Problem getting Windows 7 "back in"

#1
I'm doing development work on an XP machine. I needed three XP systems -- the "existing" system that worked with the existing Lab hardware, a "new" system that would (ultimately) work with the "new" hardware, and a "testing" system that I could use to develop and test. I was able to build
bootable XP systems on partitions of three hard drives in this machine, and EasyBCD handled the Boot chores like a champ.

Because I ultimately hope to migrate to Windows 7, I also installed Windows 7 on this system, and could now boot to one of three XP systems or Windows 7. However, I needed to make the Windows 7 system "temporarily invisible" -- as I couldn't figure out how to do this, I simply removed its EasyBCD entry (thereby making it "out of sight"), intended to add it back in later.

I just tried to do this, but it didn't work. I "followed the directions" -- I ran EasyBCD from the C: drive (having booted the "main" XP system which lives on Disk 0). This is the partition that Disk Management calls "System". When booted here, the partition with Windows 7 (the second partition of Disk 2) is called D:, so that's the Drive Letter I use with EasyBCD.

When I reboot and choose Windows 7, it seems to come up. But shortly after (or during) the Logon process, the keyboard, mouse, and display all freeze, requiring a Power Off to recover.

Here is my disk layout (when booted to what I think, but am not sure, is the "main" XP system):

Disk 0, Partition 1 Windows XP #1, Drive C:, partition marked "System"
Disk 1, Partition 1 Windows XP #2, Drive X:, partition marked "Active"
Partition 2 Data disk, Drive E:
Disk 2, Partition 1 Windows XP #3, Drive Y:, partition marked "Active"
Partition 2 Windows 7, Drive D:

If I look in the EasyBCD entries, they look as follows:

Entry 1, XP #3, default BCD ID, Drive C:, using \NST\easyldr1
Entry 2, XP #1, "real" BCD ID, Drive C:, using \NTLDR
Entry 3, XP #2, "real" BCD ID, Drive C:, using \NST\easyldr2
Entry 4, Windows 7, "real" BCD ID, Drive D:, using \Windows\system32\winload.exe

Writing this, I realize two things. First, I'm not certain I don't have XP #2 and XP #3 mixed up. Second, it is curious that all the EasyBCD entries, except the Windows 7 entry, specify Drive C:. I do remember when Windows 7 "used to" boot, it would assign itself Drive C:.

I'm happy to provide more information, or try things. Incidently, I did try booting Windows 7 in Safe mode -- it froze while I was typing in my password.

Thanks for suggestions and help.

Bob Schor
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
The BCD doesn't point to XP. It points to "system". The boot.ini on that partition (C in your case) points to each XP.
If your W7 boots to the "starting Windows" screen or beyond, then you don't have a boot problem with the BCD

Boot entails:
1.After pressing the power button, the PC’s firmware initiates a Power-On Self Test (POST) and loads firmware settings. This pre-boot process ends when a valid system disk is detected.
2.Firmware reads the master boot record (MBR), and then starts Bootmgr.exe. Bootmgr.exe finds and starts the Windows loader (Winload.exe) on the Windows boot partition.
3.Essential drivers required to start the Windows kernel are loaded and the kernel starts to run, loading into memory the system registry hive and additional drivers that are marked as BOOT_START.
4.The kernel passes control to the session manager process (Smss.exe) which initializes the system session, and loads and starts the devices and drivers that are not marked BOOT_START.
5.Winlogon.exe starts, the user logon screen appears, the service control manager starts services, and any Group Policy scripts are run. When the user logs in, Windows creates a session for that user.
6.Explorer.exe starts, the system creates the desktop window manager (DWM) process, which initializes the desktop and displays it.

The BCD isn't involved beyond step 2, and you're getting to step 5 or 6 from your description. It would seem you've somehow corrupted the W7 OS.
Why did you need W7 "out of sight" ? What did you do ?
Removing the W7 entry from the BCD stopped you from being able to boot it but didn't stop it being visible and accessible as a partition, so it was no more out of sight than the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand, so it could have been damaged by something you did then.
 
#3
The BCD doesn't point to XP. It points to "system". The boot.ini on that partition (C in your case) points to each XP.
If your W7 boots to the "starting Windows" screen or beyond, then you don't have a boot problem with the BCD

The BCD isn't involved beyond step 2, and you're getting to step 5 or 6 from your description. It would seem you've somehow corrupted the W7 OS.
Why did you need W7 "out of sight" ? What did you do ?
Removing the W7 entry from the BCD stopped you from being able to boot it but didn't stop it being visible and accessible as a partition, so it was no more out of sight than the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand, so it could have been damaged by something you did then.
Terry,

Thanks for the comments. I agree this is likely what happened. The "Why" involves the PC itself -- it is part of a data acquisition system, used by a number of students for their research. We were upgrading/switching hardware, which (among other things) was simplified by simply booting to the OS that was appropriate (in this case, XP #1 for the new hardware, XP #2 for the original (old) hardware, and XP #3 for me to try out code without messing up the two "working" systems). In addition, we had a Data Disk that, for all OS's, was mapped to E: where the data were saved.

None of the acquisition software presently can run on Windows 7, but I'm working on migrating there, so I added the Windows 7 partition. However, I removed it from the boot sequence because neither the students nor I "needed" to access it at the present. However, that doesn't mean (as you point out) that nobody did, by accident.

So how to recover? I'm OK with simply reinstalling Windows 7 "from scratch" on the second partition of Disk 2. Is it best to do this booting from the DVD? Will this "mess up" the boot information on the other disks? I'm assuming that I can install Windows 7, boot it up, install EasyBCD on that system, and use it to "reanimate" the other three Windows XP OS's in the Boot Menu.

Incidently, it turns out that my original "disk mapping" was not quite accurate. The first OS, the one that originally was the Boot Disk, is XP #2, on Disk 1, first partition. If I boot this one, it identifies itself in Disk Management as (Boot), with XP #1 being (System) and XP #3 being (Active). In addition, the drive letters (with the exception of E:smile: are shuffled around (in particular, the Windows 7 OS is now on F:smile:.

Thanks for your help and advice.

Bob Schor
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
Disk letters are just registry entries on the running system, so there's no necessary correlation between the letter maps on different
OSs.
Disk Management flags have the following meanings


"boot" = "this is the system you're running"
"system" = "this is where I found the boot files for the currently running system"
"active" (on the first HDD in the BIOS boot sequence) = "this is where I started the search for the boot files"
"active" (on subsequent HDDs in the BIOS boot sequence) ="this is where I will look if I don't find something in the MBR on the first HDD"

If you're happy to reinstall W7, that's probably your quickest option.
EasyBCD will help you tidy up the BCD afterwards.
 
#6
An embarrassing admission -- I failed to read my own notes that explained the problem

Why did you need W7 "out of sight" ? What did you do ?
What a comedy of errors! This has taught me a lesson -- it's not enough to take notes and keep a log when you do something, you also need to read your old notes when a problem re-occurs!

Here's the Bottom Line -- EasyBCD is working just fine, thank you, it's my faulty memory that's giving me grief!

I built this quadruple-boot system to support some "old lab hardware" (connected to the PC via USB), some "new lab hardware" (connected to the PC via a custom PCI optical cable), and to allow for development. One XP system had the drivers for the "old" hardware, one XP for the "new", one XP was just for me for "development" purposes (so I wouldn't screw up the software needed for experiments using either the "old" or "new" hardware), and a Windows 7 system for "migration" (we're hoping to stop using XP before Microsoft drops support). I build the system in the lab, everything worked (thanks to EasyBCD managing the Boot Menu).

Bring it into the lab, plug in the custom "new" PCI interface card. My three XP partitions boot without trouble, but my Windows 7 partition boots, then freezes -- precisely the problem I'm seeing now. Experimentation shows its the PCI card that is somehow causing the problem. However, we need to get this machine back to doing experiments, so I remove the Boot entry for Windows 7 (so noone else gets "stuck"), document the problem in my notebook, and leave this for another day (this happened about 18 months ago).

As it turns out, when I created this quad-boot system, I at least had the foresight to do a complete disk-by-disk backup. So yesterday, I did a full restore of the Windows 7 partition, thinking (as Terry noted) that something went awry on this disk. Surprise, same behavior. Then I looked in my notebook, and realized "It's the Hardware, Stupid!".

I've got a request for Support (new drivers?) in to the maker of the interface card.

Thanks, again, for your help and encouragement.