Can I easily move SATA drives across machines without the risk of losing data?

Joe Videtto March 25, 2012
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First off – thanks to the authors and all the people that respond for this great resource; I’ve gotten detailed and relevant answers here to the most narrow technical questions.

Today, I’m wondering if I should keep my old P4 machine (10 years old – Intel D850MV board, Windows XP) for housing multiple new high-capacity SATA hard drives (3TB) I’ll be buying for backup.

I’ve purchased an IDE SATA Card ( having 4 SATA ports, and am hoping I could move SATA hard drives between these 4 internal ports and my other newer computer – a Core i7 build with native SATA ports built on the motherboard (ASUS P6T), as easily as I can move external USB hard drives between machines.

So – maybe too much background, but it sets the environment for the question:

Can I easily move large 3 TB SATA hard drives across machines with different Windows operating systems (Windows XP, Windows 7 32 and 64 bit, assuming the same file system NTFS), without the risk of losing my data due to some sort of operating system/BIOS ‘initialization’ of the drives as I as move and plug the SATA cable of the drives across machines ? If so, are there any preferred methods to creating the partitions to avoid losing the data ?

Thanks in advance!

  1. James Bruce
    March 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Better question is - (0_o) why? To share data, just create a network share. Or better still, install some kind of home server software / dedicated file sharing system on that older pc. I cant imagine you really need to move 3TB between pcs that often … do you??

    March 26, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Hello, sometimes there could be problems when connecting drives to a different machine, specially when they have operating systems.   If the drives where used only for storage, there would be no problem. 

    If you are planning to boot from these drives in a different machine, you might need to fix the boot. If you are using XP, you would need to use the recovery console and use the bootcfg command.  If you are using vista/windows 7, you would need to use a repair disk and use the bootrec.exe command with the /fixboot and /fixmbr options.

  3. M.S. Smith
    March 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Yes, you can move them without issue if you are not trying to boot from them. Since you said the machines have different operating systems, I assume this is not a concern. 

    Of course, frequent moves does open up the potential for physical damage. So try to back up important files often.