Dual Boot with Separate Hard Drives.


INFORMATION PLEASE. Do I need to start a new thread for "Dual Boot" problems when adding a second HDD with XP Pro installed to a Vista PC, without in any way altering or partitioning the existing "C" Vista drive? There is so much info. there it's confusing. I've looked at similar threads.
My problem is that when I choose the XP drive, the message is "Invalid Boot.ini file. Booting from C:\ windows\. NTDETECT failed". I can't find boot.ini. I downloaded the Boot file to the C (Vista), drive as per Easy BCD. When adding Win XP to the Bootloader, the entry#2 is
Name: WIN XP,
BCD ID:{650ee32e............a very long string} ,
Bootloader Path: \NTLDR
EasyBCD did not allow me to change the drive letter to where the new drive is held.. I understand this is correct. The XP Pro HDD worked ok in the old PC, and I can boot into Vista.
Last edited:
Hi donjay, welcome to NST.
You need to copy the 3 XP boot files NTLDR, ntdetect.com, and boot.ini into the Vista root (eg C:\boot.ini) and then you'll need to edit the boot.ini with notepad or wordpad.
The version on XP will have rdisk(0) which was correct when XP was being booted natively (1st disk in the BIOS), but now XP is not the 1st disk so the version on Vista will need to point to the XP disk (probably rdisk(1) depending on your HDD configuration)

Leave the version on the XP disk as it is and in future ,should your Vista disk explode or suffer some other problem, you'll always have the option of booting XP by changing the BIOS order, which can be very useful to help fix your Vista problem.
Last edited:
Terry, Many thanks for your reply. But where is boot.ini file ? Is it hidden? I have looked in the XP drive, I:\ and I:\Windows, but can't see it. What am I doing wrong?
Terry, that's generally why I recommend using EasyBCD's "Edit Legacy Entries" feature because it'll bypass the hidden files & folders problem.
Presumably notepad too will edit a hidden file if you type its full name in the box rather than use the folder tree where it's invisible CG.
If you've been managing without a boot.ini donjay, presumably your XP partition was the 1st one on the 1st disk ? NTLDR contains a rudimentary default hardcoded, but of course you must have the luck to coincidentally match it to get away without needing to create your own file.
Follow Guru's link to create one.
hi guys, i have the same setup, 2 harddrives, one sata (Vista), one IDE (XP)

here's my original xp boot.ini file

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professionnel" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

the way i installed xp was by simply unplugging my sata drive, letting the bios think the ide is the only drive. (this way vista doesnt get messed with, by the xp installer)

My main OS is Vista, thus on drive C: (sata2 , 500gig, 2 primary partitions)
in vista my XP drive is O: (ide, 320gig, 2 primary partitions)

and once booted in XP (from bios), the letters get swaped, boot drive is C:\ (XP) while vista is on O:, my other partitions are set to D: and P: on both OSes

Is there a way for Easybcd to create or edit the boot.ini so that i don't have to use the bios to boot into xp ?
Last edited:
ok thanks, what i got from the wiki was that the multi() stands for the adapter # in my computer, since my motheboard only handles SATA (no IDE connector) , i had to put in an IDE controler card made by the company ITE, so i guess multi(1) would be what i write in the boot.ini

would this work ?

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(1)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

the thing that's confusing in easybcd is that when adding an OS Entry to existing entries, you expect it to do it all for you, wich is reasonable, after all, it should be straightforward to do.

Choosing the drive letter and type of os should be enough for Easybcd to figure out what to write in the bootloader and boot.ini files to make it happen.
Indeed - that's a very valid point, but unfortunately it isn't possible to detect some of the parameters needed to formulate the ARC path.

For instance, yours is a textbook case. There's no way for a program running in protected memory mode to get the multi() value needed - that's something only you as the end user would know.

Anyway, what you're saying above sounds about right; give it a shot and see where it leaves you.
Dual Boot with separate HDD

Terry, Guru. Sorry for the delay. But I now have boot.ini + ntldr + ntdetect in C:\boot files\

(boot loader)
default =multi(0) disk(0)rdisk (0) partition (1) \windows
(operating systems)
multi (0) disk (0) rdisk (0) partition (1) \windows="Windows vista" /fastdetect
multi (0) disk (0) rdisk (1) partition (1) \windows= "windows XP Pro" /fastdetect

I still get the error message" invalid boot.ini file, booting from C:\ windows\ NTDETECT failed.
I have tried rdisk set to (2) and (3).

My set up is Socket LGA 775 motherboard. The first drive is (Vista HDD), SATA Port 1, the second drive is (DVDRAM) as ATA, on a blue ATA connector on the Mboard, set to Master. I have connected the XP Pro HDD on a separate ATA cable, to the white connector on the mboard) This is also set to Master.
In Boot.ini, do you think that the multi, disk and rdisk settings are correct for this setup? I'd be pleased for your help.

One further problem. When I bootup, it seems I have only 20 secs to choose my OS, whereas my boot.ini file timeout is 30 secs.? I've read all the info. on dual booting online but can't figure it out. Many thanks.
The files do not go into the C:\bootfiles folder. They just go into the C:\ drive. They are placed right there in the root of the drive to be accessed upon boot. Placing them in the folder is what is causing you to continue to get this error. Take them out of the folder and place it in the root of the drive. Then see if you continue to get this error.
The files should be in the root (e.g. c:\boot.ini ) not inside a folder.
The timeout which is operative is the one in the BCD (edit it with EasyBCD)
The boot.ini timeout will only operate when a second boot menu is booting multiple NT systems with NTLDR
NTLDR cannot be used to boot Vista.
Vista boots XP via BCD chaining through NTLDR.
Take the Vista line out of your boot.ini - it has absolutely no function in there
Vista will have already booted via the BCD without boot.ini ever being seen if you choose Vista at startup.


Sorry for the duplicate post Mak. I really must learn to read right to the end of the thread before replying !
Last edited:
Dual Boot with XP,Vista, on Separate Hard Drives

Thanks for your help.
1. The 3 files, ntldr,ntdetect and boot.ini, are now in C:\.......
2. I have removed the Vista line from boot.ini, which now reads
(boot loader)
timeout=40 secs
(operating systems)
(multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="widows XP Professional"/fastdetect
(typed this out as I don't know how to import it to this post?)
3. The error message is "missing windows root>\system32\ntkrnl.exe. Please reinstall copy of above file"
4. Can you confirm that multi(0) is correct even though the Vista HDD is SATA and the XP HDD is on one of the two ATA IDE connectors on the motherboard, (see previous post). I've tried various changes to boot.ini but haven't cracked it yet.
Last edited:
The default line should point to the same place as the other line (rdisk(1)), which will stop NTLDR presenting a menu (It only presents a menu when there's a choice. In your case there is only one XP, i.e. no choice, but you're creating an artificial choice with an erroneous entry)

Which choice gives the failure?

You can include text in the quick reply with a simple copy/paste.
Include screenshots by using the clipping tool to create a jpeg on your desktop, then click "go advanced" below the quick reply window, and use the paperclip icon to attach the file to your reply.

Practice by attaching a screenshot of your Vista disk management screen so we can see the layout you're having problems with.
DualBoot with Vista,XP, on separate Hard Drives

1. The choice that gave the failure was XP, Vista is ok. I changed the boot file as below as you suggested, with rdisk(1) in each line. It didn't seem to make any difference, as the error message is the same as before. I don't understand your comment about choice, as I want to choose between Vista (default) and XP.
Boot.ini is now:-
(boot loader)
(operating systems)
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Windows XP professional"/fastdetect
2. I located Disc Management, but having trouble understanding how to use " clipping tool to create a jpeg ". Sorry, Dumbo here needs a tutorial.
3. Disc Management info. is that Disc 1, is the (C:\ drive, where Vista is located, which boots up ok, and that Disc 0 is where XP is located. ( XP is ,I believe, located on the Primary partition of Disc 0)
Sorry I haven't been able to show the screenshot yet.