SATA HDD swapping

Microsoft Windows 7 home premium upgrade...
December 6, 2009 at 13:02:29
Specs: Windows 7, celeron 1.6 1 gig
Hi Does anybody known if this is possible. I currently have a sata internal hard drive running xp, i want to replace this with a new sata hard drive running win 7, can i fit some type of swappable / slide in unit in the front of my case so i can use both drives (i dont want a dual boot system) ie slide in the win 7 drive to use then when needed slide out & slide in xp drive, rather than have to open the case every time. If it is possible does anyone know of a good one to use ( im based in uk) i presume it will have to be one of the 5.25 bays i would use. Thanks

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December 6, 2009 at 14:13:26
Yes you can.They make somewhat cheap bay's that are normally cold swappable. You'd need a bay and at least two carriers. They tend to be sold alone. Almost all good computer parts places would have them. Online or stores.

They also make a/b type of switches to select.

You can actually make an a/b switch too.
You can easily select boot disk from bios to install and then choose from boot option menu.

Could setup windows 7 and run a virtual machine for your xp or the other way around.

Playing to the angels
Les Paul (1915-2009)

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December 6, 2009 at 14:13:47
You are still performing a dual boot if you do what you want to do.

If you have a pretty new computer you can just install the second drive internally and use the keyboard to select which hard drive you want to boot to.

That isn't the same as a traditional dual boot. For one thing the drives and OSes are NOT dependent on one another as in a traditional dual boot using the Windows boot logger.

Just install the second hard drive and temporarily disconnect the first one. Boot to the Windows 7 DVD and install it. Partition the drive anyway you wish. After rebooting once and Windows 7 is working OK shut down and reconnect the first drive.

When starting the computer you should see a prompt to hit a key to choose what drive to boot from. If you don't hit any key the computer will boot from whichever drive was positioned at the top of the list. This can work for as many drives as you can connect. If you install more than one OS on a drive you will still get the traditional boot menu.

Another method is to use an eSATA drive bay to actually swap out the drives. This is usually used to secure a hard drive that contains sensitive data. It can be locked up in a safe, for instance.

If you insist on swapping drives look at the link below. This vendor will not ship to the UK but it will give you an idea of what is available.

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December 7, 2009 at 02:31:14
Hi Thanks for the replies, thanks othehill, that sounds exactly what i want, i knew you could set the boot up from the bios as in hard disc or dvd rom drive, but didnt know you could do any more, i think that is the way i will go but still may put in a swappable bay so i can use that to back up, then keep the disc in a seperate place. Thanks

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December 7, 2009 at 06:00:35
Backing up to a hard drive is better than not backing up but IMO using optical disks is better and much cheaper too.

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December 7, 2009 at 09:20:13
I was going to use a tray system as i have two old hard discs lying around so thought i would reuse them instead of them sittin there doin nowt.

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December 7, 2009 at 09:29:58
If they are IDE ATA type then I think you need to swap when shut down. Relying on old hard drives to backup personal data could be risky.

Originally you asked about swapping two SATA drives.

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December 8, 2009 at 01:31:14
I have a new drive that is sata & my old one is sata, these two will go into my new system one running win 7 & one running win xp, i also have some old,old drives they are the older ide ata internal drives, am using them to backup to, at the moment via a usb--ide cable but i have to keeep pulling stuff out to plug the cable in each time i want to use the cable so a caddy would be ideal, also i do a full system backup sometimes, as well as files only, so this would take up too many dvd's i also backup my laptop to the old discs, so seems reasonable with the amount of data to use old discs & not dvd/cd's. Anybody know of a good reasonable priced one.

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December 8, 2009 at 05:45:23
You may need to reevaluate how you set up your computers.

If you utilize multiple partitions you can manage your backups much better.

There is no reason you need to backup an entire drive everytime some of the data changes.

Placing the OS on the first partition. Your programs on the second, and personal files on subsequent partitions allows you to only backup each partition as needed.

For example, once set up your program partition won't change much, if at all. Core programs that DO change regularly can be placed on the first partition along with the OS.

Now, if you set up the first partition in this manner your image will probably fit on THREE DVDR single layer disks.

Should you ever need to restore the first partition, all the programs and files on all the remaining partitions will still work and be accessible.

Look at the link below for more ideas on partitioning strategies.

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December 8, 2009 at 06:25:37
Thanks othehill i will have a look at the link, as i have always just put everything on one disc in one partition never thought of using differrent partitions for different file types, is partitioning from in windows 7 any good or is it worth getting proper software to do the job

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December 8, 2009 at 06:46:36
I haven't experimented with Windows 7 partitioning after installation but at the installation point you can partition however you wish. I THINK that in Vista and 7 you can actually re-size partitions after they are created. I don't recommend doing that unless necessary.

Going back to backing up personal files. Things like photographs and important documents are best committed to long term storage. IMO that means CDR/DVDR. Don't use RW disks as they are not as compatible and have a shorter shelf life. The amount of effort you put into preserving files should be in line with the importance of those files.

I would say that photos are irreplaceable and therefore deserve the most protection. Optical media allows you to cheaply make multiple copies which can be distributed and stored off site, further protecting them. This same strategy works for other files.

For instance, I NEVER install software from the original disk. I burn a copy and use it to install. If it installs OK then I know both are good.

One last thought. You should always maintain at LEAST two copies of any data you wish to keep.

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December 9, 2009 at 14:17:50
othehill i have got my new hard drive & ready to load win 7, is it best to do partitions before loading os, have read the link you sent & they use Fdisk but which copy do i need as on lookin they are hundreds of different copys on different sites. Thanks

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December 9, 2009 at 14:55:28
You MUST partition in order to then format and install. I assume you mean more than one partition?

You don't need Fdisk. Actually, using the software from the manufacturer is best. Windows 7 DVD itself should do the job fine. You may get confused about what size to allocate. Just look at what is available and you should be able to figure out what you want.

Use the custom install selection when booting to the Windows 7 DVD. You can then just create 1 primary partition of the size you feel will serve you for Windows 7. All the remaining unallocated space on the drive can be dealt with after Windows 7 is up and running.

My C: partition is 30GB. If you intend to keep lots of stuff in your Documents folder you may want even more. Don't install any programs in the C partition unless they are subject to regular updating. AV software, malware cleaners, etc. I also keep unzippers and file reader software there.

One thing that you may not be aware of. When you use imaging/backup software, like Acronis for example, the size of the partition is of no consequence. If you have a 30GB partition with 10GB of data on it all Acronis will backup is the 10GB. And that will be compressed. Normal compression using automatic settings is about 1.5 to 1. Exceptions are files that are already in a compressed mode. jpg, mp3, mpeg* are examples of compressed files. I don't even image my music partition. Just simply copy it elsewhere.

I tell you this so you understand that partition size will not automatically force a larger backup/image file.

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December 10, 2009 at 01:31:50
Sorry othehill, i posted the other question then realised you would probably know the answer my apologises. i was going to make my c drive 30 gig for my os & programs, as per the link you sent me, i wasn't going to use documents folder was going to set up some partitions for, documents & photos, one for mp3's & one just for games, what do you think. Thanks

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December 10, 2009 at 07:45:41
You don't need to apologize to me. I just wondered because we seemed to be on the same page.

If Windows 7 partitions it as I described then no problem. If you have a problem, then download the software designed to set up drives from the manufacturers site. Windows 7 may be better because you don't need to do the entire drive then and there.

You are aware that you can reassign drive letters for all but the boot partition, which should be C. Be sure not to have any external or flash drives connected while doing this. Card readers with cards in them can also pooch the process.

So, after installing 7, and further partitioning, look at drive letter assignments and make any changes BEFORE installing anything to those partitions. I suggest you place optical drives after all fixed partitions. Watch out for dynamic partitions too. Don't create them.

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December 10, 2009 at 08:42:42
Thanks for the advise, going a bit back to original topic once i have installed new drive & sorted it out with new partitions if i then connect my second hard drive which is going to run win xp will it show up when i run win 7 or not.

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December 10, 2009 at 09:40:45
Yes it should, you MAY need to take ownership of the files/folders but it will show.

You will need to use the boot selector in the BIOS to select which one to boot to. All files should be available.

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December 10, 2009 at 13:02:02
Othehill need more help please, i have loaded win 7 onto new drive in a 30 gig partition ( allocated as primary) rest of drive unallocated, when i go try & partition in win 7 it asks if i want to make a simple volume (its the only option) so i make one it labels it e drive and calls it a primary partition is this ok, i thought you had 1 primary partition then an extended partition which you could put in as many partitions as you want. Help pretty please.

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December 10, 2009 at 13:43:17
Old DOS parameters allow up to 4 primary partitions or three primary and one extended partition with logical drives (as many as you have drive letters available).

The layout is classified as Simple. The TYPE of partition will be Basic.

I only warned you about Dynamic partitions because I have run across a number of folks that created them and didn't want that or know what they are.

IMO, using primary partitions is preferable if possible. Refer to the above in this response for limitations. An extended partition with logical drives can't be preserved if you delete the primary partition it is associated with.

So to answer you, go ahead and create a second (simple- basic) primary partition.

Have you determined how many partitions you intend to make, all together?

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December 10, 2009 at 14:08:24
I think i'm nearly there this is what ive done & how win 7 set it up, see what you think.

primary for os & appts
primary for downloads
logical for mp3's
logical for documants
logical for photos
logical for games

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December 10, 2009 at 14:41:42
I recommend you use a separate partition for your programs. As I mentioned earlier there are some you may want on the C partition but most should be elsewhere.

That say you don't need to backup as much data when you do backup. Your programs partition isn't going to change much, if at all.

Using a partition for downloads is a waste of a partition. Windows 7 creates a download partition by default on the C partition. If you need/want to keep downloads then move them to a different partition at that time.

Your photos and mp3 files are alrady compressed files so there is no advantage to imaging them and no advantage to keeping them on separate partitions. What may happen is one partition will fill up and the other will have lots of room.

You can keep all files that are compressed on the same larger partition. Just use separate folders for each type of file.

Games on a separate partition is OK.

Did you use all the space on the drive? If you ever decide to play with a different operating system it would be nice to have a separate partition for it. Preferably a primary type.

As long as there is room you can create a third primary partition.

Basically, you want to separate things to different partitions based on how often you will need to image/backup those files.

The OS is dynamic, changing weekly or sooner. Your MP3, photos, movies, etc. are different. The files themselves don't change. You just add more from time to time. Allowing Window to save thing in your documents folder and periodically copying the new files to the folder on a different partition works well. Then, of course you should make a new backup or just add the new files to an existing backup.

I will try to stress the advantage of separating programs and the OS. Programs are linked to the OS. They won't work anymore if you have to re-install the OS. However, if you have the OS and the programs on different partitions and you need to restore the OS from an previously made image, all your programs will continue to work. That would be the case if they were both on the same partition too. The difference is the size of the data on the partition will be at least twice or three times are big. This makes performing regular backup/images more time consuming and you may not do them.

The OS is by far the most important thing to keep current images of. All the settings, and updates are really time consuming to redo.

Your MP3, photos, movies, etc. will all be accessible not matter if you need to re-install or restore. They are not linked to the OS. They may be linked to a player or viewing program is all.

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