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Windows 7: Windows Vista and 7 Dual Boot Issues

06 Jul 2010   #11
Microsoft MVP


Seeing both OS's in Repair console is indeed a good sign and should mean we can get them started.

It is possible Vista is being blocked by interference from the OEM partition, which is why on a clean reinstall we recommend deleting it as well as the Recovery partition if you can make your Recovery disks first. The boot files may be on that partition, may be corrupted and blocking startup, interfering with moving the System MBR into the Vista partition which is what has been attempted here.

There are other surprises which DISKPART revealed in your partitioning: Windows 7 is on extended logical partition which cannot be marked active to startup, likely because there were already 4 Primary partitions which are all that is allowed.

What we need more than anything on this end now is to see a drive map. The tool to use is free Partition Wizard bootable CD so that you can copy down or get a camera snap of the listings on each partition, then use it if necessary to Modify Windows 7 partition to Primary and set it active so that Startup Repair can start it up. This is providing it will only be the fourth Primary partition on the HD since that is the limit.

If it will speed up getting the Disk Details posted up then you can use DISKPART to "Detail Disk."

Just in case: Do you have the Recovery Disk set made or know that the Recov partition will run? Do you have a Vista install DVD for your version as well as a Windows 7 one? Are there files you need from the HD? Your last resort may actually be the best course since it is a much cleaner install.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

06 Jul 2010   #12

Windows Vista

Great - thanks for the advice. I have to admit that I hadn't considered the possibility that it was one of the other partitions screwing things up.

I'm at work now, but I'll try booting into the Recovery Partition later to see if that still works. In terms of creating Recovery discs etc, I'm not worried about not having them and never in fact bothered creating them. I have a Vista Install DVD supplied by Dell that came with the PC for using to recover / reinstall from as well as the Win 7 Install DVD.

I've downloaded the Partition Iso and burnt to CD. Will boot from that later and get a screenshot of the Partitions on the disc. If it comes to it, I'm not worried about keeping the OEM and Recovery Partitions and would be happy to delete them to just leave the Vista and Win 7 partitions or even just the Vista partition on there as Primary partitions as long as I don't lose the data from the Vista Partition.

If it comes down to it, I would even be prepared to protect the data by buying a new HDD, removing the old one and performing a clean Win 7 install onto it from which I'd then recover the data I wanted to keep from the old HDD.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jul 2010   #13
Microsoft MVP


Having a second HDD is a nice convenience since you can then install Windows 7 to it, browse to recover your files from Vista, then clean reinstall Vista to the first HD to set up a BIOS dual boot that leaves the HD's independent to come and go as you please - whereas a Windows-managed Dual boot interlocks them. You can also back up image and data to the other HD in case you lose one.

But if you can't get Vista started you can also achieve last-resort file rescue by simply reinstalling Windows 7 to its partition and using it to rescue files - unless you also have files on Windows 7 you don't want to lose.

You could then boot Vista DVD to delete all other partitions, create a new one for Vista plus a middle data partiton if you'd like to store your data there in it's own "vault" linked to User folder in both OS's. This way reinstalls/reimaging due to failure of either OS in the future wouldn't touch your data.

But meanwhile the Partiton Wizard drive map may fill in the gaps as to why Vista won't start, or help us get Windows 7 started so that you can rescue your data, then possibly reinstall Vista.

There is also a free Paragon Rescue disk that can copy over files as well as rescue the partitions themselves since they are intact. Or you can use your Windows 7 DVD now to copy over files: Copy & Paste - in Windows Recovery Console
My System SpecsSystem Spec

06 Jul 2010   #14

Windows Vista

Here is the drive map - apologies if the photo is not up to scratch.

Attached Thumbnails
Windows Vista and 7 Dual Boot Issues-partitions.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jul 2010   #15

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jul 2010   #16
Microsoft MVP


Since Vista is indeed marked Active and shows up in the Recovery console, it should start with Startup Repair run up to 3 separate times with reboots unless it is corrupted beyond repair.

I would try three more times to start Vista.

If this fails, then decide whether you want Windows 7 on the same HD for the long term, or to make a partition in the left space of your second HD using Partition Wizard to install Windows 7 there. If so I would unplug the Vista HD so Windows 7 installer isn't confused and creates it's own independent bootloader.

After install when you plug Vista back in , you can browse to recover your files from Vista if they are not damaged too badly. In fact you can Explore for them right now with PW CD, even copy them out now to data drive or DVD using this: Copy & Paste - in Windows Recovery Console

Then you can wipe the DISK0 to clean reinstall Vista, either leaving Windows 7 HD plugged in so Vista installer creates a Windows Dual Boot, or unplugging Windows 7 during install so Vista creates its own independent bootloader allowing one HD to be booted via BIOS Boot order and the other via Dell's one-time F12 Boot Menu.

Feel free to ask any questions to decide what you want to do, then we'll give you step-by-step.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jul 2010   #17

Windows Vista

Great - thanks for the input.

I'm also going to try a memory test as well on the pc - googling suggests trying that as it maybe a faulty memory DIMM and maybe removing the sticks of ram 1 by 1 then reboot. Will see what that throws up...

If that shows no improvement then I'll try the 3 time start-up repair again.

I'm edging towards removing the HDD with Vista on and replacing with a brand new drive to which I'll do a clean install. I can then restore the Vista data from the other drive using an external SATA cable I have @ home.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jul 2010   #18

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jul 2010   #19

Windows Vista

Update on progress from last night.

I focused on running the HW tests last night rather than any further OS stuff.

Hard Drive checks came out clear. I ran the Hitachi Drive Fitness Test on both drives and no errors shown. I had already run chkdsk /f and chkdsk /r against both my Vista and Win 7 partitions which had shown no errors/bad sectors.

Memory Tests however did show something.

I started by booting into the Utility Partition and running the Dell memory check utility from there. That showed a Memory Compare error so clearly a problem somwhere.

I then ran the basic suite of Memtest86+ and that threw up over 200 errors on the 1st pass of tests. Looking at the memory addresses listed, it is primarily with Dimm 1 - my first 1gb stick - with a couple on Dimm 2 so this evening's job is remove the first stick and reboot to see what happens. May then remove Dimm 2 as well!

I'll keep everyone posted.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jul 2010   #20

Windows Vista


This evening I removed the first memory Dimm in slot 1 - reran Memtest86+ and that ran completely clean. Rebooted the machine and Vista booted straight up. Not tried 7 yet but guess that will likely be ok too. Now just need to do some memory movement to test a working stick in Dimm 1 and see if tis ths stick or the slot that is faulty.

Thanks all for the help - a faulty memory stick wouldn't have been my first guess given the symptoms presented but one for me to remember for the future.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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