Doh, i pooched my startup, now what?


I have a giant HDD seperated into 3 partitions C: D: F:

I have xp installed on C and vista on F:

Vista has now made drive F: -->C:

and according to it, drive F: is windows XP

so... i ran easyBCD and pointed the vista entry to C and xp entry to F:

xp wont run, complains it cant find NTDLR

vista now loads after doing a repair option from the install CD

how do i get my XP running again now that its changed the drive to F:?
Hi pinpoint, welcome to NST.
It doesn't matter that your 2 OS's call the partitions different letters. There's no physical letter attached to the drive, it's just an internal construct of the booted OS, stored in the registry.
Put your entries in EasyBCD back where they were and XP should boot fine, still calling itself C, and Vista F.
If you're saying that Vista used to boot as F and has changed due to something that's just gone wrong, there is a MS registry zap to fix that. Don't use it for cosmetic reasons though, it's just to fix a broken OS.
If you apply it to one that installed that way, you'll probably break it.
The XP entry in EasyBCD should point to the partition marked "system" "active" in disk management, not (necessarily) to the XP partition. You're pointing to the boot files, not to the OS. The boot files (boot.ini)will point to the OS. Copies of boot.ini, NTLDR and from XP's root need to be in the root of the "active" partition too (if that's not already XP), and the copy of boot.ini in the active root must correctly identify the XP partition.
It's all in the wiki. Follow the troubleshooting link, and how to build a boot.ini link if you have any trouble.
Thanks for the reply Terry.

Here's what my drive management in XP says right now.

System and Active are seperated. what do i do in this case?

Sorry, you only mentioned one huge HDD, so I didn't bother to say the "system" "active" partition on the first HDD in your boot sequence.
Vista displays all the flags -
"system" - where the boot files are located
"active" - the "system" file to go to (if you have other systems like OS2 OSx or linux which also have boot files)
"boot" - the partition which contains the OS which is actually running at this moment.
On a single Vista install, they'll all be on the same partition.
Unfortunately, the XP version of disk management doesn't display all the flags, but since you're running XP - and XP is C: - and C: is marked "system", that's where all 3 would be if you could see them.
If you booted Vista, dsk mgmt would show the XP partition (whatever letter it gives it) as "system" "active" and itself as "boot"
The reason why your other disks have an active flag, is to tell the MBR on that HDD, where to go to find (or to install) the boot files if you have that HDD first in the BIOS.
The fact that you're displaying XP's DM presumably means that you've got it working again, so is everything OK now ?
Unfortunatly not, im at work right now and can't play with the settings, but last night i got XP running, my main OS, so its ok for now. Still havent gotten it dual booted.

I'll see if i can get it working later.

Thanks for the help.
Ok, If you got XP working by doing an XP repair, it will have destroyed Vista's boot process again. You can never get XP's NTLDR to boot Vista (It's just not forward compatible), so you'll need to repair the Vista boot again by doing the "repair my computer"/"repair startup" routine from the booted Vista DVD, 2 or three times till Vista boots normally without the DVD.
With a previously working XP boot, and with XP being the "system" drive, you should find that the Vista repair auto-detects your XP and includes it in a dual boot for you.
All you need to do with EasyBCD (if you want to) is tidy up the names given to your boot options, set the default and knock the timeout value down to a sensible 5 seconds (long enough to let you choose your non-default system, but short enough not to delay an unattended boot)

btw If you've booted a system that's not C:\, bear in mind the info in this post from another thread.
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Still not happening :frowning:

Hi Terry,

You definitely seem to know what you're talking about, can you help me out - i've had a pretty frustrating experience so far despite many days/hrs at this...I keep getting the blue screen of death on XP startup.

I'm trying to dual boot vista 64 + XP 32. Vista is working, XP gives me the bsd.

If I try to repair using XP cd I can only see the vista partition, so i can't use Xp to fix whatever is going on.

From vista, using the disk manager (or diskpart) I can confirm the XP partition (partition 1) is the System, Active, Primary Parition. And Vista is the Boot and Primary (plus page file & crash dump), no active, on partition 2.

On EasyBCD, entry 1 is XP is pointed at 'drive D' which is the Xp partition when in Vista. And Vista is pointed at C:

I've copied the 3 key files from Xp partition to Vista and peeked at boot.ini - looks ok, pointed at partition(1). However, I can't open the actual boot.ini on the XP drive (no permissions), but I can copy it to the vista drive and open/edit there.

What am I doing wrong? Should I use Vista to kill the XP part and then try to reinstall XP from scratch? (what if i still can't see that partition?) :wtf:

Thanks in advance!
Hi Balaboo, welcome to NST.
You seem to have mastered the dual-boot process, everything sounds correct.
As you'll see from the troubleshooter, your dual boot is working. Unfortunately XP isn't.
What's your situation ? Are you creating a dual-boot from scratch with 2 new systems ?
Are you adding one to a pre-existing working system ?
Has XP ever booted ? (i.e. are you adding Vista to it ?)
The normal response to the XP BSOD, would be an XP repair install from the CD, then boot the Vista DVD to repair the boot damage caused by the XP repair.
In your case, we need to find out why you can't do step 1.
The most likely explanation I can think of is that your XP CD is pre SP2 and your HDD is SATA, in which case you'll need to download the SATA drivers from your mobo website and have them available when required by the install.
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Thanks for your reply Terry!

I had looked into the troubleshooter but as mentioned can't seem to get the repair working from XP disc so I'm a bit stuck - I'll try to summarize the steps, but there was definitely some mucking about and reworking on my part as well once things departed the normal path :huh: (apologies for length of post in advance, a lot of this i'm trying to recall over the many attempts in the last week or so)...

The PC came with Vista Home Premium (64bit). I followed the steps to shrink the volume (had to do this from the Vista disk manager gui, as the console diskpart running from Vista DVD said something like access denied, which i spotted on a forum somewhere as 'can happen' and not to be alarmed) - then went through the XP Pro (no SP) install process into the new partition.

On first reboot after XP install, my first muck up - i had stepped away from the install and missed the fact the pc had re-booted and ran the Xp disc install again (had bios setup to boot from cd), I assumed something went wrong and tried to reinstall again.

It saw only 1 partition, and I believe 'now' that this was in fact the vista partition - at the time however (to be safe) i quick formated that partition and reinstalled XP. On reboot, of course only Xp now existed and a 2nd partition, no Vista in sight. XP worked fine at this point however.

Realized the mistake above, and followed the adding vista dual boot to an existing xp system. This went through normally and it added XP to the boot menu. XP booted & Vista booted, yay!

Vista was the 2nd OS i checked after the dual boot option appeared, and after completing the setup it then kicked off a 200+Mb series of updates, after which i finally installed EasyBCD and tweaked the XP entry.

After this Vista loaded fine, but XP now gave the BSD (issue with the vista updates??)

I then spent a few hours over the next couple days trying different things - changing the XP 'drive' that EasyBCD pointed to, making sure the 3 Xp boot files were in both partitions just in case, playing with the diskpart in both vista and XP - ultimately making another set of mistakes.

While playing with diskpart I began messing with bootcfg, and I forget the other 2 cmds (sorry, at work right now) but one was playing with the mbr and the other was similar - this ended up giving me invalid partition table errors for a while which neither XP nor Vista repair could fix. Ultimately, I finally found a new partition on a hidden X drive, killed that, reclaimed back that space and things were back to above (where I currently stand today) - Vista boots fine, XP bsd's.

The main frustration is it feels 'close' :| - but the fact the XP repair console or install only recognizes the Vista partition means I can't get over this hurdle [btw, the only reason I know its the vista partition is the size of the 2 partitions is quite different - roughly 300Gb XP to 100Gb Vista].

Sorry for the long winded recount, I hope that helps/answers your questions.

Things I'm trying to noodle around is whether the fact the XP partition is partition 1 and sits 'ahead' of the Vista one - is that an issue? Is the Vista 64 NTFS radically different from XP Pro (32bit) and that's why XP can't see that partition (if made by Vista)? Do Vista updates nuke the XP partition (because it is on partition 1)?

My current thinking is to use vista's diskpart to scrap everything, reinstall Xp from scratch, then vista (as going in this direction seemed easier) - but in light of the above questions will this always mess up whenever i do updates? Should i try the other way again (vista then xp) paying attention to the xp reboot this time?

Thanks again in advance for your response!

Edit: Hmm, just thinking of something else - the PC is running off of SATA drives. My XP Pro disc (without SP's) seems to go ahead and install but does not have SATA drivers as far as I know - would that limit the partitions it can see?
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The point between
"XP booted & Vista booted, yay!" and
"After this Vista loaded fine, but XP now gave the BSD " was
"I finally installed EasyBCD and tweaked the XP entry."
What exactly did you tweak ? The WUD of Vista won't have affected the XP system, though if that 200Mb update included SP1 as I assume it did, then Vista's boot was certainly updated at that time. I have practical experience of that fact since it reverted my HnS pseudo-bootmgr to vanilla Vista.
The order of your partitions should make no difference.
I have Vista x64 and XP x86, so there's certainly no problem with them co-existing, though you know that already from what I quote in the 2nd line.
Can you copy/paste the o/p from your EasyBCD settings page (debug mode), and attach the Vista disk management display in your next post. (Snipping Tool then "Go Advanced" and the paperclip icon to upload screenshots)
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The point between
"XP booted & Vista booted, yay!" and
"After this Vista loaded fine, but XP now gave the BSD " was
"I finally installed EasyBCD and tweaked the XP entry."
What exactly did you tweak ?

I believe just the drive it was pointing to, although I also understand that alone shouldn't have made XP stop working, but I can't think of anything else beyond completing the vista setup (first login) and updates.

After that however (once I got the bsd), I pretty much tried changing every single option in EasyBCD - different drive, adding/removing entry, etc plus copying the 3x XP loader files to both partitions.

Can you copy/paste the o/p from your EasyBCD settings page (debug mode), and attach the Vista disk management display in your next post. (Snipping Tool then "Go Advanced" and the paperclip icon to upload screenshots)

Hopefully the uploads work, I managed to nab a few pics as well for the XP repair screens...

EasyBCD-Debugmode txt:
View attachment easybcd-debugmode.txt

Vista Disk Management view (XP - partition 1, Drive D [343Gb]), (Vista - partition 2, Drive C [122Gb]):
Vista disk management.JPG

Drives C & D on Vista (note sizes again, also XP CD in drive):
drive C D.JPG

Drive C Root (Vista, with 3x XP boot files copied in from drive D):
drive C root.JPG

Drive D Root (XP, with 3x XP boot files present):
drive D root.JPG

Boot.ini after copy to C drive from D drive (added txt extension to upload):
View attachment boot.ini.txt

Boot.ini attempt at opening in D drive fails:
boot ini on D.JPG

Diskpart view in Vista (opened via cmd shell in vista - P1 XP, P2 Vista):
diskpart vista.JPG

Photo - Boot Manager on startup (apologies for flash on screen):
boot manager.jpg

Photo - Partitions visible to XP repair (apologies for flash on screen):
XP partition visible.JPG

Let me know if I can provide anything else that will help - and thanks again for sticking with this, really appreciate it!
From the info you've provided, I think that XP probably is finding the correct system to repair.
The screen photo shows C:\ at a size of 128Gb which is bigger than your Vista partition, and is probably less than the full size of your XP partition because the XP is a bit aged and not seeing large partitions at that early stage.
Verify it by giving your disks some meaningful labels.
Disk letters are assigned by the booted OS, they're not physically part of the disk. OS in this context also includes a booted installation CD, so you can't put any faith in the C: for identification.
From Vista, give your partitions some proper labels. (from explorer right click the drive, select rename, and give your drives some physical labels like "XP System" )
Then try booting the XP disk again and see if the system it's picked out is C: (XP system) instead of C: (unknown).
If so, you can go ahead and repair install to that partition with complete confidence, then boot the Vista DVD to repair the boot.
Found the problem!

Hi Terry - I'm an idiot! :??

I was ripping out my hair trying to figure out why the above wasn't working (not even XP repair) and then I realized I never did the XP SP upgrades!

The first time into Vista after adding on XP, in addition to setting EasyBCD I had shrunk the Vista partition and extended the XP partition - past the 128Gb limit that vanilla XP can read! That's why the diskpart was only reading that much, and why XP bsd on startup when everything appeared ok.

Went into Vista, shrunk the XP part back to 100Gb, everything worked fine (got into XP), did my SP updates, rebooted into Vista extended the XP part beyond 128Gb and all is good!

Thanks again for all your patience and helpful advice on this one!
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