Need help recovering from Vista install


Hello, I had read some other postings here with similar (but not quite the same) situation that I am having and was hoping someone could help me out.

First, a little set up of my system: I have an internal HD with two partitions. The first partition (10GB) is my WinXP boot partition. The second partition (~360GB) is where all my apps and other data are stored. I also have a 400GB eSATA HD that I use for backups.

Okay, here's my problem: I decided to give Vista a trial run before replacing XP as my main OS, so I formatted my external HD to prepare to put Vista on it. This way if there was a problem or I didn't feel like Vista was "ready for prime time" I would just go back to using XP. In my BIOS I switched the boot order of the drives so that the external drive would be the boot drive. I restarted the PC with the Vista DVD in the drive and installed Vista on the external drive. After Vista was finished installing and it restarted the PC it wouldn't boot. Thinking this was odd I switched the drives' boot order in the BIOS again and much to my surprise Vista began booting. I started sweating bullets here because I thought that Vista had overwritten my internal XP partition instead of installing on the external drive. After Vista booted I realized that it DID install to the right drive, however, all the files on my XP partition are gone and the only thing left on the drive is a "BOOTSECT.BAK" file. Apparently the Vista installer decided to trash the MBR of my XP partition.

So my question is, can I get my XP partition back or have I lost everything? I was hoping this BOOTSECT.BAK was a backup of the MBR for my XP partition, but I'm not having much hope - especially after googling for similar issues.

Thanks in advance for any help.

That is totally screwed up... Apparently, in rewriting your MBR, it also lost your data. Good 'ole Vista... I hope you have a backup somewhere.

If you don't have a backup - *DONT WRITE ANYTHING TO THE DRIVE!!!!*

Go download EasyRecovery, PhotoRec, or Recuva and use these tools to undelete the data on your XP drive.

(First: check, is the xp drive 100% empty as far as size is concerned?)
Good luck, I hope you can retrieve your data. I was under the impression that it is a no-no to install an OS on any kind of external drive?

Should have done what I did and re-partition or even get a 2nd internal HDD.
I appreciate the replies. Unfortunately, I didn't have a backup because I was using the external drive (which is normally my backup drive) :frowning: . After I posted, I grabbed GetBackData for NTFS (a recovery software program) and scanned the drive. Fortunately, most (if not all) of the XP files are still there and I made sure not to write anything to the drive so hopefully the data will be recoverable. As I had already mentioned I keep my apps and data on another partition which is fine - it just would be nice to NOT have to reinstall and reconfigure XP. :smile:

You would think Vista would warn you before it overwrote the XP boot partiion MBR, but there was no such warning.

Ex-Brit: Windows had no way to know it was an external drive because it was eSATA so to the OS it looks just like an internal drive. After toying around with Vista for a couple of hours and installing apps that I normally use I found that some of them are not working or acted strange. I think I'll stick with XP for now and dust off Vista in another 6 months or so and give it another go once it's a little more mature.

In any case, thanks for the replies and the wishes for luck. Seems like a nice forum so maybe I'll stick around. :smile:
"Seems like a nice forum so maybe I'll stick around"
Please do!

Yep, in my own experience, Windows Vista is just not ready for primetimee. Windows XP is a great OS, and apparently MSoft has realized this, seeing as today they just decided that they will no longer sell XP starting in a couple of months - something they never did with previous versions of Windows when a new one came out.

I'm just hoping that in a couple of months when Longhorn Server ships Microsoft will merge the forked kernel into Vista - in the meantime, I'm just sticking to Ubuntu and Longhorn dual-boots.
I agree. Currently I dual-boot XP and Ubuntu Linux with XP as my primary OS. I think that'll be changing very soon with Linux becoming my primary OS and XP as my secondary OS for when I need to use Windows (games, etc).
lol - if it wasn't for games I'd have switched to Linux full-time a long time ago! (that, and Outlook 2007 too)

I'm currently using Ubuntu Feisty Fawn betas, Fedora Core 7 test builds, and my own Linux-from-Scratch kernel which i made a year+ ago. Seeing as I don't have the time to build a new LFS system, I'm trying to decide between Ubuntu FF or FC 7.. looks like i'll be going with Ubuntu though.
Have you tried Ubuntu, Peter?

It's a very very "dumbed-down" version of Linux... It's just as easy to use as Windows Vista, maybe a bit harder than XP. It's Linux on the inside, but anyone can use it without the slightest Linux experience.

If you haven't used it, wait until the 19th then download the new version (7.0.4 - Feisty Fawn), it has several UI updates that make it even easier for non-linux users.

Despite my thoughts on Ubuntu, it's the best distro for anyone new to Linux.
Doesn't Linux require its own boot sector at the very beginiing of the HDD? I don't want anything that's going to give me headaches. Especially with a triple boot (soon to become a quad boot) scenario.
It should be fine, I was able to boot into XP and Ubuntu with no problems, jut um... at the end of installation it shows you all installed OS' and you have EasyBCD so I'm not sure what you should do (to tell Ubuntu to install that thing for multyboot or something else so you can add ubuntu to the boot list with EasyBCD, Guru can help you with that :smile:.

Oh and, you can bring Ubuntu up wothout installing it on hdd, so, you can play around it and just restart the system when you are done and system will come up like Ubuntu was never there! Thats so good.
Interesting...are you sure we aren't talking Windows 95 here...LOL??? All this business of putting it on a CD etc. etc. sounds like a step back in time to me.
Well, that's what EasyBCD is for, Peter.

Just install Ubuntu, and it'll auto-work.. use EasyBCD if you want to boot into Ubuntu from Vista's bootloader instead.
Um... Peter, I wanted to show you this, It's a screenshot of my Sabayon when I was testing it before I installed, ok, you can see that Icon "Install on disc" and just follow instructions and be careful with disc partitions, you'll need one empty windows partitions so Ubuntu can format it and mount there for the installation.

Thats great, it should be more then enough. If I remember correctly you'll need one partition as mount point and one for swap, you don't know what am I talking about do you? :tongueout: