Quickswapping HDD's

By HaLo2FrEeEk ยท 16 replies
Mar 28, 2008
  1. If the title didn't quite do it for you, basically I want to have 2 harddrives that I can switch between whenever I want to, preferably by flipping a switch on my computer. The reason for this is I hate Vista, love XP, I need Vista for certain things I can't do on XP, but I want the usability of XP for most tasks. I want to install Vista on the one HDD (it's already on there) and XP on another one (probably just a small 80 gigger), and when I want to boot up XP I just flip a switch that will turn off power to the Vista harddrive and route it to the XP one, and vice versa for Vista. Is this possible? If so, could I do it with a simple smitch, just turn off the main power rail for the harddrive I don't want to use, and it'll boot up from the other one.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,324   +101

    No, it's not possible as far as I'm aware. You need to reinitialize the boot process for each one to be loaded, you can't just "flip a switch". The information in the CPU and RAM needs to be cleared and refreshed. At least, that's my guess :).
  3. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    You can do it no problem, provided that you shut down one OS properly and swap the drives before the BIOS detection routine (a la when the machine is off).

    My question is, why? Haven't you heard of dual boot?
  4. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,324   +101

    Rofl... :D!
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,835   +895

    hum; how about a Virtual Machine -- both running at the same time :)
  6. HaLo2FrEeEk

    HaLo2FrEeEk TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 164

    I already thought of dual boot, but I've had problems with it and Vista in the past so I'm staying away from it, that was my first thought. I've also thought about using a virtual machine with Windows, but some of the things I need to do on XP require more than just 2 gigs of RAM, and I just never could get it to be nice to me, either. The reason I want to do this is so I can have two completely seperate harddrives, both of which boot up as the C: drive and when one is booted, the other is completely shut off. How would I go about making a switch to do this?
  7. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,324   +101

    I think the closest you're going to get to that is having two entire PCs running side by side and you can just switch the video display between both computers on the same monitor. Otherwise, you can't really halt the existence of one OS and instantaneously be running another via a switch.
  8. HaLo2FrEeEk

    HaLo2FrEeEk TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 164

    You don't understand, I know that you can't just be running two OS's at once on 2 HDD's and switch between the two instantly, I never asked if I could do that. I've been doing computers for years now, I think I know that much about them. I want to be able to shut down the computer, flip the switch, and turn it back on with the other OS and power going to the other drive. I could install XP on my 30 gig drive and Vista on my 40 and have my 500 SATA as a secondary with my extra data that I don't want to lose.

    Here's what I'll do to swap OS's:

    turn off computer running...Vista
    Flip the switch to direct power to the XP disk
    turn back on the computer and boot up XP
    ...use XP
    when I'm done, turn off the computer
    flip the switch to Vista mode
    turn on the computer to run Vista

    I would of course not be running power to the HDD's when I did the switch, I just need an aparatus that will allow me to turn off power to one harddrive and turn on power to the other one.

    can this be done?


    Can I just use a switch turn off power to one of these rails?
  9. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,835   +895

    Electrically, anyone can install a single-poll, double throw switch and make the power
    swap from drive A to drive B.

    IMO, this is mindless. Use dual boot or a VM to run both -- your concept is too risky for my taste.
  10. HaLo2FrEeEk

    HaLo2FrEeEk TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 164

    I've told you, when I try dual boot, I have to make a new partition to install XP on, it has to write to the C: drive and modify the (I'm assuming) boot.ini, so if I ever decide to uninstall XP and just go back to stright Vista, it'll still ask me what I want to boot and I find that REALLY annoying. As to VM, I've tried it, I couldn't get my version of XP to install properly, and I need more than the amount of memory I can allocate to it to run some things that I need to do. I have 4 gigs of RAM, I usually allocate 2 to XP and the rest for Vista, I may need more than 2 gigs for what I need. If you could just tell me which line I need to switch to get this to work. I'm not stupid, quite to the contrary actually, and I've thought this out a great deal. Dual Boot and Virtual Machine had both crossed my mind and I dismissed them both due to the affore-mentioned reasons. Now please, just help me know which line it would be best to switch, 12V or 5V? I know ground woulnd't do anything, so it's down to those two.
  11. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,324   +101

    You can just realter the boot.ini and remove XP if you want to in the end. Takes about 30-60 seconds.

    To get rid of the pause where you can choose to boot from both copies of Windows:

    Right click My Computer > Properties > Advanced tab > Startup and Recovery Settings > Edit. Then, Notepad will open with a block of text similar to this in front of you:

    [boot loader]
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

    Except you'll have two entries under "[operating systems]". Delete the entry for the copy of Windows you want to remove. I bolded the line of text I am speaking of.
  12. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,835   +895

    I don't let my child play in the street, play with guns, nor friends to drink and drive.

    I'm not going to assist you in wiping out your system and

    then cry "those x.x.x at techspot.com told me ....".

    I'm done here ... best wishes in your learning experience :)
  13. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,324   +101

    Aye, I second that. Wise words, jobeard :).
  14. HaLo2FrEeEk

    HaLo2FrEeEk TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 164

    I wrote a big long post but my wireless mouse fell off the desk and hit the back button and erased it. Basically it said that I'm not stupid, I'll test this in my test machine that I built not my main one. I just would rather have someone's semi-professional opinion that to go at it randomly. Please just tell me which line to switch, I will not hold anyone accountable, like I said, I'm not stupid.
  15. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,324   +101

    Nobody here is questioning your intelligence, though, I am now absolutely puzzled as to why you don't want to dual boot because I've explained how you can alter the boot.ini after deleting another OS's partition. You are trying to come up with a device that is both impractical and dangerous (in my opinion).

    Either way, it's not my place to tell you what you can and cannot do with your machine.

    :) I have nothing more to contribute to this thread and I won't burden you with my posts any longer. I wish you luck, HaLo2FrEeEk.


    Oh, by the way, most browsers will store data entered in text boxes if you hit "Back" accidentally. You can just tap the "Forward" button (at least my version of IE, Firefox and Opera all do).
  16. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,426   +112

    They have HDDs that can be swapped out and installed in the main case with a switch on it. So you can have XP running, turn that off then turn on Windows Vista. A buddy has this going on like this for years when he wanted to keep Windows 2000 and Windows XP on the same box.
  17. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,426   +112

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