Q&A: Can I install Windows 7 on a second hard drive in my Windows 8 PC without losing any data?

windows-8-logoQuestion from Antonio V.:  I recently bought a Dell Inspiron 660s desktop PC from Amazon. It came with Windows 8 and I am very unhappy with it. I love the computer though.

I have installed a second hard drive and I was wondering if can install Windows 7 Pro (full retail version) on the second drive without losing any of my photos and other files that are on the Windows 8 drive?

After I transfer everything over I’ll remove Windows 8 and use Windows 7 exclusively. Thanks for your help in advance.

Rick’s answer:  Yes Antonio, you can easily install Windows 7 on your second hard drive without losing any of your data. Simply boot from the Windows 7 installation disc and tell the Windows setup routine to install Windows 7 on the second drive. You’ll then have a dual-boot system with which you can choose to boot from either Windows 7 or Windows 8 at system startup.

I would strongly recommend against removing Windows 8 from the system however. It takes up relatively little disk space given the massive sizes of modern hard drives, and you never know when that Windows 8 installation will come in handy.

Another thing to consider is technical support and warranty service on your new PC. Should anything go wrong, the hardware will still be covered by the warranty even after you remove Windows 8. But good luck getting Dell to honor that warranty after you tell them that you have downgraded your machine to Windows 7. When you call their tech support line they’ll almost certainly tell you the problem lies with using an unsupported operating system.

If you leave Windows 8 installed on the primary drive and simply boot into Windows 7 whenever you start up your computer, you can always just remove the 2nd drive containing Windows 7  from the system before calling tech support over a hardware issue. That way if there truly is a hardware problem they’ll be willing to deal with it according to the terms of the warranty.

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