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Windows 7: Windows 7 and XP boot loader flip flopping

20 Oct 2011   #1

Windows 7 Professional x64
Windows 7 and XP boot loader flip flopping

Hey all,

I have a desktop PC with two hard drives: a 500 gigger with Win 7 Pro x64 installed on it, and a 40GB drive with XP Pro installed. I recently was trying to delete and merge my 100MB System Reserved partition with my primary Win 7 partition, but I didn't do it right, and Windows 7 wouldn't boot. Fortunately, I was able to fix the issue by booting into my XP install and using Partition Wizard to recover the deleted partition. However, it was marked as unallocated space, so I had to mark it as active, and then run Startup Repair so that Windows Recovery Environment could rewrite the files to the new System Recovery partition. It worked, and Windows 7 was just the way it was before I started fiddling with it.

Here's the problem: now XP won't boot! It gives me the "NTLDR is missing" message, and then won't boot. After I restart, it simply ignores the drive and goes right to my 7 install. Well I ran an install on XP, without reformatting, but then XP would boot, and 7 wouldn't. I ran Startup Repair to fix 7, and now 7 boots, and XP doesn't, and so it goes. What is going on here? Do I need to perform a complete, clean install of XP? I still have my files on there, so it doesn't look like anything is wiped. I tried booting up from my XP install disc, but there is no option to hit "R" to repair the partition or run the recovery console. Is there any way that I can make the two drives boot together again as they did before?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Oct 2011   #2

Windows 7 Professional x64

Great news! I finally found a solution to my drive issue! It took me several hours of nonstop marathon troubleshooting, but perseverance really pays off! I could go on for pages describing everything I tried, but for the sake of simplicity, I'm going to just explain the winning moves. I downloaded EasyBCD, and set up the bootloader so that both Windows 7 and XP could boot in harmony. Unfortunately, I was still getting errors when I tried to boot into XP. So what I basically did was boot up from my XP install disc, launch the Recovery Console, and executed FIXBOOT. This fixed the XP partition, but now 7 wouldn't boot, and it was basically ignored by the bootloader.

So then I booted from my 7 repair disc (it's a damn good thing I have all these discs lying around!) and ran Startup Repair. After it fixed the boot sector, 7 booted fine, but now the reverse was true: XP was ignored. This is what I meant when I titled my post a flip flop! However, with the boot sectors now repaired with XP, all I had to do was add XP as an entry to my EasyBCD bootloader, and now I can select which drive I'd like to boot at startup, without any problems at all!

This is a unique situation, because previously - when everything was working - I would boot into either 7 or XP depending on which I had set to boot first in the BIOS. There was no bootloader to prompt me on a choice: both installations worked, I just had to specify which one I wanted to boot from the BIOS boot menu. In some ways, this is more convenient, because now I don't have to use the BIOS menu. On the other hand, if I wanted to boot into, say, 7 as the default, I either have to wait 30 seconds for the default drive to automatically boot, or I have to remember to press it after I start up the machine.

In any event, I'm just grateful I got both systems booting normally again. I've certainly learned my lesson: no more playing with the System Reserved drive for me!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Windows 7 and XP boot loader flip flopping

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