Upgrading XP/Vista dual-boot to Vista/7 dual-boot


I have a 1TB RAID 5 made from three identical 500GB drives. It is divided into three logical partitions: C: = XP32, D: = Vista64, and E: = storage, in a dual-boot configuration. The boot.ini and bootmgr files are on the C: drive. I would like to reformat/overwrite the XP partition with Windows7 64 and retain it as a dual-boot setup with Win7 and Vista. I have a Windows 7 upgrade DVD. How do I go about doing this? tia
To be non destructive you would need to upgrade XP to Vista and than to Windows 7 as XP inst directly supported. If you don't want to go this route and reformat you well need to move the boot files, or add back entrys for the other OSes after Windows 7 has been installed. Before you do anything we could use a disk management screenshot to get a better idea of how its setup.
I do not mind wiping out all data on the XP partition (which is C:, although I believe Vista reports it as D: in the screenshot below)

Disk management:

Unfortunately you only have one primary partition. That's where all the boot files for Vista and XP reside, so you can't format it from Windows. You can't move them elsewhere because they must be on a primary, unless you make that unallocated space into a primary boot partition.
Looks like you're going to have to go the double-upgrade route Jus mentioned, so that W7 eventually becomes the controlling "system" partition.
I would convert those logical partitions to primaries first. You can do that with Partition Wizard.

When everything is primary, you can use EasyBCD to move the boot files to C: and make it active. This way, when you reformat the partition where XP used to be your boot files are not taken in the process. Boot from the Windows 7 disc to do the install. This way it should simply add itself to your existing boot menu. When you're back into Windows, you can use EasyBCD to delete the unwanted XP entry.
Thanks very much,

Is there an advantage or reason for also converting my storage ( E: ) drive from a logical drive to a primary drive?
And when using Partition Magic to convert my logical drives to primary drives, which OS (partition) to I want to be booted from, XP or Vista? Does it matter?

Also, just to review, here are the steps I'm fairly certain I used when originally installing my OSes:

1. Set up three 500GB drives as a 1TB RAID 5.
2. Created a 100GB primary partition ( C: ).
3. Created a 100GB logical partition ( D: ).
4. Created another logical partition ( E: ) with the remaining disk space.
5. Installed XP 32 onto C:.
6. Installed Vista 64 onto D:.
7. While in XP, used EasyBCD to set up boot parameters.

And as I understand it, these are the steps I need to follow to get it to a Win7/Vista dual-boot:

1. Convert logical drives (or at least D:, the Vista drive) to a primary drive.
2. While in Vista, run EasyBCD to move the boot files to the Vista drive (technically was logical drive D:, but Vista calls it C: while in Vista).
3. Boot from the Win7 64 upgrade disk and use it to reformat/install Win7 onto the XP primary drive ( C: ).
4. While in Vista, run EasyBCD to remove the XP boot entry.

Is this correct? And because I would likely begin to use Win7 more than Vista, is there any reason to then move the boot files over to the Win7 partition? Last, assuming I do everything correctly, is there still anything I need to pay particular attention to to prevent disaster? :tongueout:oint: (Although of course I will first do backups of critical data.) Thanks again!

Edit: When I was installing Win7 64 on another PC, the setup program created an additional small partition, reserved for system use. I'm expecting this will also happen when setting up Win7 on the system in question. Will this present any issues?
Last edited:
W7 only creates that unlettered boot partition if you let it install to empty space.
It only has a function if you intend to use bitlocker to encrypt the OS partition.
You can prevent it by formatting the disk yourself with your desired partition layout, disconnecting other HDDs and pointing the W7 install at the specific partition you've allocated for it.
You don't need to make your data partition primary, but it's a good idea to use all primaries unless you need more than four partitions.
If you need more than four in total, make the first three primaries, and use them for OSs in preference to apps or data.
Your checklist looks fine, with the proviso that I don't use RAID so I've no idea whether that throws a spanner into the works.
You can prevent it by formatting the disk yourself with your desired partition layout, disconnecting other HDDs and pointing the W7 install at the specific partition you've allocated for it.

This of course would not be an option for me (that is, disconnecting other HDDs during install) due to the fact that all are partitions of the same RAID5. But am I to understand that Win7 creating this "bitlocker partition" shouldn't be an issue, due to the fact that nothing is being installed to "empty space"?

Also, still wondering about a couple of my other questions. When using Partition Magic to convert logical to primary drives, during conversion does it matter if I am booted to a primary drive or not? And after I have the dual-boot setup completed, is there an advantage to having the boot files on the drive of the most-used OS?

Thanks once again --
The goal with converting the logicals to primaries is primarly so you can move the boot files using EasyBCD over to another one of your partitions (so they don't get wiped out when you reformat the first partition for Windows 7). Your computer's boot files must be on a primary partition, only way you can boot. Plus its just good habits like Terry highlights.

BTW, Partition Magic and Partition Wizard are two separate products. I'm not sure Partition Magic can do this for you but if you'd perfer and it does use it.
OK, that makes sense, continued thanks.

(and oops, I meant to say Partition Wizard, not Partition Magic.)

Almost there -- Will there be a problem with Win7 wanting to create a Bitlocker partition during install? I'm still a little unclear on that, but it seems Terry indicated that it won't. And I'm assuming I should be in XP (on a primary drive) while converting the other drives to primaries.
If you point the W7 install to a defined partition and there's no unallocated space on the HDD it won't (can't) create a 2nd partition.
It will however install its boot files into the pre-existing "system" partition unless like me, you're using basic disks and you disconnect the others so that W7 can't see a "system".
(that's MS standard Windows architecture. Multiple Windows all have their boot files together in the first (oldest) version of Windows. That's how it manages to create a multi-boot automatically.)
As Terry states you want to keep the existing partition, but reformat it. Since the boot files have been moved and you're not installing to unallocated space it'll use the same boot files you already have.

You don't need to use Partition Wizard from XP or install it. They have a bootable disc download as well which I'd recommend using (Windows doesn't always play nice so its better to do partitioning tasks offline).
Excellent. I'll give it a go sometime in the next couple of days, and may have a follow-up question or two. Or if all goes well, I'll let you know as such. Thanks very much again.
I have not made any changes to the drives and installed Win7 yet, but I thought I would offer an update: It appears I will not be able to use the Partition Wizard bootable CD to modify the partitions, because it loads itself prior to the RAID BIOS initialization. So, once Partition Wizard starts, it just "sees" three identical, discrete, unformatted drives. Apparently I will be forced to use the Widows version of the program, in which case I plan on running it in WinXP32, unless there are other suggestions.
OK, I have converted D: and E; to primary drives, but I am unsure of what I need to do next. The online EasyBCD documentation page is down. What do I need to do to move/protect the boot files if I reformat the XP (active) drive?

Edit: I thought this screenshot might help --

Last edited:
First, you need to get the proper version of EasyBCD.
Get the latest build here.
1.7 pre-dates W7 and has no automation features.
EasyBCD 2.0
BCD Install/Repair
Change Boot drive.
(Point it to your W7 partition when prompted.)
Reboot into W7, and you should find that W7 has become "active" "system" "boot", leaving the XP partition free of restrictions. Do with it what you will.
Thank you -
I have not yet installed Win7. My understanding is that the boot files (or at least, bootmgr and boot.ini) are currently on the XP partition, which is where I plan on installing Win7. I got the impression that I needed to move the boot files to the Vista partition BEFORE installing Win7. (If you recall, I first installed XP to the C: (primary) partition, and then installed Vista to D: (logical) partition. Now, I have made D: a primary, and I want to change it to a Vista/Win7 dual boot system.)

So this makes me think that your instructions should actually read something like:

BCD Install/Repair
Change Boot drive.
(Point it to your Vista partition when prompted.)
Reboot into Vista, and you should find that Vista has become "active" "system" "boot", leaving the XP partition free of restrictions. Do with it what you will. (Which in my case would be, install Win7 on it.)

Is this correct?