Uninstall XP from Vista Dual Boot Issue



Having spent ages researching this - perhaps I can pick this Forums brain for some assistance please.

SATA 0 = 150Gb XP Partition (System, Active)
SATA 1 = 320Gb Data Storage
SATA 2 = 400Gb HDD with 60GB Vista partition (Boot) and 320Gb Data Storage

I currently dual boot between Vista and XP. XP was already on the system when I installed Vista. I havent used XP in ages and would like to format that HDD and use it as extra storage. All data has been backed up to an external HDD.

Vista Bootmanager (BOOT folder, bootmgr etc files stored on SATA 0 ie system partition) initially loads OS boot select screen. So without XP HDD installed and set as active, the OS boot select screen does not appear. (please insert system disk)
Need to recreate Bootmanager on the vista installation partition but Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, decided to change Vista boot process and it isnt obvious how to undo a dual boot system.

Ive disabled SATA 0 and moved SATA 2 to be the first boot HDD in the BIOS.
Booted into Windows Recovery Disk.
Using diskpart set the Vista partition as active.
Rebooted back into Windows Recovery Disk.
Ran command bootrec /fixmbr successfully
Ran command bootrec /rebuildbcd and keep getting the error 'element not found' when choosing the yes option to add the vista installation to the boot list.

After reversing above progress and booting back into Vista (need to enable XP partition again to get back into Vista as thats where the Boot Manager (BCD) is installed) and after more research and numerous back and forth back into Windows Recovery Disk I am certain that if I can just get past the 'element not found' error I will be successful.


the fix for 'element not found' is to make the Vista partition active using diskpart (which Ive done) and move the Vista installation HDD to first place in the boot priority of the BIOS (which Ive done)

I have EasyBCD but I think it just repairs the Bootloader (which isnt a problem) rather than move the Bootmanager to a different partition.

Have run Vista Startup Repair about 40 times and each time it never automatically finds an installation of Vista and trying to repair it says it has done something but going back in yields same result (It does say it found 1 issue that the system partition does not exist but it never fixes it)

Can anyone offer advice how to get past 'element not found' error when running the bootrec /rebuildbcd command? or if EasyBCD can assist? Its doing my nut in. I dont want to reinstall Vista if at all possible.

Upon Resolution:
Extreme Glee and copious amounts of appreciation to whoever can rationally resolve my trauma.
Thanks for the reply Terry :smile:

I wasnt sure I should go ahead with Nuclear Holocaust tbh. For my situation is it the best thing to do? Is there nothing else less daunting or is that my final chance to just get it to work?

And if it all goes wrong, as a backup, will putting back the XP HDD as 1st boot HDD get me back into Vista?
I've never had to resort to anything other than an auto-repair from the booted Vista DVD personally, but I trust Guru's expertise.
Each step is just the next more basic level if the previous, less complex step failed to do the trick for you.
You'll always have the option of falling-back the BIOS to your working boot on the XP disk. (any extra files created will be ignored - as long as the winload.exe is still there in Windows /system32 folder, vista's going to boot)
One thing you might try, if you're nervous about step 4.
I've never had the auto-repair fail and I think the problem you might be having there is the lack of a "system" flag on your Vista partition. You could use GParted (available free if your partition manager won't do it) to turn on the flag before asking the Vista recovery disk to do the repair for you. (Gparted calls it the"boot" flag I think)
Cheers Terry I have not tried that so will give it a go perhaps Boxing Day and update you on progress - I do have a bootable partition manager 2009 CD I will try first in case it can mark the Vista partition as the system partition.


Yippee, Clap, Joy-Joy I resolved it.

I unplugged all 3 SATA drives and then plugged the Vista HDD into SATA 0 position. Windows Recovery DVD then found a Vista installation which it repaired 4 times/reboots until it said it had fixed all issues but Vista still wouldnt boot (missing operating system message still) :angry:

At this point I ran the commands:

bootrec /fixmbr
cd drive:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 all /force
del C:\boot\bcd
bootrec.exe /rebuildbcd

Then reboot and voila Vista booted like nothing had happened

I was able to plug my other 2 HDD's in and all is good.

Thanks for all suggestions Terry, they all helped me get there in the end
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Glad it's working.
It's a bit of a mystery why Vista sometimes fails to see a perfectly viable system to repair. In my case it was having an IDE drive connected as well as the Vista SATA.
If you'd said you'd had such a mix, I would have suggested temporary disconnection before trying the repair.
I'll know to suggest it in an all SATA environment in future.
Thanks for adding your new-found knowledge to the forum for future users.
New Issue: Uninstall the Vista Bootloader (use to restore XP)



Ignore the first message. I lost a page of text upon submission, so I tried a test.

I have version 1.7 of EasyBCD.

I wrongly used the "Uninstall the Vista Bootloader (use to restore XP)" feature under the Manage Bootloader Tab.

This removed the dual boot menu on system startup for Windows XP and VISTA.

I have two SATA hard drives.

They were originally labelled as follows:

C: WinXP
E: Data
F: New Volume (2nd Drive)

Since I used the feature above, the drives are now labeled:

C: WinXP
D: New Volume (2nd Drive)
E: Vista
F: Data

So far, I've used the "Write MBR feature" under the Manage Bootloader section without change.

Second I Added, deleted and then added Vista back under the Add/Remove Tab. I used drive C: and then E: for Vista.

(The EasyECD Documentation says that for version 1.7 I should use the drive where /boot is located which is Drive C: Elsewhere the Documentation says to use the Drive where Vista is viewed in My Computer (Windows Explorer) which is Drive E:smile:.

All programs appear to work normally, even the ones installed on drives other than C:. I boot into WinXP normally. I have no option to boot into Vista.

Therefore the questions are as follows:

1. How do I restore the proper Drive Letters?

2. How do I restore the EasyECD Multi Boot Menu for XP and Vista?

3. Does EasyBCD permit the use of Windows XP Safe Mode?

The features under the Diagnostics Center give me pause. I do not want to somehow prevent the normal boot into Windows XP. I use XP 99% of the time.

Please assist.

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Hi Austin, welcome to NST.
You can't change the disk letters by playing around with EasyBCD. You're telling EasyBCD where things are, not setting the letters.
When you accidentally removed the Vista boot, the MBR was altered to look for XP's NTLDR instead of Vista's bootmgr.
NTLDR cannot be made to boot Vista, so you need to put the Vista bootmgr and BCD back, and change the MBR to start looking for Vista's bootmgr again.
There are two ways to do this. The simplest is to boot the Vista DVD and let it repair the boot for you, or you can do with EasyBCD manually.
The issue of the disk lettering is another matter.
Windows 9x used to dynamically set letters on each boot.
Since XP it has been possible to set letters to be permanently associated with a particular drive or device, but if you don't do so yourself (for your HDDs, flash drives, cameras, external drives etc), they will still be set dynamically and can therefore change if you alter the order in which PnP detects devices (by changing the USB port of an external device or the internal IDE or SATA channel of a HDD for example.
You should be able to go into Disk Management and permanently assign a letter after F to your new drive (X:\ for example) so that on a reboot, the system will assign it that letter, leaving D: free to be reassigned to Vista.
At that point you can permanently reassign X:\ as F:\ again
You could try reasigning Vista as D:\ yourself, but disk management will not allow a letter change for a drive that contains a "system" "boot" or "page" flag.
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Thank you Terry.

Which should I do first, the drive letter reassignment in Windows Disk Management or Vista DVD Boot and Repair? Seems obvious, but I'm asking anyway.

I could not get to the Safe Mode Menu before this all started. Is there a way to get into safe mode with BCD?

Safe mode w/ BCD = F8 during boot before Windows is given the chance to try to boot normally. So if you can't do that than no safe mode.
You can fix the boot or the lettering, in whichever order you prefer.
You're not using the BCD to boot at the moment (you're using NTLDR), so you won't see the safe mode menu for Vista till the boot's fixed.
F8 should give you the NTLDR extended boot (with XP safe mode), but you don't need that because XP boots OK anyway.
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Uninstall the Vista Bootloader

Seems logical to fix the drive letter issue first and then use the Vista DVD Boot and Repair.

Therefore, I will revert to original drive assignment of:

C: WinXP
D: Vista
E: Data
F: New Volume (2nd Sata Drive).

After I use Vista DVD will the EasyBcd menu reappear?

Do I have to uninstall and then reinstall EasyBCD?

If so, do I assign both Windows XP and Vista to drive C: in EasyBCD 1.7?

Or do I assign the OS's to drives they appear on in Windows Explorer?

When you fix the boot, it should automatically detect XP and create the dual boot for you.
You don't need to un/reinstall EasyBCD. It's just a utility, it's not involved in the boot itself.
If the dual-boot is there, you can use EasyBCD to edit the system names created to something friendlier.
If you have to create the dual-boot with EasyBCD, then you do point both at C: (you're pointing to the boot files - not the OS - the boot files do that)
Thank you Terry,

Will let you know the results.

Back to Safe Mode issue ...

The inability to get in to Safe Mode (Extended Boot Menu) in XP was what caused me to wrongly use the Uninstall the Vista Bootloader feature in EasyBcd.

I already know about using the F8 key to access this menu. I used it on many machines. However, I could not access the menu to get into Safe Mode to fix an unrelated problem (uninstall a misbehaving new program install).

Does EasyBCD somehow disable the Extended Start Menu in Windows XP, at least in some instances?


Reassigned the Drive Letter with no problem using Disk Management under Computer Management.

Inserted the Vista DVD and eventually came to this unexpected Dialog Box:

Dialog Box Title: System Recovery Options

Windows Found Problems with your computers startup options.

Do you want to apply repairs and restart your computer?

Buttons presented: "Repair and Restart" or "No"

Under "View Details", The Dialog Box read:

Repair Details:
The following startup option will be repaired:
Name: Vista
Identifier: [1137925E-D2BE-11DD-825B-0019D197AFAS]
Windows Device: Partition=Not Found

End of Dialog Boxes ------------------------------------------------

Question: Do I accept the option to "Repair and Restart"? This dialog box did not display in your documentation so it gave me pause.
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Yes... its just auto-detected the misconfiguration for you without having to select startup repair from the menu.
To get into XP safe mode when booting via the Vista BCD, you need to boot normally (no F8) into the BCD menu, select XP, and then immediately hold F8.
The extended boot menu is accessed by an F8 interrupt to the appropriate boot loader, so you need to intercept the moment that Vista's bootmgr chains to XP's NTLDR, otherwise you just get the extended Vista options as you found out.
I haven't seen that particular message myself but, as Justin says, it seems pretty clear that it's anticipating why you've booted the DVD, without waiting for you to select "repair my computer" | "repair startup" yourself.
Thanks to Justin and Terry60.

I followed your advice and my EasyBCD dual boot screen, boot into Vista, drive reassignments and all else was returned to normal.