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A question on formatting 2 drives at windows 7 install

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July 24, 2012 11:13:51 PM

Hi there, I'm doing my 1st homebuild and have a question before starting it. To save money, I have taken out of my old computers that I have laying around the old hard drives. One HDD is 500gb with a vista install on it and the other HDD is 200gb with a old xp install on it.

Now the question is, can I format both of these drives during the install of windows 7 or can you only choose to do one drive. I'm not bothered about any data that is on them, I want a completely fresh start with both of them.

Hope someone can help and save me money on a new HDD.
a b G Storage
July 24, 2012 11:49:05 PM

Assuming they are both readable etc, you can format both of them as part of the install. When you are at the part to select the drive/partition you want to install Windows on, use the advanced option to format one drive then the other, then just pick the drive you want to install to.

You could also just hook up the drive you want Windows installed to, and after you get all that setup connect the 2nd drive and format it from within windows. Personally I like your idea of wiping them both out before loading an OS particularly since they both had OS's on them.
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a b $ Windows 7
a c 349 G Storage
July 25, 2012 3:44:50 AM

Yes, you can use both drives, and starting fresh by completely deleting all their old contents is good.

But I would advise that you install only ONE of the units and Install Win 7 on that. At the beginning of the Install process, you should Delete any all Partitions on it before proceeding with the Install. AFTER that is all running, shut down and install the second HDD. Then use the Disk Management tools within Windows to Delete all the existing Partitions on this second HDD, and create a new Partition and Format it. This second drive does not need its Partition to be a bootable one, since it is only for data storage.

Why do I advise this? During the Install, Win 7 looks for what HDD's are availble and creates a special backup copy of critical system files. In future, if ever Win 7 fails to boot properly because of a corrupted system file, it automatically goes to the backups it made and restores from there, then completes the boot. A nice trouble-saving feature. BUT the "devil is in the details". If there are two HDD's in the machine at Install time, it will place all the backups on the non-boot disk unit. Thereafter, on EVERY boot it checks for that drive and its files and, if it is not present, it won't boot, even though this is NOT the "boot drive". So you cannot remove that second drive later. On the other hand, if the Install process finds only one drive present, its only choice is to place the backups on that one drive, and it can always boot from there as long as the drive works. However, I must admit that doing it this way bypasses the extra safety of having the backup files on a different drive.
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a b G Storage
July 25, 2012 11:08:36 AM

" If there are two HDD's in the machine at Install time, it will place all the backups on the non-boot disk unit."

Fairly sure Windows is just going to put this on Disk 0, regardless of what the boot drive is. If the drive you are installing Windows to is on the first port on your controller it should place those file on the same disk. That being said what Paperdoc mentioned is an easy way to get around having to worry with which drive is connected to which port.
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July 25, 2012 11:19:01 AM

Best answer selected by bendy86.
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July 25, 2012 11:22:40 AM

Thanks guys, that's a big help. As I will not be removing the drives in the future (unless it's to get a SSD which I would just do another clean windows install) it will be alright to have both drives installed during windows installation. I don't mind the backup files being on the other HDD. All I want is for both drives to be wiped completely clean.
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