Vista, XP dual-boot corrupting the MBR

I've posted this in a couple other threads to warn others about the potential problems, and to see if anyone can fix mine. I still haven't found a working dual boot software solution but would dearly love to have one.

I need XP for a couple programs Vista 64 won't run and may never run, according to the software company.

But after 7 installs of Vista, and after installing XP first, and with Vista and XP installed on separate hard drives (both SATA), (my rig: 8GB memory, Quad 6600 cpu, Asus P5W DH Deluxe), and even after I installed each with the other hard drive physically unplugged, I have boot record corruption errors ("BOOTMGR missing") with Vista.

The two OSs just don't seem to like each other on my system, even after I set up each system completely independent of the other.

Plus all this clouded another issue which I just discovered...a failing IDE drive.

The Vista boot problem happens when I select the XP hard drive in Bios as normal (I don't use a dual boot set up or program), boot up on XP, use it for however long I want to without problems, but when I boot up the next time, select the Vista hard drive in Bios, and try to boot, I get the BOOTMGR error.

Popping the Vista install disk into the drive, rebooting from that, then doing a startup repair, gets me back into Vista...but it takes at least 20 minutes to do that.

Not worth the hassle.

I'm looking for some software solution that will allow me to dual boot without all this hassle, and without having to go into bios each time. But after all I've been through, and losing about 6 weeks worth of working time, I'd caution you to make sure you know what you're doing and above all, install XP first.

Because it seems both XP and Vista write some garbage on the other's master boot record whether you like it or not, which messes things up.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Hi Penguin
The root is C:\
No folders - right there after the slash


Vista 64 and XP 32 dual-boot fine together without even interfering with each-other's recovery points on my PC - thanks largely to EasyBCD.
I think your problem might be too much RAM for XP (or is that 64 bit too)
You could try dropping down to 3Gb temporarily to see if that allows both to boot.

I take it you have followed the instructions in the wiki to repair the MBR after installing the second OS ?
Easy BCD

Thanks Terry, I'll look into that. I'm also checking out VistaBootPro and BootIT, which apparently should also correct the glitch.

Not sure what wiki you mean on this forum? I'm a newbie here. I fix the MBR using the Windows disk, kind of a pain.

My Vista recognizes all 8 GB or ram. XP only sees 3GB. I have memory remap enabled in bios. Shouldn't the OS handle that, depending on which I select to boot from?

What airplane is that you're in? Are you a pilot?

I've been writing and photographing for Plane & Pilot and Pilot Journal for 25 years.

High flights



Mostly Harmless
Staff member
I'm sure we can help you get to the bottom of this, Jim (welcome to NST, btw!)

The dual-boot guide that Terry is referring to: Windows XP - EasyBCD - NeoSmart Technologies Wiki
That should explain most of what you need to get that dual-boot sorted out under most normal conditions.

VistaBootPRO is actually a (poor) imitation of EasyBCD (using our code, too).

Didn't know that about VistaBootPRO...but then I've learned a lot of things I never (wanted to) know in the last couple months.



Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Hi Jim,
should have got the flying connection from your nom-de-guerre.
Hope the wiki has straightened out your problems.
When you're booting successfully into both, you'll find your next problem is XP screwing with Vista's recovery points (well known by MS but 0% possibility of getting retrospectively rewritten to fix it)
Fear not - NST will fix it for you - be sure to read my tyro post on this forum
where Guru fixed my problem.
(A more elegant solution is currently being Beta tested by a few brave souls)

Yes I have a PPL, though no certificate of currency. The photo was taken by an anonymous passenger (one of a couple of youths who bummed a free joyride when I was going up for a local trip from my flying club at Goodwood ) on one of the last flights I ever made. I retired from flying at the same time as I retired from employment. If you've got 10 minutes and like to read desultory ramblings about pre-history, take a look at the conversation that developed in
and you'll find out when that was.
The aircraft was unusual for me. I trained on Piper Cherokee 140/180 and did most of my flying in that marque, but the pic was taken when I was about to fly a very swish Cessna. I can't quite remember the model but it was a biggish motor, constant speed prop, retractable undercart etc.
I'd have to dig out my logbook for the full details.
My most favourite flight was in a Pitts special, which was glorious to fly, if a nightmare to land, though the regret of my flying life was missing out on a chance to fly a combat-record genuine Spitfire IX.
Both aircraft were block-booked by a group of us from the flying subsection of the IBM club, and we were due to fly the 2nd about a month after the 1st. It was owned by a guy called Nick Grace and hangared at Goodwood where I could drool over it every month. He'd restored it and found the bits included a 2 seater conversion, so made it into one of the only two (I think) 2 seat trainers still flying.
Tragically, he died in a car-crash driving home from the airfield during that month and I never got to fly it.
His widow, Caroline I think, rather than selling it, learned to fly and now is one of the premiere display pilots in vintage warbirds.
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