Best course of action for adding 2nd HDD and new OS?

Hi. I've been waiting to upgrade to Windows 7, and when I do I decided to get a second hard drive to increase performance.

I am trying to think of the best way to get Windows 7 installed, partially backup and format my old HDD that will be used for data, and have AHCI enabled, all with only using the old HDD currently in the computer and the new one I just got. I do not have an external drive I could use for backups because then I'd just format my current drive and install Windows 7 with two clean HDDs.

Here is my current course of action:
1. Create 30GB partition on new drive and install Windows 7 (x64) onto new HDD
2. Leave current XP install (x86) on old HDD temporarily and back up my files and such onto the new HDD
3. Format old HDD, and restore the backed up data (using old drive as the data/files drive)
4. Install games to new/OS drive, apps and data to old HDD.

Does this sound like a good plan?

How can I enable AHCI from the getgo with the Windows 7 install?

What happens if I enable AHCI in Win7 install (new HDD), and then go back to use old HDD thats not in AHCI in XP?

Will I have any problems installing Windows 7 on the new HDD and still having XP on the old HDD i.e. will Win7 want to call my new os drive C: even though my old drive is C:?

Now that I think about it, once I install Win7, I shouldn't really need to go back to XP to transfer or do anything since I will be able to see my old HDD once 7 installs. But what about the AHCI issue?

I appreciate your help greatly!
5 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about best action adding
  1. Regarding your current plan of action, it will work, though I'd suggest you simply wait for Oct 22 (barely a month away!). Keep your configuration as it is (don't even install the new hard disk yet). Once you get your copy of Windows 7:

    1) Install new hard disk.
    2) Install 7 on the new hard disk.
    3) Copy your old files to new HD.
    4) Format old HD.
    5) Copy files back to old HD.

    Take note though: if you want to use the old drive for your files, you'll need to change where your document shortcuts point to!
  2. Thank you very much for confirmation! In the least, this is what I will do. What really stumps me is when AHCI is thrown into the mix. As I'm told, right now my 'old' SATA HDD is in IDE mode on XP. I would like both drives to be in AHCI in Windows 7 for any added performance; the whole reason behind getting a second hard disk was faster loads and boots, along with better organization.
  3. When you load Win 7, with ACHI turned on, it will be able to see both drives.
    Whether XP works or not when you change the drive settings to AHCI is of no consenquence, as once the 7 install is done, you don't need XP....everything on both drives will be available from your new OS. While you will have to reinstall all your programs under 7, you simply just copy all your data from the old drive that you want moved to the new drive.
  4. Best answer
    Agree with all above. Note that, to get AHCI running, what you must do is go into your BIOS Setup screens and set it BEFORE installing Win 7. In the right BIOS screen tell it to treat your SATA drive(s) as AHCI devices. AFTER that is set up when you install Win 7 the Install routine will recognize that it is dealing with AHCI devices and install the appropriate drivers. The trick here is to recognize that the BIOS intervenes and "fools" Windows into seeing whatever type of device the BIOS is set to.

    I believe that setting the BIOS this way does NOT affect any data on the drive itself, so changing your machine to using AHCI on ALL SATA devices should not make any difference in the ability of the new Win 7 installation to use the old drive. The only difference, as jitpublisher hints, is that if you tried to revert back and boot from and use your old XP installation as your OS, it could not deal with AHCI drives, and to do that you'd need to change your BIOS to use the drives as IDE Emulated devices again.

    To keep things clean and simple, I would recommend that, when you start your Win 7 installation, you DISCONNECT your old drive and install the new one on the first SATA port, probably SATA_0, then set you BIOS to use this port as your second-choice boot device (first choice being your optical drive), which may be the way it is set already. Install Win 7 with the new drive as the only drive in your system, setting up Partitions as you wish, etc. When done, THEN shut down and re-install your old drive, but it will probably be connected to a new SATA port. Boot up and verify that it's all there and working, and then you can work on copying data around, establishing where key folders are located and how to get your existing application software "installed" under Win 7.

    OH YEAH, quick hint: Windows always sets up its pagefile system on the C: boot drive by default, so I'm sure you have it running on your old drive. When you do the new install it will set its own new system up on the new C: drive. Later when you re-connect the old drive and it gets to be D: or whatever, you may find Windows gives you a hard time about getting rid of the old pagefile files on the second drive. Now, if you're going to be completely wiping off that disk before devoting it to data, that should handle that little issue. But if not, I suggest that JUST BEFORE you shut down and start your hardware / software switch process, you get rid of the pagefile system on your old C: drive. Windows will object because it considers that system important (and it is), but it can run without it. To do this (Windows hides it deep so you can't do it by mistake), click on Start ... Control Panel ... System and then the "Advanced" tab. Under "Performance" click the "Settings" button and choose the "Advanced" tab again. At the bottom under "Virtual Memory" click the "Change" button and just below the middle click the "No paging file" button, then the OK at the bottom. You will have to confirm your silly choice and Windows will tell you you must reboot for this to work. That's true, but you may just be shutting down to start your changes and don't really need to reboot.

    Anyone here have an opinion on whether OP's plan to Partition 30 GB of the new drive for the OS in the right size? Seems a bit small to me, but if the plan is to put virtually everything else on another Partition, maybe that's OK.
  5. Thank you all so much! My main fear of enabling AHCI was that it might make my old drive with all my data on it unreadable, since everything was written to it in IDE mode. But if not, I don't care if I can't boot into XP again; I just want to be able to get my files and do backups and such.

    About the partitions, I checked around and I think the x64 Professional edition of Windows 7 takes up around 22GB of hard disk space. Nothing other than OS critical items (updates, service packs) will go on that partition. I figured an extra 8GB of wiggle room was sufficient, but if you think not let me know.

    Oh and THANKS!!!!!!

    EDIT: Wow, do I feel like an idiot....

    ...My mobo does not support AHCI :cry:

    Apparently the IP35 Pro does support this feature, but my IP35-e is left in the dust. I sincerely apologize for making an assumption...whatta rip off!
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