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Hoping for a quick answer as my need is urgent. I have about 40GB of files on my Win 7 machine that will take quite a while to backup. As a quick, and somewhat dirty solution I thought of doing the following:

  1. Using Disk Management, partition my drive (400GB of free space) in "simple" format.
  2. Mark the new partition as drive "D".
  3. Install Win 8.1 Pro on the new partition.
  4. Setup dual boot and select Win 8.
  5. Later, when I have transferred the files from Win 7 partition to Win 8.1 partition (when I have more time for it), delete the old partition and put it back into the Win 8.1 partition.

I want to specifically know a) can I see the partition with Win 7 when I am logged into Win 8.1 so that I can get at the files (Word, Excel, PDF's, etc.), and b) whether I can actually do step "5" above (that is recapture the space from the Win 7 partition when I delete it).

Again, speed is a factor, otherwise I would do it "right" (i.e. backup, format drive, install 8.1).

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    Like @BigChris said, this will work, but keep in mind you might not be able to "expand" your Windows 8.1 partition to use all the hard drive space, depending on how the space on the drive is organized, so you might have to do some partition maintenance after delete the W7 partition. – Adam Sep 3 '14 at 21:22
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    The problem you will have (if Win 8 is installed second - to the end of the disk) is that you won't able to then extend the Win 8 partition to use the start of the disk. You can only extend to empty space to the right of the disk (in disk manager). I would backup your data and format. – Kinnectus Sep 3 '14 at 21:22
  • Hmm, got it @BigChris. Didn't think of that. Thank you. I'll mark the answer if you, er, answer. :) – REMESQ Sep 3 '14 at 21:59
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You can do everything up to number 4 easily. Since you are installing two Windows OSes then this is all doable. If Windows 7 was Linux you would not be able to do what you desire. On the other hand expanding the Windows 8 storage might be a bit tricky as it might mess up the bootloader as it will get confused as to where the Windows 8 partition starts and where to find the Windows to load. Because Windows 8 is installed at the "end" you cannot expand it to the start.

On the other hand. After all the process is done. Format the windows 7 partition and keep all the necessary files there. Windows 10 is coming out soon so let's say you want to do the same thing again. There will be no need for it as your files will all be stored on the second partition (let's call it Files) and from there on you will only need to format the OS partition whithout any need for file backup (unless the Files partition is not big enough for all your files)

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