Can't Disable Dual-Boot

#1
I set up a W10 and W7 dual-boot in EasyBCD (the two O/S are on separate drives). No problem, worked fine. But now I need to disable the dual-boot menu and return to the old way of booting by going into the computer BIOS and selecting the drive order. Reason being in the near future I will need to remove one of the drives for another purpose.

First I tried physically disconnecting the W10 drive and simply booting into W7. Unfortunately the computer won't let me even tho it detects the single drive and attempts to boot into it but gives me an error msg, probably looking for and not finding winload.exe (even tho prior to running the dual-boot from EasyBCD it had no problem booting into W7). So I hooked up the W10 drive again, booted into W10 (from the dual-boot menu), opened EasyBCD, and in the 'Edit Boot Menu' deleted the W7 entry figuring that with only 1 remaining entry (W10) I would no longer get a boot menu. Wrong. Still got a menu with W10 as the only choice. BTW, it didn't matter in EasyBCD if I checked or unchecked 'Default' for that sole W10 entry.

So while it makes no sense to have a boot menu with only 1 item I figured well maybe I also need to delete the W10 entry in 'Edit Boot Menu' so that there are no items and then assuredly the computer would boot directly into whichever drive was setup first in the BIOS. But after deleting the W10 entry and attempting to exit EasyBCD I got the ominous message "EasyBCD has detected that there are no entries currently installed. If you exit EasyBCD and restart you computer, it will not boot. Are you sure you want to exit before adding a new entry?"

Yikes. So with no entries I'm no good and the computer won't boot, and with 1 entry I'm stuck with a useless boot menu that only has one (W10) entry. And then there is absolutely no way to boot into W7 (it's almost like EasyBCD not only altered the W10 BCD store on its drive but also the W7 BCD store on its drive?!) . How do I disengage things, eliminate the boot menu, and have the two separate drives boot as they used to before installing EasyBCD (by selecting the drive order in the BIOS). It's a nice program for managing the BCD store but I don't want to have to be forever wedded to it.

Thanks for any help.
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
How did you install W7/W10 ?
If you had W7 installed (and visible) when you added W10, there will only be one BCD.
W10 will have taken control of, upgraded and added itself to the original W7 BCD.
(nothing to do with EasyBCD, that's the standard MS architecture for auto-dual-boot)
That's probably why you can't boot W7 without W10 present.
You can use
Changing the Boot Partition
To make another copy of the boot files on W7, then delete, W10 from the W7 version and vice versa.
If you still get a menu when there's only one entry , it means there's some minor unwanted debris somewhere in the BCD.
You could recreate and repopulate the BCD from scratch if that bothers you (it's unimportant), or you can simply tick the "don't display a menu" box.
 
#3
W7 came pre-installed on the computer. Installing a second drive and using the clone feature of AOMEI backup software I made an exact copy of the W7 HDD, then using the MS Media Creation tool D/L a W10 ISO and burned it to DVD. Disconnecting one of the W7 drives I booted into the remaining W7 drive and upgraded it to W10. So with the 2 HDD's, instead of both being matching W7's, one was W7 and the other one was now W10. Either would boot independently to their respective OS depending on my selection of HDD by hitting F12 during POST.

Rather than continuing with the F12 during POST method to select drive/OS I installed EasyBCD (in W10) and added W7 to its menu to utilize the MS boot manager and make selection easier when booting the computer. That currently works fine but as I mentioned in my previous note I want to separate things out (as they once were) and if I physically disconnect the SATA cables from the W10 drive I can no longer boot from the sole remaining W7 drive when, prior to installing EasyBCD, I used to boot from that drive all the time with no problem. Besides altering the BCD store on the W10 drive EasyBCD also altered something on the W7 drive. So there are 2 things EasyBCD did that I would like to correct:
1) boot from the W10 HDD — F12 HDD selection during computer POST — without a boot manager menu showing up
2) boot from the W7 HDD — F12 HDD selection during computer POST — without an error msg preventing it

To respond to some things you mentioned:
-- Nothing was "visible" and W10 wasn't "added". I had two matching W7 drives. I disconnected one, booted into the other and upgraded it to W10. Then I reconnected the W7 drive which the W10 drive never knew existed until I installed EasyBCD.
-- I can no longer boot W7 without W10 present because of something EasyBCD did to not just the W10 drive but also the W7 drive.
-- Yes, it did bother me that when I had only one entry in EasyBCD I was still getting a boot manager menu. That's not the way things are supposed to work because you obviously don't need/want a menu with only 1 item. EasyBCD added some "debris" as you call it and rather than go with a workaround (adding counter-debris?) I would like to clean things up.
-- Thank you for the link to Changing the Boot Partition. I read that page but don't see how it's applicable to what I want.

In short, I would like to effectively "uninstall" or back out of whatever changes EasyBCD made to BOTH of my drives. Is that possible or has EasyBCD left a permanent imprint and besides not being able to return to 2 separate independent drives/OS I have to pray that the W10 drive doesn't go down since that would mean I could never boot the W7 drive. Thanks again for any help resolving this.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
EasyBCD just changes the BCD you are currently using according to the instructions you give it.
It doesn't go round altering things anywhere else.
It never does anything by being there, or by being started.
It just makes changes/additions/deletions according to your instructions. Nothing else.
If you added an entry to the W10 upgraded version of W7 to point to the other W7, nothing at all would have been done (by EasyBCD) to your other HDD.
Is that possible or has EasyBCD left a permanent imprint a
No. It's not that kind of utility.
It's a GUI replacement for the MS command-line bcdedit utility, with some extra bells and whistles that enable you to boot "foreign" systems like Linux or XP from the BCD, with ease rather than needing a doctorate to achieve the same through bcdedit. None of which applies to you.
It's advanced features make it a power-app, quite capable of making your system unbootable, but in that respect it's like regedit.
Both will make changes that you tell it to do, on the assumption that you have good reason.
Unlike regedit though, EasyBCD will try to stop you if it detects you are about to commit a faux-pas (you mention such in your OP).
In short, EasyBCD is not responsible for any perceived change in your W7 system unless you've been telling it to do something there which you don't mention above.
What happens if you don't disconnect W10, but override the BIOS to select the W7 drive at boot ?
Is there a separate boot partition on the W7 drive ?
Can you see bootmgr and a \boot folder anywhere on the W7 drive ? (you'll need folder options set like this to see them)
Is the partition where you see them marked "active" ?
 
#5
I have attached a MS Disk Management screen-snap of my 2 drives, which as you can see are identical in size/partitions etc. This screen snap was done while booted into W7 (my print screen utility doesn't function in W10). Disk0 is W10 — the "System Reserved" partition is Active and has a bootmgr and a \boot folder with BCD. Disk1 is W7 — the "System Reserved" partition is Active and also has a bootmgr and a \boot folder with BCD.

Prior to installing EasyBCD I could boot off either drive by (quickly) hitting F12 during POST and selecting the desired HDD. I did it hundreds of times. After installing EasyBCD on the W10 drive I went to the 'Add New Entry' tab and added the W7 drive and set the timeout to 10 seconds. That is all I did in EasyBCD, I didn't touch any of the other tabs, didn't mess with any of the other functions. As expected when booting the computer I get the MS boot manager and can select either W10 or W7, and that works fine.

Since all I did in EasyBCD is add the W7 entry you would think that if I went into the 'Edit Boot Menu' tab and deleted that same W7 entry I would be back to where I started. YOU WOULD BE WRONG. After removing the W7 entry two fundamental things are now different:
1) when booting the computer to the default drive (ie, listed first in sequence in my BIOS) instead of booting directly into W10 as it used to do and should do I now get a MS boot manager menu with one item: W10
2) when booting the computer and hitting F12 during POST to select the drive with W7, instead of booting into it as it used to do and should do, it attempts to but is no longer able now giving me an error msg screen

> What happens if you don't disconnect W10, but override the BIOS to select the W7 drive at boot ?
Same thing as if I disconnect W10. I get the Windows Boot Manager with a long error msg, some of which is:
"Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause. To fix the problem:
1. Insert your Windows installation disc and restart your computer
2. blah blah blah
...
...
Status: 0xc000000e
Info: The boot selection failed because a required device is inaccessible."

EasyBCD is not as "neutral" as you think it is. Simply adding the W7 drive in the 'Add New Entry' altered both the W10 drive and the W7 drive. I realize you think it couldn't, but it did. Proof is that with no other changes made within the program (I didn't tell it to do ANYTHING else) when I remove the single added W7 entry it should theoretically return things to the way they were. It doesn't. W10 will no longer boot directly without a MS boot mgr menu coming up and W7 will no longer boot, period.

That's dangerous when you tell a program to do one thing and one thing only (by adding the W7 entry). Then later tell it not to do that one thing (by removing the W7 entry) and yet it did additional things altering the boot of both drives. Can you suggest anything else to fix the altered W10 BCD ("debris" as you call it that causes a MS boot mgr menu with one item) and the obviously damaged W7 BCD (that causes it to no longer boot)? Again, thanks for your help.
 

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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#6
Why would EasyBCD touch your W7 drive when you ask it to add an entry to your W10 drive's BCD ?
It's a BCD editing utility.
It is possible to edit the W7 BCD from W10, but again, only if you tell it to. ( File > select BCD store, or Tools > Options > "automatically load...")
If you are working on the "live" BCD and neither of the above applies, and you are not dealing with XP or Linux, then all changes made are confined to the BCD in question and nothing else is altered anywhere else in your PC.
It's not a normal consequence of adding, then deleting a BCD entry, that anything would be left behind to cause an unnecessary single-choice boot menu ( a million users and ten years in use will attest). That's not to say it doesn't occasionally happen on systems with and without EasyBCD in use. (In "normal" cases, EasyBCD is effectively creating bcdedit syntax for you, and the code doing the BCD update is Microsoft's)
If it does happen, EasyBCD can fix it for you using "reset BCD" then adding a new entry (that's when you get the dire warning if you do the former without the latter).
That can fix the W10 side for you.
I know you're convinced that EasyBCD somehow decided to act as a free agent and borked your other OS, and I doubt you'll accept my assurance that it has no such roaming brief.
Sometimes OS's break with no obvious cause ( I had Vista in a quad-boot which somehow managed to become unusable when it hadn't been in use for months, and resided on a completely unused HDD - never did manage to fix it or discover what had broken it)
Your screen shot shows that W7 is obviously fine when booted through the W10 BCD.
Check the W7 BCD contents using "select BCD store" as above and see where the W7 entry is trying to find winload.exe (The letter you see in EasyBCD should match the letter of the W7 OS as seen from the OS currently in use i.e. as Explorer shows W7 Boot)
 
#7
Terry, thanks for the response. I've added notes to a couple of your points:

> Why would EasyBCD touch your W7 drive when you ask it to add an entry to your W10 drive's BCD ?
Obviously it shouldn't. Then again it also shouldn't leave debris in the W10 BCD when simply adding W7 and then removing it.

> If you are working on the "live" BCD and neither of the above applies... then all changes made are confined to the BCD in question
Yes, all changes made SHOULD be confined to the "live" BCD (W10).

> and nothing else is altered anywhere else in your PC
Agree again, nothing else SHOULD have be altered.

> If it does happen, EasyBCD can fix it for you using "reset BCD" then adding a new entry (that's when you get the dire warning if you do the former without the latter). That can fix the W10 side for you.
Very useful information, thanks.

> I know you're convinced that EasyBCD somehow decided to act as a free agent and borked your other OS
If an impartial person looked at the following steps what conclusion do you think they might draw?

1. A two HDD system, W7 on one, W10 on the other, each OS installed independently
2. Using F12 during POST and selecting the appropriate HDD user can boot into either OS
3. User booted into both OS's hundreds of times WITHOUT INCIDENT
4. User installs EasyBCD in W10 and adds W7 in 'Add New Entry'
5. User can now dual-boot (without having to F12 during POST) and all works fine
6. In 'Edit Boot Menu' user removes W7. Aside from this and step #4 user has touched nothing else in EasyBCD.
7. Immediately after removing W7 in EasyBCD user tries to boot into W7 HDD and fails (using F12 during POST) something that had NEVER happened before

Coincidence? I suppose anything is possible. But somehow Occam's Razor comes to mind.

> Check the W7 BCD contents using "select BCD store" as above and see where the W7 entry is trying to find winload.exe (The letter you see in EasyBCD should match the letter of the W7 OS as seen from the OS currently in use i.e. as Explorer shows W7 Boot)
As you suggested I booted into W10 and using "select BCD store" I opened the W7 BCD store. That was very revealing because the line just below 'BCD ID' where it should say 'Drive: F:\' (to match the W7 boot partition drive letter normally seen by W10) it says "Device unknown". Houston we have a problem.

Which means, of course, that when trying to boot directly into the W7 HDD the computer has no idea where to find winload.exe. The W10 BCD knows where to look for it but the W7 BCD doesn't, confirming what I knew all along that the W7 BCD somehow got scrambled. Unfortunately when I first installed EasyBCD I immediately backed up the W10 BCD but made no backup copy of the W7 BCD because I didn't expect it to get altered. Oh well, shit happens, so with my setup is there any means to repair the W7 BCD from within EasyBCD?
 
#8
> with my setup is there any means to repair the W7 BCD from within EasyBCD?

I take it from the silence that it's not doable with EasyBCD. Regardless, thanks much for your help.
 
#9
As a final note on this thread, with a little online research I was able to solve the problem of repairing the W7 BCD. I still don't know whether it can be done within EasyBCD but it can be done by a DOS utility included in every copy of W7 (and W8 and W10) named bcdboot.exe. Microsoft puts it in the \windows\system32 folder.

If you are at all comfortable with DOS (you will need an elevated command prompt) it's simple and straightforward to apply. Type bcdboot /? for any parameters you can use, although it's very minimalist. And pretty much its sole purpose is to repair/replace the BCD store which it did in a matter of seconds. I would have preferred a GUI interface to ease the pain but this small utility has impressed me.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#10
Hi Rich,

I think there might be a fundamental misunderstanding about how all this works. EasyBCD does not (ever) choose which BCD to modify on its own. It either asks Windows to modify the "current" BCD or it shows up a message saying that it cannot find the system BCD and prompts you to browse to and select the BCD file to edit.

EasyBCD also automatically makes a backup of the BCD the first time you run it, this is saved to the My Documents folder and is suffixed with the date (so you can tell which backup it is), as a fallback in case the user makes an error they wish to revert.

However, I'm not just here to tell you that EasyBCD works perfectly and it is not responsible for anything - to the contrary, yes, because of the way EasyBCD configures the metro boot option, there is a case where you can be left with the boot menu showing with only one entry, though I think (unless there is a bug) that should be fixed by setting the correct option in the boot menu options page regarding the timeout and menu style. However, EasyBCD basically never, ever affects anything other the BCD that you've chosen. If it were a question of changes to the MBR causing your inability to boot Windows 7, perhaps something could be said. However, if you are attesting that the contents of the other OS' BCD file were adversely modified, that's not code that has ever been written in EasyBCD (though it has been suggested by some users) so I'm not sure how that could happen.

In all cases, simply loading the Windows 7 BCD in EasyBCD and adding the Windows 7 entry should create a working BCD for the Windows 7 configuration. Anyway, I'm glad it all worked well for you, and I'm sure that between my replies and Terry's everything should be covered. Hopefully this thread will contain some useful info for anyone exploring similar configurations in the future, I'd hate for them to be left with the impression that EasyBCD was not designed with this use case in mind.

That said, if you spot a reproducible bug, we are always accepting bug reports that include the steps to reproduce it or the necessary info to repair.
 
#11
mqudsi,

Thank you very much for your note.

> EasyBCD also automatically makes a backup of the BCD the first time you run it, this is saved to the My Documents folder
Thx for that info, I was not aware of that since I never use the My Documents folder for anything.

> because of the way EasyBCD configures the metro boot option, there is a case where you can be left with the boot menu showing with only one entry
I found that when using EasyBCD to create a bootable USB device the menu defaults to "Use Metro bootloader" but when using EasyBCD for HDD's it doesn't default to that and I never checked that box. So there is a minor glitch there.

I understand what you (and Terry) are saying, that EasyBCD cannot modify any BCD store other than the "current" one (either the System store or one the user loads). My point to Terry was that booting directly into W7 had worked flawlessly a couple hundred times before I installed EasyBCD in W10 and added W7 to the boot menu. Then suddenly if I tried to boot W7 directly it failed, and when Terry explained how to take a look at the W7 BCD I could see that it was now corrupted. The timing of that sudden failure seemed very strange to me.

Could something unintended within the software have gone wrong? I don't know. A couple of separate times in a W7—W10 dual-boot EasyBCD setup after removing W7 from the boot menu (leaving a sole W10 entry) the result has been an MS boot manager display of 1 item when there should be no menu. As Terry once succinctly put it: "Windows is only supposed to present a menu if there is a choice". Terry has said the problem is caused by "debris" or "detritus" in the BCD, but it shouldn't be there... and yet sometimes it is. For a number of years I was a beta-tester for both Microsoft and the Symantec Group, and I saw software frequently do strange, unintended things that it wasn't supposed to do so I don't look at these things as absolutes.

Anyway, as mentioned I resolved it using the DOS bcdboot.exe command which I don't recommend because the user has to be very comfortable in DOS and have access to an elevated command prompt for a system that won't boot on its own (which was the case with my W7).

In hindsight it seems there were 2 possible ways to resolve the issue from within EasyBCD:
1. boot to W10 (which was still working fine), load the damaged W7 BCD, and as Terry had suggested to resolve the faulty menu-with-one-item problem use the "Reset BCD Configuration" function to clear things. Then add-back the W7 entry.
2. OR, boot to W10, load the damaged W7 BCD, delete the sole W7 entry and then add it back in. This assumes that when there is only 1 entry in the boot menu EasyBCD will allow you to delete it (I don't know, haven't tried that).

The first method of resetting the W7 BCD, effectively clearing things, and adding back a W7 entry (rather than simply deleting the damaged W7 entry and adding it back) seems like it would be the best approach to resolve the issue I was having, and is what I was looking for when I asked if there was any way to "repair the W7 BCD from within EasyBCD". Also seems a bit more controllable and a bit less dangerous than the bcdboot.exe approach I ended up taking.

Again, thanks for your perspective on things.
 
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