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Question Questions about upgrade vs. separate installation

Jun 14, 2020
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Hi,

In preparation for CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077, I was trying to find any kind of information on its requirements. It looks like it may be only on Windows 10. I'm hoping that I won't have to install 10 for at least a couple more years but my C drive has also been running like crap lately (ever since I had an issue with a corrupted file system that I was able to fix) so I'm trying to consider my options just in case it ends up failing. I figure it'd probably be best to just install Windows 10 on a brand-new drive, as my C drive happens to be about eight years old now and I'd hate to have start all over again if it fails quickly after I upgrade.

My plan is that, when I have to install 10, I want to install it alongside 7, as I really do not like Windows 10 and would still use 7 for the majority of operations. However, I have another drive in this system that appears to be in solid shape. If I do this, if I install 10 alongside 7 and just switch at boot, will I have to do anything to my currently installed programs in order to get them to run properly on my new system? I assume so but I've never manually upgraded or changed my OS before; I've always just purchased pre-bought products and upgraded the hardware over time, so I'm not sure how a change of OS works.

I know that individual files themselves should be fine, correct? I'm guessing the only thing I'll have to do is reinstall applications like Steam and maybe all of my games?

I'm hoping that my C drive will last me at least a couple more years (SMART is all good) and I'm hoping I won't have to upgrade to 10 until down the road, but if I do, I want to know all about what it'll do to the installed programs and files. If anyone can give me a bit of advice on all of this, I'd sincerely appreciate it. Thanks!
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
First, if your OS is on a C drive that is 8yrs old and had a corrupted file system, I'd be looking at replacing the drive. At the very least make sure all data on it is properly backed up. You don't want that drive to fail and lose everything. On a personal note I lost my entire system due to a natural disaster in 2018. Proper backup means off site.

You can install win10 on a different drive. I haven't done a dual OS with 10, but I'm assuming it would be like the other versions of windows. Put the older OS on there first, then install 10 on a different drive/partition. You should get a working boot menu that way. If it doesn't work like that put 10 on a different drive and change the boot order in the bios. That always works.

Steam is smarter than that. In win10, just point to your steam folder. It might make a few changes to 10, but all your games should work. Steam is VERY forgiving. Other programs will be hit or miss. Some might work, others won't. Make shortcuts and see what does. Expect they won't but you'll be surprised some will. Reinstall what doesn't. I'll remind you there are free versions of lots of things so you won't need to violate any rules by installing things twice.
 
Reactions: JakobFel
Jun 14, 2020
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Hi, thanks for the response! I run regular backups on an external drive but not offsite yet, as I can't afford it at this point. However, I definitely plan to look into an affordable offsite backup option down the road when I can afford to do so. Right now, even if I had to replace this drive, it'd be rough, financially. But yeah, I do run regular backups onto an external drive using Iperius Backup. I seem to have sped them up a tiny bit as I totally forgot that having a drive almost full to the brim will affect performance. I'm planning to run a defrag on both soon, just to ensure they're in top performance (or as top as I can get them).

So if I wanted to, I could buy a small drive only for the OS, install Windows 10 on it, then leave the current C drive with 7 installed and things would be all good? If I can have them on separate drives, that'd be really awesome and affordable for me, no doubt. However, if I do this, will I not be able to select my OS on boot as I would if I had them on the same drive? I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to the BIOS so I'm nervous messing with it more than I have to.

Needless to say, if I end up doing this, I'll probably end up on here quite a bit as, like I said, I've never actually built a PC from the ground up so I've never had to actually install an OS manually. I have a general idea of what partitioning does, but I have no clue how to safely do stuff like that. So yeah, if I end up doing that, I'll be on this forum quite a bit, reading resources and probably asking questions haha.

Hmm do you think that most modern distribution platforms (Origin, Uplay, GOG Galaxy 2.0, etc) would be as forgiving? I'd really hate to have to reinstall almost 3.5TB of games if I don't have to. As for other applications, if they don't work, I will definitely just reinstall. It's the games and personal files I'm most worried about.

Even though I have backups of my personal and important data, will it be safe if I tried a dual install like that? As I said, I believe it probably would be but would there be any particular directories that I should copy elsewhere or something? I know that Windows 8 and upward have the system refresh feature which saves the stuff in your User info but not the other stuff, so that's why I'm asking.

Oh, and one last question for now: if, say, I end up having to reinstall 7 on a new drive, will I have to format my current C drive if I want to just use it to store game installs?

EDIT: Oh, I should add that my issue with the C drive was due to how I was trying to install a new USB keyboard and I accidentally forced shut down (wasn't thinking) right after I unplugged a PS/2 keyboard. Booting back into Windows, it scheduled chkdsk but I canceled it and it was giving me constant errors and wouldn't let me access pictures and some software. I tried to run sfc in safe mode but even it wouldn't even boot. I finally got it working again by running startup repair; it detected and resolved the error. Since then, things seem to be a bit slower but I haven't had any other issues since.
 
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4745454b

Titan
Moderator
Personal files I'd leave out of my docs, my music, etc. You can get into owner ship issues there. Just make a folder on C called my stuff or something like that and store things in there. That way if you are in win10 and want to load xyz.doc it shouldn't be an issue.

With win7 and win10 on different drives you should get a boot menu asking you which OS you want to load. At least you used to. I haven't dual booted win10 yet so I'm not sure. You won't have to go into the bios to select the boot drive, it's a menu that loads when you turn the machine on.

Offsite can simply mean in your desk at work. I now have a 8TB USB drive I'm supposed to be copying everything important onto and then I'll just put it in my locker at work when I don't need it. I'm lazy so I'm still working on this part. :(
 
Reactions: JakobFel
Jun 14, 2020
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Oh, I wasn't aware of that as I hadn't run into any issues like that (yet), but I'll keep that in mind for future stuff. Should I just move everything to a new folder on C before upgrading, then?

Okay, so even if 7 and 10 are on different drives, it'd still boot the same way it would be if I had both 7 and 10 installed? I did a little bit of research on this but still had questions. I saw that when you have two OSes installed, you choose which one to boot into every time you start your PC. Is this the same thing you're referring to? Before I do this, will I need to format my existing drives or can I just install 10 on a separate drive in addition to what I currently have installed?

Hmm, I'm currently out of work and trying to get myself going as a freelance writer. If I were to store my backup drive offsite, what would the best option be for someone like that? I do have relatives that I could ask to hold onto it for me, but I don't have all of the backups password protected and that's why I'd be a little nervous leaving it with anyone else lol

Thanks for your continued help and sorry for the twenty questions!
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
I saw that when you have two OSes installed, you choose which one to boot into every time you start your PC. Is this the same thing you're referring to?
Yes. It's a little menu with two options. You pick which OS to use and press enter. It's really painless.

Before I do this, will I need to format my existing drives or can I just install 10 on a separate drive in addition to what I currently have installed?
As long as there isn't a version of windows on the drive/partition you'll be ok. Other files/folders won't harm anything. Make sure you have a backup just in case. Crazy things do happen.
 
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Oh, how would I go about removing Windows from the existing drive to install it on a new one? I'm just trying to consider all of my options; I'm thinking at this point I may just need to get a new 2TB drive that I'd install both OSes on because my current C drive is just really slow and I'm guessing it's nearing failure. However, if it still works whenever I get a new drive and install 7 and 10 on it, I plan to still use this existing C drive for game storage (not important files). Will it be alright if I switch the SATA cables around when I install the new drive, so that the existing C drive is no longer the main one, or will that cause problems with installed files?

Thanks once again! I'm nearing the end of my questions for now, at least as far as I can remember, I just want to be 100% sure of what to do here.

Oh, also, do you know how the Windows 10 hybrid/fast boot thing will work? I have a Windows 8 laptop and it has that feature and it appears to be a hybrid of hibernate and sleep, so will I need to do something specific to get it so I can easily boot into 7 too?
 
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Jun 14, 2020
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Hmm, I was reading up on how you install Windows 10 and I'm really confused as to how to activate it. I was reading that you can still download and activate Windows 10 for free, but I'm not sure how on earth I'd get a key to activate it. Should I start a separate thread to ask about that or does that fit within this question?
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
If you want to buy a new drive and install both OS's to it, you'll need to partition the 2TB. You could split it evenly at 1TB each, or if you just want to play around with win10 perhaps a smaller 500GB partition. You can also make a 500GB partition for each OS, and a larger 1TB for games and files. The advantage to this is if you have to format win7 drive/partition for example you won't lose any of your files/games. You can also worry about partition location. The outer edge of the disk rotates faster than the inner edge. And the first partition you make starts on the outside. This means if you go 500GB win7, 500GB win10, and 1TB for games and files, the win7 will be the fastest, than the win10 "drive", and the game files will be slowest. This might be important because the last half of the drive will be slower than the average speed. As long as you are aware of this it's not really an issue.

To run win10 without paying/activating it you download and install it like normal. You can download it right from MS. When it asks for the key just press skip. Or cancel. I don't remember. Don't put anything in the key fields. MS currently wants everyone to use win10 so they are allowing everyone to run it keyless. You'll have a black background and a little watermark in the lower right corner that asks you to activate windows. Otherwise it will perform just like windows should. I've been running my main PC like this since July last year. Another mod has been running it this way on a VM since a bit after win10 was released.
 
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Okay, so here's my plan: I plan to use both 7 and 10, but at the start, 10 will be mostly for new games such as Cyberpunk 2077. Over time, as more applications end support for 7, I'll probably just migrate fully over to 10, leaving 7 as an option for older games and, as silly as it may be, for nostalgia purposes.

If I got, say, a 500GB drive to install my OS and basic programs on, would I want to just partition that in half and install all my games on separate drives? Currently, my C drive has my OS and all of my software, with a few games. Meanwhile, the E drive has the bulk of my games and I didn't have to do anything with it when I installed it. It didn't even ask me to format it. I think this is because it was a gift from a friend who works as the head of IT for a local, large company: he said it was used, but only lightly and of course, it was wiped before he gave it to me.

With the partitioning, if I gave both OSes their own partition but installed games and programs outside of both of those partitions, would that work? I wasn't entirely aware that that was how the speed works. Windows 10 is typically faster than 7, so should I install it on the first partition?

I'm fairly cetain I'll have to go the route of leaving it unactivated for at least a little while because I really can't afford $140 for a key from Microsoft and I considered getting a key from a site like Kinguin but I'd rather do that when I have more money so that a ~$40 investment won't be as big of a risk.

Again, thank you for the continued responses, I just want to be fully sure that I'm getting all of this done the right way haha
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
I love(d) partitions. Back in my win2000/XP days I was up to around U on my 4 drives. Everything sat on its own partition. I've moved on from HDDs to SSDs which don't benefit from partitions so now I don't. I use some folders but nothing like I used to. You can't have OS's on the same drive/partition. So you'll need to have 7 and 10 on their own space.

I mentioned the speed only for completeness. If you are used to using HDDs you'll probably never notice. But depending on how you do things you might "feel" a difference. You'd probably write it off as X OS is faster than Y, but it's possible for it to be a drive issue.

With the partitioning, if I gave both OSes their own partition but installed games and programs outside of both of those partitions, would that work?
That totally works. I used to have my OS on C, with another partition for videos, another partition for games, another partition for music, etc. Most people use folders, I for whatever reason used partitions. At one point I had my 250GB, 500GB, 750GB, and 1TB HDDs setup with partitions from C to U. Was crazy now that I think about it. But it worked for me at the time.
 
Reactions: JakobFel

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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Yeah, I used to have multiple partitions for different uses.
Today, individual physical drives is a LOT easier. Each of the 7 drives in my system has their own use.

And that Unactivated Win 10 test is me.
Installed in a VM, Dec 8, 2016. 3.5 years. Still runs like brand new. Gets all the same updates.

The watermark:
 
Reactions: JakobFel
Jun 14, 2020
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I love(d) partitions. Back in my win2000/XP days I was up to around U on my 4 drives. Everything sat on its own partition. I've moved on from HDDs to SSDs which don't benefit from partitions so now I don't. I use some folders but nothing like I used to. You can't have OS's on the same drive/partition. So you'll need to have 7 and 10 on their own space.

I mentioned the speed only for completeness. If you are used to using HDDs you'll probably never notice. But depending on how you do things you might "feel" a difference. You'd probably write it off as X OS is faster than Y, but it's possible for it to be a drive issue.

That totally works. I used to have my OS on C, with another partition for videos, another partition for games, another partition for music, etc. Most people use folders, I for whatever reason used partitions. At one point I had my 250GB, 500GB, 750GB, and 1TB HDDs setup with partitions from C to U. Was crazy now that I think about it. But it worked for me at the time.
Okay, that first part makes total sense now. Whenever I do install both of them, I'm definitely going to have to make my own boot disc for 7 as I have no idea where mine went haha. And as for Windows 10, I'm definitely going to need to buy a USB drive for that.

Hmm whenever I do end up getting myself an SSD, it'll only affect what's on it; I'm guessing it's not a big deal that Windows would be on a mechanical drive, correct? I should only use the SSD for things like games and other programs that I want to be lightning quick? I'm assuming that's the case but again, I like to be 100% thorough before going through any sort of major hassle.

Awesome, I assumed I could do that since I have quite a few games installed on my E drive/partition which is separate from my Windows installation. I just wanted to be doubly sure, as I mentioned ealrier. I heard a lot of people say that partitions are better than only folders but I've also heard plenty of people say that folders are better than partitions. I take it that it's basically down to the individual's personal opinion/needs?

Yeah, I used to have multiple partitions for different uses.
Today, individual physical drives is a LOT easier. Each of the 7 drives in my system has their own use.

And that Unactivated Win 10 test is me.
Installed in a VM, Dec 8, 2016. 3.5 years. Still runs like brand new. Gets all the same updates.

The watermark:
I don't have a lot of money right now so I can't buy a bunch of different physical drives but I definitely will upgrade over time (partly because I have over 700 games and not even close to enough storage for all of them) but I'll also do some research into partitions and such. As for the unactivated 10, that would work for me if I have dual boot running. I like my customization features so as long as I'm still able to customize 7 and as long as programs work no problem with an unactivated 10, I'll just go that route until I can afford to get a key. I also heard you can change the background if you do the right-click "Set as desktop background" option on pictures, though I'm not sure how true that is.

Once again, thank you both for continued responses!
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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Folders vs partitions.

Consider a 500GB drive, split into two partitions of 250GB each.
One partition has 160GB consumed space, 90GB free.
The other partition has 170GB consumed space, 80GB free.

80+90GB = 170GB actual free space.
You wish to install a game that will consume 100GB.
No can do. Neither partition has enough free space.

A single partition of 500GB would install that game easily, and still leave 70GB free.
 
Reactions: JakobFel
Jun 14, 2020
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You can't "un-partition" a drive, can you? But yeah, that definitely makes sense, I probably won't mess around with partitions beyond doing so for my OSes.
 

USAFRet

Titan
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You can't "un-partition" a drive, can you? But yeah, that definitely makes sense, I probably won't mess around with partitions beyond doing so for my OSes.
Given certain conditions, you can Extend into another partition. But that is destructive to the data that lives in the partition being extended into.

And ANY messing around with partitions need a full drive backup, just in case.
 
Reactions: JakobFel
Jun 14, 2020
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Ah gotcha, gotcha. So basically, unless I really know what I'm doing, I should only screw around with partitioning for my dual boot setup?

Well, with that, I think I've run out of questions for now. Since this turned into a multi-question, ongoing discussion, I'm not sure which post would be considered the best answer but I've upvoted every post here since they've all been helpful.
 

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