Booting off secondary disks

I have a new custom built PC. Windows 7 boots off an OCZ 120 GB Vertez 3, I also have 2 , 1 TB HDs setup in RAID Mirroring.
What is the best way to get a 2nd boot installation of windows 7? Should I make a new partition on my RAIDED devices and install it?

I use Acronis for Image backups and I will use System Restore. However, I may not have time to fix an issue at the time. I may just need to get my work done. Then Ill fix the problem at a later date. So I want a 2nd installation of windows 7 I can use to boot. What do you think the best options are for this?

-- Do I make a new partition on the RAID array and install windows 7 there?
-- I have 2, 250 GB drives with windows xp on it, Should I reformat them, install windows 7 on them and use them as a boto drive. Possibly RAID Mirror them also. (I am not sure how to do this, which is why I had this built for me).
-- I have an external drive I put my acronis backups on. Should I install windows 7 on that? and have the option boot off of an eSata card?

The basic specs are below.

Windows 7 Installed on OCZ Vertez 120 GB SSD
2, 1 TB Windows 7 Hard Drives in RAID Mirroring
intel i5
radeon 7850
16 gb ram
HAF-912 case
I don't have the motherboard box in front of me. So I don't know the exact one.

I keep PCs for a long time. Basically until they stop running. So I eventually have issues. I would like to install windows 7 on the RAID array. In case my SSD fails to boot for whatever reason. Even if it just needs a windows 7 repair or a recovery (I use the $50 version of Acronis 2011).

This will be my only computer. Even if its just needs a repair or a windows restore or a restore from Acronis, I may have work I need to get done and prefer to just boot up so I can finish, then fix it at a later time.

What is the best way to do ? Do I boot off the windows 7 CD and add a new boot partition to the RAID array? I have 2, 250 GB SATA drives my old PC. They have XP on them, but neither will boot. I can't find my Windows XP CD key so I can't repair (one had an issue and then 1.5 years later the next did, so I got a new pc).

Would I be better offer, installing windows 7 on one of these drives? Would I be better off hooking it up as external drive? Or keeping it in the cage (I have room for these drives in the cage). Getting a new disk?

any other options?
11 answers Last reply
More about booting secondary disks
  1. What I woulddo.
    1) Goto intel webset and download the Intel raid F6 driver (I don't think windows will reconize your raid arry). put this driver on a thumb drive (must be formated Fat32).
    .. Note You can try without using, but if need you will have it.
    1) disconnect SSD
    2) Insert windows 7 installation disk. and select custom install.
    .. On page that ask where to install, if you can see your HDD, you should be OK, and can create say a 200 Gig Partition for windows to install to (you can partition/forma the remainder of the raid aray from windows latter).
    .. If your drive does not show up, check box, Have driver (lower lef side).
    3) Install windows, download up dates, install programs and verify AOK.

    If everythin is AOK. shut down, re-attach SSD, power up and enter BIOS and check or set boot priority to SSD. Save and restart. Should boot to SSD.
    Do a restart an hit the key that brings up the Boot menu, must do during post, (on my Gigabyte MB it is F12, on My Asrock MB it is F11). You should see a list of bootable Drives. Select your HDD and press enter - you should NOW boot to the HDD.
    NOTE: this Dose NOT change Boot priority in Bios, so if you reboot, or power off and back on you will boot to the SSD and if you want to re-enter OS on HDD you must again hit the key for the Boot menu - It's simple and you will get use to it.
    2n NOTE: If normal boot (to SSD) the SSD will be C drive and HDD OS probably the "D" drive. If you select the HDD to boot to, it will become C-drive and SSD the D-drive.
  2. why do i disconnect the SSD drive before installing windows on the RAID array? The RAID drivers from intel? I think the RAID is configured in the motherboard. I think it is an Nvidea RAID control. Why would I get drivers from intel?
  3. Are you sure, you indicated a i5 Intel CPU. What MB??

    You create the array in BIOS, But for windows to SEE the drive it must use a "built In" windows driver, or a "F6" loaded driver.

    The recommended appoach to installing windows on a Drive is to disconnect other drives. Windows will often instal it's "system" partition on the 2nd drive which can create a problem down stream. In your case with out the 2nd drive being intialize you are probably OK installing windows on the SSD with the other drives(s) connected. HOWEVER, once you install windows on the SSD, you must disconnect it prior to installing windows on the HDD, or windows will write Boot info into the 100 mb system partition for the HDD.
    Can create a nightmare, and it is much safer just to disconnect all drive other than the one windows iss installing to.

    Also NOTE: Only Intel passes Windows 7 Trim cmd to the SSD when SSD driver is on a sata Raid port and the SSD must not be a member drive of the raid set.
  4. 1. if i have my SSD installed and load, raid array set up and disks formatted and displayed as an E drive, could I break anything by disconnecting my SSD and installing windows 7 on my RAID disks? or is it pretty easy.

    disconnect, ssd
    boot from windows 7 cd.
    install windows 7.
    go to bios and set the boot order.

    when I read the readme about the f6 driver on the gigabyte website, it said that if you are installing windows 7 on an already RAID device, you need to download preinstall drivers nad put them on a flash drive, then during installation (i dont remember when ). ill be prompted to install the f6 drivers. is that correct? is anything required?

    i have the gigabyte z277-ud3h motherboard.

    2. if i boot off of my SSD, is there a way to get windows 7 to update both installations with patches?

    3. if i use soft links to save space on my ssd and point to locations on my raid array, will this cause any issues with a separate windows 7 installation on the RAID array? I got pointed to an article about moving user data off of the ssd. well if there is an extra file of user data, i don't know if this will cause issues iwth the new windows 7 install.
  5. 1) No as long as you do not change the Bios (HDD controller)
    2) Yes you will probably need the F6 driver, Not a MB issue, its a Windows 7 issue.
    Don't forget the thumb drive needs to be formated Fat32 (I Believe).
    3) Windows updates will work on the OS that is Booted. One will NOT effect the other, so if you get some win updates on the SSD, when you boot to win 7 on the HDD, the same Updates will be listed to down load.
    4) When you set the the raid, make two Raid arrays. The first one Only select about 200 Gigs This will be for the operating sys. The set up the remainder of the drive for Storage.

    When you boot to windows install (SSD DISCONNECTED) you should see 2 HDDs (the 200 gigs should be listed as HDD0 and the rest of the Drive as HDD1. Select HDD0 to install windows to. Once windows install is completed, go into disk manager and initialize/partition and formate HDD1. NOTE: If you set up two Volumes using the BIOS Windows will think that it is two seperate HHDs. You chould end up with a "C" drive and a "D" drive. This D drive can be used BY either operating system.

    When you are done and have reconnected your SSD (With Boot priority set to SSD), You should see:
    HDD0... SSD.... C-Drive
    HDD1.. HDD.... D-Drive (OS partition on HDD)
    HDD2.. HDD.... E-drive This is a shared drive and This is where you will stick things that you do not want on the SSD, IE you could move C:/MYDocs to E:\Mydocs

    NOTE: when you boot to the HDD, Drive letters will shift: I'm thinking
    HDD0.. HDD.. C: (OS on HDD)
    HDD1 .. SSD.. D: Operating system on SSD
    HDD2.. HDD... E Storage.

    D and E may be swapped depending on how they were initialized/partitioned.
    Also can be compounded if windows thows in a drive letter for each of the two system partitions (very small).
    Not as hard as it seems. When first boot to SSD (After OS is also installed on HDD) go to computer management and Look at the "block diagram" The boot to the HDD and go back to disk management and look how it is arranged. You can swap drive letters around to suit you.

    Hope this helps.
  6. If you leave the SSD attached when you install the second OS, you shouldn't need the F6 drivers. This also eliminates the need to use F12 - boot drive when starting up.

    Leaving the SSD connected will alter the boot record so that when windows starts, it will ask which OS to boot to.

    I prefer RetiredChief's way of multibooting. Why? because it's easier to remove one of the OS's later. You also don't have to worry about removing a drive and running into the "NTLOADER is missing" dilemma.
  7. Thank you for your detailed responses.

    1. How do I tell the file system format on my thumb drives? I have 2 at home. How would I format them? Would I lose everything on them if I do? So I would need to copy off and copy back. you said it needs to be fat 32 and store the f6 drivers.

    2. I already have the RAID mirroring setup. The RAID array is already formatted. So when I boot off of the windows CD again, are you saying that I will see 2 hard drives? The RAID was setup in the bios. However, I installed a motherboard utility that lets me manager the RAID from with in windows 7.

    3. the single RAID array was set up for me. Are you saying I need to break the array, and recreate it as 2 arrays? Are you also saying that I can create partitions in the bios? I did not build this. Someone I work with did it for me. I had this done because I was not sure how to do RAID. The manual for this motherboard is much better than the last one I had. This is why I was concerned. I could not follow the instructions for setting up RAID.

    how would I do this? The drives are formatted. All I have on the RAID now is a windows 7 backup, but I can re-create that.
  8. 1) With thumbdrive inserted, in MyComputer Rigth click the thumdrive, select format. In the pop up window it will show the current file system with a pull down arror to change. Yes if you format you LOSE what is on the drive, so back up. (Unitl you hit Start, you can back out with no effect).

    2 & 3) You will only see Two HDDs if you created TWO raid volumes. If you just selected the Whole drive for the raid volume and created the strip, then No windows will treat it as One HDD and you would need to partition it In windows (ie custom, partition size you want for OS).

    Personaly I prefer creating two stripped volumes, and "trick" windows into thinking it is TWO sepersate drives. So Yes you would need to break the array (in raid Bios) and re-create two seperate arrays. For the first volume, just change the size down to say 200 -> 300 Gigs. Then for the 2nd stripped volume use the remainder.
  9. I did not stripe. I mirrored.

    why is it better to have 2 RAID arrays on these disks instead of just 1? i think it would be easier for me to just add a new partition. I am not sure how to setup RAID.
  10. Skip what I said, I thought you were going with raid0, But you are using raid 1.

    Personnally I do Not use raid 1, Raid 1 protects against a single point failure - The HDD.
    It DOES NOT protect against the many other cause of "Lost Data", such as virus, Malware, psu/MB failure that wipes out HDD (OOPs that both HDDs)This is geared toward servers with multiple users.
    True Back up is a seperate HDD that is NOT part of the system that is Backed up. IE I have several usb HDDs that I back up to, once the backup is completed they are disconnected.

    With raid 1, just Use the whole HDD.

    Will I have used raid 0 (for performance - But disconinued as SSDs are so much faster), I have never used raid 1
  11. RetiredChief said:

    Personnally I do Not use raid 1, Raid 1 protects against a single point failure - The HDD.
    It DOES NOT protect against the many other cause of "Lost Data", such as virus, Malware, psu/MB failure that wipes out HDD (OOPs that both HDDs)

    I don't know of any RAID that will protect you from viruses/malware or accidental file deletion. RAID is for critical systems that need to remain running if a single drive fails. RAID is not a form of backup.
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