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Format a 2nd HDD - restore later w/out losing settings?

  1. #1


    Posts : 16
    Windows 8.1 Pro

    Format a 2nd HDD - restore later w/out losing settings?


    Greetings - sorry for the crammed title.
    Basically I have 2 disks - OS on the first one, and everything else on the disk #2. Disk 2 (an HDD) is currently partitioned under GUID - and one of the partitions is my drive D:, where all of my programs, libraries, cache files and whatnot else are stored.

    I would like to reformat it and use MBR. I have backed up everything to an external HDD, however, I would like to know if I can avoid re-setting everything up in Windows (from the page file to temp folders to linked Roaming/Local folders). I wonder if that's at all possible?

    I am sorry if anything is unclear, please tell me if any additional info/clarification is needed. Thanks in advance.

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  2. #2


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    I doubt it. All your current registry entries for installed programs will be lost. If your logged in with a live ID and have the OneDrive Sync enabled so settings and customization will be backed up. You could also have a look at this, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2735227?wa=wsignin1.0

    EDIT: Ops, just realized you want to redo the second hard drive. If you recreate the partition structure and match the drive letters it may work. One problem I see is some files may be locked out as in use. Windows may crash before you can get it all back to the way it is now.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Posts : 2,690
    Windows 3.1 > Windows 10


    I would like to know if I can avoid re-setting everything up in Windows (from the page file to temp folders to linked Roaming/Local folders).
    if those files are on the second (non-windows) disk and you format it - windows will still link to those folders - although the links will no longer be valid.. You will have to repoint the links or recreate the folders
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 16
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    I doubt it. All your current registry entries for installed programs will be lost. If your logged in with a live ID and have the OneDrive Sync enabled so settings and customization will be backed up. You could also have a look at this, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2735227?wa=wsignin1.0

    EDIT: Ops, just realized you want to redo the second hard drive. If you recreate the partition structure and match the drive letters it may work. One problem I see is some files may be locked out as in use. Windows may crash before you can get it all back to the way it is now.
    Quote Originally Posted by KYHI View Post
    I would like to know if I can avoid re-setting everything up in Windows (from the page file to temp folders to linked Roaming/Local folders).
    if those files are on the second (non-windows) disk and you format it - windows will still link to those folders - although the links will no longer be valid.. You will have to repoint the links or recreate the folders

    Thanks, yes - my concern is that either Windows will crash before I can re-initiate the drive letter, or that I will lose my settings and that something is going to get messed up.
    I will take a look at the Microsoft support article and see if it is helpful. Thanks
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    Quote Originally Posted by DwarfVader View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    I doubt it. All your current registry entries for installed programs will be lost. If your logged in with a live ID and have the OneDrive Sync enabled so settings and customization will be backed up. You could also have a look at this, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2735227?wa=wsignin1.0

    EDIT: Ops, just realized you want to redo the second hard drive. If you recreate the partition structure and match the drive letters it may work. One problem I see is some files may be locked out as in use. Windows may crash before you can get it all back to the way it is now.
    Quote Originally Posted by KYHI View Post
    I would like to know if I can avoid re-setting everything up in Windows (from the page file to temp folders to linked Roaming/Local folders).
    if those files are on the second (non-windows) disk and you format it - windows will still link to those folders - although the links will no longer be valid.. You will have to repoint the links or recreate the folders

    Thanks, yes - my concern is that either Windows will crash before I can re-initiate the drive letter, or that I will lose my settings and that something is going to get messed up.
    I will take a look at the Microsoft support article and see if it is helpful. Thanks
    That link likely won't help, I thought you were reinstalling Windows when I posted it. Sorry.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 16
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    That link likely won't help, I thought you were reinstalling Windows when I posted it. Sorry.
    Seems so. Can I "safely remove" my HDD while Windows is running as a test, to see if it is going to cause instability? I was thinking of something like disabling it through the Device Manager, but I'm afraid I might corrupt it if I do it like that (plus, what am I going to do if it IS going to crash my system?). Any ideas?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    Your guess is as good as mine? I've never attempted anything like that. I would think you'll get error messages for sure. Whether Windows crashes or not, I don't know? If I was a betting man I would say yes, most likely.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Marion
    Posts : 111
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center


    Reformatting the hard drive to MBR will make you lose everything. Even if you back up everything, it more than likely will not restore correctly, as all the links would be gone, as others have stated. And if you have programs installed on that drive, the uninstall programs in the programs and features wouldn't work as the registry wouldn't find them due to a change in configuration.

    Sounds like you should uninstall all your stuff before doing that.

    I wouldn't remove a hard drive while the system is running. That would cause a power surge in your power supply and ruin the hard disk, power supply, or possibly the whole system. The only way to safely remove a hard drive while the system runs is if it supports "hot swap" but you normally only see those on a server.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Posts : 2,690
    Windows 3.1 > Windows 10


    Reformatting the hard drive to MBR
    Good Catch.. You caught something that I failed to...

    You can not convert Disk 1 to MBR because the system is UEFI-GPT and the system needs to have GPT disk(s)..

    MBR and GPT can not coexist on the same system - it's one or the other, but not both

    Just want to clear something - you referred to disk 1 and disk 2 - the system refers to them as disk 0 and disk 1
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Marion
    Posts : 111
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center


    Glad to help. Yeah the new UEFI systems are required to use GPT for their file systems. I'm not even 100% sure if a UEFI system would do a hard disk with MBR. Not even for storage.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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Format a 2nd HDD - restore later w/out losing settings?
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