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Can I read a Vista configured HD as data only?

Posts
9
#1
I may have to re-install the Vista operating system on my primary hard drive. According to Dell, installing/re-installing Vista will erase any existing files (gee, why couldn't they have configured Vista like XP which would save your data?).

So as not to loose my files, my plan is to install a new primary hard drive. And once the new drive is functioning properly, to add the old one as a data only secondary drive (The drive hasn't failed, it's just inaccessable due to a user logon password issue which I'm working in another thread).

Does anyone see a problem with reading the data files/folders on the old drive? Will the existance of an operating system be a problem? I'm hoping the drive will act as a ghosted drive, and the answer will be no.

Thanks in advance......
 

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OldBloke

Power User
Australia

Posts
150
#2
Yes that sounds like a workable plan. When you boot into the OS (operating system) on the new disk, the OS on the old HD should be irrelevant, it's just a data disk.

It's best to temporarily disconnect the old HD while installing Windows onto the new one. When the install is completed, you reconnect the old one and go into the BIOS setup to make sure it is set to boot the new HD in preference to the old one.

"Does anyone see a problem with reading the data files/folders on the old drive?"

You would probably not have a problem deleting or accessing the system files on the old HD, such as files in the Windows folder. You will not get the "file is in use" message like you would get if you tried deleting a system file in the OS which is actually running.

However you will probably have difficulty accessing files in the C:\User folders, because they belong to your user on the old OS. Usually you can work around this by "taking ownership" of those folders in the new OS, but that may be more difficult if your user account on the old OS was password protected (I don't have personal experience of that as I don't have a password for my user account).

If your old OS is still working, you could probably make it easier by doing some preparation while booted into the old one. Make a new folder outside of any system folders, such as "C:\store". Copy or Move some documents out of C:\Users\username\Documents to C:\store\OldDocs. (Don't copy the Documents folder itself, just the files from inside it)

If you find the ownership problems in the new OS are too difficult to fix...
If the old OS is still bootable, you would only need to change the boot order in the BIOS to be able to boot into the old OS with your password to do some transferring from the old \Users\ folders to the new HD.

Another preparation, while you are in the old OS:
Depending which email program you use, most have a feature on the menu for exporting or backing up your mail boxes and account settings to a file. Then you can import from that file into the new install of the same email program in the new OS.
 

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System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    home assembled
    CPU
    Intel Q9450 quad core
    Motherboard
    Asus P5Q Pro, Intel P45 chipset
    Memory
    4GB : 2 x 2GB G.Skill DDR2 800MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    Gigabyte 9600GT
    Sound Card
    Realtek onboard the mobo
    Monitor(s) Displays
    BenQ 24"
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1200
    Hard Drives
    2 of Samsung HD501LJ SATA2 500GB
    and a few IDE hard disks on USB for backups
    PSU
    Corsair TX-650 and APC UPS
    Case
    Antec P180
    Cooling
    OCZ Vendetta2

dmex

ɠɛɐǨ
Vista Guru
Gold Member
#4
I may have to re-install the Vista operating system on my primary hard drive. According to Dell, installing/re-installing Vista will erase any existing files (gee, why couldn't they have configured Vista like XP which would save your data?).

So as not to loose my files, my plan is to install a new primary hard drive. And once the new drive is functioning properly, to add the old one as a data only secondary drive (The drive hasn't failed, it's just inaccessable due to a user logon password issue which I'm working in another thread).

Does anyone see a problem with reading the data files/folders on the old drive? Will the existance of an operating system be a problem? I'm hoping the drive will act as a ghosted drive, and the answer will be no.

Thanks in advance......
Hi Ultraclassic,

You will only lose files if you select "Format" during Setup at the Drive selection screen...As long as you dont use the format your data will be safe ;)

There wont be any problems read/writing to the old drive with or without an operating system either ;)

As crichner suggested you can simply reset your password or use System Restore to restore your old password ;)

Steven
 

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OldBloke

Power User
Australia

Posts
150
#5
You will only lose files if you select "Format" during Setup at the Drive selection screen...As long as you dont use the format your data will be safe ;)
I would definitely backup any valuable data files to another HD or DVDs before reinstalling Vista, even if you don't choose Reformat at the start of the install.
 

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    home assembled
    CPU
    Intel Q9450 quad core
    Motherboard
    Asus P5Q Pro, Intel P45 chipset
    Memory
    4GB : 2 x 2GB G.Skill DDR2 800MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    Gigabyte 9600GT
    Sound Card
    Realtek onboard the mobo
    Monitor(s) Displays
    BenQ 24"
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1200
    Hard Drives
    2 of Samsung HD501LJ SATA2 500GB
    and a few IDE hard disks on USB for backups
    PSU
    Corsair TX-650 and APC UPS
    Case
    Antec P180
    Cooling
    OCZ Vendetta2
Posts
9
#6
Thanks to alll for the insight.

It's some recent work that I'm hoping to save that was in a folder on the desktop. I have the majority of my data backed up. I usually a freak about that. I have an internal backup HD and several external HDs. My McAfee does an auto backup to the internal back up HD. It may be doing it now, but I'm not sure.

Like OldBloke, I don't use passwords. I was set up with two user accounts, one for me and one for my wife. The normal boot was to the user logon screen where I just selected my icon, no passwords. Then one day my system had an error and asked if I wanted to activate the auto repair, which I did of course. On the next reboot the the user account screen had only one icon/account (mine) and asked for a password. Since I had never set one up, I was stumped.

I have been trying the password recovery path, but no luck so far. This could have been worse, but so far its just frustrating.

I appreciate the cautions and will be sure to get my basic system back up before reattaching/reinstalling anything.
 

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