Triple boot problems with cloned XP and Win 7

By Will_m
Jun 23, 2009
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  1. Hi there all, I've recently built a new system (my first) and have come across a few problems when trying to boot my old Win XP partition which I have copied onto my new system drive. I have the new system drive partitioned with 2 copies of Win 7 RC and 1 partition of XP pro SP3 which was copied from my old drive. The problem is that Win XP doesn't show up in the boot menu like my 2 Win 7 copies.

    I'm also trying to shrink the XP partition which works but once it's shrunk I can't redistribute the free space to another partition, which is possible with the Win 7 partitions.

    Thirdly I now seem to have a 100mb partition called 'system reserved' which shows up in my computer it says it around 10% full so I'm scared to delete it but it's annoying that it shows up all the time.

    If anyone can help me out I would much appreciate it, other than this the system is great. Gotta love the i7's!
  2. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,328   +49

    (1) Since Win 7 was installed before XP, the boot loader is entirely different to the older XP boot loader. There are ways to add a third partiton to the Win 7 loader, but it is fairly complex.

    (2) A version of any OS simply copied from one PC to another will not work without a lot of complex manipulation, unless the hardware is identical in most repects to the original install. All the motherboard drivers will be different for a start. Assuming you are on the same motherboard, the complex ways of adding XP to a Win 7 boot loader might get you a working XP as well, but don't bank on it.

    (3) If you download and burn a good partition manager (for example gPartEd or Easeus partition manager), and burn a bootable .iso from it, you can manipulate partitions to your hearts content, including shortening any, deleting partitions, merging two adjascent partitions. Easus will do this from an install within Windows, but drops to Dos to change the 'live' partition.

    (4) The process of deleting any partition might make your OS unbootable because of a change of partition number, and resizing partitions also carries some small risk, particularly if a power interruption occurs during the action, or worse, the process hits an unreadable/unwritable spot on your hard drive.

    (5) A hidden partition which you did not create yourself would under normal circumstances be an OEM 'restore' or 'test system' partition installed by the supplier of the PC. In your case that does not sound likely. It could be a partition created by Win 7 as a swap drive, but my installation of Win 7 did not do that. The RC1 might....

    (6) If you are willing to start over, start with the old drive, use a drive imaging software package (e.g. Acronis Drive Image 30-day trial) to create an image on a removable USB drive. Put the new drive in and remove all partitions (boot off an OS install and run FDISK to clear the drive). Un-image your original XP OS onto the new drive first, and get it working again. Then install one or more copies of Win 7, which will use it's new boot process but will automatically include XP as a dual or triple boot (if you tell it to).
  3. Will_m

    Will_m TechSpot Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 102

    Hey there, thanks for the info some useful stuff indeed. I think I will most likely do a clean install of XP as it seems there are going to be some headaches trying to get it to run on my new build, which is very different from my old machine.

    I did actually manage to boot XP when I just had it in as my old system drive.

    If I were to do a clean install of XP, how would I go about getting it to show up in the boot loader? I've just downloaded easy BCD on the recommendation from a friend would this help me out?

    I'm really not sure about the system reserved partition it wasn't there straight away (viewable in windows) when I installed Win 7. I have a feeling it appeared when I tried to install XP.

    Thanks again for the help.
  4. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,328   +49

    well don't quote me, because I'll try to help without any personal experience. You may end up in deep do-do, but I think it goes like this.

    XP would need a primary partition (presumably partition 3 in your case). You would FDISK or by other means hide (temporarily perhaps) the first two partitions with Win7 on them. Install XP from the setup CD as usual, making sure it goes on the third and blank partition.

    On boot you will now have only one OS automatically booting via the dear old boot.ini, ntldr.exe etc. Then by booting the install DVD of Win7, you do a repair installation, (or something similar) which trashes the XP boot loader, and installs a new BCD boot loader which should pick up all three OS's to offer as triple boot.

    All I can say is good luck, and try to get more authoritative instructions than I can offer first !!

    The preferred way is always to install OS's in order of development, i.e. XP, then Vista, then Win 7, and each will take over responsibility for booting the earlier ones.....in theory.....MS's theory.....you know how good that is, don't you ?
  5. Will_m

    Will_m TechSpot Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 102

    Hey I tried reinstalling XP which got to the restart part, but on boot was told I had a disk read error....

    I used the Win 7 disc to repair the boot part and then used easy BCD to add a Win XP boot entry which believe it or not worked perfectly!

    My only problem now is that the XP system drive is D not C, does this matter? Would it be possible to change it? I'm guessing it happened because I didn't hide the Win 7 partitions?

    I also still have the annoying 'system reserved' partition too, getting really tempted to delete it.

    Regards.
  6. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,328   +49

    yes, it was because you failed to hide the other OS. There is no effective way to change the drive letter except start again, with the other partitions hidden. I maintain it does not affect anything really, others say it will come back to bite you when you least want trouble. Some deeply-poor software, for instance, will insist on being installed on drive C:

    beware deleting the system partition, unless it is numbered higher than bootable partitions.
  7. Will_m

    Will_m TechSpot Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 102

    Thanks, I think I may re-install just to be on the safe side and for my own OCD tendencies. How do I go about hiding the Win 7 partitions when installing XP?
  8. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,328   +49

    use partition magic, gParted, easeus, fdisk etc partition management. Set partition status to 'hidden'
  9. DataCabbitKSW

    DataCabbitKSW Newcomer, in training

    You can change a drive lettering inside of Windows to match whatever letter scheme you like. However I would recommend you do it early on, as changing your system drive letter can sometimes cause problems. As far as doing the multi-boot, yes, BCDedit and EasyBCD are the best ways to go about it if you are using the Windows 7 bootloader initially. It can chain into other bootloaders fairly well (like the NT/XP one). There are a swarm of documents and posts on how to do it over on TechNet: tinyurl.com/832nco
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