Dual boot XP & Vista from 2 separate PATA HDD

January 24, 2010 at 11:05:06
Specs: Windows XP/Vista
I'm curious if i am able to dual boot windows xp or vista from two separate hard drives both being PATA???

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January 24, 2010 at 11:12:35
Sure you can. The best method, IMO, is to use the prompt at boot time to choose which drive to boot from. You can also create or modify the Windows boot loader. I feel that is not as good a method because that makes the OSes interdependent on one another. If the OS where the boot loader resides goes South you won't easily be able to boot to the other.

Unless your motherboard is old you should see a prompt at start up to choose boot options by pressing a key. Watch for it or read your manual.

One thing to note is this. If you haven't yet installed the OSes on each drive you need to disconnect the other drive when installing the second OS or you will and up with the Windows boot loader anyway.

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January 24, 2010 at 11:18:18
The following is what I've found while reloading a friend's system with XP MCE 2005 and Vista Premium.
Where I have XP the same applies to 2000.
As far as I know the same things apply to dual booting XP or 2000 with Windows 7.

1. It's relatively easy to dual boot XP and Vista, even if they're on different hard drives and were loaded on those drives by themselves, and there are free programs available that make tweaking that easy. However, by default whenever you boot XP, ALL the accumulated System Restore restore points are lost in Vista, every time you boot XP (or 2000). That was a bonehead thing for Microsoft to not fix before they released Vista.
If you don't want to lose the Vista System Restore restore points every time you boot XP (or 2000)............
There is no Microsoft fix. There are Microsoft suggested workarounds, but one - bitlocker - is only available to you if you have a Vista Ultimate or a Vista Business version (most people are using Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium because they're cheaper - brand name systems usually have Home Basic or Home Premium on them), and there is Microsoft suggested registry tweak you can do in Vista, if you don't have the Ultimate or Business version of Vista, but not every program you can load in Vista is compatible with that tweak, and in that case you have to undo the registry tweak at least temporarily, and then you lose the Vista restore points anyway.

The best solution, if you don't have the Ultimate or Business version of Vista, is to use a third party multi-boot boot manager program that can HIDE the Vista partition from the XP installation while booting XP, then the Vista restore points are NOT deleted.
I tried Partition Magic 8.0's Boot Magic program - it works, but it does not enable a mouse to select the operating system with (that was required for the disabled person that owns the computer) . NOTE that I did not determine whether Boot Magic can hide the Vista Windows partition from XP while booting. I searched and found several boot manager programs with mouse support, that support booting Vista - some free - most will work with a USB mouse if Legacy USB or similar is enabled in the mboards's bios Setup. The ones you pay for are about $25 and up.I found a site that says many of these don't support the Hibernate feature for mboards in Vista properly, but otherwise they work fine. I tried one free Linux based one - could not get it to work - not enough help info came with it or available online.
I tried BootIt! New Generation - it works fine andit DOES support the Hibernate feature for mboards in Vista properly, but it's $35 US after 30 days. It's install program is only 8xx kb and easily fits on a boot floppy, or you can make a bootable CD - it's nice to know someone is still making programs that are not bloatware. It includes a simple partition manipulation program that you can create, resize, move, delete, copy, merge, etc. partitions with. It has lots of help in the program and online, but you do have to find out how to do some stuff manually (e.g. enable it to HIDE the Vista partition from the XP installation while booting XP), so it's not suitable for someone who's clueless.

(If you need more info about using BooIt! NG, PM me).

Update - the makers of BootIt! New Generation now have a video tutorial on their site about how to hide the Vista partition from XP while booting XP.

2. Vista doesn't make NTFS partitions 100% the same way as XP and previous OSs do. It starts the first one a bit farther into the hard drive (rather than at sector 64) , and it can leave unallocated sectors between multiple partitions on a drive. Part of the reason for that is to accommodate new hard drives that will be using larger than the 512 byte sectors they've been using up till now, in the future I assume. It also has bugs in a certain standard feature associated with the master boot record.
This results in - to fix the bugs in the standard feature -
- Partition Magic and some other older partition manipulation programs that are not Vista ready or similar don't recognize the Vista NTFS partitions as being valid.
Partition Magic sees the partition type as ??? and as completely filled, whether it is or not.
If the first NTFS partition on a hard drive was made by Vista, Partition Magic won't even load and generates an error code (in my case it was on the second partition).
You can cure that by running chkdsk /r from XP, by booting with the XP CD and using the Recovery Console option, and checking the partition Vista has been installed on, then Partition Magic etc. see the partition normally, however that can take several hours - running chkdsk /r takes a lot longer than running chkdsk /f - you can't run the latter in the Recovery Console.
OR if you're starting from scratch you can make all the partitions with something other than Vista, instead of using Vista to do that - in which case such programs will recognize the partitions normally. Vista recognizes partitions made with older programs and OSs (Win 98 and up) fine.
- even after you have run chkdsk /r from XP, Vista can see and access the XP NTFS partition, but XP can't show or access the Vista partition (at least, the one Vista's Windows was installed on) in My Computer or Windows Explorer - it does show up in XP in Disk Management but as an unknown partition type. If you want to be able to exchange files both ways between XP and Vista Windows partitions, you need to make at least one other partition that doesn't have Windows Vista on it that both OSs can see, and place files you want to share on that.
- Vista can shrink (resize it smaller, or make it larger if unallocated space is available on the drive) an existing partition in Disk Management, so you can use the unallocated space then made available to make more than one partition on a drive without losing the data on the one(s) that already have data, but if you alter the partition with something other than Vista or a 100% Vista compatible program, Vista may no longer work at all and has to be re-loaded from scratch. It is also dicey to copy a Vista made partition - it can be done but you have to look up how to do it properly online.

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January 24, 2010 at 17:21:01
so what all do i have to do to make it work?

i also heard that if i press a button while the computer starts it asks me which to boot is this true, if so what key?

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Related Solutions

January 24, 2010 at 19:43:10
Watch the screens at start up to see what key to use. Different for different BIOS brands and versions.

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January 25, 2010 at 13:34:54
To be sure make the hard drive selection in bios first when you install the OS.
Then you can later use boot option for drive choice if it is possible to with your bios.

Might consider a Virtual Machine if you have a newer system.

Playing to the angels
Les Paul (1915-2009)

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