Computer Help forum

General discussion

Can you dual boot two xp OS?

by nykajuu / December 17, 2007 7:52 PM PST


I would like to dual boot xp and xp on my computer. Yes you read correctly, I want to dual boot xp and another xp.

Is it possible?

I have never dual booted a computer before, so where could I find instructions on how to do so? Does anyone here have instructions.

Your probably wondering why I want to dual boot xp, but its beacuse I'm going to use the computer for playing games, and another family member for work: hence we want to keep both "sides" of the computer as seperate as possible. If a virus hits the gaming side of the dual boot, then it would not affect the one that is used for work. Also, I would like to dual boot using hard drives; it removes the danger of emptying all the important work related files if the drive needs to be reformatted.

Thanks for any help!

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Can you dual boot two xp OS?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Can you dual boot two xp OS?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
As I see it...
by Willy / December 17, 2007 11:11 PM PST

I understand what you want to do, but it maybe harder than it appears.

You maybe better off using actual two separate HDs that can be plugged/unplugged as the need arise or even use a swap box setup. Alot depends on your current system, a dual-mode can be allowed for different versions of XP, like Home and Pro(maybe?), but using the same versions or even the same OS disk won't work. Dual boot has always been for different versions of windoze OSes like win98 and XP or even Linux, etc.. Here's MS info on the topic:

Google away using dual boot, etc. for keywords, offhand, I don't see using dual XP as a real workable solution w/o hassles if at all, IMHO.

tada -----Willy Happy

Collapse -
Like to add...
by Willy / December 17, 2007 11:32 PM PST
In reply to: As I see it...

The times I've seen this done, it always appears to have problems later. I get the call to fix and find dual XPs on the same system and by legal status can't work on it as the MS legalize states one OS per machine(OS install/CD not same one). The user can do whatever with me out of the picture. As for problems they crop-up after awhile due to a user mistake and/or use of P2P s/w. -----Willy Happy

Collapse -
you can dual boot two xp OS's, but...
by ramarc / December 17, 2007 11:45 PM PST

the easiest way is to install xp to drive 1 and then install it to drive 2.

but this setup (or any dual boot) won't protect you from viruses since the drive(s) will be accessible to both OSes. a virus could thus infect both drives.

also, you'll need two XP licenses... you can't install the same license again. and depending on your other software you could be violating your license agreement if you install it to both OSes. (the software won't be useable unless installed within that OS.) and you'll have to deal with keeping both OS'es up-to-date with patches.

since you're willing to install two drives, i recommend you stick with a normal install and get a good anti-virus program and a good backup utilty. ms one care and trend internet security are both on sale now for about $20 at various retailers. acronis true image is $50 and stores its backup on a locked partition that is inaccessible by the OS. these products will protect your pc better than the dual boot approach and will be much easier to use and maintain.

Collapse -
Actually only the single copy of XP is necessary as ...
by Edward ODaniel / December 19, 2007 6:25 AM PST

a parallel installation is legitimate and doesn't go against the EULA. Even Microsoft recommends a parallel installation to a different folder or volume as one means of system recovery. To add to that, there is no way that activation will pose an issue either, as you will be (re)activating the same license on the same hardware - nothing illegal about that.

From the Windows XP EULA:

1.1 Installation and use. You may install, use, access,
display and run one copy of the Software on a single
computer, such as a workstation, terminal or other
device ("Workstation Computer"). The Software may not
be used by more than two (2) processors at any one
time on any single Workstation Computer.

Although there are two Windows directories on a parallel installation that allows dual booting, only one at a time can be used as a functional OS in accordance with the EULA.

How to perform a parallel installation of Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 describes a parallel installation.

How and Why to Perform a Parallel Installation of Windows NT 4.0

Location of Files and Folders After a Parallel Installation of Windows Millennium Edition

How to troubleshoot scenarios in which the rollback phase was unsuccessful after you upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista

Collapse -
its illegal but possible to use and register the same licenc
by thunderboy24 / November 27, 2009 3:03 PM PST

you are only legaly allowed the have one os installed using one licence. but it is possible to use the same licence twice on the same machine as the hardware configuration is the same for both. since microsofts registration procces uses the hardware profile to identify a machine.

Collapse -
Very easy to do ...
by Edward ODaniel / December 18, 2007 4:08 AM PST

and although separate hard drives would be best all you really require is a separate partition for each OS. This link might prove helpful:

As already stated, a dual boot system WILL NOT protect you from viral activity but it would keep user changes to the OS from affecting the other installation of the OS.

If you are adamant about wanting the viral protection too, they you will require swappable hard drive caddies and hard drives but that isn't really dual booting as each hard drive is the boot drive for the OS installed on it and only the drive in use is actually in the case (the other would be in a desk drawer or safe or some place else).

You might be better off taking a look at Microsoft's free-for-the-download Virtual PC 2007 (30.4 MB) for XP Pro and all versions of Vista -

or Virtual PC 2004 if you might want the Host machine to be Windows 2000 and up to but not including Vista-

Collapse -
Load XP on one drive.
by James Denison / December 18, 2007 7:04 AM PST

Ghost (copy) it over to the second drive. If that's all that's changing it shouldn't require a second activation. If it does there won't be any problem with it passing. You can use the BIOS to switch between boot drives. You can also update the boot.ini file to add the second system in manually so to get a choice in that manner.

Collapse -
Thanks heaps!
by nykajuu / December 18, 2007 4:16 PM PST
In reply to: Load XP on one drive.

Thanks for the advice.

Yes, I think I'll go with what a few of you mentioned: having two hard drives that can be plugged and unplugged as needed. Now I understand that there is no necessity to dual boot with two completely seperate hard drives, hence I guess I need only plug each hard drive separetly and install the desired OS. I'll have to look at buying two versions or two same xp: its alot cheaper than buying two pc:s!

Oh yeah, the viruses are not the only reason that they need be kept seperate. Systems with lots of games tend to crash more often and possibly in the long run may completely stop working. This is one of the main reasons I want to keep them seperate. As with partitioning, I am rather a newbie, and I have already deleted a whole lot of data accidently by formatting c partition on my old computer that had five partition. Then I installed ubuntu, which did not detect the partitions.

Anyways, lots of thanks! You have enlightened me alot on this topic!

Collapse -
I am not too sure about this, but...
by ahtoi / November 27, 2009 4:35 PM PST

isn't assigned different users to the system the same thing?

However, I did use to do what you wanted to do in the old day; I had "partition magic" with its boot manager. Maybe do some research on boot manager and see if there are any freebies out there that you can try. Good luck.

Popular Forums

Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Your favorite shows are back!

Don’t miss your dramas, sitcoms and reality shows. Find out when and where they’re airing!