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Rating: Needs some work


I like to run multiple operating systems and fool around with betas, but I do not like fooling around with my production machines. My beta system is an old 133 that works but leaves a lot to be desired, especially in trying out new features of operating systems and software. Therefore I was looking for a solution besides software based dual booting. I was thinking about using a swappable drive bay until I came upon a piece of hardware called the BetaDrive.

The BetaDrive is an interesting concept. It is a small drive bay sized device with a mechanical switch that allows you to choose between 2 hard drives. After reading through the product information on the web site – – I thought that this is just the thing I was looking for.

The BetaDrive comes with 3 IDE cables and a short installation guide. Setup and installation is quite simple. Pop open your case and disconnect the hard drive from the controller. Install the BetaDrive into an open drive bay. Attach the BetaDrive to the controller and then run IDE cables to drive 1 and drive 2. Reassemble the system.

Before firing up the system, use the switch on the front of the unit to choose which drive to boot from. At this point the problems began. My system would not boot with either drive chosen. After some trouble shooting I was able to determine that the switch was not making good connections. I could make the system run after moving the switch back and forth many times. An e-mail to BetaDrive resulted in a replacement drive being sent out via Priority Mail – good customer service in a time when that is the exception rather than the rule.

Installed the new BetaDrive on my system and everything worked as planned – at least for a while. Then the switch problem crept up again, although this time not as bad. Just a few times switching back and forth would make the system boot.

I began to wonder if there could be a compatibility problem with my system so I took it out and installed it on another system. However this was a no-go. My other system simply refused to boot no matter what I did. Placed it back into the original system and it worked as it did before.

I really wanted to love the BetaDrive but the apparent lack of quality control with the switching device makes it difficult to do so. If BetaDrive could overcome this they would have a real winner on their hands.

The BetaDrive would have made an excellent way for users to test betas or run alternative operating systems without worrying about partitioning and boot loaders, but as it stands I would find it hard to recommend the BetaDrive. A swappable drive setup is available for a similar price and offers similar benefits without the frustration of the switching problem.

Since I did spend my cash on it I still have the BetaDrive installed on my system and use it to boot between Windows 2000 (Production) and Windows ME (Beta). Besides the switching problems everything seems to work perfectly, but that problem with the switch means that I cannot recommend the BetaDrive at this time.

Submitted by: Zenwolf

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