Windows Vista forum

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Dual-booting Vista and XP on physically seperate drives?

by CardsFan29 / December 19, 2007 10:05 AM PST

Right now I'm in the planning stages of building a new computer from scratch for use with some gaming, programming and general use. Instead of creating two partitions on one hard drive to install Vista and XP, is it possible to install XP and Vista on two physically seperate Hard Drives and dual boot that way?

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by John.Wilkinson / December 19, 2007 11:03 AM PST

No special procedure is required, and in fact it's easier since you don't have to partition a hard drive first. Just be sure to install XP first and Vista second to avoid the issue of NTLDR overwriting the Vista Boot Manager. Upon installing Vista the dual-boot scenario will automatically be created.

Hope this helps,

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Works great
by tubaloth / December 20, 2007 4:05 AM PST
In reply to: Yes...

Yes install XP first then Vista. And use one of those online converting calculators to covert MB to GB. I wanted 60 GB for each partition, but you can't just put 60 GB in that comes out to be something like 5874mb. But if you do the conversion then you well have Drives the exact size you want them! (I only created the first partition to install XP, then once I was in XP I used Disk Management and created the others to the correct size).

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Another question
by CardsFan29 / December 20, 2007 8:21 AM PST
In reply to: Yes...

If you use two SATA Hard Drives, you wouldn't need to adjust any jumpers on the drives? (I haven't had any experience with SATA drives yet, my current desktop uses the EIDE drive.)

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No jumpers to set on SATA
by anmor / December 21, 2007 8:10 AM PST
In reply to: Another question

drives as they are all master.
Make sure to install XP first, you will need a SATA driver on a floppy disk before you can install XP, it should be on the motherboard driver disk.
If you are using a new motherboard it will possibly have an option in bios to set the SATA drive in PATA (IDE) compatability mode, this remove the need for a SATA driver for XP.
Install Vista on the second drive after XP and Vista will detect prievious OP system and create a dual boot option.
I would create two partitions on at least one of the drives to store Documents, Photos and Media files. You can then point both OP systems to the same directories so you access them from either system without the need for duplicate folders.

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Switched dual booting.
by ben2sticks / January 8, 2008 2:35 AM PST

I run windows xp on 2 separate drives, 1 is for general use, the other one is used for producing specialised output which does not require an internet connection and runs far faster without the Internet protection overhead.

I achieved complete isolation using removable drive trays, but I have just finished building a new machine with a SATA motherboard and drives. My question is: I would like to do away with the removable trays and simply switch the power supplies to either disk, leaving the Sata data cables still connected. I have no need to run both drives at the same time and fitting a changeover switch is not a problem.

Will I suffer any data corruption by leaving both data cables connected ?.

If anyone has any experience of this, I would appreciate any information.



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by John.Wilkinson / January 8, 2008 3:29 AM PST
In reply to: Switched dual booting.

As long as you stop the power flow, and do so when no data is being written, there's no worry concerning data loss, malware slipping across, etc. The only concern would be a power surge going through, but as long as you've got a surge protector attached to all connected equipment you should be good to go.


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Dual booting.
by ben2sticks / January 8, 2008 4:14 AM PST
In reply to: No...

Thank you John,

As I am an extreme pessimist, I do have a mains surge protector,
however, I would not switch the drive power supplies without first
switching off the machine for a couple of minutes before hand.

Thank you for your confirmations.


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Making Sure I Understand... :)
by Dashkatt / January 19, 2008 3:17 AM PST

I have 2 separate hard drives in a new build. My purpose was to completely isolate XP (existing), and Vista (to be installed). The XP is on disk and the system is operating perfectly. I have not attached the sata cable to the other hard drive yet. It is a new HD that has never been used.

So if I understand this correctly, all I will need to do is to hook up the new hard drive, then install Vista on that disk? At that time I will get the "dual boot" information in order to set it up.

Gee, I hope this is it because it actually sounds simple! (I have plenty of hard drive space so consolidating OS files isn't an issue.) Since I've found no jumpers on SATA drives, I figured that was a non-issue. I hope I'm understanding this correctly.

I'm really impressed with the quality of the answers and suggestions on this forum!


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Should be just that simple.
by John.Wilkinson / January 20, 2008 5:30 AM PST

There are the occasional problems, but it'll usually be a smooth install.


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Dual-Boot XP Home & Vista Premium 64 bit on separate drives?
by TRIPLEJAY / January 15, 2008 2:13 PM PST
In reply to: Yes...

I currently have XP Home installed on 2- 320GB SATAII drives in RAID 0 array and am adding a new WD Raptor X to my system on which I intend to install Vista Home Premium 64 bit. I have no real issues with setting up the dual-boot configuration, but will the programs/software currently installed on the XP drives be accessible via Vista on the Raptor (antivirus, games, backup software, sound card software, Word 2007, etc.) or will I need to re-install all of the desired programs/software to Vista? Is there any way to make all programs/software accessible to/from both Operating Systems?? Would it make a difference if both OS's were on the same (partitioned) drive?? Any help here would be appreciated, as it's obvious I'm lost.

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A little trick...
by John.Wilkinson / January 16, 2008 4:36 AM PST

Almost all Windows software utilizes the system registry, so it must be installed separately on each OS that you wish it to run under, assuming the licensing terms permit multiple installations. You can install the program to the same directory each time, though, to reduce the amount of disk space that's taken up. The second installation will usually just overwrite the existing files, and since both registries will have been properly updated the same executables will be usable under both OSes.

Hope this helps,

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Thanks for the help-- and now a new dilemna!
by TRIPLEJAY / January 16, 2008 1:40 PM PST
In reply to: A little trick...

John- Thanks for the help with my dual-boot quandary! Your reply made immediate sense to me and made me realize that if I had just thought it through instead of over-complicating the problem (I tend to do that alot) I probably would have figured it out. (then again, most likely not!)
Now for my new "Duh" question -- I am now considering a fresh install of XP as well, since my current XP has become a bit 'glitchy' over time and I will be also be upgrading my CPU and MOBO over the next few weeks. My question is this; What about the '3-drive' set-up as proposed by Gurnyx in "Where will your data be?" post? It would be time consuming, but if I have XP on one drive, Vista on another, and a 3rd clean (formatted) drive, can I use this third drive as my common directory for both OS's? (this assumes that the programs and apps I want to access via both OS's are installed to both XP and Vista individually, with the third drive being the directory for both) ALSO, what about a RAID array for this type of dual-boot? I realize I'd need more drives, but what kind of configurations could I get, and HOW? Thanks for your previous assistance, and thanks for any help you can give me here.

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Lots of possibilities...
by John.Wilkinson / January 18, 2008 10:16 AM PST

Depending on those hard drives, you could choose one of any number of setups. If to of the drives match RAID 1 and RAID 2 are options, though if you use three you could go RAID 5. You could partition your RAID combination and install both OSes there, install one onto a partition from within the RAID and the other onto a lone drive, etc. Your idea of using three drives, one for each OS and the third for commonalities, would work as well. It just comes down to what, exactly, your reasoning would be behind setting up a RAID configuration.


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Two other notes...
by John.Wilkinson / January 18, 2008 10:18 AM PST

1.) Don't reinstall the OSes or set up the RAID configuration until you replace your motherboard.

2.) Check the motherboard's specs to see what RAID configurations it supports. There may be limitations.


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by TRIPLEJAY / January 18, 2008 3:54 PM PST
In reply to: Two other notes...

Thanks again for all of your assistance -- I'm not exactly a patient person by nature but have already resolved to wait until I have all of my new components in hand before I start my latest upgrade/rebuild. (painful, frustrating, and time-consuming previous experience taught me this) My only major hold back right now is the all-to-common conundrum of AMD vs. INTEL / Phenom vs. Penryn. Also, considering I've already changed my intended configuration several times, I could really stand a RAID refresher course to determine which set-up is best for me. Thanks again!

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For a brief overview...
by John.Wilkinson / January 18, 2008 11:58 PM PST
In reply to: THANKS AGAIN, JOHN.

You'll find a nice overview here.

When it comes to processors, right now Intel's your best bet. AMD had the momentum going into the 64-bit and dual-core battle, but since then have been unable to keep up with Intel and match the performance and success of their Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad lineups. There's hope they can catch back up over the next year, but most are cautiously optimistic. Unless I';m mistaken, though, isn't the Penryn primarily a notebook processor?


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Phenom vs. Penryn
by TRIPLEJAY / January 19, 2008 1:20 AM PST

Hey John - Thanks for the reply. Penryn is actually an 'umbrella' name that encompasses Intel's latest 45nm-based processors, including both desktop and notebook varieties. (Great AMD/Intel comparison article in Computer Power User (CPU) magazine, Jan. '08, Vol. 08) I've been an AMD devotee for several years, but am leaning hard towards Intel again for several reasons, not the least of which is the current performance lead over AMD. I also appreciate the fact that Intel has stuck with the same socket type through multiple new CPU rollouts. I got bit (hard) when AMD dumped the socket 939 for the AM2, and now the Phenom is an AM2+. Although the Phenom (AM2+) works on a standard AM2 Mobo, to reap all the potential benefits of the Phenom you need a new board that's certified for AM2+. From what I've heard/read lately, AMD's next round of processors will use yet another new socket (AM3?), rendering anyone with an AM2+ board stuck with limited upgrade options. (again) Intel has so far stuck with the socket 775 arrangement, and, hopefully, will continue to do so - at least through their next CPU release.

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probably a dumb question(s)
by Dashkatt / February 15, 2008 6:51 AM PST
In reply to: Yes...

OK, all set. I have vista 64. I hooked up the separate hard drive, (sata) and am all set to go... (I thought). I have some questions:
1. Won't the drive be set to NTFS when I boot vista 64?
2. Do I need to go into bios and change up the boot order? Or how do you suggest booting up the vista 64 disk?
3. Will I need to re-install any drivers furnished with the new motherboard? I have the vista drivers set aside for sound, video, etc. I didn't understand if I would have to run the setup disk once again for any particular mb drivers.

I'm sure there are other questions, I just don't know what to ask.

I sense I'm making this more complicated than it probably is. Help! Happy

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by John.Wilkinson / February 15, 2008 8:47 AM PST

I'm going to make the assumption that you're dual-booting XP and Vista on separate hard drives like the previous user I was responding to. In that case:

1.) Yes. Windows 95/98/ME ran on FAT32-formatted partitions, 2000/XP on either FAT32 or NTFS, and Vista only on NTFS.
2.) If you installed Vista x64 while XP was already installed and the hard drive connected a dual-boot menu should have been automatically created and appear every time you boot your PC. No need to change boot order or adjust BIOS settings.
3.) Upon installing Vista x64 you will need to verify all applicable drivers are installed. Note that these frequently vary from their Vista x86 counterparts and not all hardware may have drivers available for Vista x64. If the ones you have on disk are insufficient you should see a warning alerting you to that fact.


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I think I screwed up
by Dashkatt / February 15, 2008 9:36 AM PST
In reply to: Dashkatt...

John, I purchased a legitimate version of Vista 64 OEM, (single pack), and have just noticed that I'm supposed to have an OEM Preinstallation disk. Needless to say, I do not have one. I cannot get the disk to boot and begin installation on the new disk drive.

Am I just out of luck? I may have to explore linux! Happy



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It's not needed...
by John.Wilkinson / February 16, 2008 1:39 PM PST
In reply to: I think I screwed up

The OPK (OEM Preinstallation Kit) is not necessary for's just used to customize the OS, such as if you were building and selling computers and needed to insert your logo, contact info, etc.

Have you checked your BIOS setting to ensure your CD/DVD drive is the primary boot device? I've found that sometimes you need to also disable your hard drive as a boot device with some systems.


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It's working
by Dashkatt / February 16, 2008 2:48 PM PST
In reply to: It's not needed...

John, you are right, it was not needed. I'm not sure what the problem was, as far as installation of Vista, but once I disconnected the XP Drive, it loaded with no problems.

Thanks for the help.

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One final hurdle to get over... Help John!
by Dashkatt / February 16, 2008 3:17 PM PST
In reply to: It's not needed...

Everything is set... Vista is loaded, XP works fine. But when I do a shutdown and restart the computer, it goes directly to Win XP. There is no screen asking me which OS to use. Did I miss that in this thread??

I've cold booted, restarted and nothing seems to work. Obviously, if I disconnect the xp drive, Vista will boot up. That's not the plan. Happy

Thanks... I'll be glad when this project is done.

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For that...
by John.Wilkinson / February 17, 2008 4:17 AM PST

You have two options:
1.) Boot to the Vista DVD and on the second screen look for the option to "Repair my computer"...choose the Startup Repair option on the next window. 50/50 chance of it detecting a problem and fixing it.
2.) Use VistaBootPRO while running Windows XP and add a new entry for Vista, then reboot. Little more work but it will work. And with this fix you will be able to boot Vista whether or not the XP drive is connected.

Hope this helps,

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Thanks John
by Dashkatt / February 17, 2008 4:33 AM PST
In reply to: For that...

Got the software and will use the XP suggestion you made.

I really appreciate your help!

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Dual-booting Vista and XP on physically separate drives
by bjornlunde / January 9, 2009 1:57 PM PST
In reply to: Yes...

Vista already came installed on my computer. Installed a new 160GB hard drive on PC and want to install XP on it. Is there a way to avoid the NTLDR issue you are referring to?

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by John.Wilkinson / January 11, 2009 3:05 AM PST

Well, technically it's still an issue, but after installing Windows XP you can boot to it and use VistaBootPRO to force-add the Vista Boot manager and recreate the Vista boot entry in the BCD store. Afterwards both XP and Vista should be available as boot options.


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Where will your data be?
by gurnx / January 11, 2008 8:59 AM PST

If you're like me you'll be working on one drive and need data that was saved on the other drive(!). So I would recommend THREE drives; one drive for XP, a second drive for vista, and a third drive for data. Install the data drive inside your PC, then use removable trays for your boot drives. If you go this route you can save some $ by purchasing small drives for XP & Vista.

Another option would be to store your data on a server.

I hope you'll find Vista to be the pleasure, I've been running it a couple of months and find it to be much nicer than XP. If you're new to Vista pickup a book and you'll come up to speed much more quickly (I went with 'Vista Secrets' by Brian Livingston & Paul Thurrott).

Happy Computing,


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One other question
by CardsFan29 / January 11, 2008 11:26 AM PST

On the different drives, would I need some way to make the XP and Vista drives invisible to one another? (If on Vista, the XP drive wouldn't be seen by Vista and vice versa.)

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by Dango517 / January 11, 2008 1:39 PM PST

Set each drive as NTFS and load the operating systems. You will need two of everything with this configuration because they run as if there two separate computers. I have had XP and Vista running this way but abandoned it after a few months. Frankly having two OSs can get confusing. For me it just wasn't worth the time so I gave up on XP and went all Vista on both drives. Today I'm use the same OS on two drives to protect my system again hard drive crashes, OS failures, etc.. This will not protect you from BIOs, MBR or some hardware failures but even with these problems you might save one or both of the hard drives.

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