Making new HDD the boot drive

By bgjamrock
Dec 14, 2012
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  1. Hello. I've done some searching but cannot find an answer to my exact problem.
    I have XP on my C: drive, and I installed XP on a new bigger hard drive (as drive H:). Both are SATA drives. I know that I get the option of which OS to launch when I start up my pc, but if I unplug power from the C: drive (or disable it in the Setup), I can't boot from the new drive H:. How do I make this the boot drive? My goal is to reformat the old C drive and use it as backup storage. Does the drive letter matter? At this point, I have installed several programs on the new drive (H:) and it seems like I should leave it H. Can I boot from it?
    Ideally, I would like to be able to boot from either.
    Thank you so much for any help.
  2. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,333   +49

    The bios has an option to determine which drive is to appear at the top of the boot order. Powering off one drive will not as a rule change that order, so if you do power off, the remaining powered-up drive needs to be placed at the top of the boot order before it will boot from it.
    Alternatively, you had a dual-boot setup which in XP requires two files at the root of the booting drive, called boot.ini and NTLDR. Those files could be on the drive you have powered off, so in that case you need to boot from an install CD for XP and perform a repair boot loader option to put them on the drive called H:
    As to whether you should try to re-define the H: drive as C:, I would not, as H: will appear all over the registry, much to the confusion of your installed applications.
    All round, your best bet is to keep just the one bigger drive, reinstall XP from scratch onto it, making it drive C:, then add the old drive and reformat it for use as backup. Make that backup a drive image, not merely a data backup.
  3. bgjamrock

    bgjamrock Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    The BIOS on my PC does not give me an option of putting one SATA drive above the other. In the Boot Sequence options, it allows me to put SATA hard drive above CD-ROM, Floppy, USB, etc... But doesn't list both drives here. Both drives are listed in the SATA drive section (original C: as SATA-0 and H: as SATA-1), but the options there are just to turn it off or on. Does the order matter for this.....it would be a hard wire change?
    I have not tried the XP CD repair yet. Do I need to have the C: off to do this? Am I missing anything else?
    Thanks!
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,336   +293

    The MBR created when the system was first installed has a pointer to -> Volume->Partition where in to find the
    kernel to be loaded. When the H drive was created, it modified the MBR on the C drive.

    Remove C: and there is no MBR to control the loading of the kernel.
  5. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,333   +49

    I suppose that if your bios merely allows SATA as a whole to be placed in the boot order, then determining which drive of the two sata drives is booted from could be determined in two ways - either one sata connector is always #1, or only one sata can be defined as 'primary, system' in the sata drives section..

    I don't actually know and would welcome a contributor comment on that.


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