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Remove Windows XP completely from dual boot

By Barney ยท 11 replies
Nov 24, 2012
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  1. Here is my problem, I have 3 OS installed one after another, First I installed windows XP, then Windows 7 and now Windows 8 on 3 different drives. Now I want to delete Windows XP completely, but when I try to format the drive from Windows 7/8, it says "Cannot format System drive". I have also uploaded the screenshot of my disk management.
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance

    Attached Files:

  2. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Why would you want to 'format the drive'? The 'drive' is the whole kit and caboodle, so of course you are not allowed to format a drive that is actually running the disc manager software at the time !!!

    What you are thinking (I suppose) is that you want to reformat the partition containing XP. That is a reasonable thing to do, (although you could just delete it instead), and could be done from disk management in Win 7 or 8.

    You have a multi-boot setup of course, and since it boots Win 7 and Win 8, it must be a BCD table. You need to be careful to discover which partition that is actually on - in case it turns out to be on the XP partition.

    If you just delete the XP partition you will still have a boot record entry for it in the BCD table which can be removed by running BCDEDIT. If you mess up the whole boot structure, you can repair it as long as you have a bootable install DVD of 7 or 8.

    http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57511894-285/how-to-dual-boot-windows-7-with-windows-8/ is just one of many, many guides to fiddling with boot records. It is not done lightly, be warned, although as you seem to have set it up, you may actually be more knowledgeable than appears at first sight of your post. You have to be clear in your mind about the meaning of 'drive' in any particular context. Normally, a drive is the physical hardware, and as your attachment shows, you have one, and it is divided into partitions, each one - confusingly - described as a 'logical drive'
  3. Barney

    Barney TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hey, thanks gbhall for answering. Yes, you are right, I want to reformat the partition containing Windows XP, when I tried to do that from Disk Management in Windows 7, I got error saying "Windows cannot format the system partition on this disk". I have uploaded the screenshot.
    I can deal with the BCD, my primary concern is reformatting the Partition.
    Thanks again in advance.

  4. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    The screen shot you show actually has the XP partition as the current system, primary, active partition, which is why you are seeing a message saying 'cannot format the system partition'. I thought from your first post you were trying to reformat the XP partition, but was doing so from Windows 7 (or 8) not from XP itself. You just confirmed that, so why is the XP partition the active one?

    Perhaps the message is telling you the system boot BCD is actually on the XP partition (which I warned you to check for).

    I'm not sure how you can find out where the boot table actually is - I think BCDEDIT will say. http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/2676-bcdedit-how-use.html Maybe it will allow you to move it if it turns out to be on the XP partition.

    Another thing you could do would be to boot into Win 7, then download and run gparted http://gparted.sourceforge.net/ with which you can definitely set the XP partition to 'not active', and also delete the XP partition all from within gparted. gparted is very reliable and trusted. BUT in all cases where you run even a remote risk of mangling wanted partitions, make sure you have reliable drive images of each partition before you start.

    Also be prepared to have to reinstall the boot loader or at least edit it after removing XP.
  5. Barney

    Barney TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Sorry for late reply, I did as you said, Downloaded and ran gparted from USB pen Drive, but I couldn't find any option to change XP partition to 'not active'. If you know how to use gparted, please help me. I guess I am close to solving my problem.
    Thanks and have a nice day.
  6. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Alas, just as for the system manager in Win7, gparted is not allowed to set an actual active partition to not active. So how do we do it when the XP partition appears to contain your boot process, so XP partition is always active, whatever OS you are actually booting ?

    Umm, perhaps you need to move the boot loader processes onto another logical drive first......by default, for a single OS installation, I gather Bcdedit edits a file called bcd , which is located in Windows 7's hidden partition under \boot\bcd. In Vista, its located under C:\boot\bcd. Since you loaded 3 OS's I cannot do more than guess where it is on your system, but the operations shown in http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/2676-bcdedit-how-use.html seem to show that bcdedit can move it. Sorry I cannot be more specific.

    Anyone else ???
  7. Barney

    Barney TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks a lot gbhall, I appreciate your help, now I am having a different problem. I formatted my C drive having windows XP, using 'Partition Wizard' software, and when I start my PC I can see nothing but a black screen with a blinking cursor, I still have Windows 7 (Primary Partition) and Windows 8 in different drives.I tried by setting win 7 partition to 'boot' from Gparted, but I get error message "NTLDR missing". I think all I need to do is, to set my win 7 partition to 'system' partition. I think I screwed it all. Hope you could help.
    Thanks and have a nice day.
  8. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    As I said way back in post#4 - having reformatted the partition containing XP, which also contained your boot loader for win 7 and 8, you have destroyed your boot loader and must rebuild it. It must point to both Win 7 and win 8 partitions so that you get a dual boot between those two.

    This can be done from an install DVD of win 7 or 8. You need to boot from the DVD by changing the boot order in the bios and choose an option to repair the boot loader only.

    I dont really think that just setting the Win 7 drive to system will help, because you won't have a bcd boot loader there, I suspect.

    BTW you have changed your bios boot order to put the Win7 drive at the top I hope???
  9. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,230   +229

    Did you try to delete windows xp installation folder and merging drive C (your old windows xp partition) and drive E (your windows 8 partition) and then booting from windows 8 media (usb/dvd installer) to repair windows 7/8 startup problem?
    if you have a spare drive, you can test this before doing it on you triple boot machine.
  10. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    misor likes this.
  11. Barney

    Barney TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Repairing windows 7 worked, but I guess I messed up with windows 8. Installed fresh copy of Windows 8.
    Problem solved, thanks everyone.
    Tmagic650 looks like that would have worked, but its late now, thanks anyways.
  12. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    Okay good :) Keep easyBCD in mind. It is very simple to modify, add and delete boot loader entries. I used it to manage my Windows 7 and Windows 8 trial dual boot. I don't have a touch screen, so I opted out of using Windows 8 for now. Good luck

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