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Swapping out Hard Drives

by faithfrank / July 27, 2007 2:04 AM PDT

What problems might be associated with swapping master hardrives? If I have an eMachine that currently is running with a HD that has Windows Vista, is there any reason that I cannot take it out and put in another HD that will have Windows XP Home running (I will Install Windows XP and ?activate? it for use in this computer)? I know that I could partition the current HD and set it up for dual booting but there are reasons why I do not want to go in this direction. This swapping of HD?s would happen once or twice a year.
A corollary question would be: would I have to re-activate the Windows OS each time I made the swap and if so what problems might be associated with that?

Intel's P4 631 3.0GHz 64 bit processor with Hyperthreading. 1024MB DDR2 memory and a 160GB, 7200RPM hard drive.

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by jackson dougless / July 27, 2007 2:30 AM PDT

If you install XP using the current system, and activate it on that system, there shouldn't be any real problems so long as you aren't doing a lot of hardware changes. Probably not much of a problem with an eMachines system.

You shouldn't need to reactivate each time, unless you've made some significant hardware changes, though you may need to spend some time installing all the updates that have come in since the last time. And hardware changes are about the only possible issue I can see you having. If, for example, you replaced the motherboard on the system, both Vista and XP would likely need to be reactivated if not reinstalled. If the hardware configuration remains fairly static, then there shouldn't be any problems.

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Thanks for the input
by faithfrank / July 27, 2007 3:24 AM PDT
In reply to: Depends

I don't plan on changing any hardware, unless something "breaks" and has to be replaced. This computer will be idle for months at a time and will be used primarily for word processing, spreadsheet stuff, emailing and some websurfing.

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Another alternative,
by El Alquimista / July 27, 2007 11:22 AM PDT

if you have an unused IDE connection, is to install the second HDD permanently. You would control which one to boot from by going to the BIOS and selecting the appropiate drive for booting. That is a lot easier than physically swapping drives.

I have been using this technique on one of my systems for several years, and it works great.

Hope this helps some


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certainly a possibility, thanks
by faithfrank / July 28, 2007 10:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Another alternative,

I am not very familiar with working with the bios. The only time I ever went there was when I built my own computer (7 years ago). This does sound like a better solution, as long as I have administrator rights and can keep anyone else from accessing one of the hard drives. Of course, this would not stop someone from physically removing said hard drive; whereas, if I have swapped it out and keep it in my safety deposit box it will definitely be secure. The situation is that strangers will have access to my computer for 3 months while I am away.

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In that case
by El Alquimista / July 29, 2007 4:04 PM PDT

I can understand why you would want to swap out the sensitive drive.

I would now suggest that you install a removable drive enclosure in your system. This consists of a rack that fits in on of your 5.25 inch bays, and one or more caddys that carry standard 3.5 inch ATA drives. The caddy can be locked in the rack with a key so that it cannot be removed by others. Swapping drives is then a matter of a couple of minutes, rather than about an hour if you must go inside the case -- and it's a lot safer. Here is a link to one manufacturer of such a system. It appears that a setup with two caddies should cost less than $100. (I would get the mid-range DRW113 series.)

With such a system you could lock your "sensitive" drive away and leave your "safe" drive locked in the computer. Or, if you wished, you could lock both drives away, and leave an inoperable computer behind.

Hope this helps some,


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