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Windows 7: Unable to run Windows 7 when extra hard disk is plugged in

02 Nov 2012   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Unable to run Windows 7 when extra hard disk is plugged in


I just got a new computer. It has a 120 GB SSD drive.

The SSD gets the operating system, and I was hoping to use my old harddisk as the disk for storage.

So I installed Windows 7 Ultimate on the SATA-3 SSD. And yes, the other harddisk was unplugged during install (power cable was out).

Everything was running nicely, with Windows (amazing boot time with this new UEFI bios).

So I reconnected the old hard disk.

Everything was still fine, and I was able to boot.

Then I started playing around with the old hard disk -- after all, I don't need Windows files on it, only my personal files (plus settings and config files from the software I use -- which is why I don't want to completely reformat it -- I need to keep stuff from it, and it will be difficult to find it, as it's scattered all over the hard disk).

I shrank the old disk with some Partition Application (Windows Partition Manager refused to shrink it sufficiently). Created a new partition, and started copying personal files that I need to the new partition (to keep things tidy).

At the same time, I started delete unnecessary files from the old Windows install on this old hard drive -- stuff from the old Window folder, including the boot folder, and system files.

But now, when I try to reboot, I am unable to.

In UEFI (the new BIOS), I have set the boot order to boot from "Windows Boot Manager" and the SDD only. Doesn't work.

The only way I can get the system to boot now is if I disable the SATA port (3) on which the old hard disk is connected. Then the system boots nicely straight into the Windows installation on the SSD. But if I enable SATA port of the old hard disk, I can't boot!

I have managed successfully to enable hot-plugging for the old harddisk. So I boot up with only the SDD enabled, then insert the data cable into the old hardisk, and now I can access the old hard disk.

Obviously, I do not want to have to unplug the old hard disk every time I boot, and then reconnect it after Windows has loaded just so I can access the files on it!!

So how can I get Windows 7, or Windows Boot Manager, to understand that that second drive is JUST STORAGE!! It's not a Windows installation! It's not a system disk.

I have made sure to mark it as un-active with cmd prompt.

How can I get Boot Manager to just ignore it?

Thanks for your help,

My System SpecsSystem Spec

02 Nov 2012   #2
Microsoft MVP


With both disks plugged in Boot into BIOS setup to make sure SSD is set first HD to boot.

Then look for settings under HD's to see if a preference is requested, set to SSD.

Save settings and exit.

Now reboot to see if SSD boots unhindered.

If not move data off of HDD and wipe it with Diskpart Clean Command to get overwrite any boot code that might be interfering.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Nov 2012   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

Thanks gregrocker,

I found a less drastic solution, though I'm not sure why it worked: First, the old disk with Windows -- its partition was marked as active, so I made it inactive. Then I deleted the new partition I had created (which was a "logical" partition). Then I made a new partition, but this time made sure it was a "primary" partition. I did this because I was planning to install Windows on that new primary partition, in the hope that installing a functioning Windows would solve the problem.

In fact, though, just creating a new primary partition on the problematic hard drive was enough! It solved the problem and I can now boot up normally.

thanks again,
My System SpecsSystem Spec

03 Nov 2012   #4
Microsoft MVP


Good work.

If you want to post back a Disk Mgmt screenshot (I should have asked for earlier) we can look it over for you for anything else.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Nov 2012   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit


Unable to run Windows 7 when extra hard disk is plugged in-capture.png

I'm not anticipating any problems at this stage!


My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Nov 2012   #6
Microsoft MVP


Looks correct although there might oughta be another System partition for EFI install.

Have you determined yet if there is any advantage to having an EFI install, as they still seem more trouble then they're worth.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Nov 2012   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

I just did a default install and this is what came out. I didn't actually choose one type over another!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Nov 2012   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

I couldn't listen to that guy with the German accent for more than 20 seconds before falling asleep!

My computer salesman put the system together for me -- but to save some shekels I told him I'd do all the software installing. He set something in the BIOS to ECHI for me and adjusted the system time and date and that was it.

Then I inserted my original Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit disk into the DVD and just installed everything as usual. No special settings at all. The SSD that I installed Windows on was brand new out of the packet.

In fact, this worked perfectly, and everything booted up fine. The problem I posted about was only after I started fiddling about the second, old, hard disk -- adding a new partition screwed things about, but, as I say, deleting it and replacing it with a primary partition got things working again.

I have very little knowledge of all this stuff, I'm afraid -- you know a lot more than me about it!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Nov 2012   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

I would just add that I'm blown away but how fast this system boots up compared to my previous system. From power-on to a functional Win 7 desktop is 19 seconds. Those moving light thingies don't even have a chance to finish their little dance before the desktop appears!

Also, this Gigabyte board has a what they call a "3D Duel UEFI" BIOS. It's quite neat -- you can use the mouse in the BIOS, and it's all graphical. Glitzy, you might say, but no more functionality than the UI in a good old BIOS.

I did like the "hot-plug" option as well. That saved me -- I wouldn't have been able to access the old hard-disk without it. Imagine plugging in an internal hard disk after Windows 7 is up and running -- just like a USB drive!

Finally, I also found it useful that you can disable SATA ports from within the UEFI BIOS -- that made it useful when I was troublshooting. I didn't have to keep yanking the cable out of the old hard disk to boot up -- I could just disable it from BIOS.

Anyway, I ramble...

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Unable to run Windows 7 when extra hard disk is plugged in

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