Dual boot XP Pro & Vista


Mostly Harmless
Staff member
You cannot run EasyBCD from Linux, but you can try to recover the XP Bootloader with the Vista recovery disc.

bootsect.exe /nt52 all /force
bootrec.exe /fixmbr
I seem to be making some progress with TestDisk adjusting the Boot Partition to the XP drive. Went into XP Recovery Console and the order of the C:\Windows, D:\Windows and F:\Windows were different. When I looked at the "map" the partitions for Vista and XP were in a different order and had different device-name partition numbers (than previously). I was pointing to C:\Windows rather than D:\Windows as previously. I checked I was on the correct drive and that I was pointing at the correct devicename partition before writing fixmbr.

The fixboot command also had to be written to the C: drive (which I could see by its size was the XP partition - and I examined the files on the drive to be certain). This seemed encouraging but on restart did not boot at all - just sat with cursor flashing in top left corner of screen.

Going back to check disk partition structures etc and will redo.
I think I am beginning to see the problem.... Partitions are okay and boot is pointing at correct drive. When I examined the files on XP drive I noticed a few vital ones were missing like IO.SYS and MSDOS.SYS, and then when I looked further there were others like Boot.ini and NTLDR, NTDETECT and \windows\system32\winload.exe.

Further there's some other file remnants on the Vista Drive - file names without any data (filesize is 0). I'll have to go back to the original disk and see if the data on the partitions is correct. No wonder the computer has been unable to boot!!!


Well I have confirmed that this is where the problem lies. At some point files "belonging" to the XP partition have been written into the Vista partition.

What I need to work out is how to get a bare minimum of files into the XP partition (first) in order to do a repair and see if it will boot up. Any thoughts on the procedure to follow?

Well actually I think I am beginning to see how you do the 'smoke n mirrors' stuff with EasyBCD I just re-read http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Windows+XP and see that 'the NTLDR is stored in the root partition of the FAT16, FAT32, or NTFS partition set as active and primary. This 16-bit program calls up several other files that need to be in the same root directory that carry different tasks to get your system up and running.' - which explains why they're sitting in the Vista partition!!!!!
When I ask EasyBCD to make Vista load, it presumably just switches off the redirect to the XP load (which is still on the C: (Vista) drive). When you want to load XP it still starts on the (active partition) Vista drive but then gets instruction about where all the system files (for XP) are (presumably from Boot.ini) and is told what drive XP is installed on (the system drive D:\?). If this is the case, the active partition never changes (it's always the C: drive - whereas I thought it was changing the active partition to the D: drive when you need XP to boot) once it begins the boot process it either uses the XP process or by-passes it and "defaults" to the Vista process.

In a simplistic way is this how it works? If so should I use the Vista Restore to re-build my XP boot or use the XP Recovery Console and presumably I'll have to do more than just FixMBR, FixBoot and rebuild the BootCFG files as there are probably other files required in the root directory (and other directories) that need to be installed onto the D: (XP) drive?

Please advise urgently.
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xp bootcfg/rebuild

Rebuild Windows XP bootcfg as follows:
  1. Insert the Microsoft Windows XP CD (real XP Disk) into the computer. Note: If you have a system recovery CD or restore CD these steps will likely not work for your computer.
  2. Reboot the computer with the CD and press any key when prompted to press any key to boot from the CD. you may have to go into the BIOS to boot from CD...
  3. Once in the Microsoft Setup menu press R to open the recovery console.
  4. Select the operating system you wish to use; if you only have Windows XP on the computer you will only have one prompt. Since you are dual booting, C is Vista, D would most likely be XP. All entires will show as Windows (not Vista, or XP, etc.)
  5. Once prompted for the password enter the Admin password and press enter.
  6. Once at the command prompt type bootcfg /rebuild to start the rebuild process.
  7. * Prompt for the identified versions of Windows installed. When you receive this prompt press Y if the bootcfg command properly identified each of the Windows operating systems installed on the computer. It is important to realize this command will only detect Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows NT installations.
  8. * Prompt to enter the load identifier. This is the name of the operating system for the boot.ini. For example, Microsoft Windows XP Home users would enter "Microsoft Windows XP Home edition" or whatever you want to use...
  9. * Prompt to Enter OS load options. When this prompt is received type /fastdetect to automatically detect the available options.
  10. Once you have completed all the available options in the rebuild and are back at the prompt type exit to reboot the computer.
if you get into XP, then check the hard drive (schedule chkdsk on next start up)

post back how you are doing...

Thanks Jat.. Happy with what you have suggested up to point 6 (Bootcfg /rebuild). I've tried this before - it looks around on the drives for Windows installations (presumably others as well) - but it only found the one listed on Boot.ini (I think). Boot.ini was pointing to the F:\drive. I will have a go but don't hold much chance of the rebuild.



Telephone Sanitizer (2nd Class)
Staff member
You're right AJ. All the boot files for both XP and Vista must be in the root of the "system active" partition, regardless of which one that is (for me it's XP - for you Vista).
It's not EasyBCD that does the smoke and mirrors though, it's just the editor which makes it easy to manipulate the Vista BCD.
When you boot, the Vista bootloader either directly loads Vista or, if you select XP, passes control to NTLDR (the XP legacy bootloader) which looks at boot.ini (another XP only file) to find out where the XP system is located.
That's why all the boot files must be together in the one place. Until control has been handed on to NTLDR, Vista has no way of locating XP itself.
So Terry is it going to be better to manually replace the files on the D:\ (XP) drive or to use either Vista Restore to re-build the (D:\) XP boot, or use the XP Recovery Console in which case I'll have to do more than just FixMBR, FixBoot and rebuild the BootCFG files as there are probably other files required in the root directory (and other directories) that need to be installed onto the D: (XP) drive?

As mentioned above to jat, the bootcfg /rebuild will not work (and I know what boot.ini should look like anyway - which is not what it looks like currently on the C:\ drive - it's pointing to the F:\drive). I think I need just a straight boot from the D:\ drive with the D:\ drive set as the active, system, partition.

Actually I've just noticed some comments from 'Computer Guru', back on May 21st, that I'd better do some research on..
bootsect.exe /nt52 all /force
bootrec.exe /fixmbr
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You're not going to believe where I am making this post from? Got XP back!!!! I followed the last thread.

There are some problems there - the Vista Recovery disk (ISO I loaded down from this site, when I didn't need to because I had the HP Vista Recovery DVDs) does not have Bootsect.exe on it (neither do the HP DVDs), but I tracked a version down. Also Boot.ini did not want to be replaced on my active, system partition (in my case C:\) and I'm putting that down to its attributes (S,H). In the end I changed (attrib -s -h) and renamed it and copied the correctly created version that (mysteriously) turned up on the D:\ drive (points to the correct 'partition(2)'). Rebooted and here we are!!!

At least I will be able to sort a whole lot of stuff out (i.e. work) now, and then I'll come back and work out why Vista won't boot..... Thanks to you all for your help and hanging in there.
Also a big thanks to Christophe Grenier and his wonderful program TestDisk (not for the faint hearted) - without that I wouldn't have been able to re-align my partitions and get anything back.


Telephone Sanitizer (2nd Class)
Staff member
Glad you're back on the road to recovery AJ. Sorry not to have answered your earlier post, we've been having a bit of an electricity supply problem since 24 hours ago.
Voltage varying between 180 - 250, lights flickering, multiple short outages. Kept the PC powered off till the linemen came an hour ago and discovered a supply fuse on our transformer pole outside was practically burned away from shorting out in the rain and wind.
They were amazed we've not had constant problems, though in hindsight it probably explains the nuisance trips we've been experiencing all winter, which always happened in the middle of the night and didn't therefore affect the PC.
Back now, hopefully with a nice clean supply.