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Windows 7: Yet another dual boot issue

24 May 2010   #1

Yet another dual boot issue

I hope I am posting this in the correct forum.

I have a newly built system with Windows 7 Pro installed on a 100 gb SSD and using a 500 gb regular hard drive for storage. I also have a 1.5 tb external USB drive connected. I found that many of my old programs (mainly games) would not work in Windows 7, even with the Virtual XP mode. I decided to set up a dual boot system with XP Pro and bought another 640 gb. regular hard drive to install it on.

I followed the tutorial here about setting up a dual boot where Windows 7 was installed first and it worked flawlessly. Many thanks for the tutorial. I have installed most of my software and it is working again! I have been patting myself on the back for the past few days as I have been working to move all my stuff from the old computer to the new one.

This evening I had booted into XP and wanted to access something on my external hard drive. When I went into Explorer I could not access the external hard drive. I don't know if I could before; this may have been the first time I looked for it. Device Manage does say there is a USB mass storage device connected but when I click on that drive letter in Explorer it shows as blank. When I checked the documentation that came with the external drive it said that if the drive is already connected when Windows starts for the first time it might not recognize it, so I should unplug the external drive, re-start Windows and then plug it back in so Windows XP will recognize it as new hardware and load the drivers. That is when the problems started.

When I try to boot to XP with the external drive disconnected it says there is a problem with my drives and it cannot read the boot disk. It still boots into Windows 7 fine and will boot into XP if I plug the external drive back in. Does that mean that my boot disk for XP has somehow become the external drive? The WINDOWS installation is definitely on the 640 gb. internal drive.

More importantly, how do I fix it?

Thanks for any help.

Bob Hamilton

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 May 2010   #2


Please post back a screenshot of your full Win7 Disk Mgmt Drive map and listings, using Snipping Tool in Start Menu, attach file using paper clip in Reply box.

Compare the Win7 screenshot with XP Disk Mgmt map and listings then post back any differences, or post the XP screenshot: Screenshot with Paint
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 May 2010   #3



Here is the Windows 7 Disk Management screenshot:
Yet another dual boot issue-screenshot3-800.jpg

Here is the XP Disk Management screenshot:
Yet another dual boot issue-screenshot2-800.jpg

The external drive shows as "J" in W7 and "E" in XP. Right clicking on "E" in XP and selecting "Properties" brings up this dialog box:
Yet another dual boot issue-screenshot1-800.jpg

Thanks for responding.


My System SpecsSystem Spec

24 May 2010   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


1) your System Resereved should not have a drive letter.
2) your External is active.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 May 2010   #5


Your XP boot was derailed to the External when somehow it got marked Active. It needs to be marked inactive and then may need to have the dual boot reconstructed.

Type CMD in Start Search box, rightclick result, Run As Admin, type:

SELECT DISK 3 (confirm from list this is still External)
SELECT PARTITION 1 (confirm this is External's only partition)

Now try restarting to see if XP will boot, which is doubtful. Next try unplugging external to see what changes.

If not, install EasyBCD 2.0 beta in Win7 after doing quick forum registration to use beta. Remove any XP listing on Add/Remove tab and add it back, accepting boot files, let it autocomplete, Save, Restart.

You should leave the drive letter on the 100mb Sys Reserved partition to help EasyBCD complete.

If this fails, you'll need to recover the boot into XP by doing a repair install while all other HD's are unplugged. Afterwards when you plug Win7 drive back in, boot via BIOS by setting preferred HD first HD to boot (after DVD drive), then trigger the other HD using Fkey given on first bootup screen for one-time Boot Menu. This is a cleaner dual boot which makes the drives independent to come and go as you please.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 May 2010   #6


Thanks for the instructions. It looks like it will take a bit more time than I will have over the next couple of days (starting night shifts) but when I get a chance I will try it out. My son had sent me a link from the forum to a tutorial on dual booting XP and 7 and the first step in it was to name the Windows 7 system partition so that XP would be able to find it. I had gone ahead and done that before I was really ready to install XP and then when I came back to do the install the link to the tutorial would not longer work so I found the one here to follow.

I don't want to start anything I won't be able to finish so I will wait until Thursday to give it a try.

Thanks again
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 May 2010   #7


Well, just to follow up on this one, my external is not longer showing as active and I can now boot into XP with the external drive unplugged, after re-doing the boot set-up in EasyBCD 2.

I am not too comfortable with editing the BIOS and am not too sure I understand the instructions about that part. There is no "F" key option on my boot screens now, do you mean that it will appear if I assign my XP drive as a third boot disk?

I can still not read the external hard drive from XP. It shows as drive "E" in the XP file manager but appears as though it is unformatted. Disk manager in XP does not indicate a file system for that drive in XP while Windows 7 disk manager indicates it is NTFS. I have been using the drive for several months on my old computer running XP Home so I don't have a clue why XP can't read it. Most of the files on there were written from my old computer. Fortunately most of my requirements for that drive are from Windows 7 so it is not too big a deal that I can't access it from XP, just irritating that I don't understand why.

Thanks very much for the help.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

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