dual booting xp and vista on 2 hard drives. Xp not booting


Hello all, first off. I would like to say that I have enjoyed all the information everyone has provided here for the community to read. I have learned quite a lot about booting vista and xp and the different issues that can arise, etc etc. However, I have not been able to find my particular and specific problem(and I have looked extensively with no luck so far).

Well, let me describe what is going on see what everyone thinks. I am running xp pro x32 with sp2 on 1 partition of 1 hard drive, and I then installed vista ultimate x64 on an entirely different drive with another partition. Now, the issue I am having is when I boot into vista, I load up EasyBCD and attempt to add in the specifics for xp. I do it just fine. From here, I have attempted to understand by reading forum posts on this site, that I need to point the "boot.ini", "NTDETECT.COM", "ntldr" files into the active partition where vista would try and access the data via easybcd in regards to actually booting vista from the vista bootloader. So that tells me that I need to put those 3 files in the root folder of the vista partition. (In vista it would be drive c: by default of vista. So I place those 3 files in the root directory of vista.--I assume this is correct. I'm not sure and its a bit sketchy, so someone correct me if I'm wrong). And from here I am understanding that the vista bootloader is not necessarily looking for the partition that xp is actually on, but just the active drive. (which, again, I assume is the vista drive--drive C). I will have a few .jpgs attached to this to illustrate a few of the things I am doing in hopes that someone can point me in the right direction, or tell me that everything is in place and set up as per proper design.

From here, I have easybcd set up and I assume I am ready to just shut down and reboot and wait for the bootloader to kick in. It does, and everything seems to be working fine. (mind you I have set my bios to boot from the vista drive/partition at this point and not the default xp drive/partition) I can choose vista and it loads into vista just fine. I restart and do it all over again. This time I attempt to select xp..it acts like it loads and then the computer just reboots back to post and takes me back into the bootloader. Again, I can load vista just fine but xp just returns me to post. This is where I'm confused and quite frankly, stuck. I am stumped as to what I'm doing wrong. Perhaps the attached pictures can help explain where I'm messing up.

Thanks for your time and patience in reading through this book of a post.

--For this one, I went ahead and just linked directly to the picture. It wasnt showing up clear enough. But basically, thats vista showing the disk management for anyone having questions as to what hdds are what. In xp, vista and the "windows/programs files" drive letters are switched up a bit. So in xp, vista = h and xp = D and my games folder = c. While vista is setup is shown in the picture.


--In this picture, I am showing that I have put the xp boot, ntdetect, and ntlder files on the vista root folder (I assume this is what it means by "active" partition?)


--And here is Easybcd showing the 2 entries in the bootloader as to how I understand they must be set up. Vista boots from c, and xp will boot from c, through the 3 files I placed on the root directory. (again--im not sure if this is correct)


also, for reference...is here a copy of my current xp boot.ini text if it will help at all:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
Hi Binto, welcome to NST
The "disk management" you've seen mentioned is accessed through Administative Tools/Computer Management/Disk Management.
That will tell you which partition is "active" on each drive, and the one in control will be the one on whichever HDD comes first in your BIOS boot sequence.
Assuming that it's Vista, which the BCD is indicating, you're correct in copying the XP boot files to C:\, but your boot.ini is wrong.
You've changed the partition number to 2, but left the rdisk at 0 (0 will be the booted drive - ie Vista, so it won't find XP's windows folder on there)
If you just have 2 HDDs, then change rdisk to (1) and put partition back to (1) (if XP is the first partition on the disk)

To explain how dual booting works, try reading
which has some illustrations which can make things a bit clearer.


Sorry - Ignore my previous post, didn't spot the embedded link to disk mgmt.
If that's XP on d:\ then rdisk(2) partition(1) should sort you out.
If H:\ is XP, then it will be rdisk(3) partition(2) (probably - because it's inside an extended partition)

Change the c:\boot.ini on the Vista drive - not the one on the XP drive
Last edited:
Sorry - Ignore my previous post, didn't spot the embedded link to disk mgmt.
If that's XP on d:\ then rdisk(2) partition(1) should sort you out.
If H:\ is XP, then it will be rdisk(3) partition(2) (probably - because it's inside an extended partition)

Change the c:\boot.ini on the Vista drive - not the one on the XP drive

Hey, Terry60. Thanks for the quick reply and the suggestions. I went ahead and did what you told me and changed the vista c drive boot.ini to read as you put it. Given that my partition that holds windows on it is infact the "h" drive. It still is doing the same thing. I'll load up the bootmanager, can load vista just fine but try and select xp and it just restarts and begins posting again. I've tried a few different combination of numbers with the rdisk and partition and still no dice. I really wish I knew what that whole line of string means. The multi, the disk and rdisk mainly. I think I have grasped the concept that rdisk equals actual physical hard drive that is first in order? Say I have 4 sata drives hooked up sata one = rdisk(0) and sata 2 = rdisk(1), etc etc. Is that about right? IF that is indeed correct and I am understanding correctly, then when i go to startup and recovery and click edit the boot file i have this:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="XP Pro x32" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

Now, if I have used the knowledge I have gained as to the insight of how rdisk works, this reads as xp is booting from the first physical boot disk, off partition2. The partition 2 part is right...but according to my current setup, the actual hard drive that xp is booting from is on sata 4 (rdisk3??).

Either way, I'm still stumped as to how to get xp to boot from the vista boot loader. Anyone have any more insight to share with me? Let me know if you need any more information about my setup. I'll get what I can.

It's difficult to be definitive about the right rdisk/partition combination because windows doesn't even get it right. Disk management on my system reports my backup HDD as disk 0 though I'm actually booted from what it calls disk 1. Windows gets its knickers in a twist when there's a combination of IDE and SATA disks, and I think it can even number partitions in a different order than they appear physically on the disk, if they were formatted in a different order.
Also a logical disk inside an extended partition will be one number higher than you might think because the extended has a number even though it has no data.
The numbers I gave before were my best guesses for whichever partition your XP turned out to be,( D:\or H:\) but if they didn't work, just keep working through the combinations of rdisk and partition till you hit the jackpot.
You won't do any harm by getting it wrong, and it's probably the quickest, (if least intellectually satisfying) way to find the right combo.

The boot.ini parameters are described in the wiki
Last edited:
Basically, though, I will not mess with "multi" or "disk" options? Just "rdisk" and "partition"?

Has anyone else ever had this issue that is noticed in a post somewhere on this forum?
Yes just rdisk and partition.
This crops up all the time, but everyone's system is unique, so there's no magic "set it to x y" solution, just identify the correct position of the XP system and tell boot.ini where it is.
Unfortunately, we've discovered from experience that getting a dsk mgmt screenshot and counting down and across isn't sufficient.
For a start (you for example) not everyone labels their partitions with a description of the contents like "XP system", and windows,as previously mentioned, counts things differently to the BIOS.
What we need is a nice little utility that looks at the layout, and shows a dsk-mgmt-type display with all the disks and partitions correctly numbered with their windows and linux (they count differently) ids.
(note to Guru for "Ideas and wishlists")
I've been through every rdisk combo from 0-3 and used partition 1 and 2 with every possible combination that includes the rdisk. I still have got the same reposting after trying to boot to xp. You mentioned in a previous post that having that logical partition being my xp boot partition could cause the partition count to go up due to the fact that the extended partition adding an extra number in there. Do I need to consider using 3 as part of the number sequence for "partition"? I mean, at this point I can't seem to find how I'm taking such a simple task as this trial and error method and still not getting any results. Unless something else isn't set up quite right...and if that is the case, I am completely clueless as to what it could be.
Yes, there are 3 partitions on disk 3, and H is either going to be 2 or 3, depending on whether it's counting the active partition as 1, or the extended.
So you should be trying partitions 2 and 3 rather than 1 and 2, and since 2 hasn't worked, I'm guessing that rdisk(3) partition (3) is going to be the combo, though I wouldn't bet my life on the rdisk, so try them all with partition 3 if 3/3 doesn't do it.