A few months ago, Denise left a comment in another post asking for more XP and Vista tips.  It's been a long time coming. :p

For many years, I always used more than 2 hard drives in my computer. I was doing basic video editing(VHS to mpg2 file) and it was strongly recommended to have a dedicated internal hard drive.

In most cases, you don't need to capture video.

I would partitioned the first hard drive in at least 3: XP(C:), Data(D:) and Ghost(E:).  From time to time, I would backup(burn) all my data on a CD or DVD. Like I mentioned before, the second hard drive would be dedicated for capturing video.

Note: The Ghost partition would be for making an exact copy of my XP installation. If I had to start over, I would take 5 minutes to recover my C: using one of the Ghost image from my E: partition.  When the hard drive became bigger than 127GB,  Ghost(2003 DOS boot) started to give me problems by not seeing passed that. I won't get more into this since they have a Windows version now.

Computer troubles

My older and main computer gave me problems last year and I had files(my document/email) on the D: partition and other files on the F: (third drive). I was lucky because the main drive was not affected but still a small pain to recover those few files.

So, I used another computer(1 year older) until this past summer where it too started to give me problems. Turn around time was the issue so I went and bought a new computer(Vista) with a 500GB hard drive.(C:,D:).

It however had raised an issue of getting back those files in a very fast way. That's when I decided to centralize all my files(my document, email, source files of AuctionSiteWriter ...) on one drive only. In my case, it's now on the second internal drive (F:). The chance that both drives failed is very low. If I even have to start on another computer, I would remove the second hard drive(not apartition) and install it in the new computer.

Backup that data but where?

Since I know my way around a computer, it's not a big deal for me to add a second internal drive. I could backup my data to the D: drive or use an external hard drive. The point is to have at least the data on another hard drive from the one you are working on.

Unfortunately, many older computer/hard drive came with only 1 partition making it harder for owners to keep things(XP and Data) separately. I would recommend to still work on C:(faster) but backup/copy your data every day on an external hard drive and also burn it to a CD/DVD. If the worst happen, you still got  access to your backup data.  This solution must be done before something happen to your main drive.

In Denise's case, she needed the data from the main drive since she bought a new computer and the older computer failed. In her case, buying a cheap $20 USB external case would be a simple solution. She would just need to install the older hard drive(was okay) and copy the files to the new drive. Once that's step was done, she could then reformat the external drive to be a backup solution.

First, here are some things to be aware

Installing the hard drive in the external case is simple. You have IDE(older) and SATA(newer) hard drive. If you are not sure, bring the hard drive to the computer shop and they will help you choose the right case.

The older hard drive might be partioned in 2(C: and D:) so when you plugin the USB drive, you might see 2 new Removable Disk (example I: and J:). Thus when reformatting, you might have to remove both partitions.


I have multiple internal/external hard drives with each one having a purpose. But for most users, you only need a second external hard drive to backup your files. Now, if your data hold only on a CD, you are better to burn them instead. If you have ripped your whole collection of CDs to mp3, then the hard drive will be faster for you.

Like I always said to clients: "If you loooose your data, would you gnaw your fingers" Okay, it's a rude French translation but I hope you get my point. Now, I have to go backup my own data and so should you. ;)

Btw, the price has dropped a lot that you might find cheap hard drive now.

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Keywords: backup, external, hard drive, Money, SATA, Technology, USB