Changing primary boot drive using XP recovery console

By hafizkn
Jun 12, 2011
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  1. Hey guys,

    I have a pre-loaded Vista installation in C: of my Dell Inspiron 1525. I wanted to install XP in one of the logical drives, for which I did the following:

    1) Created a new partition H:.

    2) I inserted a bootable USB device with XP installation. But during setup, I was able to see only C:. Since I did not want to have both XP and Vista in the same drive, I converted H: also to a primary partition using Acronis Disk Director.

    3) Somehow I ended up making H: the primary boot drive, and H: does not have XP installed yet!

    4) When I did a restart, it showed the 'NDLTR not found' error.

    Now my problem is that the DVD drive does not seem to be working in my laptop. So I cannot use the Vista re-installation DVD to boot and then change the primary boot drive through Vista.

    I am left with only the XP recovery console to change the primary boot drive(at least i think so). I did a lot of searching and did not find any suitable answer. Please help out!
  2. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Vista uses a newer bootload mechanism then XP. So an XP repair disk won't recognize a partition with Vista.

    Try Easy BCD. Is usually simplest way to easily manage a multiple boot environment
  3. superty12

    superty12 TS Enthusiast Posts: 413

    Why can't you plug it in and install?
  4. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    You seem a little confused by what has happenend. And no wonder, it is quite unnecessarily complicated by actions of MS.

    First off, you are using the words 'boot drive' incorrectly. We use the 'boot drive' to refer to the actual Hard Disk or to a removeable drive (CD/DVD). The choice of 'boot drive' is made only in the bios, which is why you have to enter the bios and select the drive to boot from. Normally put the (one and only) HDD at the top of the bootable drives list. But when you wish to install another OS you have to place the 'bootable install media' into the removeable drive and place that at the top of the boot order instead.

    The normal boot drive (when a HDD) may have a number of partitions on it, each of which, logically, is a 'drive'. As to which of the possibly many partitions the PC will actually boot from, that is determined by a little program placed on the 'boot sector' of the HDD which is not really part of any partition. In the case of XP and Vista, as you have already been told, there is a different methodology in what gets put in that boot sector, and installing each OS may over-write the earlier one. In actual fact, if you install each OS in the order they were issued by MS, the second OS (Vista) will normally arrange that the first one becomes an additional option in the second boot method and you can 'dual boot' by selection each time you switch on.

    Unfortunately in the way of things, if you install in the opposite order (as you have), the XP system has no ability to look into the future and be aware it might have been preceeded by a Vista install, and it simply overwrites the Vista install you previously had. Now that will often be literally overwrite, as in destroy, but it is possible to select another partition and so the original Vista is not destroyed, but it's booting mechanism is still destroyed.

    In another complication, there must be only one primary active partition per HDD, and which one that is can be changed by the aforesaid bootable sector each time you choose the partition you want to boot.

    As an earlier poster noted, the Vista bootable sector is now destroyed. The situation can be recovered but only by experts able to write a new bootable sector using BCD editor easy BCD edit. As that is done, a dual boot process can be created allowing a choice of Vista or XP.

    I have to say this is not a trivial task. The best solution for you, I think, would be to start over. Install XP first, then Vista second, which will offer a dual boot option during install.

    I'm really sorry I cannot explain what is a humungously complicated system any better, and as to why MS chooses a new boot methodology with each new OS, well, just dont ask......

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