Two Hard Drive Dilemma

I currently have an older 250GB Hard Drive with Win XP that is the only drive in my PC. In the next week or so, I want to purchase a WD Caviar Black, install Win Vista and use that drive as my primary one. I still want to keep the 250GB drive in my PC, because it has useful documents. Is there a way to prevent my computer from booting XP from the old drive without losing my files?
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  1. Yes, you'll have to enter your BIOS and change the boot order of your hard disk. If you're not sure how to do that, read the manual.
  2. As your first step I would recommend this sequence after you have your new WD Black and VISTA.
    1. Disconnect the old 250 GB drive - at least its SATA data cable, maybe also its power cable. Do this at the mobo port so that the SATA_0 port is free for the new drive.
    2. Mount the new drive in the case and hook it up to the SATA_0 port. In reality this particular port is not necessary, it just conforms to common default expectations.
    3. Close up and do all your installation of VISTA to the WD Black, now the only HDD in your box.
    4. When all is well, open up the case and reconnect your old drive. Boot to the BIOS Setup and just be sure that the Boot Priority is set to use the new drive, and makes no attempt to boot from the old one.

    You may still have to deal with how your new OS finds and uses your existing applications because they won't be on the new drive, unless you re-installed them all.
  3. Thanks for the great replies. The boot sequence makes sense. I thought that it would detect both SATA drives and give me an option of Win XP and Vista on startup. But I guess it makes sense that if the bios is set to boot from the Vista drive first it will not even "see" the bootable OS on the second drive.
  4. You got it. In fact, that is one clean way to make it possible to boot either way without using Windows' Dual Boot tools. You have two drives installed with different OS's on each, and both Partitioned a Bootable Drives. When you start up and want to change, you boot into the BIOS Setup screens and change the Boot Priority to use only the disk you want to boot from now, then Save and Reboot. Only problem is that each time you do this, the Windows version that comes up will rename all your drives so that the boot one is C:, etc.
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