My PC has a single hard drive (ATA) with 2 partitions, C: for Windows XP Pro 32 bits and E: for data storage (games, mostly). Don't ask me why it's called E: instead of D: because I did not built this PC; if you want to know, drive D: is the DVD burner. I never had a problem with this setup and I'm not going to "correct" this actually because all my games are installed in E:, so changing the drive letter would mess the windows registry, etc... but sorry, that's not the point, I'm happy with this drive and I will keep it untouched. I'm telling you this because I consider it's relevant for the questions I have for you.
So, after saving some money I have bought a new HDD (SATA). What I want to do is install it as a secondary HDD and then install Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bits on it, making a dual boot setup. I've read a lot of tech forums out there and looks like the installation is quite simple but on the other hand I am worried about losing the data of my first hard drive in the process (I don't have a third drive -internal or external- big enough to make a full backup first). So that's why I decided to join here, looking for a more specific help. I know how to install the hardware but I need help about installing the OS, so...
1) Which is the safest and best way to do this?
2) My new hard drive is a Seagate ST2000DM001 with 2TB size. How should I partition it so the data is more safe and how big should be the OS partition? Here I must say that I will only use Windows 7 to play DirectX 10/11 games that I can't play in Windows XP so I don't plan to install many programs on Windows 7, just games. I will keep using Windows XP for programs and DirectX 9 (and older) games. Also I need both HDD working because my first drive is getting full and I will make use of the new one from Windows XP too; so disconnecting one drive is not an option for me.
Well, those are the main questions and the reason for this post but I would be pleased if you can also help with these related questions:
3) I have thought about doing this: unplug my old HDD, plug only the new HDD, then install Windows 7 on it, then unplug it and plug again the old HDD as primary and the new HDD as secondary. Will this work? Will I have a dual boot menu at start to select which OS I want to load? It's not likely I'm going to do this, but I just wonder what would happen.
4) I have also read about the method of pressing the bios key when the system is starting that allows to select which drive you want to boot from. Is this better than the standard windows dual boot menu? Which are the advantages or disadvantages of both methods?
5) More generally speaking, a proper dual boot configuration is reliable or will cause problems in long term?
6) If I install the new drive and start using it normally (but without installing Windows 7) and later I decide to install Windows 7 on it, will I lose the files I put there? Will Windows 7 perform worse because system files would not be placed in the beginning of the hard drive?
Well, that's all that comes to my mind right now. Feel free to ask me anything I may have missed. All comments are welcome and thank you all in advance for your help.
Regards (and sorry my english),
NOTE: I have reorganized and updated this post with more detailed explanations.
I haven't read, well... practically nothing you wrote, but the answer is: Just turn of the computer, unplug the old HDD, plug in the new one, install Windows on it. When that is done, turn off the computer, plug in the old HDD and there you go...
Why bother to reply to my post if you did not read it? Your answer is useless anyway, please stay away from this thread.
There are a couple of options that you can consider, Windows 7 has a feature where you can run Windows XP from within Windows 7. I'm not quite sure how the setup goes because I have not done it but I do know that it is an optin with Windows 7.
Also Windows 7 has an easy transfer option that allows you to transfer files from your old computer, this I also have not done because I had nothing that I wanted from my old OS.
If you have two separate drives with each one having an Operating system on it , when you boot up if both drives are listed in the boot menu then you will get a screen that asks you to choose the OS that you want to use. This is done automaticly because the bios sees two Operating Systems and doesn't know which to choose.
If only one of the drives is listed in the Boot menu then that OS will load.