Can't get Vista bootloader to start


I bought a computer with Vista pre-installed, found Vista was pretty but flaky, so I decided to dual-boot with XP. I backed up/ghosted the Vista installation, reformatted the hard drive with the XP install disk, then installed XP in one partition, and restored Vista to the other partition.

Now, however, although I tried the tricks suggested in
How to: Install the Vista Bootloader on Windows XP
I just can't get the Vista bootloader to start. I come automatically into XP; I can see the Vista partition & get to my files.

When I start EasyBCD, I get the message "Unfortunately, EasyBCD could not automatically detect the drive letter of your boot device...."

I tried both drive letter options. When I get into EasyBCD, I go to the Manage Bootloader section and select "Reinstall Vista Bootloader"/"Write MBR". I've gone to the Diagnostics Center and selected both "Recreate missing/deleted boot files" & "Reset BCD storage" and clicked "Rescue my System!" I've done these things over and over again on countless reboots.

So I'm reasonably sure the Vista bootloader is on my machine (in Drive F: with my vista installation, which is, though the first partition). Now, can I use EasyBCD to get the Vista bootloader to be called, instead of the XP bootloader? I don't have the original Vista install DVD because I was supposed to make them from the rescue partition, which I hosed when I reformatted the hard drive.

Thanks for any help.

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Hi; Yes, I have tried those in the documentation, and that mentioned in the article previously mentioned. Everything seems to be just fine, except that every time I start EasyBCD I get the message box "Unfortunately, EasyBCD could not automatically detect the letter of your boot device .... If you continue to see this error message, please run 'Reset BCD storage' from the Diagnostics section."

Well, I've done that several times, exited EasyBCD, restarted it, and got the same message. Rebooted the computer, started EasyBCD again and got the same message. So maybe something is indeed locking the boot sector? But what?

Could I use Grub or something as an alternative to the Vista boot loader?

The link you quote in your 1st post, is for putting the Vista bootloader on a system that doesn't have Vista.
That's not your problem. You have the Vista bootloader as part of your Vista installation. However, installing XP second (or restoring Vista rather than installing it second), means that the XP bootloader is being called.
Both sets of boot files must be on the "system active" disk for the dual boot to work. They don't reside in their own partitions necessarily.
If you download the ISO from the link Mak gave you, you can boot it and ask it to repair the Vista bootloader for you. It's provided for users without a bootable Vista DVD but who still own a Vista license.
That is right. XP bootloader is being called and you can not boot Vista with that. The article does not pertain to you since you do have Vista which is why i gave the link to restroing the VIsta bootloader. That is what you have to do to get the system workign properly.

Reapir the Vista bootloader then add XP to that.
Paul, can you please do EasyBCD | Diagnostics | Copy Debug Data then post the contents of the clipboard here in a reply?
Thanks for all the help; I found the ISO and restored the Vista bootloader. Now I have just one more problem:

It thinks my Vista drive is D:, whereas it was originally C:. I've tried reassigning drive letters by booting up with UBCD4Win, but the Vista Recovery console still sees the vista partition as drive D:

The vista partition is the first physical partition on the disk; I have one other partition for XP, but that is at the end of the disk.

Any idea how to convince Vista to call my Vista partition C:?


If you google for "system hard drive letter change" or some such argument, you'll find a microsoft registry zap for systems that have had their letter accidentally changed.
BUT. It's only for that case. If you've installed a system as a letter you subsequently don't like, changing it could make lots of other stuff break, and the registry zaps to get all of that stuff to fit will probably take you days to fix.
The simple answer is, make sure you install with the letter you want (if you can arrange it), because it's basically fixed in stone from the install on.
Hi, Terry:

Thanks, but the point is Vista WAS originally installed on Drive C:, then restored to Drive C:. It's only when I fixed the bootloader it now thinks it is on Drive D:. Which means that Vista doesn't work -- it boots up, but can't find my profile, gives me a bunch of "can't find entry point" errors and nothing will run. I don't know why the bootloader/repair console decided that drive was D:. The problem is not in the registry, it's before windows starts-- booting from the repair disk, the repair console searches the hard drive and finds only 1 vista installation, on what it calls Drive D.

How can I convince the repair console that my first partition should be drive C:?


Why does what the recovery console see matter?

So long as Vista itself is still C:\, the Recovery Console can call it whatever it wants and there shouldn't be a problem.
If, when you boot it, it thinks of itself as the wrong letter, then from what you say, you meet the conditions of my "BUT"
Try this

but as Guru says, it doesn't matter what any other system thinks, the lettering is an internal construct of each system, not fixed on the hardware in any way.
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Unfortunately, it's not just the repair console that sees the Vista installation as drive D:; when I start Vista now, it sees itself on Drive E, actually. I want to convince Vista to see itself on Drive C:. That is, I want to change what Vista thinks is drive D or E:; that is the first partition, to Drive C:.

Nothing works in Vista now because all the original Vista & applications were installed on drive C: and everything points to Drive C.

I've tried changing the drive allocations with the Disk Management Console, but it goes back again when I boot Vista.

Sigh. I guess you guys are getting bored with this -- I know I am; but I'm stuck with it, too.


Try using a bootable partition manager like Paragon, Partition Magic, or Disk Director to change the drive letters.

Thanks for all the help. You'll all be pleased to learn I finally fixed my problem. Since I hate when I find some problem discussed at length in some forum and then the guy fixes the problem but never says what the solution was or thanks for the help, let me wrap it up...

I suppose Vista keeps its drive letter info somewhere else than XP, in the MBR or first 63 sectors of the hard drive. I booted with UBCD4Win and ran MBRWizard just to delete both the MBR & the first 63 sectors of the disk.

I suppose the VIsta Repair disk doesn't overwrite the MBR/63 sectors of the drive if it finds a valid Vista boot sector; and so left the drive assignments in the wrong configuration. But when I wiped them out, the repair disk rebuilt the boot sector with the Vista installation on the default C: drive. Now I reinstalled XP again (SP2 was the key), and everything is running just as I wanted it to 2 weeks ago when I started this nightmare.

I think I could have also solved the problem with the Vista repair console command line program "diskpart" -- I would have tried that next if wiping the MBR/63 sectors hadn't worked.

I suppose it's been mentioned here, but the real problem started because I tried to install the dual boot XP with an XP sp0 disk. That meant it couldn't recognize my 250 GB hard drive; only one partition of 167 GB. So I used GParted to move my Vista to the top of the drive & instal XP on the bottom, which lead to all these drive letter problems. So I would strongly recommend to save a lot of heartache, if you want to install XP on a modern Vista computer with a hard drive > 170 GB, find a XP sp 2 or higher install disk, use GParted or other partition manager to create your XP partition above your vista partion, and use XPsp2 to install XP on D or E or whatever you call your 2nd partition.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks & share back my experience & solution.

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Hi Paul, thanks for sharing your results........ people not posting back is a pet peeve of mine as well.

You say "wiping the MBR/63 sectors" - why 63?
Wiping first 512: Clears the bootloader + the partitions
Wiping first 446: Clears the bootloader