XP will not boot after moving partition

I was working on a friends machine that had Vista installed from the OEM (Compaq) and decided to install XP. Followed all the guides after installing XP and ended with a perfectly working dual boot system. I then had to move the XP partition closer to the leading edge of the disk to facilitate getting two chunks of unallocated space together in one area. After moving the XP partition, it appeared to be booting but made it past the original boot screen seemingly faster than usual or before. Then as it started to load the welcome/logon (light blue) screen, the XP logo that loads right before the user logon accounts and picture loaded and just freezes. No user logon list loads.

Vista is installed in its original C:
XP is installed in X:

What I have tried:
1. Re-create/repair boot files and clicked Perform action - Didn't work
2. Removed XP Entry and re-added it with 'Auto detect
3. Advanced Settings changed XP drive to X:, saved settings and in 'BCD Deployment clicked 'Write BCD'
Then got this message:
FILE \NST\ntldr
The selected entry could not be located because the application is either missing or corrupted.
4. Removed XP entry and re-added with (can't remember if I unchecked "auto detect correct dirve' this time or not but it went back to the freezing right before the logon screen again.

I have tried reading the documentation and looking into several forum post that are similar and it just seams confusing.
Any help would be appreciated.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Sorry about that. Same problem here. Don't know if it's temporary or if he let his domain name lapse at the end of the year.
I linked it because it's quite long to explain from scratch. The problem is to do with cloning a Windows OS to a new location which is identified with a different signature in the registry which does not match the entry listed as "C" causing it to be identified by PnP as the next available unused letter.
This means that the OS starts to boot as "x" but is unable to find all of its drivers which are registered as located at C:\Windows\System32\ etc etc, hence hanging in an agony of schizophrenic indecision, since C no longer appears to exist.
I'll see if I can locate another copy of the article and post a link if successful.
Thanks for the reply Terry.
So, a few questions and correct me where I am wrong.

1. I am to understand from this that moving an XP Pro partition over a few clicks to the left where there was unalocated space is essentially the same or does some of the same things as cloning, which causes the problem?

2. Can you confirm my curiosity that this only happens in multi-boot scenarios since I think I have moved system partitions before without incident.

3. The last two sentences confused me a little. You stated, "OS starts to boot as "x" but is unable to find all of its drivers which are registered as located at C:\Windows\System32\ etc etc ...........since C no longer appears to exist." I didn't install XP as C: like I read others did. Why, I don't know. I don't have any decisive answer other than, 'I thought it was the thing to do at the time' Maybe I should have installed it as C: and let XP and Vista trade off whichever one was active at the time. I think I read where that is a preferred option. How did any XP drivers get registered as in C:\Windows\System32 just by moving the partition?

4. I had the personal files of both OS's repointed to the F: My Files partition that you see in the picture I posted. I did that in anticipation that ONe Windows OS would not see the other and the same personal files directory could be used by my friend while using either OS. Found out that while in Vista, I can still see XP System on X: and while in XP I see Vista System on C:. I am concerned about third party apps installing certain files to C: and conflicting as I seen, I think in one of your posts, this can happen especially with Adobe products , which I may install. Also happens with MS Office as I tried before to install Office 2007 to another partition where I kept Program installs and it put some in that directory but MS also defaulted to putting some Office files in C:. My question here in number 4 is, 'Is there (and I think there obviously is) a better way to do this install to achieve the objective I am looking to realize and if so is there some perfect install tutorial that you know of somewhere where it explains how to dual or multi-boot install and not have third party program conflicts and Restore and Shadow Service problems or is the info I am looking for in multitudes of places?

5. In the photo I uploaded you will see the F: My files partition where both my friend's (My Pictures, My Downloads, My Videos, My Music) files were all redirected to on both OS's. I removed that before dong the move but I don't think that should have had any impact on login on XP would you?

As a side note, in that photo, the Xp partition was right up against the left side of the Vista Partition and I moved it over to the left in anticipation of moving Vista over to the right and consolidating the unalocated space in the middle where Linux may go and may put Win 7 on the leading edge.

Thanks for your patient consideration. It is helping in leaps and bounds.

Drive shot.jpg
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Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Sorry. Not re-reading your OP before replying is responsible.
I just assumed XP was previously C.
"x" in that sentence just means "an unknown letter", and "C" should have read "Something other than the previously mentioned "x"."
The fact that "Something other than the previously mentioned "x".", on your system happened to be "X", was a trifle confusing.

A web search reveals loads of references to the same website article in various postings all over the place about people with your problem, but I can find any copy of it, just the same broken links.
Essentially a partition's identity (in the registry) is a combination of the disk signature of the physical device, and the offset from the start of the device to the start of the partition.
Clone a partition, either to a new device, or to a new place on the same device and that identity changes.
When you boot the newly placed OS It looks in its registry to see if it has a particular letter, finds that it doesn't have one (no entry for that particular spot exists, only a now defunct X for a point somewhere close by) and allocates itself the next available free letter ("x"). It continues trying to locate its drivers, which are already in the cloned registry as existing on X:\Windows...... but cannot find them because no partition X is mounted.

The possible solutions mentioned in that article, were from memory

Use regedit to change x to X (Easy - and works fine in Vista/7/8 which all get far enough for regedit to run, but unfortunately not in XP which doesn't)

Take precautions before making the clone (hindsight is wonderful, but not often practical)

Use "kawecki's Trick" which involves a Windows 98 boot floppy with an antique copy of fdisk and an esoteric difference between the disk signatures of W98 and XP.
I'll leave you to search that one out and see if it would apply in your case, if indeed you even have access to the W98 software needed.
Cloning an OS to a new location doesn't always cause this problem.
Normally moving C to a new HDD, the clone will boot, look for a letter to call itself, find it doesn't have one and allocate itself the first free letter, C, providing that you don't still have the original mounted.
People hit problems if the original copy is still visible, because then the OS clone cannot give itself a letter which it can see is already mounted according to its own registry.
Your problem is particularly intractable because the letter you want it to pick is a mile away down the list of candidates it will choose from.
The only solutions I can see are
extract the registry hive and edit it elsewhere (not something I am qualified to advise on - never having done it)
Put XP back where it was, so that it recognizes itself as X again (provided that you can locate the exact spot).
Just first wanted to say, you have been a great help so far.

Now that confused sentence make sense. You meant say, "x" marks the spot and not drive letter "X:"

Must have been something that went wrong with the first thing you mentioned, 'drive id' because the partition didn't change position on the disk. Still disk o, partition 1. But thanks for the heads up on that as well as it may save time consuming mistakes in the future and maybe why I rendered a previous system unbootable. I may have moved a system boot partition to another place on the disk. I always thought that most OS's and partition software these days were sophisticated enough to allow for these issues.

Does this not really pose an issue if you are adding another OS, say in front of the originally installed OS, in creating a multi-boot system. I think I have heard of others putting Linux in front of Windows or another Windows OS in front of an original Windows OS but that would definitively change the 'offset'. Sound like from what your saying that it would be wiser to have your partitions set up for what OS's your gong to install beforehand and not letting the install disk to the partition setup on a multi-boot system. Does that sound like the logic that we are talking about or am I still a little confused?

You mentioned one solution of 'putting XP back where it was' and I am sure you mean the exact starting sector it was on the disk right? I am not sure I can figure out what that was. I did image all the drives before hand but not sure if that info can be extracted from an image.

For future ref., These things your talking about getting changed in the registry and such, they obviously are not apparent to the'naked eye' so to speak right. Reason I ask is because even though XP wouldn't boot, Vista still seen it labeled as X: or maybe that is Vista Registry still seeing it as X:

The update:
I was a little impatient since my friend, previously asked if she could get her computer back about 4 days into this and again day before yesterday, had it about ......going over a week now. So, anticipating her good days she will be asking again today. I will want to return it but not before I accomplished what I told her I would do for her. In keeping with this I figured I need to get this done the most efficient, time conscious way possible.

So, what did I do since your last post?
Used Partition Wizard's 'Wipe' action to wipe XP on X: (I figured I would just start over since it was a new install anyway just a few days ago and do all the tweeks again that I did because I don't mind work. Well I do but I figured it would be faster than researching the other methods.
2. Used Paragon to replace the Compaq 'Recovery' partition next to the spindle side.
3. Booted into parted Magic and moved the Vista partition to the spindle right next to the 'Recovery'. Didn't care if I broke Vista. Didn't care for Vista much anyway and don't run it on any of my personal machines as I never seen a reason to use anything other than NT since XP except for maybe testing. But for testing? Who uses Vista anymore anyway? Right? Aren't the Vista represented computing public in negative numbers now? If thats possible. Joking aside, I told her I was going to rip it out because she complained about it constantly freezing. Looks like when she got it from a client of her's that it was reset and it had n omalware or viruses to the freezing was probably because it didn't seam to have any updates done or even sp1. I then told her I would probably leave it in.
4. Sure enough, upon rebooting, Vista would not boot. said that it could find some files and needed the disk to repair. Then put the Parted Magic disk back in and used g-parted to recreate a holder in ntfs for XP but did not give it a letter.
5. Booted to the XP cd and began. This time before installing it said it was fixing C: somehow and had a feeling it was causing more damage to Vista and would probably not bother recovering it at that point.
6. XP Wouldn't boot and I think it said it was missing ntoskernal. Asked If I wanted to repair. I refused the offer since (I can't remember exact) but I remember something to the note of it had trouble with its partition and had a feeling it was because I I didn't pick a drive letter and let it use its default (which should have been C: and I forgot to hide the original C: with the broken Vista
7. Reformated the new XP partition and booted into Parted Magic and changed flags of C: (unchecked 'Active' and checked 'Hide)
8. Recreated a holder for XP in ntfs and didn't give it a drive letter.
9. Rebooted the XP CD and installed. Installed ok. It boots and did all the , well some of the updates.

But I notice that XP is in partition I: and that is where it got installed. I thought it would have picked C: since I hid the partition.
I would try and fix the Vista partition but at this point I am thinking it is more than running a repair but I think I need the Compaq recovery disk (which we don't have) to access the Recovery partition. Maybe it could be found online but I am thinking at this point it may cause more problems and break other things. Been in a few situations where one problem turned into five big ones. Also, I am not versed at doing OEM repairs any other way than their way with their recovery disk since all my systems I build myself with retail installs disks and my only OEM, so to speak, was my first machine, a refurbished IBM small business machine from an IBM Authorized Repair Center which came with XP OEM disk.

I guess my questions now are:

Do I try to fix Vista (the only reason I would is because the machine came with Vista installed and her problems were probably mainly due to the lack of updates.
Considering NOT fixing Vista and installing Windows 7 for her and Linux:
Do I want XP to be in C: while it is the active booted system? Or is there another way to hide Windows 7 from XP so that there are no program conflicts and Restore and Shadow Copy problems?
3. Do I continue to use easyBCD for a XP, Windows 7, Linux and possibly OS X multiboot or would GRUB be better. I don't know if your with the company that puts ou easyBCD or not so maybe I will get a biased answer.


I remembered something interesting. Machine originally only had Vista on one big partition C: taking up the whole 250GB HDD.
1. I shrink Vista and move it to the center. NO PROBLEM
2. I create a partition for XP and install it in front of Vista taking Vista from disk0, partition0 to disk0, partition1 changing the offset. NO PROBLEM
3. Move XP over a little to the left. BIG PROBLEM FOR XP
4. Move Vista over a little to the right. BIG PROBLEM FOR VISTA

I still don't fully understand all this and the implications and may find it necessary to study up on it, if not for this install, for future ones.
Sad thing is that I went through several hours of work setting things up, tweaking, installing, updating on both the XP and Vista and now I started over from scratch.
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Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Offset, means the physical position on the disk.
You did move it. You changed its position relative to the start of the disk, that's what changed not the disk signature.
It may have been the first partition. It may still be the first partition, but it's not in the same place, so its registry entry will be different.
Putting another OS in the empty space doesn't change the position (and hence the registry ID) of the existing partition(s).
Don't get confused between the MBR partition table (which is a physical table at the start of the HDD, not part of any partition) and the Windows registry.
The MBR PT describes where the partitions are so that the very earliest stages of the boot process in the BIOS can locate the active partition and chain the next stage in the boot sequence.
That's not your problem.
Your problem is that inside XP, it thinks of itself as both X and x, because you moved it and its identity is linked to its location when it was created.
If you have the option to install it again that's the obvious solution.
If you want an OS to install as C, the important thing is not to hide other OSs from it, but to make the partition you are installing it to "active" before you start the install.
Windows (all flavours) will check the "active" partition and if it finds one with a Windows folder, it will assume that's "system" and put its boot files there, not in the partition where the rest of the OS is going.
In the case of XP, it will also assume that the pre-existing Windows is C and therefore choose another letter.
You can keep Windows installs independent of each other by the simple expedient of making sure that the target partition is "active" during the install. That will fool setup into the assumption that no other Windows systems exist (how could they, they would need an active partition to boot !) despite the fact that you could have several others in actual fact.
Just make sure that after each OS is installed completely, the active flag is put back on whichever OS is going to control your multiboot.
On that controlling system (the newest of W8/W7/Vista/XP in that order), you can use EasyBCD to add entries for each of the other systems to the BCD of the controlling system.
Before you start multibooting XP with anything else, run this MS registry hack on XP to protect the Vista/7/8 restore points.
If that's successful, you've no need to use grub to hide partitions.
I'm not biased for or against EasyBCD or grub.
I'm an unpaid volunteer moderator on this site, not a salesman for EasyBCD (it's free anyhow), and I personally use grub4dos to boot my W7/Vista/XP/W8.
The sole reason for that is that my configuration (5 years ago when I came here for a solution to the restore point problem) was one of the few cases that did not respond to the registry hack, so I was forced into using grub.
It works but it's no where near as convenient as a one-off hack and EasyBCD.
One problem is that Windows is very parochial and will happily destroy your grub boot without compunction whenever it has a Service Pack update.
If you factory reset the original Vista system, make sure you apply SP1/2. No wonder Vista wasn't very popular if it wasn't at that level.
Ok, it all makes even more sense even though there are still some voids in my understanding. Offset is not the drive signature or the partition layout. That make the first part of my last post all the way to the Update part useless, mute and of no consequence. I guess for some reason it doesn't change any drive id or position if you only have one OS and shrink and move it.

I knew I was doing something not completely right and looks like I need to re-install XP if I want the OS's to be independent, right?
I guess from what your saying, the best way to install multiple Windows OS's and keep them independent are to set up the partition beforehand and flag the target for each individual install active before installing it and all other flagged non active to get them installed independent of each other. I guess I installed XP incorrectly. Did I understand this correctly?
Not sure if it would matter if I reset Vista now or later would it?
I guess the only way to have kept Vista without having boot problems was to leave it where I first shrunk it to. I guess there was some poor planning just in the fact that I kept changing the plan.
What do you think happened concerning what I mentioned in number five above which was when I left Vista 'active', and where XP install was fixing something on C:
Is there really any true or good way to move or clone a OS partition without rendering it unbootable?
I should probably contact my friend and see if she can dig up a bootable system restore cd for Vista.
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Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
If you move the starting position of a partitition it will change its ID, but it might not cause a problem.
It's all in the way that letters are allocated.
In W95/98/ME they were dynamically allocated every boot
C= Disk 0 partition 1, D= First partition on next HDD (if present) otherwise D0P2, E=d2p0 (if present) otherwise next partition on d0, which caused a headache if you added a new HDD.
Your previous single HDD with C/D/E/F partitions would suddenly become C/E/F/G and the new HDD would be D/H/I/J
or if you added 2 extra HDDs CDEF would become CFGH with DIJK and ELMN on disks 1 and 2 (assuming 4 partitions on each) (and your optical drive would switch from G to K or G to O in each scenario.
The optical drive problem could be circumvented by changing the device letter at installation time (in Device Management in those days) to the far end of the alphabet to put it out of harms way. (my drives have been U/V right from W95 for that very reason, and still are to this day on all four present OSs)
The disk partition letter switching could not be prevented because there was no Device Manager option to change their letters, and the problem could only be managed by judicious use of "dummy" (unused) partitions on HDDs, which could be allocated or deleted as configurations changed, to force all the other partitions back to the desired lettering.
I was still pre-planning partition layouts with that in mind when XP came along and I eventually found out that XP allows custom disk lettering which makes dummy partitions unnecessary.
The problem is that if you, the end user, don't specifically allocate disk letters, XP will still dynamically do it at boot time. It doesn't do the same skipping to the first partition on each HDD in turn before lettering subsequent partitions (it also previously did all the primaries on all the HDDs before any of the logicals which made things even more complex), but changing the relative positions of the HDDs would still cause all of the letters to shift if they hadn't been manually allocated and registered in the OS.

That vestige of W95 behaviour is what's causing the clone problem.
The registered "X" in your XP refers to where XP used to be. Since it's no longer there and the boot process can't find any registered partition for where it now finds itself, it will allocate the next available letter which isn't already registered to some other partition or device which it can see.

If you intend to keep Vista, do the factory reset first.
It's what the name implies, putting the system back the way it was when it was first unboxed. If you've done anything multibooty, it will all be wiped away in a flash.

Once Vista is factory reset, bring it up to SP2 which will make it useful and reliable.
Reallocate the pagefile off the C disk (it's unmovable so will prevent defrag/shrink from gaining as much space as it might otherwise do) Pagefile should preferably be on a different HDD to C to prevent head contention, but if you don't have one, you can always put it back on C after you've defragged and shrank Vista.

Allocate a new partition for XP, set it active and install XP and you should have a fully functional XP single boot. Turn system restore off for all drives except XP

Apply the MS restore point registry hack

Set Vista active, and it might boot without being aware of XP, though chances are XP will have modified the MBR IPL to look for NTLDR instead of bootmgr. If so you will need to boot your Vista DVD and do "startup repair" to set the IPL back to bootmgr before Vista will boot unaided. (be sure to have a repair disk to hand if you don't own a Vista DVD, before you start)
Set a restore point with a unique name that you will recognize. Turn off system restore for all partitions except Vista

Install EasyBCD, add an entry for XP (auto-configure, don't change what it sets up).

Boot into XP
Boot Vista and check that your restore point is still there
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Interesting developments

After damaging Vista and reinstalling XP (with Vista C: hidden and not active), system would boot directly into XP with no reference
to Vista existing.
Recover F8 option only showed XP as the only available OS to recover
Windows 7 (a partition without a letter that I set up for Windows 7 install)was flagged 'Boot'. I removed that flag
and Flagged Vista as 'Boot'
After rebooting:
Normal boot said that ntoskernal was missing
Recovery F8 boot said that the only Windows to recover was XP on drive X:
Interesting becuase drive X: was the letter of the original XP install but the latest one was installled in I:
Switched the 'Boot' flag to XP. Error message said, 'BOOTMGR missing'
Recovery F8 option did not work
Appearantly even though I didn't give the Windows 7 partition a letter, when I installed XP it added boot info to that partition since
XP wont boot unless the Windows 7 partition is flagged 'Boot'. I imagine boot info may have been added to the partition created for the Windows 7 install because it was in the first partition, right?
I think I may need to erase all partition other than Vista ans start over.

Next day:
I reinstalled XP after erasing all partition but Vista. XP installed as C:, which is what I want for all Windows OS's to be independent, correct? And If I installed Windows 7 via flagging the target partition 'boot', it will also chow as C: afterward when booted up to it?

I may image the XP partition, try to figure out the exact sector or area it starts at so that I can replace it later and then erase it and do what you mentioned. I will probably look for a Vista OEM disk image unless I research that a retail image which I think I have will work. I don't think it will though for OEM installs if I remember reading some time before. But I could repair it, replave XP, then install Windows 7, and then a couple copies of Linux. If all goes well.


I think I have to make an executive decision and just be fine with not recovering Vista. I think some OEM's like Compaq didn't ship recovery disks knowing the consumer would just loos them anyway. They want you to purchase them. I don't have the copy I thought I had and I remember she pulled out all the disks she had and I don't remember seeing a recovery disk in the pile. Windows 7 is much better anyway. If I am wrong, I can always image the partitions, reset Vista to factory and then shrink and move it. That didn't pose any problems the first time I did that. Then put the other OS partitions back exactly where they were and rebuild the MBR, BCD or use GRUB2 I can only take so much of this tinkering with her machine in one week, nonstop. I think I will put my 4GB of RAM in it and load WIndows 7 64bit, set it up to boot and everything and then put her 1GB of RAM back and tell her that she can't boot into Windows 7 untill she buys new RAM(which she was planning on doing) and make her boot into XP and/or Linux for the time being.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Just to clear up any confusion.
Linux (and hence gparted) refer to the "boot" partition and sets the "boot" flag on the partition you boot from.
That's understandable (even sensible) and fits with the world's general interpretation of English, or what passes for English in the computer world.
In the wonderful world of Microsoft however, that can cause untold misunderstanding.

The Windows universe uses familiar words in the following way which directly clashes with normal understanding.
Disk Management flags have these 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"

So when I talk about setting something "active", that means setting the boot flag in gparted.
A Windows install will always put its boot files in the active partition, even if the OS is elsewhere, so somehow you left the W7 partition active when you were installing XP which explains some of your problems.
I think I understood what you meant by 'Active' or 'Boot' and what MS considers it. I read one of your posts before where you explained MS's interpretation of the English words differently than normal. But also think you were right about what you said earlyer or originally about the issue.

The Puzzle Pieces:
shrank the original Vista C: and moved to the center of the drive all in one action. Installed XP to X: in front of it to the left. Did the easyBCD thing and had a perfectly working dual boot system.
Looked like: 80GB unalocated, X: Win XP 20GB, C: Vista 58GB, 40GB unalocated, F: My Files 26GB, D: Recovery 9GB.
Second, Moved XP to left and rendered it unbootable simply from moving it. Must have been what you said about moving being the same or doing the same as cloning a drive and creating registry problems.
Looked like: 34GB unalocated, X: Win XP 20GB, 46GB unalocated, C: Vista 58GB, 40GB unalocated, F: My Files 26GB, D: Recovery 9GB.
Third, Moved C: Vista to the right knowing it would probably render it unbootable. Then I think I created the new XP partition and then the Win7 partition. Creating Win7 partition last I think is what set it 'Active', at least I think that gParted sets the last partition you created 'Active' by default. If I am right about htis, it would explain why Win7 was set 'Active' before the third XP install and Xp boot files from the second install were placed there. If I am wrong then this part is still confusing and unexplained. Erased D: Recovery and F: My Files. Installed XP the second time which was installed to I:
Looking like: 34GB Windows 7, I: Win XP 20GB, 104GB unalocated, C: Vista 58GB, 9GB Unalocated.
I noticed that the first partition Win7 was set as 'Boot'. I deleted all partitions but Vista and reimaged the D:Recovery partition back in its are by the spindle side. Shrunk the Vista partition a little more since it was already damaged. I created an XP partition and set it as the 'Boot' partition. Installed XP and it installed as C:, and it changed the Vista partiton to E:
Looked like: 34GB unalocated, X: Win XP 20GB, 128GB unalocated, E: Vista 34GB, D: Recovery 9GB

I can't seam to find any concise 'Best Practices for multi-booting Windows operating systems online. Some say it is a good practice to install the older Windows system first and other say it doesn't matter.

Anyway, If I remember right, I imaged the Vista Partition before doing anything. I am thinking on erasing everything and making the drive one big C: partition and imaging the original untouched VIsta image back to it and seing if that fixes Vista and gets it booting. Do you think that will work.

If it does or could I would do it. Then I could shrink it and move it slightly since that operation didn't seam to cause problems and have done it before to other systems there there was only one OS on the disk. I would Make a Partition in the begining for Win7 thus being 34GB WIn7, Vista, XP, Linux, Linux ......

Here is what I understand should be the way or at least one that would work. After shrinking the original OS and having it where it will be. Boot into gParted and make an XP partition and set it 'Active'. Then install XP. I could then do the easyBCD tool to make them both boot. THen boot back into gParted and make a partition for Windows 7 and set it 'Active'. Then install Windows 7. Does easyBCD at that poin want to use Windows 7 BCD. Seams like I have read where when Win7, XP and Vista are all on the same disk that easyBCD prefers the Vista bootmanager for some reason. I guess at that point if I install Ubuntu, I can let GRUB take over the boot process but then I have no experience installing GRUB and will probably mess something up undoubtedly.


I think this is nicely put from Multibooters, Vista Dual and Multibooting - The Windows System and Boot Partitions
Microsoft calls the partition with the boot files the System partition, and the partition with the operating system the Boot partition. Everyone else refers to them exactly the other way round. The boot files on the boot partition. The operating system on the system partition.
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Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
If you factory reset Vista and then shrink it, you won't need to move it. Shrink just changes the back end of the partition not the front.
If you install W7, you must use it as the controlling OS and add Vista/XP etc to the W7 BCD.
Vista bootmgr will not load W7 winload because it does not recognize its newer digital signature as valid.
W7 is fully backward compatible.
This should be interesting and maybe puzzleing (at least to me) Vista HAS BOOTED Again!!!

Installed Windows 7 and forgot to set the target Partition to 'Active' so it married boot info with XP. Windows 7 still shows up as C: when booted into but I don't have totally independent installs like I wanted.
Installed Ubuntu Studio but forgot to pick the custom settings install option and picked 'Install alongside Windows' and after installing, the Linux bootloader went directly to Ubutu without showing any Windows options for boot apparently overwriting the Windows 7 bootloader with GRUB or LILO and did not add entries for Windows systems like I read somewhere it would automatically do.
Thought about what to do. Thought I would start completely over from scratch, because after all, third time is a charm as they say.
But, thought and thought and thought about a dozen different ways I could salvage some installs or fix the issue.
Booted into Parted Magic and tried Grub Doctor and overwrote the MBR but had the same issue unchanged when I restarted.
Tried Windows 7 DVD repair console. Tried fdisk /MBR but wouldn't recognize the command nor would it recognize fixmbr.
Booted into the XP Pro disk repair console. It strangely listed 3 entries asking me which one I wanted to repair all marked 'Windows' with the second one all Caps like so:
1. Windows
3. Windows
I picked number 2 and went to the cmd console and typed fdisk /MBR and an error saying it didn't recognize the command.
But then, typed fixmbr and it said it completed it. I didn't expect much but for sh!+5 and giggles I restarted and then was presented with the Windows Bootloader List again (you know, the one I havn't seen since installing Ubuntu) But this time something was different. Lo and behold I had three entries like so:

Earlier Version of Windows
Windows 7
Windows Vista Home Premium (recovered)

I didn't expect much but figured I would try and boot Vista and wish for miracles. After all, Santa didn't bring me anything two weeks ago.
When I tried booting Vista I fully expected it to stop right before the user logins loaded like last time before it was completely fubar'd. I seen the blueish login background but instead of freezing on it, the whirling circle kept whizzing around and the HDD was clicking away on something. The background changed to an all blue, kinda like a generic desktop blue background. Then I seen some error popup windows in the default XP classic or windows 98 classic windows theme. then the Vista Windows theme loaded and the popup windows changed. After closing some of the error windows one said it was trying to fix IE and User lonon something (I'll upload screen shots) but the desktop did load. Even though it had my friends User Login account name in the start menu it alerted me that it was and created a TEMP user login account because it could not find certain files. The desktop seamed fairly functional like usuall and opened Paint and saved some screenshots of some of the popups before I closed them all.

I just lucked out o picking number 2 above. Had a 33% chance of this turn out and if I picked the other 66% I am sure the results wouldn't have been the same. Just had a feeling that number 2 was where the 'Boot' partition was.

Interestingly Vista is now calling itself K: when booted into. Maybe because the new XP install picked C: . Vista can still be seen mounted as K: even when booted into XP with Windows 7 showing unmounted. Booting to Windows 7 shows the other Windows OS's mounted with other letters as does when also booted into Vista which shows the other Windows mounted with other letters.

Files It had trouble with:
ie4uinit.exe - The ordinal 654 could not be located in the dynamic link library
rundll.exe - The procedure entry point SdbGetAppCompatDataSize could not be located in the dynamic link library apphelp.dll
rundll32.exe - Windows cannot access the specified device, path or file. You may not have appropriate permissions to access the item.

What do you make of that?
At least vista was back to working just from doing the fixmbr command aside from some missing user files and what not. almost like Vista did some self-healing although not completely healed.

I can us easyBCD to add Linux to the Windows bootloader right? I think I will do that if its possible as I would have to read up on GRUB to see how to get it to work correctly. EasyBCD may be the simplistic way.

I am still debating if I should wipe all the partitions out and start from scratch in order to get everything installed independently. But then this isn't my machine and if it ultimately works, maybe its good enough. Just need to get the user account and few files Vista has trouble with working and already spent way too much time on this. Did learned a lot and like learning but when you get my age, learning is overrated and life is too short. I just take too much pride in everything I do in trying to do it perfect. Its a sickness.

Was also reading up on how to load OS X on the same disk and I guess I am kinda using my friends maching as a test Guinea pig before I turn my dual boot into a multi-boot.
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Registry hack on XP didn't work. Still deletes Windows 7 restore points. Did it not work maybe because the Windows 7 target was not set 'Active' during install? Was there another method of preventing that? You mentioned GRUB4DDOS and how does that differ from GRUB2 or any other GRUB. Is it really that cruicial to have System Restore points if you have another backup application that does incremental backups?
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Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
An early NST solution to the restore point problem for the those the hack failed to help, was use of Neogrub.
This worked but was inelegant and clunky, so Guru developed HnS (Vista Hide 'n' Seek) to make a single stage boot possible.
Unfortunately for him, I managed to break about 50 builds with the quirkiness of my configuration, forcing him down a long road of research and coding development which produced a stable working version.
The small customer base for it meant that it never made it out of Beta, though the knowledge gained fed through into a complete redesign of EasyBCD from Version 1 to Version 2 which incorporated some of the subroutines designed to diagnose/overcome HnS problems and helped make the auto-configure features of Easy2, which were not present in the earlier release.
That means there is no proper documentation for HnS, though it does still work.
The genesis is touched on in this blog
How-To: Hide Vista Partition from XP with NeoGrub! | The NeoSmart Files
but all of the details of use and support come entirely from this thread
[Download] Vista Hide 'n Seek BETA
(if you've got a couple of days spare to read through it)
It's designed to be easy to use. It's essentially a GUI which constructs a grub menu.lst for a Windows user with no Linux knowledge. Having done that, it does a little sleight of hand with the boot manager, renaming bootmgr and grub to fool the Windows MBR IPL into thinking that bootmgr is still in charge, but slides an extra grub step in front which dynamically executes the hide/unhide steps of which MS boot managers are incapable, before handing control back to bootmgr (or NTLDR) which are blissfully unaware that anything else happened before they got control.
The logic looks like this.
Bear in mind when using it that its 6 years old, so when it refers to Vista, that was the sole Longhorn system in existence at the time, so for Vista read Vista/7/8. They're all the same for its purposes.
My version is heavily customized, even the level of grub has been updated to the point where the syntax of grub differs between my version and that used in the download from the above thread.
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Terry, What did you think about the Vista missing IE and user files listed in my post just Before the last one?

As for the restore and Shadow copy issues, I will use this info for myself and my machine which will be next as I really don't think that this friend of mine would even know how to utilize this functionality in Windows. I will probably just set up some incremental backup on her's to prevent a total loss of system or user files. I have a spare dirve to throw in on the PATA channel. Was even kicking around on using Grub2 and creating a nice graphical menu instead of Windows boot manager but would take too long since I haven't done that before and used easybcd and have all four system booting now.

One thing I can't figure out yet is when I boot into Linux I get this floating popup box that appears like it is generated by my monitor (at least that is what the color scheme suggests) that says something like, 'This display setting is not supported 600x400' It floats around for maybe 20 seconds (probably during initial boot load) and then the logon screen loads. tried typing sudo gedit /etc/default/grub and changed the TIMEOUT=10 to TIMEOUT=0 and where is mentions the graphics resolution I changed it to 1280x1024, saved and then update-grub, but those settings don't seam to change the issue and I am thinking it isn't loading the graphics drive early enough in the boot process. Course I updated Grub to the MBR (must have to use another command to update it on the volume instead) and had to put the XP CD back in and do fixmbr at the cmd again to get the Windows Bootloader back.
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Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Sounds like Vista is distinctly unwell.
I'd factory reset it and get it up to SP2, nice and clean.
That's the only way your friend will be able to use it. The errors you're seeing are probably just the tip of an iceberg for which you won't be thanked if you return it like that.
Well, you have a point about returning it with Vista Not working. Most (probably 8 out of 10) people wouldn't have appreciated what I did in installing Win 7, XP, and Linux and would have responded with, "Why do I need all of those OS's", and just seen it as confusion. She however appreciated the newer Win 7 and Ubuntu Studio with all the studious apps for creative people. I explained why Vista isn't working and she understands. I have the machine back in hand just for the day and I think I will hide the Vista partition and remove it from the boot menu so that she can't see it in case she forgets later why she can't use it. I don't think she will ever need. Like I said before, the last time I paid any attention to Microsoft's old core was windows 98SE, maybe Vista is just as stable as that was by now but since the corporate enterprise environments and the clients used on them all went NT after 2000 along with most of the industry I haven't seen much reason to look back.

I am still thinking though that I should image all of the other installs, restore Vista where it was at when it last worked, because if it is in the same place it was then, it may work again. Then restore the other installs where they were. Not sure if it will work but haven't been able to find any forums where someone tried the exact same thing. I don't think she ever had a restore disk and won't pay HP the $20 they want to send her one if she now has Win 7. From what I have read, there isn't much of a way to use the restore partition without a restore boot disk. Maybe you can enlighten me if I am wrong.
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