My system started as Win8.0, with an OEM installation on a 1000GB HD.
About a year ago, I got a 250GB Samsung 750 EVO SSD, which I installed Win8.1 on (with a USB image from Microsoft). I don’t quite remember how I did things, but I’m pretty sure I just disconnected the HD, booted from the USB, installed Windows on the SSD and that was that.
However, I reconnected the HD because I have a lot of data on it and wanted to keep it for data that doesn’t require fast access. Windows automatically recognized the old Windows installation and set up Windows Boot Manager so I could choose between 8.0 and 8.1 when booting (which I didn’t really need, but it was kind of handy early on when I was migrating stuff to the SSD).
I left it alone because I had enough space and things were working fine.
A few weeks ago I got a 500GB Samsung 860 EVO. The plan was to use Samsung Data Migration to clone the old SSD to the new, but I kept getting errors ("-0001" or some such, instantly when the clone process was starting).
During the fiddling to attempt to fix the issue, I discovered that my system won’t boot from the old SSD unless the old HD is connected. I tried removing the Win8.0 entry from Windows Boot Manager, but it still didn’t work. BIOS settings made no difference either. Pretty weird.
I do have the Documents, Downloads and similar folders linked so they’re actually on the old HD (to save space on the SDD), but the boot process fails way before that should be an issue; it basically refuses to even try unless the old HD is in the system.
I eventually cloned the old SSD to the new with Macrium Reflect, but trying to boot from the new SSD just gives me another error (“device somethingsomething”). Which was kind of expected, since there is clearly something strange going on with the Windows install on the old SSD.
So that’s exciting.
Anyway, it’s looking like I’ll have to make a clean install of Win8.1 to get around the issues, but how do I avoid getting the same weird linking between devices I have now? As things are now, I can’t get rid of the original 8.0 Windows installation because the Windows I’m actually using (8.1) is protecting it, so I can’t delete individual files from it. I’d like to just move everything off the old HD, nuke the whole thing (also because it’s a mess of OEM partitions and whatnot) and then move the data back, but I have nowhere large enough to move the files to. And because the current Windows is protecting its ancestor, I can’t delete things and then nuke partitions either.
And I can just picture getting the linking issue with the old SSD too…
(Sidenote: At some point in all this, I started to wonder if the Active partition, of which I gather there should only be one, might actually somehow be on the old HD and that’s why the system needs the old HD connected. I’ve read that Disk Manager should show which partition is Active, but … it doesn’t. Or I don’t have one at all, possibly. I do have a Boot partition, on the old SSD, where it should be, but I don’t know if that’s the same as the Active?).