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I had Windows XP installed (on C:), an optical drive as D: and a small (160GB) second hard drive with data on it as E:. Drive C: recently crashed and I have disconnected it.

I would like to install Windows XP onto the second hard drive (~50GB free) without formatting it. Will the Windows installer allow me to do this without formatting the drive? I searched for an answer to this, but was not able to find anything conclusive.

My other alternative is to create a (second) partition on the drive with Parted Magic. That will take a long time and potentially places the existing data there at risk. I have used Parted Magic before and am confident it will work, but moving 90GB of data around to make space for a new partition is a big step to take if Windows can be installed on the drive without it removing the existing data.

What's my best option?

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If you do not have a backup of the data, then I suggest you get an external drive, or cloud hosting or something and backup your data first. –  Zoredache Jul 23 '12 at 18:01
    
@Zoredache: Good point. Noted :) –  SabreWolfy Jul 23 '12 at 18:15

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can install windows XP onto an existing, already formatted partition. The installer recognises this and does not force you to reformat.

(Tested a year ago with a Dell OEM CD with XP, 32bit and SP3. It is reasonably safe to assume that older XP versions allows the same.)

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I have Windows XP 32-bit SP3, so it should be the same. Thanks. –  SabreWolfy Jul 23 '12 at 18:15

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