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I am looking to swap out the master hard drive for a blank hard drive within the same computer (same motherboard, same everything else). Hard drives are same compacity size, but different brand names.

Reason for this is my current hard drive is slow, virus ridden, full of programs I don't need, etc. Easier to reinstall everything on a new drive, wipe the old, then reuse it as a blank/spare secondary/slave hard drive. Problem is, my current hard drive is still usable, and it may take me a while to completely get the new hard drive running successfully (Installing the operating system is easy for me, but I've got a complex video card to install and may take a while to find the right drivers). So what I would like to do is keep my current working (but slow) hard drive, and until I get the new hard drive up and running, swap back to the old (working) drive whenever I need to use my computer and to get/find files.

The operating system is Windows XP Home, and I would be using/reusing the same Key / Serial Number. So is this possible? Other then updating the bios each time I swap the hard drive, is there anything else I would need to do?

Or, is there anyway this could corrupt the original hard drive files if I kept swapping back and forth until the new drive is ready? I remember long ago taking a Windows 98SE drive, popping it into another computer as a second/slave hard drive to transfer files, and when I put the 98SE drive back into the original comp, it would no longer boot.

Thanks,
Ryan
 

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Since you can have only one instance of the OS activated at any one time, you may find that you can run one of them in Safe Mode only.

Why not connect the secondary drive permanently to the machine and then access it directly when you need to get something? You can then be running a single version of the OS.
 

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I like Elvandil's idea, but why not just install a dual-boot configuration? There won't be any problem with the Key, and it's a lot easier to dual boot than to swap drives.
 

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Why not just disconnect the working drive, do what you need on the new drive and if you need to use the computer while doing this shut it down and swap the cables on the drive so that you can use the working but slow drive again. Also this way you don't take a chance of mistakenly deleting or corrupting something on either drive. ANd you will in essence have only one running instance of the same OS installation running at a time.
 
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