Quad boot plan - would appreciate input.


Currently I have a triple boot running well, using the old PQBoot from Powerquest Partition Magic 8.1.
My partition layout on Drive 0 is:

1) Win7 pro 64 - primary - (was an upgrade on top of XP and there is no 100mb system reserved partition the "boot" folder lives in: C:\windows\ ... not sure how that happened but it's running well so ... )
2) XP pro 32 - Audio - primary
3) XP pro 32 - Games etc. - primary
D:\ - logical drive ( data )

I need to install a new second Windows 7 pro 64 and keep the other 3 OS.
PQboot won't boot an OS that is on a logical drive. It also can't see an OS installed on an other physical drive.
PQboot works by hiding/unhiding partitions and also setting the one unhidden as active so currently all
3 of my OS partitions have C: as a drive letter.

Installing the new clean install of Win7 64 seems to require the 100 MB system reserved partition,
so my plan is to convert 1) 2) and 3) to logical drives slide them to the rear,
stacked in front of D:\ and inside of the extended partition and then leaving them hidden for now.
Then install the new Win7 64 on the unallocated space at the front.

If that goes well, then I'll unhide the 3 older OS partitions and give them drive letters like U,V,W.
I'm currently using D: through T: on 4 other physical drives, all logical drives, so that's why U,V,W.
Then I'll install Easy BCD on one at a time adding the others to the menu.

Will Easy BCD be able to then add those 1,2,and 3 to a menu and make them bootable?

I'd appreciate any input on how you see this plan.

Thank you!



Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
a) You don't need a separate boot partition.
W7/8 create one by default (you can prevent it), afaik solely for the purpose of keeping the boot files unencrypted if you wish to encrypt the OS.
b) Disk letters are internal (virtual) labels kept as a map in the system registry, so each OS will continue to see itself as C regardless of what any other OS calls it.
c) All Windows since XP are bootable from a logical partition. Only the boot files must be on a primary.
If your nominated controlling OS is on a primary, you can leave the others how they are and install your extra system in a logical drive. It will not contain any boot files, they will just be added as an entry in the BCD of the controlling system.
d) MS boot managers respect the "hidden" bit but do not use it. If you are abandoning your 3rd party boot manager, you cannot hide systems dynamically with W7 bootmgr. It will see all 4 OSs. EasyBCD will be able to add entries to enable multi-booting of your XP systems.
e) A consequence of d), is that XP will also be able to see both W7's and will hence corrupt their restore points unless you take measures to prevent it
System Restore Points - Stop XP Dual Boot Delete.
You won't need to add an entry for the new W7. Installing it in a logical drive with the current W7 active will create an automatic dual boot.
You can use EasyBCD to make cosmetic changes to the bot menu if you wish.
f) You don't need EasyBCD anywhere other than the controlling OS with the active boot files (current W7)
If your nominated controlling OS is on a primary, you can leave the others how they are and install your extra system in a logical drive. It will not contain any boot files, they will just be added as an entry in the BCD of the controlling system.
Thanks Terry,

I'll try it and get back to you.
I tried it on unallocated space, ( to the left of D: ) on an un-formatted partition, and on a formatted partition,
asking the windows setup to create and format, and got the same error message all 3 times:
"Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition."


So can you tell me what I'm missing here?

Thank you!
Last edited:


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
It's saying it can't create (logical) or locate (?) an active partition.
Do you have the active partition hidden ?
Hi Terry,

Thank you for getting back to me.
I'm modifying my plan to leave my original OS drive intact and building up on a different drive with no hurry or pressure to get it done.
I can just F8 to choose a boot menu and boot to the new build drive when ever I want.

anyway ...
It's saying specifically:
"Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition." as in the 100MB primary.
I'm discovering the issue is based on the spec for how many partitions and types per HDD.
I already have 3 primary and 1 extended/logical(s)on that disk so I'm out of space.

So ...
I put some wings on a spare 500GB Seagate 'cuda I have and mounted it in the case, changed the default boot drive in the BIOS to the STxxxx ( all my others are wdc ) Ran a Low level format on it to wipe the parts. and the MBR, initialized it in Win7 diskmgmt,
but created no parts.
... booted from the Win7 install DVD to do a quick test install, and it had no problems with unallocated space BUT ... it created the 100MB "system" partition. (see Disk 5 in the pic.)

I realize there's a way to trick this into not happening. I must have done that on my first Win7(Disk 0) but I don't remember how and think I need to do it in the new plan.
Thanks again. I appreciate your input here, and in other threads I've read.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
MS plays fast and loose with the terms "active" "system" and "boot", and uses them counter-intuitively (at least as far as the rest of the world uses them)
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"

Only "active" is a physical "real" flag (a bit set in the MBR Partition Table), the others are just notional flags, i.e. status reported to you about where the boot process found things as it progressed.
When setup says it can't find a "system" partition, it means it can't find an "active" partition for it to create its "system" files in (what everyone else would call it's "boot" files).
As the boot process on a running Windows system progresses, it begins with the BIOS locating the only physical indicator available (the "active" flag in MS speak - the "boot" flag in the world of Linux confusingly).
It goes to the boot sector of the active partition, locates the PBR which will chain it to the bootmgr module which resides there also.
Having found it it reports this (in Disk Management) as "system".
bootmgr opens the BCD (also located in the same place) and uses it to locate the bootloader (winload).
This gets reported in DM as "boot".

You can have as many logical drives in an extended partition as you like (to all practical purposes).

I think your problem with being unable to start the new install is related to your use of a 3rd party manager. If it leaves the hidden bit set on your "active" W7, setup will not be able to use it. By definition, it can't put the boot files ("system" files) anywhere else.

If you want to install W7 without creating a separate partition for the boot files, you must not install to an empty space.
An empty space will be divided by setup into the default configuration.
You must also not allow another "active" space to be visible or it will happily shuffle the boot files across to another HDD in preference to putting them in with the rest of the OS.
If you pre-format the new HDD with a complete set of the partitions as you wish them to be, set the one destined to be W7 "active", and disconnect any other HDD with an "active" partition, you should get the boot files to reside in with the OS.

1 more Q: if you don't mind.
The new build drive will eventually be 2 Win 7 64 and 1 XP 32.
I hear that it's best to install XP before Win 7 so if I want XP in a logical drive ...

My guess would be:
1) Create a logical at the end and install XP
2) Install Win7 (#1) on the front on unallocated space.
3) Resize the tail end of Win7(#1) and put Win7(#2) at the end of Win7(#)
That would give me 3 primary (system reserved and 2 Win7, assuming the 2 Win7 will share the system reserved) and 1 extended/logical(s).

Does that sound like the best method?

Thank you!



Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Our posts overlapped.
Referring back to my previous, my advice would be
It you only want 3 partitions, keep them all primary.
If you want space after the 3 OSs for data, make that an extended partition and keep the 3 OSs primary.
When you format the spaces don't leave the label field blank, label them as W7.1, W7.2, XP, Data or something unmistakably descriptive.

Set the XP partition "active" . Install XP
Set W7.1 "active" and install W7
Install W7.2 in its partition (it will automatically dual boot, adding an entry into W7.1's BCD)
Boot W7.1, start EasyBCD and add an XP entry (auto-configure)

That's all you need to get the multi-boot.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
You can't.
I said keep all the OS in primaries.
I'd put them in that order 7.1, 7.2, XP, Data
You can't.
I said keep all the OS in primaries.
Then I'm going to guess that the way to get an OS installed on a logical ( necessary if more that 3 OS per HDD )
is to just create the logical and then point the install at that drive?

I'd put them in that order 7.1, 7.2, XP, Data
That's how I'd like it but XP will then have to go into a logical drive because
100MB system + W71 + W72 = 3 out of 4 available slots and extended/logical(s) = the 4th.

I think I just discovered a very good reason to let Win7 create it's 100MB system partition.

I did a quick test.

Created primary part. told W71 to install there. Good! No 100MB system part. created.
Created second primary part. told W72 to install there. All good! Still no 100MB system part.
Nuked the partition that W71 is sitting on and W72 can't boot. DOH! :tongueout:

So, that tells me that there's probably a good reason to let W71 create the 100MB system part.
in case W71 ever gets hosed, W72 (and probably any other OS on that drive) will still be functional.

I'll have to test it, and I'm going to when I get a bit more time.

Thanks. I'm learning a lot here.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Not a problem.
You don't need a separate boot partition unless you're going to encrypt the OS.
Obviously you shouldn't have deleted the first (active) W7 after installing the second.
Windows (any sort) will always install the boot files in the active partition, so your second W7 put it's boot information (a BCD entry) into the first W7's partition. Destroy that and you've no boot files for either.
You can fix it simply by booting the DVD and using "startup repair".
Same applies if you lose the active partition (whether it's w7.1 or Sys Resv) in the future. The DVD will get any surviving W7 booting.
Ahhh ... so I now see the reason to "set active" before installing.
That forces the boot files for the OS being installed into that OS partition.
A few more tests and I'll start building it up for real.