Dual Boot with Separate Hard Drives.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Sorry, I meant "snipping tool" (Start/All programs/Accessories). Just run it, drag a box round what you want to capture, and save it as JPG.
The BCD will give you a dual boot choice between Vista and XP, and when you choose XP, it will chain to NTLDR, which reads boot.ini. If boot.ini only contains 1 choice (or has timeout(0)), then you'll see no visible trace of the XP boot process; you'll just arrive in XP. Your previous error in boot.ini will have forced NTLDR to present you with its own boot menu after Vista's.

Thanks Terry , my Disc Management, doesn't look very legible. I still need some help , and thanks to wipcguy also.
Disc management suggests to me that it should be rdisk(0) in the last line because that's where XP is located. Am I right?
ADDITIONAL INFO. I tried this but it didn't work. I got the same error message. What now?


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Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Despite what disk management says (it always puts IDE before SATA), your booted disk is rdisk(0) so stick with rdisk(1) in C:\boot.ini. However, because the extended partition on your XP disk has a partition number too, the logical disk inside it, containing XP is probably numbered partition(3)
Terry, do you mean that rdisk should be 0 in the default line and 1 in the last line? In desperation, I tried various combinations of these settings with partition 1,2 and 3 in the last line. Same error message.
Can you be more specific as to what I should now try in the boot.ini of my Oct. 6th post. Sorry.

(To check the second XP hard drive again, I returned it to the old PC (where it is itself the 2nd OS with Win 98), and it boots ok. I also looked at its disc manager, which tells me it's "Healthy Boot NTFS" where XP is located).


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
The default line should always be identical to one of the options in the main body of boot.ini.
If there is only one option, then it should be identical to that.
I would guess that rdisk(1) partition(3) is most likely, but unfortunately, the order of display in disk mgmt is not a guarantee of the order of either rdisk or partition numbering. It depends on the order you created the partitions in too.
Don't boot with different values in the 2 lines, you'll just get into more confusion.
Each time you try a different value for the XP rdisk/part path, make the changes identical in both lines.
It's even possible that the system will have reserved partition numbers 1-3 for primaries, and that your extended is 4 and the logical disk containing XP is 5
So your best course of action is to work through rdisk(1) partition(1 to 5), and if none of those work rdisk(0) with partitions 1 through 5 until you hit the jackpot.
Thanks for that. I have now tried all combinations of partition set 1 to 5, with rdisk set at 0 ,1 and then 3, with the default line always identical to the last line. The same error message in each case, "missing or corrupt ntoskrnl.exe".
Can I be certain of mutli and disk set at 0, as the ARC article suggests?
The boot.ini file is in the root C:\ directory, but it's as if it's not the one doing the boot process, (the timeout of 40secs in boot.ini is ignored, as you said).
Sorry I haven't cracked it yet.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
That "missing or corrupt...." message is generally (when dual booting) because you're looking in the wrong place (hence, correct where boot.ini is looking for it)
However, It's always possible that it is actually corrupt or missing.
Have you verified that the install of XP completed properly. Is the module there on XP ?


Sorry, just reread one of your earlier posts, where you said the HDD boots OK in your old system, so we're back to still not pointing to the right place.
Since you've tried all permutations of rdisk(0,1,3) with partition (1,2,3,4,5), complete the set using rdisk(2) to make sure that you've covered all the bases.
(since the error is always exactly the same, no matter what you change in boot.ini, I'm wondering whether you're changing the right one . Are you positive you're editing the one in the root of the "system" "active" partition on the first HDD in the BIOS sequence ?)
Can you copy/paste it into your post (not hand type it) so we can check its syntax.
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Just a correction. I did try rdisk 0, 1,2 and 3 with partition 1 to 5, in turn.

This is a Paste from C:\ boot.ini. I assume that Vista is in the C , System, Boot partition ( see disk manager), because this is where I can see it. Could it be in the "shaded" partition, instead ?

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


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Have a look at the boot.ini section of the wiki, and rewrite yours to conform to the syntax.
(note square brackets, no "secs", and space before /fastdetect)
It's possible yours is being ignored for being syntactically incorrect, and the NTLDR hardcoded version is taking precedence, hence no effect when you edit.
Terry, you are absolutely right, the boot.ini syntax is important, I now get different (error) messages. This a Paste of my boot.ini:-
[boot loader]
(operating systems)
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Windows XP professional" /fastdetect

I have again gone through all the combinations of rdisk(0,1,2and 3) and partition(1,2,3,4 and5), keeping both lines the same.
I now get a further choice screen after the first menu screen, with two choices of Windows (default). Selecting one or the other of these, I get the following error messages:-
"Missing windows root>\system32\ntkrnl.exe. Please reinstall copy of above file".
This is with rdisk 0, partition 1; rdisk 1, partition 1; rdisk 2 partition 2.

"Computer disc hardware config problem, could not read from selected boot, check boot path...."
This is with rdisk 0, partition 3, 4 and 5; rdisk 1, partition 2, 3, 4, 5; rdisk 2, partition 3, 4, ,5; rdisk 3, partition 1,2,3,4,5.

(Rdisk 0, partition 2, gives a blank screen, requiring a reboot; rdisk 2, partition 1, gives an error screen saying reboot or restore).

I have particularly elaborated on the results as I cannot be certain what the next step is. If it's a hardrive fault, why does that message appear with several settings? What do you think? my earlier post tells how I have connected the XP drive, set as master on its own ide cable..


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
You've still got (operating systems) instead of [operating systems]
You won't see a second menu if the syntax is correct, it only displays when there's a choice to make. (multiple XPs)
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Sorry, daft mistake.
It's now:-
[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Windows XP professional" /fastdetect
Hope it's ok.
I have tried most of the combinations of rdisk and partition, especially all the rdisk 1 combo's and those which gave different errors. I get the same error messages (but without the second choice screen, as you said would happen).
Do you think that it could be the xp hdd at fault, which if it were so, would give the error "could not read from the selected boot.......", even though the right path was selected in boot.ini? You recall that the XP hdd boots in the old pc ok and there was no boot.ini file there. Does it need it? What files need to be in the xp hddrive to boot in the new configuration that it does not need for the old pc? Lastly, the xp drive appears in the bios and I have also tried connecting it as a slave with the dvd ide cable in the PC.
This must be a labour of love, what a long haul.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
There would have been a boot.ini on your other system, but if XP was the later system installed after W98, it would have installed the boot files in the active partition (W98) in the same way as Vista does if you install it after XP, i.e. it would have supplanted the W98 bootloader with its own , and put a legacy entry in boot.ini for W98. That would be why there was no boot.ini in the XP partition, but you should still be able to find it on the other disk.
If you look in the XP troubleshooter it appears that rdisk(0) partition(2) or rdisk(2) partition(1), should be XP, but it's broken. But r0 p2 should be your Vista or recovery partitions on your main disk and r2 shouldn't exist because you've only got 2 disks.
It does make me think though. If this is an XP system which you installed on an old PC and then just moved to this PC, as opposed to an XP system which you installed on this PC, it's not going to work anyway.
Did you have SATA disks on the old PC ? If not, it's not going to have the necessary drivers for that, and the graphics drivers for your old card will presumably not work on your new system either, in addition to any number of addressing problems in the registry thrown up by a completely different hardware configuration.
I think your best course of action, is a fresh install of XP on the new PC, and take the trouble as you do it, to make the XP partition primary. It causes a lot fewer problems, and will allow you to use HnS to protect Vista from XP (HnS doesn't cater for "logical" XPs)
Terry, thanks.
You are right, XP was installed after W98 in the old pc. I can't recall how I did it, but I get the same menu screen to choose, which defaults to XP after the timeout. There is no SATA drive on the old pc, only ATA. I have simply removed the XP drive from the old pc to the new.
It has been my intention all along to have my XP hdd separate from Vista, to avoid any partitioning of the vista drive, and to be able to disconnect the XP drive at will to avoid it firing up every time I switched on.
You suggest there is no way round this. I can do this, but I presume that I will I be able to access all the XP files on the drive, ignoring the old version of XP. I'm not clear on this. I have to buy a new copy of XP Pro, (I have no disks at present). I have seen an OEM version on CD/R with product key, etc.
What about installing a new version of XP Pro on the XP drive, by connecting it to my Vista pc, and booting up at switch on to a new XP CD boot disk. Would that work. Would I lose all the files in the XP drive?
Many thanks.



Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
You can access all the files on your XP partition even though it won't boot, so you should have no problem saving your personal data.
An OEM version of XP, if it's second hand, will be no use to you. The OEM license is for one PC only. The moment you validate it with that key, it can never be revalidated on different hardware. If it's brand-new unopened, it'll be identical to a full retail version, but you'll never be able to transport it to a future newer system.
If you acquire a genuine copy of XP, and you want to install it on your second HDD, it will overwrite everything if you do a clean install, but should retain all your settings and third party apps if you do a repair install.
If you install it with the Vista HDD connected, it will overwrite the Vista boot (it's not forwards compatible - knows nothing of Vista), and you'll need to follow the XP install with a boot of the Vista DVD, and two or three iterations of "repair my computer" / "repair startup", to put the Vista bootmgr back in control (don't worry, it does no other damage to Vista, although it will "reset" Vista's restore points every time you boot XP (it thinks their different format is "corruption"))
Look at the HnS thread for how to protect Vista from XP in the future.
OK, looks like I need to buy a full version of XP, I was just trying to save some cash. The idea of dual booting for me was that if it could be done, then I want to do it. Although I can access all my files on the XP drive, I had some difficulty looking at old emails, even now I don't know where there stored. However, some more questions:-
1. Must it be XP Pro, as is already on the Hdd, or can it be XP Home, which of course is cheaper. My guess is that if it's a clean install, it won't matter, but if it's a repair install, it won't work. Am I right?
2. Why would I want to do a "repair" install anyway, to the original XP OS, if I buy a new full version? (I don't have any of the original XP boot discs, and I don't know its origin, so I would want to get rid of it completely).
3. I don't have any Vista DVDs, either, as Vista was preloaded, I only have the Recovery and Backup discs I made, as recommended. So I couldn't install XP with Vista connected, followed by your "boot of the Vista DVD to repair your computer....."
4. You say use of HnS can protect Vista from XP " in the future." Is HnS applied after the XP install?
Finally, can I mention Xp sources/pricing on this post, or only on a PM?
Thanks for your patience.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
The "repair install" can be useful if you've spent years customizing your OS with other apps. It'll save time in reinstalling everything else from scratch. If you've got the time and the inclination, a clean install is better though. Start out with the system nice and tidy, and abandon all those free apps you put on, which you subsequently never used, and just reinstall the really useful stuff you use every day.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with buying an OEM OS. My Vista is an OEM version I bought when I built this machine. It was less than 1/3 of the cost of a full retail key. Technically speaking though, it's for system builders, so you shouldn't be able to buy a copy unless you're also purchasing significant hardware ( e.g. mobo, CPU) and it comes with no MS support. As the OEM system builder, you undertake to provide the system support to the end user.
It means I can't transfer it to new hardware in the future, but I expect by the time I upgrade again Windows 7 will probably be the OS of choice. (There's also the option of paying to upgrade the key in the future should it be necessary or desirable).
I don't think there should be any problem downgrading from Pro to Home even with a repair. Setup should know what to remove/disable. (though I've never done it so will stand correction)
If you want to access your old emails, do what I did and let Vista Mail import them.
Point it at the the XP drive Docs & Settings/Username/Local Settings/Application Data/Identities/Microsoft/Outlook Express folder.
You can download a Vista recovery DVD from this site which will enable you to fix the Vista boot
Yes you run HnS after you've installed all your OSs (otherwise it's pretty difficult to tell HnS where they are and to modify their boots !) But you can actually use the HnS run to set up the dual boot for you straight from the vanilla Vista boot, without needing to get the XP boot sorted first. HnS will do that bit for you.
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