Multi Boot with two XP installations


I have 3 partitions as follows:
C: - Vista partition
D: - non system partition
E: - XP partition

After making an image of drive E - I have restored it into drive D so now i have two XP partitions (D and E).

Using EasyBCD I added another boot entry for drive D - pointing to drive D so now i have the following 3 entries
1. XP on E
2. Vista
3. XP on D

when I restart the machine and choosing to boot from drive D - I still seems to load from drive E. Two indications for that:
1. My documents - are still on E partition
2. Checking the Computer Management -> Disk Management shows that the boot partition is still E

The two "old" boot entries still works fine

What is the problem?


Hi jamussi, welcome to NST.
Vista BCD chains to a copy of NTLDR which it keeps with its own boot files (not with XP).
That NTLDR (and the copy of boot.ini which it reads to locate XP) are what you use to locate multiple XPs.
You do not add another XP entry to the BCD ! That will still chain to the identical copy of NTLDR in both cases, hence you'll always get the same XP.

Get EasyBCD 2.0 latest build.
Delete the 2 XP entries (add/remove)
Add a new XP entry, accepting the offer to auto-configure boot.ini for you.

When you reboot, choosing "XP" from the Vista menu will take you to the XP menu where you will be offered the choice between your 2 systems. This 2nd menu was always there, you just didn't see it before because it doesn't bother displaying when there's no choice to be made.

If you want to change the names of the XP systems displayed use EasyBCD/Tools/Edit Legacy Entries.

You are stuck with the 2 level boot when you want to boot multiple XPs through Vista's BCD (that's just the way it's designed). If you want a single boot menu with all 3 choices you'll need to use another boot manager, not Vista's.
Hi Terry,

Thanks for your quick response.
Can you elaborate a bit what you wrote at the end:

Hi jamussi, welcome to NST.
You are stuck with the 2 level boot when you want to boot multiple XPs through Vista's BCD (that's just the way it's designed). If you want a single boot menu with all 3 choices you'll need to use another boot manager, not Vista's.

I am not sure i understand - does it mean that EasyBCD is not the tool for that? Does it mean something else?


EasyBCD is a tool for manipulating the Vista BCD which is a part of the larger Vista bootloader. What Terry was saying is, with Vista's bootloader controlling the boot, you'll always see that second menu when multibooting with multiple XPs.
If you don't like that affect, you will need to use a 3rd party boot manager, which can set the "active" flag to any partition on the disk and chainload to a bootloader on it. In this way, it is possible (with a 3rd party boot manager) to standalone boot every single OS on your computer, with each system having its own boot files on its own partition, and so you wont see any second menu (at least not if you have only one entry in the Vista BCD and one entry in each boot.ini file).
As Jake said, EasyBCD is not the boot manager. It's a tool for manipulating the Vista boot manager.
The restriction is part of Vista's design, not EasyBCD.

You can use a free boot manager like Grub4Dos, or buy any number of 3rd party boot managers if you don't like the way that Vista does it, but be prepared each time you install major Windows Updates (like SP1 and SP2) for Vista to overwrite your 3rd party boot process with its own.

If you set up the XP choice in your second menu, so that the default is your most-used copy and the timeout is short (say 5 seconds), then the second menu can be ignored until you want the occasional use of the other XP, at which time you've got 5 seconds to choose it.

It's not a major inconvenience to have 2 menus, compared to the extra effort you'll need to avoid it.

There is one 3rd party boot manager from NST "Vista Hide 'n Seek (HnS)" which is designed to hide Vista from XP (XP destroys Vista restore points if it can see Vista), but it does have the extra benefit that it will boot multi-XPs from the first menu (because it's based on Grub4Dos)
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Thanks mates.

All this started for me only because i wanted to verify that creating and loading the image is successful without being afraid that i will "destroy" what i have on my original XP partition. So i understand that the fact i am not able to load the newly created XP partition does not related to this process - and for me this is enough.
However I still have two question :

1. I encountered EasyBCD - only when i wanted to go back from the shitty Vista ...back than - i got the impression that this tool was written before Vista was introduced.
But as you guys say that its purpose is to manipulate the Vista boot loader - I understand I was wrong. right?

Saying that - what if i want to install Linux and XP only (without Vista) - do i still need EasyBCD or another boot?

2. I didnt realize that when i'm booting into XP the Vista restore points are lost. Is it true alos in the other direction?

Yes EasyBCD is for the BCD which came in with Longhorn (Vista).
The BCD can be made to multi-boot systems without Vista present, but you obviously need to own a copy of Vista in the first place to have a copy of the software.

Vista doesn't damage XP. It's backward compatible.
XP sees Vista's restore folders (they're a completely new format - but stupidly use the same name), assumes they're corrupted and "fixes" them for you.
When Vista next boots it finds them "fixed" by XP (i.e empty and unusable) and has to set them up again.

If you habitually switch between the systems, there will never be any restore points in Vista.

There is a MS registry hack for XP which you should try 1st, but it isn't effective on all configurations.
After you apply it, boot Vista, create a restore point with a unique name you'll recognize, boot XP, boot Vista again and see if the restore point is still there. If so you're fine.
You won't be able to access the Vista partition in Explorer when you're booted into XP.

If you can see Vista, and your restore points still get erased, you can use HnS, described earlier.