Disconnecting internal drives before install


OldMainframeGuy

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Greetings. I know this has probably been discussed to death but I've read different opinions about this. If I want to do an upgrade or clean install of Windows 11, is it absolutely necessary to disconnect internal drives? My PC has two NVMe drives and two mechanical drives. I wouldn't feel too bad about disconnecting the mechanical drives but I'm loathe to try to disconnect the NVMe drives - removing screws, heatsinks, moving the GPU, etc. An opinion on this that I'd like to believe is that it's just a precaution to ensure you don't install Windows on the wrong drive. I think I can be careful enough to do that, but I've also read that Windows "might" put files on drives other than the boot drive which I wouldn't care for. Why Windows "might" do this (if it's true) is a mystery to me.

Rob
 
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RFS

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I never disconnect other drives when doing a clean install and have never had a problem with files going elsewhere.
 

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BunnyJ

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It can't hurt to do it.. I don't but like I said it can't hurt.
 

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OldMainframeGuy

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RFS & BunnyJ - Thanks for your replies. I understand it could be done as a precaution and in fact I used to do that on my older machine "just because". This PC is too new and too expensive and I can just see myself dropping a screw into the motherboard, never to be found again. :)

Rob
 

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BunnyJ

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RFS & BunnyJ - Thanks for your replies. I understand it could be done as a precaution and in fact I used to do that on my older machine "just because". This PC is too new and too expensive and I can just see myself dropping a screw into the motherboard, never to be found again. :)

Rob
You should be ok to not disconnect the drives. I recently did a clean install of 11 when I got a new motherboard, etc, and the only thing I disconnected was the external drive I have.
 

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CornishRattler

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I've never disconnected drives for an install
 

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hsehestedt

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A couple thoughts on the matter:

1) As noted, there is no requirement to disconnect other drives. It just helps to make sure are partitions are created on the drive you selected.

2) As an alternative to physically disconnecting drives, the BIOS on some systems will let you disable SATA / NVMe ports temporarily.

3) If you do not disconnect drives or disable ports, you could go through the installation and after you select the location to install to and proceed, press SHIFT + F10 to open a command prompt. Run "diskpart", then "select disk x" (where x is the disk number to which you started the installation), then "list partition". If all went well, you will see 4 partitions, something like this:

Image1.jpg
 

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The-Hive

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I have never done that, always seemed a bit pointless to me
 

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Winuser

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I'm one of those people that, if possible, disconnect all other drives when doing a Windows install. I used to dual boot and the one time I forgot the boot partition got moved to drive D. I was thinking about dual boot this desktop, but it has an NVMe drive and I'm not going to chance damaging it. Now instead of dual booting, I use VMs.
 

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Ghot

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@OldMainframeGuy

1. Generally, if Windows has the room... it won't look for other locations to create certain partitions.
2. As mentioned above... BIOSes usually let you enable/disable select SATA ports or drives.
3. If unhooking the other drives is easy... go for it. It can't hurt.

Mainly though, Make sure the drive you are installing Windows to, has the room to create w/e partitions it wants.
 

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MYSTA

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A couple thoughts on the matter:

1) As noted, there is no requirement to disconnect other drives. It just helps to make sure are partitions are created on the drive you selected.

2) As an alternative to physically disconnecting drives, the BIOS on some systems will let you disable SATA / NVMe ports temporarily.

3) If you do not disconnect drives or disable ports, you could go through the installation and after you select the location to install to and proceed, press SHIFT + F10 to open a command prompt. Run "diskpart", then "select disk x" (where x is the disk number to which you started the installation), then "list partition". If all went well, you will see 4 partitions, something like this:

View attachment 18763
Ive literally just experienced this today and can now see another drive over the nvme drive with a boot sector due to the diskpart X assignment - so whilst install may not seem an issue - post install troubleshooting I would recommend disconnect hard drives, usbs and anything superfluous to the process.
 

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OldMainframeGuy

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A couple thoughts on the matter:

1) As noted, there is no requirement to disconnect other drives. It just helps to make sure are partitions are created on the drive you selected.

2) As an alternative to physically disconnecting drives, the BIOS on some systems will let you disable SATA / NVMe ports temporarily.

3) If you do not disconnect drives or disable ports, you could go through the installation and after you select the location to install to and proceed, press SHIFT + F10 to open a command prompt. Run "diskpart", then "select disk x" (where x is the disk number to which you started the installation), then "list partition". If all went well, you will see 4 partitions, something like this:

View attachment 18763
Hsehestedt: I did check my BIOS (Asus PRIME Z-590P); there are no settings for disabling the NVMe ports; the only reference in the BIOS to the NVMe drives was to run a self-test. That would be a very handy option.

Rob
 

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OldMainframeGuy

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I'm one of those people that, if possible, disconnect all other drives when doing a Windows install. I used to dual boot and the one time I forgot the boot partition got moved to drive D. I was thinking about dual boot this desktop, but it has an NVMe drive and I'm not going to chance damaging it. Now instead of dual booting, I use VMs.
I'm 100% with you on that. In retrospect, I wish I had ordered this machine with conventional SATA SSD drives. I know they don't perform as well but they're a lot easier to deal with if you have to replace one. Like you, if I want to boot another OS, I use a virtual machine (VirtualBox). Makes things so much simpler.

Rob
 

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NavyLCDR

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I've never disconnected other drives nor disabled any in BIOS. I've installed hundreds, if not thousands of Windows OS, starting with 3.1.
 

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hsehestedt

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I've never disconnected other drives nor disabled any in BIOS. I've installed hundreds, if not thousands of Windows OS, starting with 3.1.
Same for me - except for one machine that doesn't cooperate. I never took the time to analyze why, and I don't even recall which partition it was, but one partition got created on a different disk than the disk I selected for Windows installation.

I think it may have to do with the fact that I previously had Windows installed on another disk that was still present in the system.

I may go back and try to recreate that scenario on that system on day, but not now.
 

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    Graphics card(s)
    Dual Intel HD 620 and Nvidia GeForce 940MX
    Sound Card
    Built-in Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    4k 15-inch
    Screen Resolution
    4k (3840 x 2160)
    Hard Drives
    1TB Seagate FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD
    Internet Speed
    300Mb down / 20Mb up
    Browser
    Chromium Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    RAM Upgraded from 16GB to 32GB WiFi Upgraded from WiFi 5 to WiFi 6 SSD upgraded from 512GB NVMe SSD to 1TB Seagate FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD

MonsMagnus

Member
Local time
9:39 PM
Posts
11
OS
Windows 11 Pro
I've never disconnected other drives nor disabled any in BIOS. I've installed hundreds, if not thousands of Windows OS, starting with 3.1.
I have the same experience, never had a problem like what is being discussed here. But with Windows Vxx, lots.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home Built
    CPU
    AMD 2950X
    Motherboard
    ASRock X399 Fatality Pro
    Memory
    32gig DDR4 3600mhz
    Graphics Card(s)
    Water Cooled Nvidia 2080tiFE
    Sound Card
    Main Board
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung 27 G7 QHD - Acer Predator 27 QHD
    Screen Resolution
    QHD
    Hard Drives
    1TB Nvme Sabrent Rocket 4
    2TB Nvme Samsung 970 EVO
    PSU
    Seasonic 800 Platinum
    Case
    Corsair
    Cooling
    Corsair Liquid capella Elite 150
    Keyboard
    Corsair
    Mouse
    Logitech G502
    Internet Speed
    50 meg
    Antivirus
    Norton 360

Winuser

Well-known member
Pro User
VIP
Local time
10:39 PM
Posts
2,919
OS
Windows 11
I've never disconnected other drives nor disabled any in BIOS. I've installed hundreds, if not thousands of Windows OS, starting with 3.1.
I think I know why I had the problem of the boot partition moving to the other drive. I was dual booting Windows 10 and Windows 10 Insider. By disconnecting the drives when doing the install each drive had its own boot partition. I used EasyBCD in each OS to point to the boot partitions. If I remember correctly as long as I was booting to the same OS, I had been using the computer would just boot. If I switched the computer would do a restart, then boot into the build I had chosen. For whatever reason when I forgot to disconnect the drive the install recognized the boot loader on the wrong drive.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    PowerSpec B746
    CPU
    Intel Core i7-10700K
    Motherboard
    ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/ax
    Memory
    16GB (8GB PC4-19200 DDR4 SDRAM x2)
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 TI
    Sound Card
    Realtek Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung SAM0A87 Samsung SAM0D32
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    NVMe WDC WDS100T2B0C-00PXH0 1TB
    Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB
    PSU
    750 Watts (62.5A)
    Case
    PowerSpec/Lian Li ATX 205
    Keyboard
    Logitech K270
    Mouse
    Logitech M185
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge and Firefox
    Antivirus
    ESET Internet Security
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Dev
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Envy x360 15-ds1083cl
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 7 4700U 2.0GHZ
    Memory
    16 MB DDR 4-2666
    Graphics card(s)
    AMD Radeon
    Monitor(s) Displays
    15.6"
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    PCIe NVMe M.2 512GB
    Browser
    Firefox, Edge and Edge Canary
    Antivirus
    ESET Internet Security

cereberus

Well-known member
Pro User
VIP
Local time
3:39 AM
Posts
2,019
OS
Windows 10 Pro + others in VHDs
One has to understand WHY it is considered necessary to disconnect a drive for a clean installation.

Suppose drive 0 has windows 10 installed in uefi mode. That drive will have an EFI partition containing the bcd boot files.

If you now decide to install Windows 11 on drive 1 (even if blank), it will install windows 11 on dtive 1 BUT will add its boot files to the EFI partition on drive 0 creating a dual boot pc

The problem is if you remove drive 0 or wipe it, you will not be able to boot drive q.

If you disconnect drive 0 first, then the installation creates an EFI partition on drive 1 and it will be independent of the drive 0 EFI.

You can then add boot entries to bcds to boot from other drive.

However, if one did not disconnect drive 0 and ended up with a dual boot option, it is a relatively simply exercise to copy EFI from drive 0 to drive 1 using appropriate partition tools.

If drive 0 as just data (no EFI) it is not necessary to disconnect drive 0 to clean install on drive 1 (or vice versa if installing on drive 0 and data is on drive 1}.

However, one needs to understand the risk of doing the above without disconnecting the data drive. You can make human error e.g. wipe data partitions during install, or install to wrong drive.

In extreme cases, crap has been known to happen and sonething goes wrong wiping data drive even though user selected correct drives etc.

So it is safer to disconnect data drives but as always, best plan is to have data (critical data at least) backed up REGARDLESS of disconnecting drive.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Pro + others in VHDs
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS Vivobook 14
    CPU
    I7
    Motherboard
    Yep, Laptop has one.
    Memory
    16 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Integrated Intel Iris XE
    Sound Card
    Realtek built in
    Monitor(s) Displays
    N/A
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    1 TB Optane NVME SSD, 1 TB NVME SSD
    PSU
    Yep, got one
    Case
    Yep, got one
    Cooling
    Stella Artois
    Keyboard
    Built in
    Mouse
    Bluetooth , wired
    Internet Speed
    72 Mb/s :-(
    Browser
    Edge mostly
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    TPM 2.0

OldMainframeGuy

Active member
Member
Thread Starter
Local time
10:39 PM
Posts
93
Location
RI, USA
OS
Windows 10 Professional
Cereberus: On my machine, drive 0 is my data drive and drive 1 is my OS drive so if I'm understanding your very comprehensive post properly, Windows will install properly on drive 1 and not try to modify drive 0. I'm not trying to set up a dual-boot system; I just want to upgrade Windows 10 to Windows 11 on drive 1. And of course, everything will be backed up beforehand with Macrium Reflect.

Rob
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Professional
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Digital Storm VELOX
    CPU
    Intel Core i9 11900K
    Motherboard
    ASUS PRIME Z590-P
    Memory
    64GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
    Sound Card
    Realtek onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Acer R221Q 21.5"
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    2 x Samsung SSD 990 EVO Plus (1 TB)
    2 x Seagate ST4000NE001 (4 TB)
    PSU
    None
    Case
    VELOX
    Cooling
    Cooler Master
    Keyboard
    Logitech
    Mouse
    Kensington trackball
    Browser
    Firefox, Chrome
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender, Malwarebytes

Dch48

Well-known member
Member
Local time
10:39 PM
Posts
441
Location
Upstate NY
OS
Windows 11 Home
Never done that and never had a problem. I've never used a VM either.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom built
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
    Motherboard
    MSI B550-A Pro
    Memory
    16 GB DDR4-3200
    Graphics Card(s)
    PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6600XT with 8GB GDDR6
    Sound Card
    Realtek integrated
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Acer Nitro 24" RG241Y 144hz refresh rate
    Screen Resolution
    1920 X 1080
    Hard Drives
    Samsung 860 QVO 1 TB SATA SSD
    Seagate Barracuda 1 TB HDD
    PSU
    LEPA B650 650 watt
    Case
    Enermax Coenus
    Cooling
    Cooler Master Hyper T4 air
    Keyboard
    CM Storm Devastator
    Mouse
    E-Blue Cobra Jr.
    Internet Speed
    100mbs
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge Chromium
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender
    Other Info
    Optical Drives: LG DVD-RW and Pioneer BluRay/ DVD burner
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS
    Motherboard
    Asus board (GA402RK)
    Memory
    16 GB DDR5-4800
    Graphics card(s)
    Integrated Radeon 680M and discrete Radeon RX 6800S with 8GB GDDR6
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek with Dolby Atmos
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Laptop screen 14" WQXGA, IPS, 120hz refresh rate
    Screen Resolution
    2560 X 1600
    Hard Drives
    1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD (Micron)
    PSU
    Battery power and Asus power brick/adapter. Also has USB-C charging
    Case
    Laptop
    Cooling
    Laptop fans in vapor chamber
    Mouse
    Touchpad and Omoton bluetooth mouse
    Keyboard
    Built in backlit
    Internet Speed
    100mbps
    Browser
    Edge Chromium
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender
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