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Windows 7: Dual boot / Dual Drive queries


29 Jul 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premum 32bit
 
 
Dual boot / Dual Drive queries

Hi

After struggling with a problem at my office for a while, a helpful member of these forums managed to sort it in a few minutes so I'm back for some advice on my home rig!

My home rig is basically split between work use and recreational use. Currently I have an OS drive with a couple of storage drives - all mechanical SATA drives. I decided that I was going to get myself an SSD and use that with a fresh installation of Windows 7 (Home Premium) as a gaming install. I need to leave my current Vista install intact because it has a number of programs set-up for my work and will continue to handle this side of things.

I was aware of multiboot setups, though I have never done one before, and as such have read a number of threads on the subject, including the great series of guides by Brink found on this site. At the moment I'm thinking of keeping the installs seperate, not technically a dual-boot I suppose, by removing all the other drives whilst I install Windows 7 to the SSD. Choosing the OS will then I believe be a process done within the BIOS by selecting the drive boot order.

I came across this mentioned in one thread:

"Use the one-time BIOS Boot Menu key given on first boot screen to trigger the HD not set to boot first"

I think this means a key for choosing the boot order? I have an Asus X38 motherboard (Asus Maximus Formula) with an AMI bios and I can't seem to find anything at POST or in the documentation that suggests a key to get a boot sequence screen. Is anyone aware what it might be or if it isn't possible with this BIOS?

My main question is regarding the appearance of the other drives within each installation. For example, currently on my Vista install C is the OS drive, D is the optical, and E/F are storage drives. Whilst booted into Windows 7 on the SSD how will my Vista drive appear, and the other drives - will they maintain their drive letters C-F?

This brings me onto my other question. Since C is sort of the strandard designation for an OS drive will I need to pick a different drive letter for the Windows 7 install on the SSD, e.g. B or Z, so that it does not conflict with the drive running Vista which is currently assigned C?

I guess basically I'm trying to understand how the various drives in the machine will be recognised and appear in each of the Windows OSes and how they handle drive letter associations between the two.

Any clarification on these questions would be greatly appreciated.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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29 Jul 2011   #2
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Hello qwikpix, welcome to Seven Forums!


The BIOS hot-key to trigger the ASUS one-time boot menu is the F8 key at PC startup.

Both Vista and Windows 7 will use the C: drive letter while booted to each respectively and "the other" OS will have the next available drive letter in the booted OS.

The other partitions will have different drive letters between the 2 OS but you can reassign the letters as long as that won't break any installed prog/app associations by doing so.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jul 2011   #3

Windows 7; Server 08; Window Home Server; Vista; XP
 
 

First off...
You can install your drive and install Windows 7 on it. Windows 7 handles the dual boot configuration. When you start your computer you will be given a choice of which operating system you would like to start. Default configuration gives you about 30 seconds to decide.

Windows keep track of the boot information in the BCD (boot configuration data). This is a section of the drive that when the machine is started is looked at by the bootloader which gives you your selection of operating systems, if only one is installed then that one will be loaded by default unless other wise configured. BCD keeps track of the SID of each drive and where the load files are stored on the drive as well as drive letter and a host of other info related to the boot process.

When Windows 7 is loaded It will always be the C drive as will Vista. It is not like the old days with 2000, XP where your drive letter was fixed at time of install. MS realized that windows like being C drive and now it always is by default. You other drives will be sorted by letter either by their place on the controller or however you assigned non OS drive letters.

Clear as mud.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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29 Jul 2011   #4
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Separate HDD/SSD booting is much preferred as the OSs aren't tied together via a boot-loader and 1 OS can be remover if need be and there will be no need to do any startup repairs to correct for / (re)create the System boot files.

You just choose which HDD/OS to boot at PC startup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jul 2011   #5

Windows 7 Home Premum 32bit
 
 

Wow, firstly let me thank you both for your swift responses

It's great news that each installation seems intelligent enough so as to sort itself out alongside the other. Thank you for the info Bare Foot Kid, to add to what you mentioned about assigning drive letters, the other two drives are not used for programs and the only thing that I can think of that might require correct associations are indesign files in terms of their links. Am I correct in assuming that the drive letters as they appear in Vista now won't be changed, i.e. will the installation of the SSD take D for example and shunt the rest on or will it simply take the next available letter, G for example?

@ Haxcid, thanks for the info regarding BCD, I had gleaned from a couple of threads that this was the case, however I think it was something that I had seen mentioned by Bare Foot Kid that installing the OS without the other drives connected could potentially avoid boot issues. Using the BIOS isn't an issue for me if it will avoid some potential problems or are these conflicts less likely to be an issue when using two more modern OSes? The other reason I was considering running the install with the other drives disconnected was something I had read in the forums of the SSD:

"Windows 7
Be aware that Win 7 likes to install onto 'raw' unformatted space.
Default, it will create a 100MiB hidden System partition with Boot/Recovery files.
If the drive is pre-formatted, Win 7 just ignores the above.
It installs the Boot/Recovery files directly onto the C:\ partition in a hidden Folder.
If you have other drives attached at the same time..
Win 7 can install the hidden partition there.. so beware!!"


Thanks again for your advice
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jul 2011   #6
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Have a look at the information that helps explain further.


information   Information
  • If you do not want to create the new Windows 7 "System Reserved" partition use the outline in Step Two #2 to create, format and mark Active a single 100GB partition to do the installation to.
  • If you do want to create the "System Reserved" partition use the outline in Step Two #3 to create, format and mark Active the System Reserved partition and then create and format the 100GB partition to do the installation to.
SSD / HDD : Optimize for Windows Reinstallation

Additional Secure Erase / Wipe Information


My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jul 2011   #7
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by haxcid View Post
First off...
You can install your drive and install Windows 7 on it. Windows 7 handles the dual boot configuration. When you start your computer you will be given a choice of which operating system you would like to start. Default configuration gives you about 30 seconds to decide.

Windows keep track of the boot information in the BCD (boot configuration data). This is a section of the drive that when the machine is started is looked at by the bootloader which gives you your selection of operating systems, if only one is installed then that one will be loaded by default unless other wise configured. BCD keeps track of the SID of each drive and where the load files are stored on the drive as well as drive letter and a host of other info related to the boot process.

When Windows 7 is loaded It will always be the C drive as will Vista. It is not like the old days with 2000, XP where your drive letter was fixed at time of install. MS realized that windows like being C drive and now it always is by default. You other drives will be sorted by letter either by their place on the controller or however you assigned non OS drive letters.

Clear as mud.
This is the second best choice. As BFK says, seperating the installation and switching via the BIOS is a much better deal.

As to the allocation of drive letters. There is nothing to worry about it. I still have Vista and it's recovery partition on this system. Below is a picture to show you how it may possibly look like. Note: I have one SSD and two HDDs on this system and there are some more partitions that do not show in the picture.


Attached Thumbnails
Dual boot / Dual Drive queries-2011-07-28_1635.png  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jul 2011   #8
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

I didn't post that information suggesting you wipe the new SSD, just a explanation of info.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jul 2011   #9
Microsoft MVP

 

There is no reason to avoid the System Reserved boot partition. The fact that it places the Windows 7 Repair Console (normally only on the DVD or Repair CD) on the F8 Advanced Boot Options alone is enough reason to accept it during install to new SSD.

Clean Install Windows 7

Other tips to get a perfect install:

The installer is mostly driver-complete, with newer arriving quickly via optional Windows Updates. Just in case, have your Wireless driver on flash stick or CD so you can get online quickly. Then enable hardware driver auto-updating and check for optional Updates frequently.

Any drivers still missing in Device Manager can be found on the Support Downloads webpage for your model computer or device. Driver Install - Device Manager

Install updates and then programs slowly over time to gauge performance changes after each. Don't let any programs write themselves into msconfig>Startup as they slow startup, become freeloaders on your RAM/CPU and can spy on you. I only allow AV and gadgets. Startup Programs - Change

Use a lightweight free AV like MS Security Essentials which works perfectly with Windows 7 Firewall. http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/

When it is finished, clean and order the HD perfectly using state-of-the-art free CCleaner Disk and Registry tabs, then Puran boot-time defragger + full Disk Check after adding Intelligent Optimizer on Additional Operations tab:
CCleaner - Free software downloads and software reviews - CNET Download.com
http://download.cnet.com/Puran-Defra...-75115626.html

Finally save a Windows 7 Backup image externally so you never have to reinstall again, just reimage the HD (or replacement) using DVD/Repair CD with the stored image. Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jul 2011   #10
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
There is no reason to avoid the System Reserved boot partition. The fact that it places the Windows 7 Repair Console on the F8 Advanced Boot Options alone is enough reason to accept it during install to new SSD.

Clean Install Windows 7


I agree the use of the Windows 7 "System Reserved" partition does have advantages.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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