W7-64 did not set up dual boot

neale

New Member
#1
Hello, new poster here. I've searched the forums, reviewed the multi-boot documents and think my problem is not covered in either. If it is, my apologies.

BACKGROUND

In preparation for my W7-64 Ultimate I prepared my disks as follows (also see image V32-W7-64.jpg).

  • My PC is Vista-32 with two physical disks
  • Disk 0 ; Single primary partition ; Drive letter 'I' ; Label 'User_data'
  • Disk 1 ; EISA partition + three primary partitions ; Drive letters 'C' 'D' 'E' ; Labels 'Vista_32' 'Windows7_64' 'User_Apps'
I booted from the W7 DVD and ran a custom installation to the partition labeled 'Windows7-64'. I expected this to add a boot option allowing boot from either Vista or W7 but this did not happen.

INSTALLATION

This all seemed to go fine and W7 installed without error to the Windows7_64 partition but:

  • it's drive letter became 'C'
  • the Vista partition drive letter became 'D'.
  • W7 could not see the partition on Drive 0 at all.
So I'm starting to panic here because all my user data was suddenly hidden and no obvious way to make it visible.

FLUKE RECOVERY

I booted the system with the W7 DVD again and went through the installation process again to ensure that I hadn't missed an obscure checkbox or some other reference to multi-boot.

I hit [enter] once too many times and it started to reinstall W7 again. I hit cancel - which froze the machine. So I powered it off. On a restart my original boot entries reappeared and all my partitions and both drives were back to their original state.

SO WHAT HELP AM I AFTER?

Thanks for bearing with me this far! What I'm now stuck with is a fear that any attempt to reinstall W7 again is going to hide my 'Disk 0' again and I may not be so lucky with a fluke recovery. So:

  • Is it normal for the drive letters to change (I was presuming Vista would always be C: and W7 D: in my setup)?
  • Can EasyBCD 1.7 help (EBCD 2.0.0.76 beta does not work on my PC - see bug reports)?
  • Any and all other suggestions gratefully received?!
Oh - and I presume that my 30 day activation grace period is now counting down.

Cheers,
--
Neale
Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children
 

Attachments

Last edited:

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
Hi Neale.
If you reinstall W7, the clock will start again on your activation grace period. In theory you could use a Windows OS indefinitely without ever activating it, as long as you're prepared to reinstall it every month. I assume MS is not too concerned that that would be a practical proposition which will appeal to enough users to dent their bottom line.

Windows allocates disk letters dynamically at boot. They don't exist in the real world. They're just registry entries, so no 2 Windows OSs will agree about what's called what, except by the coincidence of the detection order of the hardware, or by user action in associating a particular letter with the UID of a specific partition or device in Disk Management.
When you install Windows by booting the DVD (as opposed to executing setup from a running OS). It will default to calling itself C:
It's quite normal therefore for Vista to see itself as C: and W7 as D:, whilst W7 sees the exact opposite.
(In my case the booted one is C:, the idle one is I: )
What one system thinks will in no way affect the operation of the other.
It's good practice, as soon as you've installed an OS, to make permanent letter assignments for all of your partitions, CD/DVD drives, USB devices, and set in stone your own lettering scheme.
Then on subsequent OS installs, do the same, so that whenever (and wherever) you plug in a flashdrive/camera etc, it will always be called the same thing.
If you don't do this, and you just allow the default lettering to give an appearance of permanence, one day when you add a HDD or a PCI card, or even just change the cable layout inside the PC, you can find all of your devices change letters, and installed apps fail left right and centre.
(Disk management won't let you change the letter of the active OS of course. (though I believe W7 has a bug that fails to stop you) If you did/do, you break the OS, which can't find its own drivers any more.)

I believe your problem is probably due to the disconcerting habit of W7 playing "hide the boot files" during the install. It makes provision (whether you want it or not) for use of bitlocker encryption of the OS partition by placing the boot files elsewhere.
In a single HDD dual-boot with Vista, that would normally involve adding itself to the Vista BCD, effecting an automatic dual-boot. When multiple HDDs are involved, the situation gets more complicated. It will often put its boot files on the other HDD, and not assign a letter to that partition.
(as you've seen above, that doesn't stop Vista still seeing the partition by its own letter definition)

If you install W7 to an empty HDD, and let it allocate partitions itself, it will create a 100Mb unlettered boot partition in front of the C: disk where the remainder of the OS goes.

In your case, I think it's treating your user-data as its boot partition, and not assigning a letter within W7. It won't have done it any harm, but without a letter, Explorer in W7 can't see the contents.
If you put the user-data HDD first in the BIOS boot sequence, you'll probably find that W7 boots instead of Vista.
In W7, give your I: disk its letter back with Disk management, and you should find that W7 can then see all the user data again.
Post back, and we'll advise on how to tidy up the boot, depending on where you want to boot from.
 
Last edited:

neale

New Member
#3
In your case, I think it's treating your user-data as its boot partition, and not assigning a letter within W7. It won't have done it any harm, but without a letter, Explorer in W7 can't see the contents.
If you put the user-data HDD first in the BIOS boot sequence, you'll probably find that W7 boots instead of Vista.
In W7, give your I: disk its letter back with Disk management, and you should find that W7 can then see all the user data again.
Post back, and we'll advise on how to tidy up the boot, depending on where you want to boot from.
Pure genius Terry. Doing as you said it tried to load W7, but failed (presumably my aborting it (see Fluke Recovery) trashed something. It rebooted itself and loaded Vista.

So:
Should I reinstall W7 so that I have both OS working and it just needs the 'tidy up the boot' you suggest.

Or:
Is there something else I should do before reinstalling?
As it will need reinstalling anyway, at some point, would it be better to do some from WITHIN Vista?

Cheers,
--
Neale
Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children
 
Last edited:

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
If you're going to reinstall, temporarily disconnect the user_data HDD first, and W7 should automatically dual-boot itself by using the Vista BCD.
Then reconnect user_data and make sure that the other HDD is first in the BIOS.
You can delete the "boot" folder and bootmgr file on the data HDD (do this to see them) which are just the detritus of the first install.
 

neale

New Member
#5
If you're going to reinstall, temporarily disconnect the user_data HDD first, and W7 should automatically dual-boot itself by using the Vista BCD.
Do you have any suggestions to disconnect the drive 'logically' rather than 'physically' (the latter being a major undertaking!)? I've disabled the drive in the BIOS and in the Vista hardware settings but the W7 DVD still sees it.

If not, how complex would the 'tidy up' steps be to fix the issue and leave me Vista on 'C:' and W7 on 'D'?

Cheers,
--
Neale
Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#6
If it's a laptop, you should be able to eject the HDD. A desktop, just remove the left side panel and pull out the power or data connector to the HDD.
If you really don't want to do either, you can reinstall W7 as before, boot W7 by putting the data disk first in the boot sequence, give the partition a letter, then use EasyBCD 2.0/diagnostics/change boot drive.
 

neale

New Member
#7
If you're going to reinstall, temporarily disconnect the user_data HDD first, and W7 should automatically dual-boot itself by using the Vista BCD.
Many thanks Terry, I did as you suggested and it all went exactly as you described giving me startup choices of W7 or Vista.

Cheers,
--
Neale
Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#8
Great.
Now it's working, is your EasyBCD bug report problem resolved ? Can you run Easy on W7 ?