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Windows 7: Is it possible to have 2 windows 7 on different partitions?

22 May 2019   #1
Super Starman

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 
Is it possible to have 2 windows 7 on different partitions?

The partition where my current broken (KB4474419 won't install and any further updates either), I mean I can use it just fine but no more windows updates.



I have a 200gb partition as the first partition of this drive, a data partition, then the partition with the win7 I'm using now. The first one has a broken Linux Mint 17.3 installation, as in, the grub menu still detects it, but picking it will bring one to a command line, I've backed up the partition for the data on it that I want to keep and I have backed up the working win7 x64 ultimate partition too with O&O DiskImage.


I have an .iso with all updates up to the march updates of this year, done with nLite or something similar. Will it be possible to install that windows on the first partition or will it be impossible if it detects another win7 installation elsewhere? I know it will delete grub, but that's fine, I can restore it real quick, I do have a working linux on another hard drive, so, I do need it.


Thanks!






My System SpecsSystem Spec
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23 May 2019   #2
dg1261

Windows 7/8.1/10 multiboot
 
 

Yes, that's not only possible, it's my preferred setup for my family's machines. My own machine multi-boots several OSes, but for my wife and adult children (who don't really need dual-boot but whose machines I inevitably still support), I basically "dual-boot" them with the same OS. There are many ways to setup a dual-boot, but I prefer the genuine way with two completely independent OS partitions with optionally a third-party boot manager (i.e., boot manager not embedded in either OS partition). You don't actually need a boot manager if you're willing to manually set the "active" partition, but a boot manager makes things a little easier.

My basic scheme is two OS partitions and one data partition shared by both OS partitions. By making one partition "active" I'm using partitions OS1+Data, and by making the other "active" I'm using partitions OS2+Data. I normally start by leaving partition OS2 in reserve and make an image of OS1 before putting it into regular service. After about 9-12 months I switch OS1 to reserve by switching the active partition to OS2, restore the unsullied image of OS1 to OS2, bring it up to date and refresh the image, then put OS2 into daily service.

Year to year, I keep switching back and forth. This let's me keep doing the equivalent of a "clean install" at least annually, yet avoids trashing the previously used OS too soon, just in case I forgot to carry over something when switching OS partitions.

You can read more about my "rolling clean install" concept on my webpage here.

Another advantage to keeping one partition in reserve like this is it's a quick-and-easy "Plan B" if something goes wrong, such as if Windows or Photoshop starts crashing for some reason. I can flip the active partition back to the other OS and they're up and running in 2 minutes, while it buys me some time until I can get around to repairing the errant OS partition.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 May 2019   #3
Super Starman

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Thanks, I'll look into this. Basically, if I want to install this March 2019 Windows 7 Ultimate x64 iso a friend has made from my genuine win7 x64 ultimate disc and all security updates up to ^^ where so many people including me have been having impossible to resolve updates failing to install from those months updates, it works fine on a junk computer I have just to test stuff on, I'd never use it.


I can install it on the first partition which is 195gb, which will give it the apparently very much needed first partition-only hidden system volume that apparently solves some windows updates errors caused by the march 2019 updates, as I slowly build it up, while I keep using the current win7 I'm using and all the software in it that is not portable, even if they have a partition in the middle on the same disk, that's only for data?


I can just go ahead, install it, then reinstall grub with supergrubdisk and have access to my linux partition and the instances of windows 7 ? (I'll also look into your particular method of rolling update). Thanks a lot for responding.


The drive looks like this if it helps, of course the linux swap (sda2) would be wiped and combined with sda1, the Linux OS I use is on another drive. I'm posting from and using the "no-more-updates-after-KB4474491-failure" win7 install on the last partition (wouldn't have done that if I had known about it needing to be first on the partition to get a system volume partition (hidden)).











My System SpecsSystem Spec
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29 May 2019   #4
dg1261

Windows 7/8.1/10 multiboot
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Super Starman View Post
I can just go ahead, install it, then reinstall grub with supergrubdisk and have access to my linux partition and the instances of windows 7 ?

The drive looks like this if it helps, of course the linux swap (sda2) would be wiped and combined with sda1, the Linux OS I use is on another drive.
I'm not fluent in linux, so can't comment. I thought you were talking about reconfiguring the computer from a linux+Win dual-boot to a Win+Win dual-boot.


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Super Starman View Post
I can install it on the first partition which is 195gb, which will give it the apparently very much needed first partition-only hidden system volume ...
The partition layout screenshot is helpful. If I'm correctly reading between the lines, your layout consists of a linux OS partition first, followed by a linux swap partition, a linux data partition, and a Windows OS partition. It sounds like you have a second HDD with another linux OS that you're keeping.

The point is which partitions are going to be "System" and "Boot" for the Windows OSes? Noting the file systems in the screenshot, I wonder if part.4 is both "System" and "Boot" when Win7 is booted? Since you're going through grub, I wonder if that means part.1 is the "active" partition?

I'm not sure what problems you've been having with updates, but I wonder if it might be because "System" and "active" may not be the same partition, rather than the fact you don't have a separate, dedicated "System" partition (which is not a requirement, anyway). I don't see how changing from a linux+linux+Win triple boot to a linux+Win+Win triple boot changes that, so the effort may not solve your problems.

The method I described in post #2 is for setting up a Win+Win dual-boot with completely independent OSes. I do not use a dedicated System Reserved partition. Part.1 is both "System" and "Boot" for Win7a when part.1 is active, and part.2 is both "System" and "Boot" for Win7b when part.2 is active. This requires manually changing the active partition when you want to change OSes. That may be a hassle for some, but it does guarantee you have completely independent OSes, and each OS can be backed up or restored without interfering with the other. OTOH, manually switching the active partition may not be that big a hassle if, like my wife's and kids' machines, you're not switching back and forth constantly. I just set one boot option and leave it, and the alternate OS is just there as a reserve if needed. They're not choosing to boot one OS or the other on a daily basis. On the rare occasion it's needed, it's not a big deal to manually change the active partition and boot the reserve partition.

A slightly different but similar method is to setup the two OSes the same way but use a third-party boot manager to switch the active partition on the fly at boot time. It's a tad more complicated because you have to setup the boot manager, but you still have the benefit of completely independent OS partitions.

A third method is to use Win7a's BCD as an erstwhile boot manager for both Win7a and Win7b. Part.1 is setup the same way, with part.1 being both "System" and "Boot" when Win7a is booted. When Win7b is booted, however, part.1 will still be "System" but part.2 will be "Boot". This saves you the trouble of having to manually change the active partition, but does muddy things up a bit because Win7a and Win7b are not completely segregated.

Another variation of the third method is to setup a small, dedicated System Reserved partition as part.1, with Win7a in part.2 and Win7b in part.3. Part.1 becomes the "System" partition under either boot, but part.2 and part.3 trade places as the "Boot" partition depending on which is booted. Again, you're using the BCD as your boot manager, with the same pros and cons as method three.

If you throw linux into the mix, though, you'll have to use the grub boot manager. I have no experience with that, but I don't see how that would solve your Win update problem.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2019   #5
Super Starman

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

It's all about Win7 wanting to be on the first partition of a disk, otherwise it might cause problems, see my 30+ replies thread in the Windows Updates forum called Unable to install KB4474491 in Windows 7 x64 or such, its still on the front page.


But yeah, I do have a linux/win dual boot update, that linux OS on the 195gb partition is broken since a long time, past its duration of life too, I'd merge the first 2 partitions together and then make the win7 I install on there as the System, Active etc. annotations one see in Windows Disk Management...basically just like when one's windows fails on a linux + win installation, reinstalling windows will destroy grub and all the flags will go on that partition, I used Minitool Partition Wizard tech edition to show the disk layout, but yeah, the last partition here has all the flags except Active because grub boots the system, on another drive, where the Linux OS I want to keep is.



I just want to know that the installation will work and won't be telling me there's already a "windows on this disk, Format?" in the very limited disk management options one get in the install process. That I'll be able to install that March 2019 Win7 iso before this one I'm using right now on the disk layout.


It'll solve the win update issue by installing a win7 that's got all security updates up to march of this year, the one update I can't install, making all other updates fail and now showing I only have 6 updates installed in the Installed Updates (believe me, I've looked into everything, using Windows Cleanup Tool for the first time even, this install is standing on a leg, I'm not even sure if older updates are still there even. So a disk with the march 2019 updates will guarantee I'll be okay, that and having the system on the first partition of a disk, which is required to do a clean install and ensures I won't be getting the problem so many people have experienced, including myself and nothing is helping, see the thread I started about that.


If you can just confirm I'll be able to initiate install without issue on the first 2 partitions of that drive that I will be merging beforehand, I know it will kill grub for a while, that's not a problem I know how to reinstall it immediately, just concerned about 2 windows on the same drive, with a data partition in between even, windows being more capricious than linux








My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2019   #6
dg1261

Windows 7/8.1/10 multiboot
 
 

The Windows installation media does not care if there is another Windows installation in another partition or on another disk. What actually happens during installation, though, will depend a lot on which is the boot disk and which is the active partition. It's not clear which is your boot disk (the one shown, or the one with the other linux OS on it?), but make the subject disk the boot disk and part.1 active, and Windows will install like normal. Make part.4 active and tell the installer to install on part.1, and it will setup a BCD-based Windows style dual-boot for you to choose between part.4 and part.1 at boot time.


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by dg1261 View Post
The point is which partitions are going to be "System" and "Boot" for the Windows OSes? Noting the file systems in the screenshot, I wonder if part.4 is both "System" and "Boot" when Win7 is booted? Since you're going through grub, I wonder if that means part.1 is the "active" partition?

I'm not sure what problems you've been having with updates, but I wonder if it might be because "System" and "active" may not be the same partition, rather than the fact you don't have a separate, dedicated "System" partition
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Super Starman View Post
It's all about Win7 wanting to be on the first partition of a disk
Nope, I don't buy that. Partition order has not been a factor in Windows installations since about Win 2000.

I scanned through the thread you mentioned, as well as the associated Microsoft forum thread linked therein, and it reads as I suspected above -- an issue with the update expecting "System" to be the active partition. I don't know (nor do I care) what the update is trying to do, but it appears to be getting confused because it's having trouble finding the BCD or something because of the linux dual-boot. The solutions that seem to have worked for people in that thread involved temporarily reverting to a Win-only single boot system, applying the update, then re-enabling the dual-boot. They had nothing to do with the order of partitions, and nothing to do with a dedicated System Reserved partition.

IOW, you should be able to solve your update problem by temporarily reverting your existing part.4 to a single-boot system, leaving the linux partitions as is, but bypassed. The process would involve removing or disabling the other disk so the one shown is your boot disk, making part.4 your active partition, and repairing its boot configuration if necessary. After the update is complete, re-enable the second disk and reactivate grub. Whether or not you convert part.1 to a second Windows OS is a separate and unrelated topic.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2019   #7
Super Starman

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

It does matter, I can't put the Active flag on the 4th partition (broken win7 I'm using), it's grey-lined out and will not be detected for boot even if I remove grub, I tested on my old trial desktop, not too old, just enough to do testing, win7 installed on anything but a first partition will not create a system volume and will not be seen at boot even if the drive it is on is put first in the boot-order in BIOS.


We'll see, thanks for the rolling updates strategy you have setup though, that's interesting and will be doing that when I have a brand new install of the win7 x64 Ultimate with updates up to march's 2019 major updates (KB4474419) implementing SHA-1 for all future updates. I've seen with my own eyes and many other people say the same, a clean install will only be possible on the first partition of a hard drive if it is split in multiple volumes, even just 2.

If there was no problem with KB4474419 on win7 (and even 8.1 and 10, seems widespread in its failure rate and no correction by MS) to install SHA-1 on the OS, so that future updates function. Right now I get the new updates but don't bother, April's update tuesday did the same thing : Unable to configure Windows Updates, reverting changes...and doing everything to clean it up just made the list of Installed Updates almost empty all of a sudden, despite Update history showing every KB I've installed since August last year when this install was made. Many people say they got out of the issue by forcing in a system hidden partition to be there. I have backed up the whole partition to an external drive with O&O DiskImage, there's data on that "C:" that I absolutely cannot lose, so at least that's taken care of, especially since Cleanup destroyed Windows Backup, it fails too, so I'm not playing around with this partition.


Maybe there is nothing to it, but so many people who have this issue all created their disk layout before install and then proceeded with it, mostly on another partition than the first one, the issue happened to people with no other OS's, but that had skipped the creation of the hidden system

volume.


See for yourself :



I appreciate your input though, like I said, I'm pretty confident in doing this in the weekend when I have time, then I'll implement the strategy you spoke of in your first reply. Thanks





My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
29 May 2019   #8
dg1261

Windows 7/8.1/10 multiboot
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Super Starman View Post
I've seen with my own eyes and many other people say the same, a clean install will only be possible on the first partition of a hard drive if it is split in multiple volumes, even just 2.
That's absolutely not true. But it's your system, so 'nuf said.


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Super Starman View Post
See for yourself :
Is that screenshot the same disk we've been talking about? If so, you might take notice that it's showing you exactly what I was talking about -- the first partition is "active" but the fourth partition is "System". That's what's abnormal. It's not abnormal to have Windows on partition 4 or to not have a System Reserved partition, it's abnormal for the System partition to not be the active partition.

That's the impact of installing grub. And from the anecdotal evidence suggested in the aforementioned threads, that appears to be the reason for the update failures.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2019   #9
Super Starman

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I need grub, I keep windows for some games and some applications that do not emulate well with CrossOver.


I said a long time ago that as you can see, I can't make the win partition Active, option is greyed out with the lines, from the same disk, I felt the need to use the native Disk Management because it was something I had made clear in my OP, I can't put the active flag on this partition, maybe it is the issue, but it won't let me do it. Would've been simpler to tell me that yes I can go ahead, install win7 again on the 195gb partition, that I know it would break grub, which is fine. I can't have windows that's on a fourth partition of a drive to boot up, it doesn't work, I can only do it right now, because grub detects the Windows Loader on sdc4. Instead you got me around in circles, giving me the run around because I want to keep using Linux and that it is the source of every ill on my system. I like win7, but I am not a fanboy, I stick with what works, me getting an error on installation of KB4474419 is a widespread problem and now I got a slipstreamed win7 iso with all updates until then, when a critical update that matters for the whole OS to function to go kaput on me, I know I'm clearly not alone in that situation so, thanks, I'll take the positive from what you've told me and convinced me, even if I put this drive first in the boot order list, I can't boot into win7, it'll try the dead old linux since its got the active flag I cannot move at all and maybe some people have BIOS and UEFI that allows for booting on a selected partition...I don't,it will try every first partition of any drive I tell it to boot first with, provided there is a working OS. Unless I have grub, but then the question was, hmm, 2 win7s on one drive, better verify how safe that is before proceeding.


Seems like it is, but I had to figure that out on my own. Sorry I won't use win 8.1 or 10 and will use 7 till it dies then it's going to be a Debian flavoured Linux forever, so I got to keep things as they are on other drives, it's evident.



My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2019   #10
Super Starman

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

By the way, sorry if that sounded annoyed, I am definitely annoyed, but you aren't the source, other than I had already described that


a) the windows partition is not Active, yet updates worked for more than a year
b) the Linux I want to keep is on another drive


Only needed to know if installing the slipstreamed to march 2019 win7 disk I have on that partition wouldn't screw up the current win7, that it would allow me to install it even if win7 is already present on, lets use windows nomenclature HD 0,3 and that I was fine with grub not working for a while, I can reinstall it easily by booting from my Mint USB stick and if that would show 2 entries for win7, at least until I brought the new install up to speed (programs, settings etc.) which I don't look forward to, it'll be a pain, it's not like I'll just have had my iso of this partition installed on that first partition.



As for first partition and system hidden volume, we'll have to disagree, because that's how I've seen people fix that nonsense caused by KB4474419.









My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Is it possible to have 2 windows 7 on different partitions?




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