I need to install an operating system (preferably Windows XP) on the newer of my two internal hard-drives, as the original [C] is failing and soon the newer drive will be the ONLY internal drive. The newer drive [WD] was already formatted and partitioned months ago, with a primary partition (O:) made to put the OS on and others for data/files. Ideally, I would have simply installed XP to (O:) and then added [C]'s files to [WD]'s other partitions [N], but I have not been able to find my install disc for quite a long time now, or borrow one either. So, I backed up all my data onto [N] with the intention of installing an OS to (O:) later - I still just boot from [C], but with both drives turned on in BIOS.
I now have an XP install disc, and can install it onto (O:), so this is my question: can I install an OS to (O:) without having to wipe and reformat the entire [WD], since doing so would make me lose all data on [N]? I have left (O:) untouched after formatting it when I formatted and partitioned [WD] upon installation, so none of its space is taken and if (O:) needs to be formatted again during the XP installation process, that's fine.
For some reason I have some weird idea in my head that if (1) suddenly [C] is gone before [WD] is given an OS, I'll have to format all of [WD] before adding an OS, as without booting, the partitions wouldn't be recognized — but if (2) I try to install an OS onto (O:) while I can still use [C]'s OS, I can install XP on (O:) without affecting [N] and have the computer be multiboot, then switch the boot priority to (O:) over [C] so when [C] dies, I will be able to boot [WD] fine. Is (2) true, or does the presence of an OS on another drive [C] have no factor into whether I have to format [WD] before installation of its OS?
All issues of hard-drive failure and backing up data aren't my focus, as I technically have everything on [C] and [N] backed up on an external hard drive - (I'll tackle boot-issues after [WD] actually gets an OS installed, unless the current partition setup on [WD] would make booting problematic once [WD] is the only drive and [C]'s OS is gone, therefore I'd have to change the partition/formatting config on [WD] before installing XP) - right now I'm simply interested in whether—given (2)'s circumstances—I can install XP to (O:) as it is, or if any installation onto [WD] automatically requires formatting of the entire drive and therefore loss of its data.
Such a data loss would not be permanent, but it'd be a real pain in the neck to try and transfer hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes back onto [WD] from [C] (which has a really slow data-transfer rate) and the external drive, as I can't have this computer turned on for hours at a time, so copying everything from those to back to [WD] would take quite a while. More importantly, though, I dislike having all my files saved in only one place (it's dangerous), as the majority of everything on [N] is now only on the external drive, as [C] with its 144 usable GBs can only fit a tiny portion of my data.
I'm not sure which specifications should be provided in this scenario, but:
[C] is a Seagate ST3160023AS SATA (160GB) and is currently running Windows XP Prof. SP2 2002-version; [WD] is a Western Digital WDC WD2001FASS-00U0B0 SATA (2TB).
The current partition/format info of [C] and [WD] is as seen in this screenshot of Disk Management:
Note: [N] refers to N:, P:, and Z:, and (O:) is the 40-GB NTFS primary partition I've left alone - I haven't yet assigned it a drive letter as I was unsure whether the letter would automatically change itself to being "C:" once it is the only internal drive and assigned to be the standard/first boot-method option, i.e. if the letter C: MUST assigned to _some_ drive.
I'd appreciate any assistance that any of you might be able to provide! Thank you for reading this far, if you see this line, lol - this IS a rather lengthy post.
Edited by teiresias, 05 November 2010 - 02:20 PM.