Make BCD use the XP boot files already on XP partition

I have managed to enable dual booting on my Vista/XP computer but only by manually copying the three files boot.ini, ntldr &, from the root of the XP partition to the root of the Vista partition.

Before I copied I got the XP menu item in the menu at boot time, but it gave various errors about missing or corrupt files if I tried to boot into it.

So not an emergency then, but I would still like to make BCD just 'see' those files on the XP partition instead of only 'seeing' them on the Vista partition.

Any advice? Thanks in advance.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Hi Chrinoc, welcome to NST.
I'm afraid thats a design feature of Windows.
When you multi-boot using a Windows boot manager/loader, the boot files must be in the "active" "system" partition.
Vista's BCD doesn't locate XP, NTLDR does (using boot.ini), but if NTLDR was on the XP partition, you'd be in a catch 22 situation of needing to know where XP is to be able to find XP !
The BCD just uses a simple rule; if you want to chain to another WIndows bootloader, it's got to be here with me, where I can find it.
When you install one Windows system from another (older) system, the newer system will put its boot files on the first system, thus its "keep it with me" rule will automatically be met.
That's why MS advises you to install older before newer.
If you install OSs independently, they're unable to see the other system and put the boot files in the correct place. That's why you have to do a bit of manual copying to make things work.
Have a read of the multiboot article linked from the 1st point of the sticky thread, and you see how it all works.
You can use other bootloaders to chain directly to an independent bootable partition, but Windows isn't designed that way.
Thank you. I used
in Vista and when the XP partition was hidden from Vista, BCD wouldn't even allow me to add an XP entry as it couldn't detect NTLDR etc. When I
the XP partition it then would detect the existence of a NTLDR and allowed me to create the XP entry,

If I could make a suggestion to improve the program it would be to have something say to the user at that point, something along the lines of: 'even though I can detect NTLDR somewhere on your
, you still won't be able to boot into XP unless it and the other following files are in the currently active Vista partition.'

But don't get me wrong, still a great little program.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
If you use EasyBCD 2.0 and accept its offer to auto-configure boot.ini, it prompts you to copy the 2 other files, gives you the names and tells you where to put them. Future builds will do it for you.
If you've got XP hidden though, it would be hard to expect a 3rd party app to find something the OS is unaware of.