PC hardware forum: BIOS Upgrade to Boot Second Hard Drive?

by: jakharve March 29, 2004 12:16 AM PST

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BIOS Upgrade to Boot Second Hard Drive?

by jakharve - 3/29/04 12:16 AM

I would like the ability to boot a second hard drive on my PC. No, I don't mean dual boot. I mean REALLY boot another hard drive, with the regular C: drive not required.

Most people I discuss this with immediately ask, "Why would you want to do such a thing?". Their question is so automatic, I'm amazed. I come from the VMS world where this capability has existed and been used extensively over 30 years. If you already understand why I want this "bizarre" capability, skip the following numbered reasons.

1. My C: drive has just become unbootable and I want to boot another hard drive with all my debugging and repair software. Maybe I can find the problem and fix it without reinstalling Windows and reconfiguring everything. Then I can recover that critical file I didn't back up.

2. I have a new operating system beta from Microsoft and I would like to try it before installing it on my production C: drive. And I don't trust MS to roll back to my currently stable and working operating system WITHOUT any change whatsoever.

3. I turn my computer over to the local Boy Scout troop every Saturday morning. I don't want them working on my regular hard drive. Instead, I want to give them a hard drive of their own, totally independent of my hard drive and any changes I may make on it.

Are we clear? Hard drive C: is dead, gone, isolated, off, unplugged, or just hiding its head. I want to boot drive E: and get a full Windows 2000 operating system.

A suitable alternative is to change the name of hard drives (or partitions thereof) so that what was drive C: is now (say) drive L: and drive E: turns into drive C:.

I have never found anyone who knows how to do this on a PC but I suspect it may require a new or updated BIOS. Is this true? If I appropriately update my BIOS will I be able to install a full free-standing Windows 2000 on my E: drive? And then can I boot drive E: with the control cable disconnected from drive C:? Or is there another viable approach?

Can I restore a backup of my C: drive to my E: drive and then boot the E: drive? I realize this may may add a problem if the restore software doesn't leave a boot block on my E: drive. Any suggestions for how to built a boot block on drive E:?

What about partitions on the second hard drive? If I have it partitioned as drive E: and F:, can I boot either one (assuming each has a working operating system)?

Can I put Linux on drive F:, Windows 95 on drive G: and MyOwnOS on drive E:? And will each of these operating systems have the potential to read/write all other drives on the motherboard?

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