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Best way to switch Boot Drive?

By smyrin ยท 6 replies
Sep 4, 2006
  1. I am looking for a way to change the boot drive (between two hard drives) on a single PC without having to access the bios or using removable hard drives/bays.

    The idea is to have different bootable HD's and then choose which one boots when the PC is powered on. Not sure if this is possible yet...

    Can you force the bios to ask you which drive to boot from on each power up automatically? Are there any USB external HD's that could do the trick either by manual plugging/unplugging or via some USB switch?

    Thanks for any input on this.
  2. tomrca

    tomrca TS Rookie Posts: 1,000

    use the jumpers to make one a secondary / slave
  3. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Why not just install your operating systems on the hard drives? Sure, the bootloader will be loaded only from the first one, but you can still choose which OS to load from where. Or is that not an option for some reason?
  4. smyrin

    smyrin TS Rookie Topic Starter

    When it comes to computers, I am just an amatuer, so maybe you could explain what you mean?

    If I install Win XP on each HD, the bios will only boot to one of them over the other, right? If I make the second HD secondary/slave, does the bios automatically ask from which drive to boot from each time I turn on the PC?

    Thanks in advance.
  5. Samstoned

    Samstoned TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,018

    need a 3rd party boot manager
    system commander is one
    may be some freebies out there
    check sourceforge website
    bios is first control starts look for boot data from 1st disc you assign in boot order
    if you set the cdrom as 1st and have aboot able disc in it it will boot auto or depending on the software on it prompt to boot
    now set hdd to 1st boot the first drive(0) most cases will try to boot
    if more than 1 drive
    there will be a list and you can change the drive order there
    then say hdd (1) on top that one will boot
    thats why when using multi OS you should use a boot manager
    you can write small app to add to batch file that will read the boot ini
    give you same options without GUI
    or in case like vista thats uses a diff boot system
    I don't remember what it's called

    good luck
  6. tomrca

    tomrca TS Rookie Posts: 1,000

    if you install xp on both drives, and both drives have an active OS installed, (this is determined by the jumpers on the back of the hard drive) you will have an option on start-up of which HD to use. there is normally a time limit in which to decide what drive you desire.

    i have 2 drives in my pc. 'drive c', this is my master drive. it is used to boot and download etc, etc. 'drive d', has XP on it too, but i use it as a total slave for storage. i made it a slave by removing completely the jumper on the rear of the drive. should my pc's OS be damaged, i can recall all the info from drive d i require, should formatting be required. should drive c be completely knackered, all i need to do is insert the jumper again to make it bootable.

    thats my way. not saying its the best way, but it suites me. hope it helps to decide:giddy: :giddy:
  7. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    When a PC boots, then usually it does not run an operating system, but a tiny program called a bootloader. The bootloader then brings up the OS.

    Virtually all bootloaders have the ability to present a menu to the user who can then choose which operating system to boot.

    Also, virtually all operating system installers can handle another OS already installed.

    So if you want to install another copy of Windows on a second hard drive for example, you just do so. And when you reboot, you are presented a menu where you can choose which installation to boot. (Mind you, due to the retardedness of Microsoft, you should start with an older version of Windows and finish with the newer).

    The reason why I asked if this is not a suitable solution for you, is simple. The bootloader is still on only the first hard drive. So if HD0 decides to blow up, you have to do some tinkering to be able to boot the operating system on the second hard drive.
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