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Author Topic: multi-boot system  (Read 3385 times)


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multi-boot system
« on: August 17, 2007, 03:35 AM »
is it possible &/or would it be helpfully possible (as opposed to painfully possible :) ) -

to have different installations of xp on different HDDs in same computer?
Advantages being,
if one goes loopy you can just start with other & work away
until you have time to sort out the first or get a new drive if that the problem..


Carol Haynes

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Re: multi-boot system
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2007, 11:01 AM »
Yes you can do that - I used to have 4 parallel windows partitions set up like this.

The biggest problem you may have is activating them all - I telephoned Microsoft and told them what I was doing. Since the operating system was only being installed on a single computer and only one could be run at a time they let me activate them over the phone - which was impressive (and unexepcted). I'd guess you can't do this with Vista though and they may not let you any more with Windows XP.

There is a trick (if you aren't in a hurry) to automatically activating Windows XP - just wait 90 days - the activation server reverts to unactivated every 90 days for windows XP installation codes.

The multiple booting is automatically handled by Windows setup when you install each copy - when you install a second copy you get a boot menu when you switch on to choose the installtion you want to start up with. Each extra installation you install adds an extra entry to the boot menu. They don't even have to be on separate hard discs either - separate partitions work great. You can even install mutiple OSes onto the same partition (and get a boot menu to choose) though MS don't recommend this for most people as you have to ensure you use different folders for Windows OS files and installed Program Files.

You can even mix and match OSes you install - as a rule of thumb if you want to install an older OS (say Windows 98 or 2000) you are best to start off with a clean hard disk and install the OSes in order of age (start with the oldest). Each version of windows recognises older versions and will install alongside with a boot menu. If you want to add Linux too install that last as most versions (SUSE, MANDRAKE etc) will install a loader that starts up Linux but also offers you your Windows boot menu as well.

If you really want to you you can install OSes in any order - but you would need to be knowledgeable to get them to boot properly or get hold of some boot management software (such as BootIT) which loads before any operating system and loads the one you choose - including Linux versions.

The limit is really what you want to achieve.

I don't do this anymore myself (I found I always ended up booting into the same version) but if you have a slow computer - or want an installation to run particularly fast (say for video editing or running a Audio Studio) and you aren't going to add internet access or antivirus applications etc. then this can be a very efficient way of acheiving maximum performance from your hardware and software.

A couple of further notes:

1) Multiple versions of Windows can share a pagefile - put it on a separate disc drive and a fixed size and then point all the versions of windows at it (don't forget if you have Windows 98 installed it will need to be on a FAT32 partition).

2) Each installation of Windows will be installed but the 'home' drive letter won't be C: for each installation. When you install software etc. in future usually there is no issue as the installation paths are mostly handled automatically but you should quickly check the path it is going to install to to ensure the software behaves properly.

3) NEVER EVER use rgistry cleaners in a multiboot setting or you can get in a right royal mess - a lot of reg cleaners look for solutions on all hard discs and if it finds a missing file in the wrong installation partition it can be the devils own job to sort it out again.

4) Some files don't like being shared by the same software installed in different places. For some reason MS Outlook seems to have issues using PST files in the same versions of Office programs installed on different partitions. It doesn't make sense but you should be aware that there can be odd issues like this.

A common setup is as follows:

C: Windows 98 FAT32 partition
D: Data files (My Documents etc) FAT 32 partition
E: Windows XP (NTFS partition)

This means that both Windows XP and Windows 98 have access to documents and the documents are always on Drive D:. If you need to allow Windows 98 to access drive E: at all then it will also have to be a FAT32 partition

If you are just using Windows XP you could try a setup like:

Drive 1:
C: Windows XP (installation 1)
D: Windows XP (installation 2)

Drive 2:
P: Pagefile partitions (make it about 1.5 x the size oy your system memory - but no bigger than 3Gb)
X: Documents partition

in this case all partitions are NTFS format

If you want to mix XP and Vista use drive D: (or the last installations if you have more than 2 XP installs) above to install Vista after you have XP installed so that boot menu sets up correctly.


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Re: multi-boot system
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2007, 02:51 PM »
thanks Carol  :)

I had read you talking about having two installs of xp on the same hdd
then I had the idea of putting one on each hdd
but really I guess imaging software is just as good/maybe better solution to
hdd problems affecting main disc/install

I can surely see advantages to having a fairly simple install from a work point of view -
less distractions, but on the other hand I can see myself spending/wasting even more
time tweaking two OS's  :-\

must think about this
i go read your post again