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Dual Boot - XP & W7 -Question about partitions and drive letters RRS feed

  • Question

  • What I'd like to accomplish is a dual boot between XP and W7 which I know I can do.  It's simple enough.  However, I'd also like to use both OSs as if they were each on the C:\ drive and have each OS NOT see the other installation.  I believe it can be done but am not sure how the situation can be handled with as little fuss as possible.

    Here's what I have:

    Two internal drives, Drive 0 is three partitions, first is primary/active containing a full version of XP Pro and is C:\.  Second is also a primary but is where I want to install W7 (full version, not an upgrade) but it's not active.  Third is known to XP as D:\ (Temp-Swap).  Drive 1 is a giant extended partition with drive letters assigned appropriately (M - Media, P - Photos, S - Software, etc.)

    I can easily install W7 on the second partition of drive 0 but it almost always installs as E (or higher if I leave drive 0 on when installing) and of course that creates all paths as E:\, not C:\.  I can enter in W7 and remove a drive letter from the first partition and reinstall W7 so it installs as C:\ but, more often than not, it won't see the boot information written to the first partition which is active.  If I make the second partition active, then invariably XP will not boot (W7 has issues too but they can be fixed by running bcdedit) because the boot information is still on C: but it's not active.

    Not sure if that is enough info but there's got to be a way to resolve this. 

    I want three partitions on drive 0 with the proper one active but still having two priamary partions for each XP and W7 as well as the third partition showing up as D to each OS and for each OS to believe it's C:\ and not see the other OS partition.  Each OS should still see drive 1 as an extended partition with the same drive letters for each logical drive.

    Can someone point me to a tech document that might help or maybe you know off the top of your head how to best arrive at this outcome?

    Thanks,

    Gill
    Monday, November 30, 2009 4:49 PM

Answers

  • Hi jornadauser:
          I don't have a solution that prevents the 2 operating systems from seeing each other using your present set up but I used to have a PC with both operating systems and didn't want the XP O.S. to constantly mess up the system restore points on my Vista O.S. so here's what I did:

    1. Set up the bios so that you are using SATA AHCI mode before installing each O.S.
    2. Install XP on a separate hard drive in a removeable drive bay accessible from the front of the PC.
    3. Remove the XP drive and insert another hard drive and install Win7.
    4. When you switch hard drives connected to the same motherboard sata connector,  the PC should boot up properly to the hard drive currently installed.

    DISADVANTAGE:  Locating the hard drive at the top front of the PC may result in the hard drive running a little hotter due to less air circulation.
    Monday, November 30, 2009 11:13 PM

All replies

  • Hi jornadauser:
          I don't have a solution that prevents the 2 operating systems from seeing each other using your present set up but I used to have a PC with both operating systems and didn't want the XP O.S. to constantly mess up the system restore points on my Vista O.S. so here's what I did:

    1. Set up the bios so that you are using SATA AHCI mode before installing each O.S.
    2. Install XP on a separate hard drive in a removeable drive bay accessible from the front of the PC.
    3. Remove the XP drive and insert another hard drive and install Win7.
    4. When you switch hard drives connected to the same motherboard sata connector,  the PC should boot up properly to the hard drive currently installed.

    DISADVANTAGE:  Locating the hard drive at the top front of the PC may result in the hard drive running a little hotter due to less air circulation.
    Monday, November 30, 2009 11:13 PM
  • Hi Gill

    I have always promoted keeping multiple operating systems completely separate and hidden from each other.

    I use and recommend a third party application called BootIt NG from Terabyte Unlimited. This is a well matured and well supported application that does everything associated with creating and working with partitions and multiple boot scenarios. It comes with a 30 day, fully functional trial and a very low price, if you decide to purchase it.

    Here are some links.

    An Introduction to BootIt NG

    BootIt NG tutorial videos

    Support for BootIt NG

    Terabyte Support Newsgroups

    Purchase BootIt NG

    Disclaimer: I am not associated with Terabyte Unlimited and receive no compensation for recommending this product.

    Hope this helps.

    Thank You for using Windows 7

    Ronnie Vernon MVP
    Tuesday, December 1, 2009 12:06 AM
    Moderator
  • Newnerd,

    Thank you for the suggestion.  I have not considered using AHCI mode as it's "foreign" to me and I am not sure of all the repercussions involved with using it.  I have heard of some users of some motherboards having issues here and there and it seems like more knowledge I don't yet need at the moment!  I will say that this is very similar to simply using removable hard drives which I already do.  While I could do that, I was hoping to just go the (supposedly) simpler dual-boot route instead.  If I have more time, I'll look into AHCI.

    Ronnie,

    I considered using a third party boot manager (Acronis Disk Director, which I already own) but was hoping to finagle my way into a dual-boot, the way I described, without the extra "overhead", minimal as it may be.  Now that you mention it, maybe I'll look a bit closer at that (or the other product you mentioned) and see if their solutions are reasonable.

    I have a feeling I can actually get the results I want by just figuring out the proper steps while keeping the partitions straight (which one is active, which ones are assigned drive letters, etc.) in lieu of running an extra boot manager.  Perhaps I can install XP in the first active/primary partition and it will grab C:\.  Then, using a partition editor, mark that inactive and make the second partition active and install W7.  It should grab C:\.  THEN, re-mark partition 1 active/primary, 2 as just primary, and use bcdedit to repair the boot info.  Then boot into each OS and rearrange drive letters for all the partitions and I'm done.  I'd then boot into each OS using W7's boot manager and each one would believe it was the C:\ drive.

    Or something like that.

    Thanks for the suggestions,

    Gill
    Tuesday, December 1, 2009 10:17 PM
  • Any luck, Gil? I'm trying to do something similar with two installations of XP in two partitions on one drive. Still trying to get the second partition to be "C" when I select it from the menu (just edited the C install's boot.ini).

     

    Rob

    Thursday, April 8, 2010 11:51 PM
  • Well my suggestion would be to disable the Harddisk driver of the disk you do not want to see.

     

    Boot with the XP go to the Hardware manager and "TURN OFF" the Win7 harddrive

    Then boot win7 and "TURN OFF" the WinXP drive in the hardware manager.

     

    try it.

     

    Friday, April 9, 2010 7:21 AM
  • Hey Gill :)

    Just wanted to share my experience and maybe show you a way to acomplish what you want.

    In a nutshell, I believe your "problem" is that you assume that 7 will be installed on a "E:" drive. I don't think it will. Let me clarify.

    I have a working dual boot system, with a single primary disk, with 2 partitions: one with XP, the other with 7.

    Now, when I'm on XP, the system sees the C: drive (which is the XP one) and the D: drive (which is the 7). Of course, it sees both because I never bother to conceal it in any way. But if I boot from 7, it's reversed: the C: drive has windows 7 itself, and the D: drive has XP. I can't quite remember the actual layout, but I believe that the XP partition is the first one on the disk. In fact, yes it is the first one, because I've been "emptying" the XP system of programs and stuff, to "decomission it", and I usualy give the reclaimed space back to the 7 partition, and the 7 partition is on the right side :)

    Anyway, I never had any problems in either systems, because when I install something, it goes to the correct partitions (each system sees "itself" as the C: drive). I can't quite remember how I installed 7, but I believe it was a straightforward install onto the empty disk space, booting from the DVD. No special tricks involved.

    So, I assume that this whole drive letter invertion happens because 7 is a bit more "agnostic" than XP regarding partitions and it automatically adjusts the letters to reflect it.

    On your case, I belive that if you install 7 on the partition space that you want, it will do the same: it will call itself "C:" when you are on 7, and maybe E: when you are on XP. The XP partition will continue to be "C:" on XP and on 7, it will probably be D: or E: or the next available letter.

    Now, regarding the hidding of the partitions, I believe that the Group Policies have a setting to explicit hide drive letters. If that's the case, you can easily hide the E: (7) drive on XP, and do the "oposite" on 7, hide the E:, or whatever letter that represents the XP partition.

    I belive this might acomplish what you are trying to do, if I understood your question correctly.

    Let me know how it goes :)

     

    Cheers!

    Friday, April 9, 2010 1:08 PM
  • That's exactly the way how it works. Helder Nascimneto described exact my way to solve this problem. I had a pre-installed Windows 7 on a new box. And it was not possible to get an XP on without formatting the 7 partition. So installing XP first gives XP the C: letter when it's booted. And installing 7 into the free space gives the C: to 7 when it's booted. And I think this is the only way how this can be accomplished.

    Regards

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 9:22 AM
  • this thread has been most useful.  thanks, all.

    i have a 50gb drive with xp on it.  i bought a new 1.5tb drive, and a fresh installation copy of win7.  i want to dual boot for a while at least.  what i think to do is partition the new drive, allocating 500gb for xp.  then use macrium reflect to image the current c drive (xp) to an external drive, then restore the image to the new 500 gb partition, then install win7 to the second partition of 1tb.  from what i am reading here it seems this is a good start.  i can change the sata cable for the new two partition drive to the first of the four connectors available on the motherboard, then go into bios to make sure the dick drives are identified properly and the boot order will go to the first sata drive, the new partitioned disk.  i hope my strategy sounds good to people who read this thread who know more than i do (nearly nothing) about partitioning and dual boot systems.  true?  any warnings, suggestions, tips?

    but what will show up when i boot up?  is there something more i need to do, or install, so i get a screen with options of which drive i want to boot into?  do i need to set up the two partitions in some particular way? -- i don't know what primary, active exavtly mean, and wonder if whether i get a "which system to you want to boot?' screen with my two intended options.  also, if i follow this strategy will the boot system/partition automatically be the C: drive for that session (as descriibed in this thread), of what different do i need to do to make that handy convention work in both OSs?

    thanks to anyone who can provide me input.  this is all quite an adventure for me!

    Friday, October 15, 2010 7:04 PM
  • I'm working out the final details, but I'm currently using Windows 7 to let me choose which of two Windows-XP systems to boot as C:.  What I'd really like to do (and think I know how to do it!) is to have three Win-XP systems available at boot, with the chosen one being C:, and the other two being "out-of-the-way" drives (like X: and Y:).

    My situation is that I have a PC running an experiment using software that runs on XP (but not Win 7).  There are, in fact, two sets of hardware, each with incompatible drivers.  I have one XP system called System-RP2 for one set of hardware, another called System-RX8 for the other.  I had originally only System-RX8, which was on C:, with two other drives (D: and E:) holding other files and data.  When I built my second system for the RP2 hardware, I took out the original C: drive, put in another one, and built the new system there.  It was, of course, C:.

    So now I have three physical disks -- Disk 1 is System-RP2 (just built), Disk 2 is System-RX8 (previously built), Disk 3 has D: and E: partitions.

    My original "solution" was to use the BIOS (during Setup) to turn Disk 1 off.  In this situation, System-RX8 boots, as before, and I have C:, D:, and E:.  Now I turn Disk 1 on -- now System-RP2 boots as C:, and the other disk drive letters may need to be "adjusted" so that D: and E: are where they are supposed to be, and System-RX8 is assigned to X: (out of the way).

    So now comes the Magic.  All three disks are enabled, and I make a small (F:) partition somewhere.  I install Windows 7 on it, even though I don't intend to run Windows 7!  However, Windows 7 installs BCD, which can be edited to give me the following prompts:  "System-RP2, System-RX8 (default), Windows 7 (do not use!)".  Depending on which the user chooses (without having to go into the BIOS), they get the "right" operating system running as the C: drive.  Again, they may need to fiddle some drive letters to get D: and E: correct, but that's easy.

    What I really want to do is to add one more Win-XP system (System-Testing) into the mix, a system that again boots as C:, but is for me to use for testing purposes.  I've managed to get a triple boot to appear, but the third system doesn't (yet) boot to C:.  I think I just need to rebuild it as a "one-disk" solution -- I hope to have this solved by the weekend (Famous Last Words).

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010 11:22 PM
  •  Sorry ,my mistake.How to install XP after W7-go to disk manager and shrink partition C: usualu about 40 GB.Create New simple Volume and format it with quick NTFS.Intall XP on that partition,but you must recover MBR ,becouse XP revrite him.If you can find program Easy DCD,this is much easy.Try to find it on The Geek's tutorial.Good luck!
    Friday, December 9, 2011 10:46 PM
  • I have a similar problem in a workstation with 3 Hard drives, 
    on first HDD  there is a partition W contains a pre-installation environment and windows xp sp3 image and i will apply the image to  partition C on HDD 3.
     I added an entry for win xp to bcdedit of winpe and it loads win xp successfully.
    The  problem is when I choose to boot from win xp and after login to windows the drive letter of windows xp(system) is D not C and this cause many application errors?, the pre-installation partition on HDD 1 occupy letter C.
    can any one guide me plz
    Wednesday, September 5, 2012 7:29 AM