Run XP twice on different partitions??

By RustyZip ยท 18 replies
Jul 27, 2002
  1. Hi...

    I was wondering whether i could install Windows Eggs-Pea (XP) twice on the same computer?
    Installing one copy on 1 partition and another copy on another partition...

    Is that possible??
    I know you can have 2 different operating systems, but i didnt know if it was possible with the same one.

    If its possible, do i have to purchase another copy of XP?

    The reason i want to do this is so i can have one copy experimenting, installing, trying out software etc, and the other would be a "clean" copy of windows with just the stuff i know i want to keep.
    So the "dirty" copy would get bogged down, fragmented, registry would get blitzed etc etc and slowly grind to a halt. Then i just install another image off the clean copy and start again...

    If this is all possible, do i need to keep the 2 partitions the same size as i'll be using the same image for the two???

    And also any info on how to install 2 operating systems would be brill...

    Cheers in advance...
  2. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Yes you can install more than 1 installation of Windows XP on your machine. It might be good to edit the hidden file boot.ini on your c: drive so that the boot menu has the two labelled differently so you know one from the other.

    I am not sure about the legal ramifications but you won't need another copy of XP the same one will do.

    As to advice on how to do it, its really just a case of installing twice but on the second time you point to a different partition.
  3. PHATMAN5050

    PHATMAN5050 TS Rookie Posts: 593

    Why not install XP once, run whatever programs you'd like, and then run the built-in System Restore if something bad happens. :shrug: sounds good to me
  4. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    I think two XP installations is a bit extreme, but if that is what you want to do...

    System Restore works fine for me and it is quite a bit less trouble.
  5. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Interesting thought Rusty.
    I unlike Rick and Phat think that maybe that is a good idea for trying new things, I am not a big fan of system restore because many times I'll install more than 1 thing a day, and if one messes up and I use system restore I will lose one that may have ran perfectly well.

    As far as the legality of this, I think it should be perfectly fine, because it is after all the identical box, just different software on top of the OS.
  6. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,276   +461

    I run 2 instances of WinXP Pro on my laptop along with an instance of Win2K Pro. It's a 40 gig drive partitioned as 4-4-32 / WinXP-Win2K-WinXP. I store Drive images of the first two partitions on the 32 Gig and I use the first two for building packages in Wise and testing packages I've made for Active Directory. I've edited my Boot.ini and renamed the partitions to easily recognizable labels. Works great for me and is very quick - use the same copy of WinXP on the two partitions and since you can use only one at a time and on the same machine it shouldn't be necessary (legally) to own another copy.

  7. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Ah, it takes about 4 clicks and 5 seconds to make a restore point after you install or uninstall something. You don't have to restart or wait for Windows XP to make a restore point for you. ;)

    Actually, I think the idea of having another installation of XP is a good one - Not for trying out new programs and what not though - But for emergency reasons.
  8. RustyZip

    RustyZip TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 322

    Thanks for all your comments...

    Im not a big fan of System Restore myself. I know what its supposed to do, but i don't know how it does it. ie: i dont trust it, plus i'd have to keep defragging the drive, running scandisk, checking the registry, going to add/remove program thingy etc... Aahhh, just call me lazy:)
    It would take probably 5-10 mins to restore a disk image...

    Anyone got any clues to what to do with "boot.ini"?? Im pretty clueless here...

  9. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,276   +461

    Here's an example from my laptop - all from a single physical hard drive:

    [boot loader]
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Numba 1 Stunna" /fastdetect
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft WinXP 4 Gig" /fastdetect
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINNT="Microsoft Win2K 4 Gig" /fastdetect

    Reason why there's nothing pointing to the first partition (1) is because I have a hidden partition so yours may have a (1).

    LNCPapa - PS - make a backup of your boot.ini before you make any changes.
  10. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,276   +461

    Stupid S in this line:


    is not supposed to wrap - dunno why it is :mad:
  11. RustyZip

    RustyZip TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 322

    cheers guys...

    I was thinking of putting the swap file on a seperate partition (thanks to phantasm66 for the tip:grinthumb)

    Do i need 2 seperate partitions with 2 swapfiles? or can i point them both to the same one??
  12. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    No, they can both share the same swap partition.
  13. RustyZip

    RustyZip TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 322

    Thanks Phanty'...

    Ok... But do you mean i can put both swap files on the one partition or can they both use the same swap file (therefore saving space) on the one partition???:confused:

  14. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    if you assign the same partition for each OS to use for swap, then both will create a swap file on the root directory of that partition - each will recreate it in exactly the same place when each OS boots up so in effect both swap files occupy the same space (since each has an identical path and only 1 OS will be running at one time. When you switch over, the newly booted OS will overwrite the swap file from the other OS because its created on boot and both OS's have the same path for their swap file.)

    So all that shall ever be visible to you, at any one time, no matter which OS you are in, is one single swap file.

    This is what I do with the z: drive on my machine. Its an NTFS formatted drive with just one single file, z:\pagefile.sys. (well, actually that isn't true, there are other hidden system files, but you get what I mean. They are tiny in comparison and don't fragment that swap file.) When Windows XP boots it creates it there and when 2000 boots it creates it there. There isn't like 2 swap files on the partition so it only needs to be the size needed to take one.

    To keep it simple, give your swap partition the same drive letter in each OS. Then steer the swap file there. Leave a small swap file on each OS's system partition of about 2 MB to follow Microsoft guidelines.

    You will wind up with fragmentation data for the swap partition that looks like this:

    Volume SWAP (Z:):
    Volume size = 996 MB
    Cluster size = 1 KB
    Used space = 263 MB
    Free space = 732 MB
    Percent free space = 73 %

    Volume fragmentation
    Total fragmentation = 0 %
    File fragmentation = 0 %
    Free space fragmentation = 0 %

    File fragmentation
    Total files = 66
    Average file size = 8,458 KB
    Total fragmented files = 0
    Total excess fragments = 0
    Average fragments per file = 1.00

    Pagefile fragmentation
    Pagefile size = 256 MB
    Total fragments = 1

    Directory fragmentation
    Total directories = 14
    Fragmented directories = 1
    Excess directory fragments = 0

    Master File Table (MFT) fragmentation
    Total MFT size = 104 KB
    MFT record count = 95
    Percent MFT in use = 91 %
    Total MFT fragments = 2

    Fragments File Size Most fragmented files

    Remember to leave a small 2 MB swap file allocated to each operating systems' own system partition (i.e. a small one on c: for windows 1 and d: for windows 2) but then direct the rest onto a common partition for both.

    Any confusions / problems / questions then post back. This kind of thing is a particular interest of mine. I hope I have explained it well (its late here.)

    Oh, and Phanty sounds too much like Panty! ;)
  15. RustyZip

    RustyZip TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 322

    Thanks again Phanty'... err Phantasm66:p

    Right... Now i know what to do... BUT...

    I've found where i can change the size of the swap file manually, but i can't find out how i change it to another partition, and also how to keep 2mb on drive C????

    P.S. Thanks for being so patient with me, if i were you i'd of gotten cheesed off long ago:grinthumb

    Oh ye, running XP
  16. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Don't worry I am used to people not being able to think for themselves....


    Ok, under virtual memory setting dialogue, we see (surprse surprise!) a list of drives....

    Well I never!

    Scrolling up or down the list, we see on the table that each drive has a corresponding value next to it, which is the size of the swap file we have decided to put on it. This is because some folks might wanna try spreading the swap file over multiple drives.

    I highlight my system partition, say c: and the enter initial and maximum sizes. I then find my swap partition, hightlight it, and then enter an initial and maximum value and then hit set.

    Its really all right there in front of you.

    My pic here is from Windows 2000 but its very similar in XP, you just have a couple of extra options including to get Windows to manage it for you, which I don't generally bother with.


    You might also want to increase the size of the registry to 64 MB.
  17. RustyZip

    RustyZip TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 322

    Jesus, that was quick...

    Of course!!!!:eek:
    What was i thinking!!!!:confused:

    I was thinking that putting a swap file on (say) drive E would only work when you use files from that drive...DOH...:dead:

    Now i've seen the light...:cool:

    Unfortunately, XP hasn't got a thingy:confused: to change the registry size, or do you know different??

    I thought having a smaller registry was better though than a large one??
  18. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    i usually make the registry a little bigger because with the amount of applications i install, it usually runs out of space.

    but you are probably right, its maybe better only to do this when windows asks you to.
  19. evilc

    evilc TS Rookie

    there is a more elegant solution...
    Buy a copy of norton GHOST.
    simply GHOST your install of XP and if something goes wrong, re-ghost it with a backup image.
    If you have a DVD writer in your PC, even better.
    Make a bootable DVD with a GHOST image of your C: drive on it and voila ! a VERY fast restore DVD.
    Yes, winxp system restore is more trouble than it is worth.
    If you do this, best use GHOST from DOS, that way in the autoexec.bat of the boot disk, you can delete the pagefile.sys from C:
    And the System volume information dir if you want, it's a waste of space
    And hiberfil.sys, that's useless to a ghost image too.

    Not as easy to do if you use NTFS, but that's why I use FAT32
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