Will this 2-HDs Configuration work?

#1
There were some excellent pieces of advice during October 2009 and June 2012 by Terry60 and others on the subject of creating a dual-boot configuration of a Win XP machine with the subsequent addition of a Win 7 installation on a second HD. Following those recommendations, I am all set to do the following and would greatly appreciate the comments/advice of Terry60 (and any other forum friends) and to be made aware of any potential failures if I follow the listed steps. Any additional actions that I should take in the process would also be welcome. (Sorry, I could not find an answer from past Forum entries) --
1. Install an additional 500 GB HD in my PC, format it and partition it into two, (200GB – Win 7 Boot and Programs) and (300 GB – Data). I would temporarily label them P: and Q:
2. Disconnect my XP after making a full HD Image backup. (Incidentally, my system meets or exceeds MS eligibility for Win 7.)
3. Install Win 7 on Partition P:, later presumably to be changed to C: by the Win 7 Installer.
4. Shut down after successful installation of Win 7. Reconnect Win XP HD to PC. Restart PC with both HDs connected. On this start Win 7 will hopefully recognise the right of the Win XP HD to co-exist and reconfigure the system automatically.
5. Install EasyBCD and add an entry for Win XP.
6. Re-label my existing Win XP HD partitions from the present: C:, D:, E: and F: to become D:, E:, F: and G:
7. Re-label the new HD partitions C: and H:
Terry60 had previously advised formatting the Win 7-intended HD but not partitioning it. Would my formatting the new second HD and labelling both partitions avoid the problems he had visualised? I would be grateful if he could look into this.
Many thanks for your help.
Hektor
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
Disk letters are ephemeral. They don't exist in the real world. When you turn off your PC, none of the partitions has a letter.
Boot a portable copy of Linux from a CD and look at a Windows PC's HDDs and you'll find no letters.
If you haven't used the "Volume Label" option when you format the partitions in Windows, you'll have trouble telling which is which.
Moral - always use the volume label. Call your partitions "Windows 7 System" and "User Data". (Or whatever you fancy. You have 32 characters on a NTFS partition, 8 Upper Case if it's FAT) It doesn't matter what letters you assign. Only the system you are running when you do the format will know them by those letters; they're entries in its registry.
When you boot the W7 DVD (which is an OS in its own right), it will assign its own letters to those partitions during the install (not the same as you used in XP, nor what the Installed OS will eventually use), so your only infallible way of identifying them is by the unambiguous description you wrote in stone (actually in the MBR Partition Table) in the volume label field.
If I had a pound for every time someone here has accidentally overwritten their existing OS whilst thinking they were installing a new OS in an empty space, I would not be rich, but I could get comfortably drunk on the proceeds. ( "I know I didn't overwrite my C disk ! I was very careful" )
Each OS has its own map of letters to partitions/devices. They bear no relation to each other unless you take the trouble to synchronize them by the way you chose to do the installation(s) and by subsequent use of Disk Management.
Windows (any flavour) will install as "C" if it's alone (or thinks it is). It will put its boot files in the "active" partition.
For a fresh install of any Windows OS into a new "active" partition, the whole OS including the boot files will be in that partition and it will be "C".
Complications arise with W7 and W8 if you allow the setup program to install into empty (unformatted) space. By default, both will create two partitions in the space. The first it will make active, label "System Reserved" and use for the boot files, and the larger second will contain the main OS (and be "C"). This will eat up one of your allocation of four primary partitions for no good purpose unless you intend to encrypt the main OS.

If Windows setup can see an active partition anywhere on the PC and it's not the target location for the OS, that's where it will place its boot files. It uses this architecture to automate dual-booting.
If the active partition is an existing copy of Windows, it adds the boot files of the new system to those of the old and automatically creates a dual-boot. For Vista/7/8 the new OS will still be "C" (in its own mind) but XP behaves differently. It decides that it will make itself a different letter because another system exists.
If you want each system to be "C" when you boot it, you must force XP by persuading it that it is the only existing OS. (disconnect others first if on different HDDs, or make sure that the new target partition is the "active" one, not the prior OS)
If you want all of your systems to boot as different letters, you must run setup from your DVD on a booted copy of Windows (not boot the DVD) That way the running OS must use the next available letter because one letter cannot be assigned to more than one device.

My advice is to have all running OSs as "C", to synchronize the letters of your CD/DVD ROM, flashdrives, data partitions etc. so that each booted OS knows them by the same letter, and have the non-booted OS assigned to a sync'd letter.
e.g. XP sees itself as "C" and W7 as "x", but when you boot W7, It sees itself as "C" and XP as "x". Everything else looks the same from both sides.
 
#3
Thanks to Terry
Many thanks to Terry for the detailed explanation. His valuable advice about the importance of not confusing drive letters and Volume Labels shall be at the top of my checklist.
I would appreciate knowing from Terry if the procedure listed by me (modified version below) has a good chance of giving me two hardware-conjoined but otherwise independently operating systems – Win XP and Win 7 – in a dual-boot arrangement:
1. Make a full HD Image backup of my original 2 TB Win XP HD with all its four partitions. All four already carry proper Volume Labels, and the names of Volume Labels on the new HD will use distinctly different words.
2. With power off, physically disconnect my XP HD. Install the new and second HD of 500 GB HD.
3. Power up, format the 500GB HD, dividing it on the way to installing Win 7 on it, into two partitions, the first partition of 200 GB carrying the Volume Name – Win 7 Boot and Programs; and the second partition of 300 GB carrying the Volume Name – Data and Graphics.
4. Shut down after successful installation of Win 7. Reconnect Win XP HD to PC. Restart PC with both HDs connected. On this start Win 7 will hopefully recognise and allow the Win XP HD to co-exist and reconfigure the system automatically.
5. Install EasyBCD and add an entry for Win XP. Also adjust dual-boot sequence and time delay as necessary.
I shall be grateful for Terry’s response.
Hektor.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
That looks fine.
Add to 4
After reconnecting XP, double check that the BIOS has the W7 HDD before the XP HDD in the boot sequence (it should be, the last booted solo HDD normally takes top spot)

6. Boot XP, apply this hack
System Restore Points - Stop XP Dual Boot Delete
set XP system restore to monitor XP partition, any partition containing XP installed apps.
Turn system restore off for every other partition.
7. Boot W7, Turn W7 system restore on for the W7 OS and programs partition, off for all the other partitions.
Create a restore point with a unique easily identifiable name.
8. Boot XP
9. Boot W7, check that the restore point you created still exists.
 
#5
Thanks to Terry
Many thanks Terry for taking the trouble to provide your clearly worded advice. Much appreciated.
I hope to get back to the forum (victor or vanquished) to share with other members how this dual-boot
configuration set up turns out, as soon as I have been able to achieve a stable level of performance.
Thanks again.
Hektor
 
#6
Terry,
I am trying to set up "System Restore" with a 2 hard drive dual boot system. Windows 7 OS on both drives.

When I boot to Hard Drive 1 Win 7 OS - Hard Drive 1 is C: Hard Drive 2 is N:
When I boot to Hard Drive 2 Win 7 OS - Hard Drive 2 is C: Hard Drive 1 is N:

On both Drives I have set up System Restore to Be "On" for the C: drive and "Off" for the N: drive.
After creating a clearly labeled System restore point from both the C: drives I reboot the computer and my system restore points are erased from the drive that is not the current OS.

Where are these system restore points saved?
On a single boot PC the System Restore points are stored in the hidden "System Volume Information" folder in the root directory. This folder does not exist on either of my drives. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Frank
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#7
Frank, the SVI folder is the repository of SR points and shadow copies.
You need folder options set thus to see them.
If they're genuinely missing, I'd guess something is going wrong with your attempt to boot the second system.
Is it a clone of the first ?
I've seen several reports of people cloning Vista/7 and finding that when they change one and boot the other they see the changes on that one too.
Possibly they're not booting the clone at all.
Check Disk Management "boot" flag
"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"
to confirm it's on the one you think you're running.

I would guess that switching SR off on the N drive is to blame, and in your case probably unnecessary.
W7 won't harm the restore point folder on the other drive the way XP does.
Try leaving it switched on for both drives on both OSs and see what happens.
 
#8
Frank, the SVI folder is the repository of SR points and shadow copies.
You need folder options set thus to see them.
If they're genuinely missing, I'd guess something is going wrong with your attempt to boot the second system.
Is it a clone of the first ?
I've seen several reports of people cloning Vista/7 and finding that when they change one and boot the other they see the changes on that one too.
Possibly they're not booting the clone at all.
Check Disk Management "boot" flag
"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"
to confirm it's on the one you think you're running.

I would guess that switching SR off on the N drive is to blame, and in your case probably unnecessary.
W7 won't harm the restore point folder on the other drive the way XP does.
Try leaving it switched on for both drives on both OSs and see what happens.
=============================================
Thanks for the quick reply Terry.
Yes it was the "Hide protected operating system files" box that was checked, now I can see the SVI folder, although can't click into it and see it's contents.

I did turn back on the System Restore for both N drives respectively and it seems to be saving the restore points.
The only question is, if I do use system restore to roll back one of these C drives, will it also roll back the N drive?
That could be bad... or very bad.

I wonder if it is worth pulling one drive then booting the system with a single drive and creating a restore point with just the one drive attached.
Then shut down and do the same for the other. It's a bit of work, but may guarantee me a clean restore if the need arises.

Frank
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#9
I don't think it will touch the other system unless you have accidentally cross-configured them in some way.
It only rolls back system changes and apps installed after the restore point, so nothing it's rolling back on "a" should affect "b" if they're genuinely independent.