Installing new SSD with existing hard drives - AHCI & IDE

Very newbie question for you:

I am building a new system w/ a Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R board. I plan on purchasing the Intel 25-M 80 GB SSD on which I will install the OS - Windows 7 and most used programs. I also have my old hard drive from a dell (western digital SATA II 250 GB) with a lot of media and documents on it and therefore cannot be reformatted (old computer is dead). I have read in numerous threads that it is best to setup using AHCI mode on the motherboard with the new SSD, and I am convinced this is the way to go. I had a few questions in attempt anticipate any problems ahead of time while going through the install process:

1. Will the motherboard allow each drive to use either AHCI or IDE, or is only one controller interface allowed for all drives?

2. If I have to use AHCI for all drives, will I run into any problems installing my existing WD hard drive in AHCI mode if it was previously running in IDE mode? Is there any guarantee it will even run in AHCI mode (i.e. are all SATA-II drives capable of running with AHCI)?

Thank you very much for your help.
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  1. Best answer
    All drives attached to the same SATA controller will normally have to run in the same mode. If a motherboard has more than one SATA controller it will usually used different colours on the SATA ports connected to each one to distinguish between them.

    If you set the BIOS to AHCI mode, attach the SSD, and install Windows 7 onto it, then you'll be able to attach your old drive and read it without any problems even if it was used in IDE mode previously. Changing the mode doesn't do anything to the drive contents - the only issue is that the OS needs to have the right drivers in order to talk to the drive.
  2. Best answer selected by brad713.
  3. Thanks for the quick reply.
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