What do do after reformatting and reinstalling XP on a complex multiboot system

#1
If you're curious, I can tell you how and why I did this and am in this mess later. Anyway, after reformatting the partition and reinstalling XP and then reinstalling EasyBCD 2.2 on XP I noticed that all the other OS's were listed in EasyBCD as restored with the correct drive letters as well. I only had to put in the name XP for the default boot drive C which was not listed. Will clicking the "save settings" button on the bottom of "Edit Boot Menu" screen bring back this menu in a working state and fix all my boot problems into the other OS's? Would it be wiser to go down into the more complex repair options listed? How can I save the existing XP boot loader in case I lose access to my only XP as well? I should point out that I didn't expect it to show the old Linux entries. I may look at that later. Thanks in advance for your expert guidance.
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
Windows installations always replace the bootloader in the "active" partition with that from the OS being installed. This design makes the not illogical assumption that newer OSs get installed after older ones in the natural order of things, and the boot is designed to recognize those older OSs and automatically dual-boot them. This logic is impeccable (and works), but falls to pieces if an older OS is installed after a newer. (e.g. W7 won't dual boot W8, Vista won't dual boot W7 and/or W8, XP ditto for all of the above)
In the case of Vista/7/8, the problem is easily circumvented because they all use the same MBR/IPL/PBR, and the same (if different level) boot manager but XP really does put you in the state where nothing newer can be booted, because the boot manager/loader is an entirely different program and the PBR is altered to find it.
You must therefore repair the boot back to a state capable of loading Vista/7/8, either with a Vista/7/8 DVD (newest available)
Fixing the Windows Bootloader via the setup DVD
or using EasyBCD
Recovering the Windows Bootloader
Once you can boot the newer OS(s) again EasyBCD will do whatever's required to make XP bootable via the newer boot manager.
 
#3
Thank you very much for this informed reply. I already tried the standard Windows 7 repair disk. It recognized the Win7 installation. I chose automated repair which immediately caused the computer to restart and offer to reboot the dvd a second time. I allowed it to continue to the hard disk whereupon it went back directly into XP. I figured there was an issue with the default boot being C: (according to EasyBCD) and Win 7 is on D: Am I correct in my understanding that the Easy Recovery Disk which you sell is desirable but not essential?
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
The EasyRE disk is only really necessary for users who have a OEM supplied copy of Windows (i.e. No Windows DVD) and who have also failed to create themselves a repair CD whilst their PC was fully functional.
You should be able to use your repair disk. Remember to boot it and run the repair three times, it has many things to fix and only does one per pass.
 
#5
The EasyRE disk is only really necessary for users who have a OEM supplied copy of Windows (i.e. No Windows DVD) and who have also failed to create themselves a repair CD whilst their PC was fully functional.
You should be able to use your repair disk. Remember to boot it and run the repair three times, it has many things to fix and only does one per pass.
Is there a way to backup my new XP bootloader before I continue with the repair attempts? I would like to retain the XP as it is the one I have spent most of the past 15 years using and it's fully updated and working faster than it ever has before.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#6
You don't need to.
EasyBCD will do everything necessary to boot any working copy of XP.
 
#7
Thanks for your continued support and patience and for your expert guidance. I'll have a look at that XP backup in EasyBCD later. Last night I ran the Win7 repair disk over and over. It said Windows could not fix the errors automatically on 3 of these attempts, and I kept sending the info to MS, but when I rebooted ... behold the menu was back and 4 of the 6 entries booted successfully. Thanks to EasyBCD no doubt. The two entries that did not boot were Win8 and Win8.1. Nothing outlined in your guide worked for them - neither the auto nor the advanced options. In the advanced the textual replies indicated that there did not appear to be any /boot or /bcd existing at all on those partitions. I restored an image of Win8 using Acronis TI but still no joy. There was an option in Acronis to restore the MBR to the disk on which Win 7, 8, and 8.1 resided. I chose to omit this MBR item because I do not understand about MBR's and where they are located in a multiboot setup. I didn't want to risk throwing the existing boot menu out of sequence and stop it from working as well as it is already. Should I go back and use Acronis TI again to restore the MBR to that disk as well? My "basic" Windows backups were a waste of time for a first time user. and I could not load them from the Win8 DVD. It is not clear to me what part of the backup file structure Windows wanted me to click on for Windows to recognize it, plus it wanted me to load a driver for my external drive which was already mounted and for which I never did install a driver. Perhaps I needed to go into Windows backup and restore from there. Not too convenient when you can't get into Windows 8 in the first place. If I was into Windows I wouldn't need to restore. Otherwise, would a full reformat and reinstall of Win8 and/or Win8.1 from the DVD's throw out the existing menu or could I just format those two partitions, delete the entries from EasyBCD and save? Do I need to put back both operating systems again? The Metro in Windows 8/8.1 is somewhat distracting to me when it pops up anyway. I certainly can live without all these operating systems for awhile. Truthfully one or two OS's is the most that can be justified. It was, of course, just a fun exercise for me to see if I could make it work.
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#8
If you go back to my original reply, you'll see
.........W7 won't boot W8....
and
.........(newest available)
You've fixed the boot files with a W7 DVD (hence you can't boot W8)
You can however workaround the problem by copying the bootmgr program from the W8 root into the W7 root (rename the W7 version to bootmgr7 or something else first. You'll see the W8 version is larger than W7)
Next time you boot, the bootmgr won't reject the digital signature of W8's winload and you should be able to boot everything.

There's no "XP backup" in EasyBCD. I just meant that EasyBCD is capable of creating everything necessary to boot XP regardless of the state of XP's boot files.
 
#9
I'm losing my posts due to problems with comments not being saved - forgetting to log in first, etc. Some forum web pages are different than others. Is there a walk though for copying the boot files? Is that done inside EasyBCD? Did you mean what you said - to copy from Win8 to Win7. I didn't think there was any boot loader in Win8 to copy.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#10
All Windows since Vista boot the same way.
The bootmgr module is the manager and is super-hidden in the root of whichever partition is flagged "system" in Disk Management, as is the \boot folder which contains the other boot files including the BCD. You need folder options set like this to see them.
The boot loader (winload) sits in the \System32 subfolder of the \Windows folder on the C drive.
However each successive version differs from the previous versions and all are digitally signed meaning that an earlier version cannot recognize a later version as genuine. Any later version contains complete backward compatibility, so can be easily substituted for the earlier.
If you use W8's bootmgr, it will recognize all winloads of any age as genuine.
 
#11
Thanks again. Yes in disk management in XP, drive C (XP) is flagged as System and I can see the Boot folder as well as the bootmgr file in the root; however I cannot see Winload in the System32 folder for drive C or any other OS drive. I thought I had my folder options set to show everything. Being that you only said, "copy the bootmgr program from the W8 root into the W7 root (renaming the W7 version to bootmgr7 or something else first," maybe I don't need to be concerned about the fact that I can't see winload anywhere as Vista and Win7 are loading fine it's got to be there and no doubt hidden. I'm supposed to be Admin. I don't know if there's any higher level than admin....On the other hand, using a search utility called "everything," winload.exe shows up in D Win7,G Win8.1,M Vista X86,N VistaX64 , and O Win8. So XP is the only system that does not have it. I guess that's what you said. I haven't been seeing it because it's nested inside long named folders like winsxs/amd64....environment.... It's odd that it seems to show like 20 times in each OS. This is uncharted territory for me.

---------- Post added at 02:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:52 PM ----------

It seems to me that the only way I'm going to get Win8 flagged as system in disk management is if I'm already booted into Win8. Working from XP, neither Win7 nor Win8 is flagged as system so boomgr is not going to be available to view or copy. Did you mean for me to boot into Win7 to do the copy?

---------- Post added at 02:48 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:37 PM ----------

No, in Win7, XP is still flagged as system. Is this the default OS as set in EasyBCD. Will it help to use EasyBCD to change the default to Win7 while booted into Win7? Do I need to save the new configuration? Will marking Win8 as default from Win7 make boomgr in Win8 avaiable from here?

---------- Post added at 05:00 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:48 PM ----------

I forgot to let you know, you said yesterday, "You've fixed the boot files with a W7 DVD (hence you can't boot W8)." It's true that I used the W7 DVD 5 or 6 times which brought back the menu. I don't know if I also metnioned that, after the two Win8 entries failed to boot i used a W8 DVD and or Win8 Repair Disk and a W8.1 DVD on the respective partitions several times as well. In each case I went from automatic to advanced options. I have no idea if that made any changes after the fact or not. I don't think that I intentionally used the W7 disk on the W8 partitions (didn't select them from the list of 6 OS's), at least I would have had no reason to do this as the W8 disks were lying on the desk next to me.

---------- Post added at 09:10 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:00 PM ----------

Is this sequence similar to what you have in mind? Bootmgr - Move to C:\ with EasyBCD - Windows 7 Help Forums I suppose I could copy from Win 7 to Win8. I have EasyBCD insstalled on every OS. Is that a problem? Can I edit my bootloade with he EasyBCD that is installed on any OS?

---------- Post added at 10:02 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:10 PM ----------

I just got back into Win8.1 using startuip recovery from the DVD. Funny that it said that Windows was NOT able to fix the problems again even though when I rebooted and chose the menu option it went right in. Don't know why it didn't work last night.
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#12
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 "real" flag. i.e. has a bit set in the MBR partition table. The others are virtual flags. They are just informational indicators reported to you by the Disk Management snap-in to tell you where it found elements of the boot chain.
In the case of Vista/7/8, "boot" (the system you are running) is the location of Winload, the last link in the chain found with the rest of the OS.

There is no winload in XP.
XP has a combined manager/loader unlike Vista/7/8. It's called NTLDR and its data repository (the BCD equivalent) is a text file called boot.ini.
All of XPs boot files are found on the OS partition in the root.
It's only since W7 that MS began separating the boot manager from the rest of the OS.

Is everything working for you now ?
 
#13
Yes, thank you very much for your patience with me this past few days. I just got into the final OS (win8) in the same way. Again I used automatic startup repair from a Win8 recovery disk This time the "attempting repairs" went on for around a half hour. Being the impatient person that I am, I watched a movie on my downstairs pc. When I came back the pc was in XP (the default), so I don't know what the final message was. Upon rebooting from xp and choosing win8 from the menu it went straight into my Win8 account and deskop and Vistart (the replacment I have been using for the Win7 button loaded. I'm very pleased. This thread should be useful for others we hope. I said I could tell you how and why I reinstalled XP when I knew what the result was going to be.I forget some of it. It's because XP is still my favorite OS. The problems began when I was working in Win 8.1 and for no apparent reason after simply creating a new desktop wallpaper in 8.1 it decided upon reboot to boot back into itslf over and over (I lost my multiboot menu). I can't remember about the other OS's and what happened when I tried various dvd's, but when I tried to load xP via the DVD it said it needed to be repaired. fixboot and fixmbr brought back another error message that ntostrnl.exe was missing and please reinstall this file which I did not know how to do.. At this point I was pissed. I said to myself, "this is going to continue" and next time it will need another file. That was when I typed format c: Anyway, getting it all back wasn't too bad. I don't know why sometimes the DVD startup repairs worked and other times they did not. Anyhow, thanks again for your patience. Would you please help me with one more thing. If there's a way, I'd like to backup this multiboot loader, expecially if it could be done to an external disk. Tomorrow I will be trying to restore Grub. Best regards to you Terry and the rest of the Neosmart support team.
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#14
You can see in EasyBCD > Backup/Restore that it has backed up your BCD already.
You can specify the location of that backup and make a fresh copy any time you like with the "Backup Settings" button.

I would guess your original problems were caused by W8 "fast boot".
It may be fast, but it's not a boot. It's a heavily disguised hibernate/resume masquerading as a shutdown/boot.
It's designed to make it appear that the boot process has been accelerated, whereas in truth it has been avoided.
This makes a single-OS PC (especially in conjunction with UEFI) appear magically fast and keeps the masses happy (bread and circuses !), but it sits very ill within a multi-boot.
In order to get to another OS from the pretend boot menu, W8 must give up the pretense of being in the middle of a boot, shut down the hibernating W8 for real this time and kick off a real boot (POST/BIOS/ et al) until it gets to a real boot menu again.
If you interrupt this charade in any way other than via the pretend boot menu, all the OSs involved can get themselves into a minefield of confusion, which W8 attempts to resolve with its unstoppable self-repair routines. They might fix W8, but they generally b*****r up all the other OSs. (W8's whole boot/repair philosophy is designed around the premise that it lives alone in an ivory tower, owned by a simpleton who just wants and needs a "fix me" button)
I would advise you to enter W8 power options, select the hidden "extras", and go to the "what the power button does" screen.
Untick "fast boot" forthwith and don't ever use it again unless you decide that W8 is the best thing since sliced bread and abandon all your other OSs.
 
#15
Thanks so much for the additional information. Grub is going to overwrite the Windows MBR so access to Windows is going to be dependent on Grub detecting the Windows OS's. Typically it doesn't detect them all, but for my last two Linux installation, one of the links was to the multiboot loader. If for some reason I restore a Grub loader that does not link to any of the windows OS's at all. what will be the methold of choice for getting back into Windoes? Will I go back to the Win 7 repair disk again? I will leave that until tomorrow at least. BTW, I found fast start and turned it off in Win8 but could not find it in Win8.1
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#16
You can instruct the Linux install not to overwrite the MBR but to place grub in the Linux partition.
That will protect the existing MS multiboot. You can then add a Linux entry to the BCD and EasyBCD will automatically locate it and set up everything necessary.
 
#17
Thanks for this. I wasn't aware of that possibility. I didn't point out the fact to you that the two Linux OS's are already installed - they are just inaccessible now because the Grub Menu is gone since I reformated drive C. Is there a way to use EasyBCD to make them accessible again without reinstalling? I know there is a Grub recovery disk called Supergrub but I didn't think there was a way of recovering it without overwriting the MS MBR. Also, I don't know if Supergrub can recover it after formatting the boot drive.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#18
Yes, EasyBCD can do that; just add a Linux entry selecting the correct version of GRUB:

 
#19
Hello again, I queried Olfred at ubuntuforums.org about restoring grub for Linux and/or reinstalling Ubuntu. He mentioned that there were issues with writing the MBR to the Linux partition. One of the things he also mentioned based on a system info disk was that there presently were no boot files whatever in my Windows 7 partition. I tried startup repair another 3 times using a Win7 repair disk but it keeps coming back saying it is unable to repair the problem. I prefer to avoid the system restore option if that is possible. Is there a safe way to install the boot files for Win7 using the bootrec.exe options from the command prompt without damaging the existing 6 OS boot menu? Alternatively will it work if I copy the boot files from another working Win7 system? BTW, all of the systems are still booting successfully from the existing multiboot menu but may not be bootable directly by Grub. Thanks in advance for any further comments.
 
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