Reformat & re-install

Hello All,

As a matter of habit, I tend to reformat my machine on a fairly regular basis (every 6 months or so). The last time I did a clean out, I had the problem below. I am about to clean out again, and would like to know if there is any way to avoid the problems I had last time.

My machine has 4 HDD's. I have another spare one and they are all perfectly operational. What I want to do, is removed the C: drive from my machine (physically), without format or changing anything on the drive just yet. I want to replace this drive with the spare, reformat and then re-install windows etc, etc, and transfer all my data. I want to do this in case something goes wrong with the reformat so that I always have my data available.

This is the same procedure I followed the last time, but after physically installing the spare drive, reformatting and setting everything up, I needed to get some data off the "old" drive, but could only do this if I booted up off that drive. When I put the old drive back again, nothing worked. Windows could not find the boot files (I think the exact error message had something to do with NTLR). This created a major problem because I need to get onto that drive to transfer some software licenses to the new drive via the software suppliers web site.

I don't understand why I should have had this problem, because at the end of the day what I was effectively doing was just swopping the SATA cable and power cable from one drive to the other, nothing else.

If anyone has encountered the same problem (and hopefully a cause, .... and ultimately a solution), I would really appreciate it if you would share you solutions with me before I reformat this drive.

Thanks in advance


Windows Forum Admin
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Microsoft MVP
Hi Rob,

when swopping the drives you could try booting from the windows 7 disk and running the repair console. This should allow you to repair the boot files and gain access.

For more info on NTLDR:

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