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Boot from multiple SATA drives


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#1 jarmod

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 12:55 PM

Hi,

I have a Dell XPS Gen4 which can support up to 3 SATA drives (if I read the documentation correctly). I currently have 2 SATA drives in there -- one has XP Pro on it and is bootable, the other is not bootable. What I'd like to do is install a 3rd SATA drive, make it bootable, and run Windows 7 beta from it. Reason for not making the 1st SATA drive dual-bootable is that I'd prefer not to have to repartition the 1st drive (using gparted) and I'd like to keep Windows 7 completely independent so that when the beta expires in August I can simply re-format the whole of the 3rd drive.

Is it possible to dual-boot XP from drive #1 and Win7 from drive #3? Or would I have to change the BIOS each reboot in order to move drive #1 or #3 to the top of the boot list in order to boot from that drive (assuming that's even possible)?

Thanks,
Jarmo

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#2 hamluis

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 05:46 PM

<<Is it possible to dual-boot XP from drive #1 and Win7 from drive #3?>>

Yes, it is.

When you install the Win 7 beta, it will employ its own set of boot files, which will override your XP files. The result is that Windows 7 will become your default install, with XP being just above it on the screen and referred to "previous Windows install" or something similar.

When the boot screen comes up, all you do is move the pointer 1 line up if you want to boot into XP.

If you want to boot into XP as the default...not sure you can do that. I suspect you can by editing the Windows 7 boot files but I was never able to get into my Win 7 install, so I had no chance to try that.

FWIW: You may be interested in EasyBCD, the program I used to eliminate the Windows 7 boot files after I gave up trying to install Windows 7 properly.

<<Or would I have to change the BIOS each reboot in order to move drive #1 or #3 to the top of the boot list in order to boot from that drive (assuming that's even possible)?>>

The BIOS won't matter, it only sets the boot order for XP...the Windows 7 bootloader will reflect both the XP and the Windows 7 boot options.

Louis

#3 jarmod

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 06:54 PM

Hi, thanks for replying. So, if I understand, that process would actually change the boot record on drive #1. I was hoping to completely prevent changes to drive #1 yet still have the option to boot from drive #1 (with XP plus its boot loader) or #3 (with Win7 plus its boot loader) -- so ideally no part of Win7 would be on drive #1. I'm a little paranoid that any changes to drive #1 increase the likelihood of it becoming inoperable or unbootable, especially after Win7 expires.




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