Dual Boot Questions

  Tabvla 15:02 27 May 2006

I'm trying to get my head around the exact process that will enable a system to boot from either one of two instances of Windows. I have read the Microsoft KB article but I still am unsure if my understanding of some details is correct.

OS : Windows XP Pro
Imaging Software : Acronis True Image
Partitioning Software : Partition Manager
Disks : 2 x SATA (therefore no need to set master/slave relationship with jumper)

I want to image Windows from Disk_0 onto Disk_1 and then be able to easily boot into either instance.


1. Do I need a Boot Manager (e.g. Boot Magic) or can the instance of Windows be simply selected during the normal boot by pressing F11 and then selecting whichever instance of Windows I want to boot into on either Disk_0 or Disk_1

2. Active Partition : Is it necessary to set the 2nd boot instance as the "Active" partition if I want to boot into that partition. If "yes" when and how does one do this outside of Windows? (I say "outside of windows" because I want to be able to make the decision as to which instance to boot into at the time of startup).

3. MBR : Do I need to do anything to the MBR on Disk_1. (Disk_1 will have the same MBR as Disk_0). If "yes" what must be changed and how are these changes made?

4. boot.ini file : I assume that the boot.ini file on Disk_1 must be changed. Can I simply edit this file in Notepad changing the disk references from (0) to (1). (I assume that the partition references will stay the same because the boot partition on both disks will be the 1st partition).

5. Disaster Recovery : Any tips if I do something wrong? (e.g. set the wrong partition active).

  crosstrainer 15:11 27 May 2006

The easiest way of doing what you require, is to use whats called a "Raid" soloution. This will depend on your motherboards capabilities but both hard drives must be configured as dynamic. Let us know your motherboard specs etc!

  Tabvla 18:46 27 May 2006

Tks crosstrainer for your suggestion.

I don't want to use a RAID solution.

The principal purpose of creating this setup is to establish a "Test" platform on a separate disk in virtual isolation isolated from the "Production" environment.

In the future I may extend the "Test" environment to include OS's other than Windows. If I screw-up in the "Test" environment I don't want it to have an impact on the "Production" environment.

So what I need to understand is the best way to establish initially 2 and potentially in the future multiple environments that need not be isolated from each other but do need to be operationally separate to the "Production" environment.

  karmgord 20:01 28 May 2006

can't you just do a custom install to a different directory or better still hard drive then when you start up you get two options ,you highlight the one you want

  crosstrainer 20:07 28 May 2006

karmgord is right.. only other way is to buy another copy of windows

  Tabvla 12:19 29 May 2006

Tks to karmgord & crosstrainer for your replies.

Let me see if I understand you correctly. Are you saying that if I want 2 instances of Windows on two separate disks on the same machine that I must buy two separate copies of Windows and do two separate installations?

  karmgord 20:06 29 May 2006

No just do a custom load and select a different directory on a different hard drive,i've done this on a laptop and have two instances of win xp loaded on the SAME hard drive both work all i do is select which copy to to load from, an option of two which is presented when booting up ( i beleive this option comes from the boot .ini file)P.S I loaded the second version in a directory i made and called " BINDOWS".

  De Marcus™ 20:16 29 May 2006

"Let me see if I understand you correctly. Are you saying that if I want 2 instances of Windows on two separate disks on the same machine that I must buy two separate copies of Windows and do two separate installations?"

No, the licence allows for you to install XP on a seperate partition.

Also, you don't need a boot manager either, you can edit the boot.ini file so when you start your machine up, your given a choice of which one to boot with.

All you need to do is create a seperate partition on your hard drive and install windows to that seperate partition.

It's been a while since I've installed XP on a seperate partition as a test bed but I'm fairly sure the boot.ini file was created as a result i.e. no editing on my behalf, just a 30 second window on boot to choose which version I wanted to boot from. The only editing I did was to reduce the timeout from 30 to 10 seconds.

You don't need to touch the MBR, period.

Always backup, just incase.

  Tabvla 09:13 31 May 2006

Good advice from all..... Thanks again!

Have now succeeded in creating 2 independent instances of XP Pro on 2 separate disks which work exactly as I had planned. So, a good result, with the good advice of the PCA Forum.

Merci Beaucoup
Avoir un beau jour

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