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I have a Dell E6410 laptop and my plan is to purchase a 2nd hard drive and caddy so that I can have two hard drives instead of the built-in HDD and the CD drive.

The built-in HDD has Windows 7 running on it. What I would like to do is install another copy of Windows 7 on the 2nd hard drive and be given the choice of which instance to boot upon turning on/restarting the computer.

Concerns I have:

  1. I don't want to mess with the copy of Windows 7 running on the internal HDD at all
  2. The system should be able to boot (to the internal HDD) even if I remove the 2nd HDD and put the CD drive back in its place

What is the best method to accomplish this? I know of grub but I'm not sure that is what I want to do? I'm quite familiar with Windows in general but I just have never tried this before and want to make sure it'll work right before I go out and buy the 2nd hard drive and caddy.


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Could the downvoter provide a comment please? –  Jeremy May 25 '13 at 18:37
Are you sure you need separate standalone Windows installation? Maybe a virtual machine would be a better choice. –  gronostaj May 25 '13 at 19:35
In this case I do want a separate installation as I will be running audio applications on this installation and I need direct access to the hardware for low latency. I am actually testing whether this will work in a VM now, but I'm assuming it won't work satisfactorily. –  Jeremy May 25 '13 at 21:31
The way I did this (on a E6500, the 15" version of an E6400) is the simple straight forward method. 1) Remove old HDD (left side, 1 screw). 2) Insert other drive in the right bay and install windows. Result: Two completely independent windows installations. Pressing F12 will allow you to choose which one to boot. If you want you can also swap the drives around or even use a third drive from the eSATA slot. Neither of them gave any problems, even though I sometimes swap the drives around. –  Hennes May 26 '13 at 9:27

1 Answer 1

The downvote (not mine) maybe because the internet is filled with information on how to dualboot two windows systems. You only have to Google a bit.

You need to make sure that both your installations contain the nescessary boot files, for if you want to disconnect the second drive. Normally, Windows setup will recognize an existing installation and adapts the existing bootmanager. The boot files are all stored on the same disk.

To work around this you can either temporarily remove your existing HDD before installing windows on the other, or you can hide your current installation from Setup with Boot-US

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I haven't tried it myself, but I think it would be better to just add second HDD and install Windows on it with the first HDD connected. Installer should recognize old boot manager and add new Windows instance. –  gronostaj May 25 '13 at 19:38
No. I explicitly explained that in my answer. Once you install windows with your other HDD connected, then it installs the boot files on the primary HDD. If you lose the 2nd disk, then it can't boot anymore without the other HDD. Unless that only applies for the primary HDD ofcourse.. but from what I understand these HDD's need to work independantly from each other. –  Forza May 25 '13 at 23:53

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