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Suppose the following situation:

  1. Each desktop machine have 3 internal SATA hard disks of different sizes (500GB, 1TB and 2TB)

  2. The BIOS have 3 types of SATA/AHCI mode (Disabled/IDE, RAID and AHCI)

  3. The 1st SATA hard disk have a Windows OS installed (One of the following: Win XP, Win 7 and Win 8.1 as there are many desktop machines.)

Which of the following switching may (or will) affect the Windows OS partition and the data inside the hard disks (including the partition(s) containing the data if the partition(s) that contain the data is not the same as the partition that contain the installed Windows OS)?

A. Switching from Disabled/IDE to RAID

B. Switching from Disabled/IDE to AHCI

C. Switching from RAID to Disabled/IDE

D. Switching from AHCI to Disabled/IDE

E. Switching from AHCI to RAID

F. Switching from RAID to AHCI

  • Your question is broad and unnecessarily complicated. The modes are for disk functionality rather than data storage. XP onwards (just so long as you have the drivers) will work with AHCI and (IMO) should be enabled because disk performance is improved. Vista onwards this is built-in to the installer (msahci) so seeing the mode to AHCI can be done without worrying about drivers (in most cases). RAID is slightly different but often still has AHCI enabled. In all of your cases turn AHCI on but you'll need to install drivers and make registry changes so drivers are loaded at boot don't get a BSOD. – Kinnectus Mar 16 '15 at 8:37
  • @BigChris Yes, the current situation is complicated because sometime, there is a need to plug the 2nd or 3rd hard disk from one machine to another machine. I was thinking if there is a need to install drivers if AHCI is enabled, then would not be much easier if I set it as 'Disabled/IDE' for all desktop machines in my office? Data Integrity is placed a much higher priority than hard disk performance in my office. (From my understanding, there are many cases of disk fail or boot fail when switching from one mode to another.) – user275517 Mar 16 '15 at 8:44
  • Just so long as the drivers for XP are installed and all OSes have the right registry settings addled then it won't matter what BIOS setting you use because the OS will be ready to load what it needs to work. Re: disk failure. I've not heard of this happening just because an incorrect mode was set. BSOD happens to prevent this. IMO I'd get each OS you have and get it working with AHCI in turn and then you can it enabled on all the machines. If you had installed Win 7 & 8 with it on then it won't make a difference if BIOS was IDE, RAID or AHCI. This is the key. – Kinnectus Mar 16 '15 at 9:11

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