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Going to dual boot 7 and XP by unplugging sata cables. Will it hurt?

Last response: in Windows 7
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April 7, 2010 6:01:28 AM

I would like to be able to dual boot 7 and XP. I have two separate hard drives with a different operating system on each. I tried using EasyBCD but I was not successful and kept having to repair the different versions of windows and then having to update them again which is too long and sucks.

So my current idea to allow me to dual boot is to just leave my case open and I have 7 installed on the top hard drive and XP on the lower hard drive and depending on which one I want to use I will just connect the OS I want and disconnect the other OS by the sata cable.

Besides being a bit annoying is there any other reason I shouldn't do this? Anything going to hard my PC?
a b $ Windows 7
April 7, 2010 2:14:37 PM

Short term no, but over time the SATA connectors will become loose, or in the worst case scenario break off completely.

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a c 215 $ Windows 7
April 7, 2010 3:00:19 PM

You don't have to resort to such measures to dual boot.

During the POST routine, your BIOS will have a key you can hit to select a specific device to boot from. Assuming both hard drives had their respective OS'es installed with the other drive disconnected, this method should work fine.

Refer to your motherboard manual for the proper key, but the most common ones are F11, F12, and Esc.
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a b $ Windows 7
April 7, 2010 9:43:18 PM

Assuming both OS's were installed on that computer (not using an OS installed on a different one) independently, ie; only the drive that the OS was being installed on was connected, then follow The_Prophecy's advice and start bios and select boot device.
Watch the screen carefully when loading most will show which key to press to enter bios screen, in my case F2 or Del key.
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April 7, 2010 9:59:31 PM

Easiest thing to do is install XP first on one drive and then Win 7 on the other drive. Viola, you can dual boot. EasyBCD should let you choose as well. Rule of thumb, always install the oldest OS first!! That will put the boot files on the first disk. If you decide down the road you don't want XP anymore, disconnect the first drive (XP), boot with your Win 7 DVD and run the repair option and make sure the second drive is set highest boot priority.
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April 9, 2010 5:12:50 AM

I don't want to go into the bios each time to make the choice. Espcially since my wife will be using the PC also.
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a b $ Windows 7
April 9, 2010 6:49:25 AM

stevedave said:
I don't want to go into the bios each time to make the choice. Espcially since my wife will be using the PC also.

But you're happy for you and her to have to plug/unplug cables? Most BIOSes have a boot selection screen. You don't have to change anything in the BIOS itself.
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April 9, 2010 8:29:44 AM

Most modern motherboards give you an option at the start to press a key (not the same as the one that lets you get in the bios) to select the bootable device during POST (i.e. when the PC starts). This is the easiest method but it assumes you installed the operating systems when only one of your two hard disks was present in your PC. The reason for that is that boot information for each operating system should exist on separate disks. (If you install a second operating system while more than 1 hard disks are present you run the risk of messing with the boot information of the first hard disk). On my Gigabyte motherboard that uses an AWARD BIOS the key to select the boot device is F12, the button to enter BIOS is DEL. Hope this helps.
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April 9, 2010 3:49:56 PM

stevedave said:
I would like to be able to dual boot 7 and XP. I have two separate hard drives with a different operating system on each. I tried using EasyBCD but I was not successful and kept having to repair the different versions of windows and then having to update them again which is too long and sucks.

So my current idea to allow me to dual boot is to just leave my case open and I have 7 installed on the top hard drive and XP on the lower hard drive and depending on which one I want to use I will just connect the OS I want and disconnect the other OS by the sata cable.

Besides being a bit annoying is there any other reason I shouldn't do this? Anything going to hard my PC?


Have you tried this yet or is it hypothetical?

I installed Windows 7 onto a new drive on a machine which had XP as the original OS on a different drive. Now after POST I get an option to boot Windows 7 or "older operating system" flash op on the screen for about 5 seconds. All I have to do to get into XP is press down then enter. I think its a windows feature? I guess it could be a feature of my motherboard, but I think its a Windows feature.

Otherwise the guy who said it will put strain on your cables is correct, but it will certainly work in the short term, the BIOS will detect all of the drives every time you boot the computer, so you can swap them around as much as you like :) 
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