xp first, vista 2nd, then xp again... now dead computer!

#1
My xp and vista were working perfectly together on 2 separate drives.There were no problems booting. Then my xp (which was installed first) developed some tcp/ip problems after a registry cleaner (stupidly I didn't back up the registry). After numerous failed attempts at tcp/ip fixes the only thing left was to repair the registry. Knowing I could possible lose everything in my xp system, I decided to install a a copy of xp I had backed up a month before I ruined my system. I still wanted to keep the old xp since it had bunch of stuff that wasn't in the backup. Hopefully, in time, I would learn how to fix it or a least get the backup loaded and configured like the first xp. I thought there would be no problem because vista and xp were on separate drives. If things went wrong in xp, I'd always have vista to help recover. After reading a bit of this forum I found out too late how wrong I was. So I decided to install the backup xp on the same disk as the original xp, but it wouldn't boot to the new xp, only to the old xp the first os on the disk. Now at the time I had no idea it was a boot problem, I thought something was wrong with the recovery. The first time the recovery was done to a logical partition, so after reading the directions in the recovery program ,on the next try I did it as a primary partition and then as active partition. Each time I eidited easybcd to boot the new xp, but no luck, only booting to the old xp. Before shutting down I made sure I could boot vista and there was no problem. I could see the second xp was on the drive, so after some sleep I decided the problem was with booting and that's when I started reading the info at this forum on how a boot works. I get home after work and turned on my computer, ready to tackle my boot problem with the help of this forum, only to find out there was to be no booting. Instead I got a "non-system disk or disk error" message. I know all is not lost, but I have no idea about howto correct this problem. I think the mbr has to be replaced, but I don't know where to start. I need step by step help. I am not knowledgeable on boot issues and had no idea I was creating such a huge problem. Please have pity on me and direct me how to get out of this pile of crap I've stepped into.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
Hi gidoro, welcome to NST.
Not exactly sure what your situation is at the moment, but a couple of things I can see from your post.
When you boot XP(s) through Vista's BCD, Vista chains to XP's bootloader (NTLDR) and that's where the choice of multiple XPs is made. You don't add a second XP to the BCD, you add it to boot.ini (the file used by NTLDR)
The "active" flag is a signal to the Master Boot Record (MBR) of where to locate the boot files. If you modify it to point to the wrong place your PC will of course, fail to boot.
Make sure that the partition which contains the files NTLDR, ntdetect.com, boot.ini, bootmgr and the folder called "boot" in its root is on the HDD which is first in the BIOS sequence, and has the "active" flag set. (You need to ensure that folder options look like this to be able to see them)
If Vista boots, add an entry to boot.ini for your 2nd XP system, and when you select XP from the 1st menu, you'll get a second menu allowing you to choose between XPs.
If Vista doesn't boot, put your Vista DVD in the tray, boot from it and follow the instructions to repair the Vista boot. Then do the XP stuff in boot.ini.
 
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#3
Hi Terry,

i got Vista working and I can boot into xp, but just like before I still can't boot in to the 2nd xp.

Both xps have a boot.ini in the root directory. I'm just not sure what change to make and should it be to the first xp? Here's what the files look like:

First position & old xp:
;Warning: Use BCDEDIT.exe to modify Windows Vista boot options.
;
[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\windows
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\windows="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /FASTDETECT /NoExecute=OptOut

Second xp:
;Warning: Use BCDEDIT.exe to modify Windows Vista boot options.
;
[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN /FASTDETECT

Right now, I'm tired& confused and don't know what to add or change. From these files can you tell what's wrong and do you know how to get it working? Thanks again for all your help.

gidoro
 

JustinW

Super Moderator
Staff member
#4
gidoro, welcome to NST

Your boot.ini should look like this, with it at the root of your "active"/system partition. You can find out which one that is from disk management:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional - Install 1" /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN /FASTDETECT
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\windows="Microsoft Windows XP Professional - Install 2" /FASTDETECT /NoExecute=OptOut
What happens is that it only reads from one boot.ini file. So with the way you have it currently, there's only one entry in there and its booting one of your XP installs right away without giving you a menu.
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#5
Read point 3 of the sticky thread and locate the "system" partition.
That's where the copy of boot.ini will be found which you need to change.
Follow Justin's post, but remember that if the copy of boot.ini is on the other HDD (not the one with 2 XPs), then the value of rdisk() will be (1) everywhere it occurs. (rdisk(0) means the disk you're booting from ("system"), rdisk(1) is the other one)
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#7
Done.
 
#8
It's working, but have a submenu

Thanks Terry and kairozamorro.

I am now able to boot both XP systems and Vista. I learned a lot about booting and will do some research before installing linux and windows 7.

I edited boot.ini in the old or first installation XP in the C partition on the first drive using kairozamorro's info. The only problem is when the when I select "Installation 1" in the Windows boot menu I get the 2nd XP, which is located on the Z partition on the same drive. Likewise, when I select "Installation 2" I get the first XP. Now I know the original 1st XP is on the C partitiion and the 2nd installation is on the Z partition. I didn't have time last night to figure out why this is happening.

Another thing I have EasyBCD installed so I get that boot menu when starting up the computer. If I select either xp installation in that menu, it goes to the windows boot menu where I can select the different xp installations. I understand why that is happening , because of the new boot.ini file, but I was wondering if I can make it all happen in the BCD menu. It's not a big deal dealing with a sub menu, but I was wondering will I have trouble when I install other operating systems? Regardless, I really appreciate your help and enlightening me about the boot process.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#9
That's the MS design unfortunately.
You can manage a multiple Vista/multiple XP boot through a single menu, using a 3rd party bootloader like Grub to chain the other bootloaders after setting their respective drives to be the root, but I'd advise you to stick to the 2 stage boot, till you've mastered the whole multi-boot process, because that's another layer of complexity you don't need just yet.
When you understand exactly what caused you to write this
I edited boot.ini in the old or first installation XP in the C partition on the first drive using kairozamorro's info. The only problem is when the when I select "Installation 1" in the Windows boot menu I get the 2nd XP, which is located on the Z partition on the same drive. Likewise, when I select "Installation 2" I get the first XP. Now I know the original 1st XP is on the C partitiion and the 2nd installation is on the Z partition. I didn't have time last night to figure out why this is happening
then you'll be in better shape to start tuning up the boot process.
 

JustinW

Super Moderator
Staff member
#10
Just change the titles, and re-arrange them. New boot.ini:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\windows="Microsoft Windows XP Professional - Install 1" /FASTDETECT /NoExecute=OptOut
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional - Install 2" /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN /FASTDETECT
 
#11
I know that switching the entries would put everything in the correct order. What I don't understand is why the first installation is at partition(2) when I know is located on the first partition of the HD.

gidoro
 

JustinW

Super Moderator
Staff member
#12
Well technically partition 1 is your first installation, partition 2 your second. It depends on what you as the user consider it to be...

If you were relying on drive letters to figure out which is which, than that won't help you because they are dependant on the OS you are running.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#13
Partitions are numbered by the order they come in the partition table. Generally, that'll be the order you created them in and not necessarily their order on the disk. In a complex delete, shrink, expand, add new situation it can be difficult to tell sometimes.
If you run EasyBCD 2.0, go to add/remove programs, click on the linux tab, and look at the dropdown partition list (don't actually add an entry of course, just stop before actually hitting the add button), you'll see all your partitions enumerated.