes, they are just shorthand names that Windows assigns to drives.

One word of warning if you do look at the Vista drive from 7 (or the other way round). Be careful not to alter or delete any of the files in the Windows directory. As long as you are logged on as an Administrative user you will have no difficulty accessing the data from the other system, but it is just possible that Windows 7 will ask whether you want to grant yourself access to some folders. Just say yes.
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March 19, 2011 2:10:58 PM

Ijack said:
Boot off the DVD (after you have put the new disk in). During the boot process the install should ask which partition you want to install the Windows 7 to. Select the new empty drive and tell it to use all of it. (I'm not sure of the exact messages/options you get, but it's all fairly obvious. Just make sure that you don't ask it to install into your existing Vista partition.) If in doubt, record any messages, cancel the install, and come back and ask for more help. The OS will assign the drive letter; Windows 7 will call this new drive C:.

Both installations will be able to access the other drive, but you will probably need to go into Disk Manager to allocate a drive letter to the other systems drive (it doesn't matter what letter you assign but just use the next free one - probably E:) . I know that sounds a bit confusing, that you have a C: drive in Vista and a different C: drive in 7 but, trust me, it works. The drive letters aren't absolutes, they are just shorthand names that Windows assigns to drives.

One word of warning if you do look at the Vista drive from 7 (or the other way round). Be careful not to alter or delete any of the files in the Windows directory. As long as you are logged on as an Administrative user you will have no difficulty accessing the data from the other system, but it is just possible that Windows 7 will ask whether you want to grant yourself access to some folders. Just say yes.


Dear ijack,

Thanks for your help and good advice. That is great info about the protocol and drive letters that I would not have known about in advance...

Mark
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