Long story short: I was messing with system files trying to get a custom Windows 7 them up and running, but instead screwed up the operating system. I don't mind doing a clean install in order to make sure everything goes back the way it goes, but I would like - if possible - to keep files that I have on a secondary internal hard drive disk. I was wondering though if by doing a clean install of the OS, that I would be erasing files on both my primary SSD (i.e. the drive I'm going to run the OS off of) and my secondary HDD, or will only the SSD be wiped clean?
Does a clean Windows 7 install erase files on secondary HDD?
Short answer, no. When you're doing a clean install of Windows, that means you generally only need to reformat the drive you'll be booting the OS from (unless I'm completely misreading your situation). As far as Windows is concerned, your secondary HDD isn't particularly different from a USB thumbdrive, in that they're separate storage entities from your boot drive.
So before you start the reformatting process, it should ask you which drive you'll be formatting. Unless you've done something creative with drive letter assignment, you'll tell it to format your C: drive. It doesn't touch any drive other than the one you tell it to. If you want to be extra cautious in case you make a disastrous series of misclicks, you could always physically disconnect your secondary HDD from your computer before starting this process.
If you do a clean install of windows it's best to just unhook(remove power and sata/ide cables) to any other drive hooked up to the machine PERIOD, sometimes the computer is weird and since a hard drive that's not being touched exists it will make your C drive the E or F drive and it's a HUUUUUUUUUUUUGE bitch to change it to C after the fact.
i install windows 4 times a year, and it definitely only touches whatever partitions (these usually map to drive letters) you tell it to touch. well that and the mbr, but you don't care about the mbr unless you run more than one operating system like i do. just boot the windows install disc and tell it to format and install your ssd. it'll even show you the partition labels so if you are worried about not knowing which to pick you can rename the drives in windows explorer before rebooting to reinstall. while you could install with your secondary drive disconnected if that makes you feel better, that's going to mean windows won't know you have a secondary drive. in my experience windows is better at setting itself up if all the hardware is connected.
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