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I purchased new computer components, switching my hardware from AMD and Radeon to Intel and Nvidia. I kept components from my old computer like the powersupply and two HDDs.

Everything appeared to install correctly and the system booted into the BIOS just fine (after a brief snafu with the CPU fan).

My goal was to use the two harddrives and just be able to turn on the computer and load up my old windows install with all the files, programs, and documents. I expected to have to call Microsoft to re-register the windows install for the new hardware (since I had to do that last time I upgraded w/ the same windows version). When the computer attempts to boot into windows it briefly flashes a bluescreen and then restarts. System recovery gives a message something like "BadDriver Failover" something something. I assume this is because it's trying to use amd drivers for an intel chipset (or something...?) and I've been as-yet unsuccessful in getting it to boot into my old windows partition.

SO! I decided eff it, maybe I'll go visit my nearest Micro Center and buy a 200 GB SSD, install windows onto that, and then... be able to access just the contents of both of my other harddrives? I don't intend on running any of the programs but there were some saved files I would like to salvage from the 500 GB harddrive, The 1.5 TB harddrive only had files on it, no OS or applications so I'd also expect to still be able to access it.

Is this possible? Can I install the SSD and only format/install windows onto it and still access the contents from my two transferred-over drives?

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Install Windows on SSD and put old hard disk as second (in boot order). It will be D or the next available letter (if D is the DVD-ROM). Then you can browse to Documents and Settings\username\My Documents (for XP) or Users\username (for Vista and 7) to see your old files. If you had a password in old Windows, it could forbid you to access the files since they are locked. Right click on the folder, select Properties and then Security. Click on Advanced and then select the Owner tab. Take ownership of the folder and all subfolders. Click OK to close all windows. If you cannot still access the folder, go to Security again and give Administrators full access to folder, subfolders and files. Now you should be able to see and copy whatever you want.

You could also make an attempt to "repair" old Windows so you can use them in your new computer after installing new drivers! In Windows XP start with appropriate Windows XP CD-ROM (you need SP3 version if you upgraded to SP3, same Windows, same language) and press Enter (install now). Press F8 to agree with Terms and Conditions and then it should detect the old installation and prompt for repair. Press R to start the repair! If it works, you should have full access to all your old applications and files. You will need the serial and to reactivate Windows after repair is complete. If automatic activation fails, try by phone, it should work.

In Windows Vista and 7 you should try "repairing" your computer for "startup errors" using the installation DVD-ROM, but unfortunatelly this doesn't always work as in Windows XP.

Good luck anyway.

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Thanks for the details :) I did try repairing startup errors but all it told me was "Failover BadDriver" with some other error information (Windows 7). I'll try your steps to see the old files after installing windows 7 onto the SSD and hopefully it works. –  nzifnab Feb 28 '13 at 21:28

Yes, if you install windows on a new drive and set that as the primary boot-device in bios, the other drives (including the old windows) will just show as drives D -> most likely.

Just don't format the old drives.

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You may have to muck about with permissions to access the files. –  Tanner Feb 28 '13 at 20:18

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