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How To Activate Dual Boot Screen

By LONGBOW ยท 6 replies
May 30, 2006
  1. How does one go about setting WINXP to give you a dual boot screen/choice between OSs on different partions at startup?

    My laptop hardrive has two partitions, one 'main', the other a backup, with WINXP SP2 loaded on both partitions. Initially, the computer would boot to a dual boot screen asking which OS I wanted to run from.

    Recently Windows on the main partition became unstable/erratic so I booted to the backup, offloaded my files to a backup USB drive, reformated the main partition and reloaded WINXP SP2 on that partition w/o touching the backup partition.

    Now when I boot the computer it goes directly to the new/main partition OS; there is no dual boot screen. The backup partition is still present with files apparently intact.

    Thanks for the help.
  2. PDusome

    PDusome TS Rookie Posts: 21


    Check MyComputer/Properties/Advanced/Startup_And_Recovery/Settings to see if 1., you have more than one option in dropdown and 2., that you are selecting to display options. If you don't see the problem, attach boot.ini for analysis.

    Boot.ini is a hidden file at the root of your default boot drive. It's editted automatically by the system when you make changes via MyComputer/Properties/Advanced/Startup_And_Recovery/Settings or when you alter the OS list or when you restore the root etc. You can also edit it directly via MyComputer/Properties/Advanced/Startup_And_Recovery/Settings/Edit.


    LONGBOW TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Dual Boot Screen

    I tried modifying the boot.ini file and I do get a dual boot screen but the second OS/partion comes up invalid configuration etc. and the solution to that seems (for me anyway) pretty complex, especially with SP2 installed...can't use recovery console or try to repair the second partion since XP install CD will recognize SP2 as a newer and hence unalterable version.

    I have looked at the second partion and it all seems OK...not sure what to try to reconfigure the drive so that it is recognized...
  4. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    bootcfg /scan and bootcfg /rebuild are the commands you would use in the recovery console, which should iterate through all windows installations on your machine, regardless of newer versions.
  5. PDusome

    PDusome TS Rookie Posts: 21

    Recovery Console

    How to install and use the Recovery Console in Windows XP: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307654

    Note: If you do not want to install the Recovery Console, you can load it when you start the computer. Boot from the Windows XP CD-ROM, and then press R at the "Welcome to Setup" screen.


    LONGBOW TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Brute Force Method

    Since there was nothing on my standby partition except WINXP, I reloaded XP onto the other partion as well...only problem was that the second installation became the default/first in the dual boot screen list but from another post I learned to use msconfig to change the order in which they appear.

    I also learned that my original premise (create a disaster recovery option on the drive) may not be the best method.

    I think I'm good to go...thank you everybody.
  7. wlknaack

    wlknaack TS Rookie Posts: 143

    You installed WinXP in the "main" partition, and then installed WinXP in the "backup" partition and, upon reboot, the WinXP took control of the dual-boot setup, modified the boot.ini, created the OS Choice Screen, and put all dual-boot information in the boot sector of the "main" partition (there is no boot information in the boot sector of the "backup" partition).

    When you reformatted the "main" partition you wiped-out the boot sector containing the dual-boot information, and when you re-installed WinXP, the boot sector in the "main" was rebuilt with a standard mbr (i.e. no dual boot). So what you have ended up with is your "main" partition has a standard boot, and your "backup" partition does not, and never has had, any boot information in the boot sector, so you can't boot to it.

    I hope this explains how easy it is to get into a WinXP managed dual-boot set up (i.e. the second WinXP controls the dual-boot, but the information is all in the boot sector of the C: partition), and what a nightmare it is if you, for whatever reason, try to, or are forced to, get out of the dual-boot.

    If you want to get back to the WinXP managed dual-boot, backup your data in the "backup" partition, reformat the partition, and reinstall WinXP, reboot, and you will be back in dual-boot, with the OS Choice screen. You can then restore your data to the backup partition.

    Good luck.
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