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Windows 7: I need three bootable partitions + one other on one HDD

24 Feb 2012   #1

Windows 7 Professional x64
I need three bootable partitions + one other on one HDD

Hi, as the title says, i want three bootable partitions on one HDD and a small page file partition.

Partition 1: OS for DAW (audio composition) which has minimal software installed.
Partition 2: 20GB Page file partition that can be shared between the three OS's
Partition 3: OS for games
Partition 4: OS for work. Lots of installs, prone to conflicts etc so want to keep separate from games.

This has proven to be a bit harder than i thought.

Using MBR:

MBR allows 4 bootable partitions, or three bootable partitions and one extended partition that can be further divided.

The issue here is that win 7 creates a 100MB system partition. This leaves only 3 bootable partitions only (i need 4 partitions), or, two bootable partitions and an extended partition.

Using GPT:

This should work (essentially unlimited bootable partitions) but i can't get it to work with my motherboard/BIOS.

Also, this build has been prompted by a HDD failure that i wasn't quite prepared for and the customer service person at Zero Assumption Recovery (the only SW that would let me recover SOME files) recommended MBR.


Persist with trying to get GPT to work.

Remove the 100MB system partition and use MBR. A lot of information on whether this is a good idea or not is floating round, but i'm yet to find anything that i would consider definitive regarding whether this is a good idea or not.

Can anyone offer any advice on how i can achieve my goal?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Feb 2012   #2

Windows 8 Core X64

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Feb 2012   #3
Microsoft MVP


Prepartition using free Partition Wizard bootable CD which will create four Primary partitions, then make sure to boot each Win7 install, select it's partition to install.

After install you can try directing each OS's page file to the shared partition using this method: Virtual Memory Paging File - Change

This would be done better using separate HD's each holding its own System boot files and booted via the BIOS boot order or one-time BIOS Boot Menu key. On the same HD the OS's will be dependent upon the first installed OS which will hold the System boot files for all three possibly requiring repairs if you reinstall it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Mar 2012   #4

Windows 7 Professional x64

A summary of what i ended up doing:

- Tried to use GPT and made some progress but gave up as i didn't really trust what i ended up with so went back to MBR.
- Used "diskpart" from the windows install disk (can't exactly remember how but something like pushing F10 at some point during booting from windows disk - see google) to make the first partition - no 100MB partition created.
- I put the page file partition on a second HDD.
- I used the normal windows disk management to add another two bootable partitions giving three in total.

Note: disk management in windows will make the 4th partition an extended partition that you cannot boot from (limiting bootable partitions to 3), but you can divide this extended partition into many sub-partitions. But, if you use "diskpart" you can stop it from being an extended partition and make it a standard partition therefore increasing the max bootable partitions to 4 from the one hdd.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Mar 2012   #5
Microsoft MVP


Are you asking for help or telling us how it is done? We deal with these cases every day here - thousands of them with similar circumstances.

You can boot from the Logical partition as long as it is able to place the boot files on the Primary System partition. Installing to the Logical sub-partition actually updates the System partition's boot files to reconfigure the Multi Boot if installed last. If not, install Easy BCD to the OS which holds the System Active flags to add the new install.

You can also create a fourth Primary partition using free Partition Wizard bootable CD mentioned earlier, giving you maximum flexibility with a GUI (picture).

If you'll post back a screenshot of your full Disk Management drive map with listings, we can look it over for you to share what has worked for others. Use the Snipping Tool in Start Menu.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Mar 2012   #6
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

As Greg says, you can have 50 bootable logical partitions as long as you have 1 primary active partition large enough to hold all those BCDs.

And what is the idea of a seperate partition for the pagefiles. If you have RAM larger than 3GBs, these pagefiles will hardly ever be used and can be reduced to 1GB or 2GBs. There is nothing to be gained if you put them on a seperate HDD. Look into your Resource Monitor > Memory tab. On the bottom right there is a graph that will tell you how much activity you have on the pagefile (hard faults).
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 I need three bootable partitions + one other on one HDD

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