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Add a Hard Disk containing another Windows

Last reviewed: April 2005

    On this page:
    • About adding a hard disk containing a Windows
    • #1: Add a disk containing XP to a computer with 2K installed
    • #2: Add a disk containing 2K to a computer with XP installed
    • #3: Add a disk containing XP/2K to a computer with Win9x installed
    • #4: Add a disk containing Win9x to a computer with XP/2K installed
    • Managing Drive Letters
    • Repair Installation of Windows XP or 2000

About adding a hard disk containing a Windows

You can create a dual-boot by taking a hard disk containing a Windows installation and adding that disk to a different PC that has another Windows already installed. In all cases described here, one of the Operating Systems (OS) must be Windows XP or 2000 (2K). No third-party boot manager is used.

Some users will want to combine OSs from two existing PCs on to a single PC. Some may have an unused hard disk that contains an installed Windows with software that they could use. Others may simply want to test a newer OS version on a specific PC. The reasons are many and varied, and are often specific to individual users.

Creating the dual-boot itself is relative easy. However, the drive letter of the added hard disk will change. If there are Logical partitions, then their drive letters are also likely to change. This can sometime be a problem. If both disks contain only one partition (originally, only a C: drive on each disk) then it's manageable. If there are many partitions (containing installed programs) then it may be manageable but there may also be some work to be done by the user and/or a utility.

Examples used here:

• Windows XP computer with one hard disk containing one partition (C: drive using FAT32)
• Windows 2K computer with one hard disk containing one partition (C: drive using FAT32)
• Windows 9x computer with one hard disk containing one partition (C: drive using FAT32)

One hard disk will be moved to the other computer and a dual-boot created.

These are the simplest examples possible. If you wish to adjust it to suit multiple partitions, you must give serious consideration to the effect of changed drive letters, how that will affect your system, and how you will cope with it. Windows 2K and XP allow you to change drive letter allocations, but NOT for the system partition or boot partition. Partition utilities, like PartitionMagic, possibly allow you to change those. A Repair of Windows 2K/XP will definitely fix that (with some cost - read below).

The latest version of Windows will be given control of the boot and Boot Menu. This means the versions of Ntdetect.com and NTLDR on the root of the Active partition (first Primary partition, first hard disk), must belong to the latest version of Windows. Any other boot files belonging to another OS must also be on that partition (provided they do not overwrite those of the latest version of Windows). Then Boot.ini is edited to reflect both OSs. The Fixboot command MUST be used if a Win9x is one of the Windows involved.

Nothing is ever guaranteed, so you should always backup important data before you start. Creating a drive image is possibly the best option but most home users will cope with a less substantial backup.

Do not use these instructions if using a third-party boot manager (like BootMagic) or hard disk management software (like OnTrack's Disk Manager or Micro House's EZDrive).


#1: Add a disk containing XP to a computer with 2K installed

Many thanks to Bob N who was first to test this method for THPC.

1. Precaution: Create this Rescue Boot Disk for 2K
    or backup these 2K boot files to a floppy: (they're Read-only, Hidden, System files)
    Boot.ini, Ntdetect.com, Ntldr, Arcldr.exe, Arcsetup.exe, & also Ntbootdd.sys if present)
2. Move the XP disk to the 2K computer (as Secondary Master or a Slave).
3. Boot up. 2K still boots. XP does not boot.
4. Copy these XP boot files (Read-only, Hidden) from root of XP disk to root of 2K disk
    Ntdetect.com & Ntldr, & also Ntbootdd.sys if present
5. Cold boot from the XP installation CD (or read Boot from a bootable CD),
    press R to enter the Recovery Console
    log on to the XP installation, and type these at the prompt
      MAP (and identify the letter allocated to Harddisk0Partition1)
      FIXBOOT C: (where C is the letter identified)
          press Y to confirm
      BOOTCFG /REBUILD
          at the XP installation, press Y for Add installation to boot list
          enter Windows XP for Enter Load Identifier
          enter /FASTDETECT for Enter OS Load Options
    EXIT
6. Reboot. Both Windows will now boot from the Boot Menu.
7. Optionally, execute a XP Repair installation from XP's CD to accurately reflect the
   changed drive letter (but first read Repair of Windows 2K/XP below),
   or fix the XP drive letter by other means (read Managing Drive Letters, below).
Finished.

8. You need to create a new Rescue Boot Disk when all is well.

If your XP installation CD is not available, you can change all of 5. above to:
5. Add this line for XP to the [operating systems] section of C:\Boot.ini
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS=" Windows XP " /fastdetect
   (where \WINDOWS= is the name of the Windows XP directory - where it's installed)


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#2: Add a disk containing 2K to a computer with XP installed

This procedure has not been tested by THPC but it uses the same principles as the above. If in doubt, you can make the 2K disk the Primary Master on either computer, make the XP disk the Secondary or a Slave, and then proceed as in #1: above. Otherwise continue here - it will work.

1. Precaution: Create this Rescue Boot Disk for XP
    or backup the these XP boot files to a floppy: (they're Read-only, Hidden, System files)
    Boot.ini, Ntdetect.com, Ntldr, & also Ntbootdd.sys if present.
2. Move the 2K disk hard disk to the XP computer (as Secondary Master or a Slave).
3. Boot up. XP still boots. 2K does not boot.
4. Copy these 2K boot files (Read-only, Hidden) from root of 2K disk to root of XP disk
    Arcldr.exe & Arcsetup.exe, & also Ntbootdd.sys if present
5. Add this line for 2K to the [operating systems] section of C:\Boot.ini (Read-only, Hidden)
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS=" Windows 2000 " /fastdetect
    (where \WINDOWS is the name of the Windows 2K directory - where it's installed)
6. Reboot. Both Windows will boot from the Boot Menu.
7. Optionally, execute a 2K Repair installation from 2K's CD to accurately reflect the
    changed drive letter (but first read Repair of Windows 2K/XP below),
    or fix the 2K drive letter by other means (read Managing Drive Letters, below).
Finished.

8. You need to create a new Rescue Boot Disk when all is well.


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#3: Add a disk containing XP/2K to a computer with Win9x installed

This procedure has not been tested by THPC. It is very similar to THPC's installing XP/2K on a Win9x computer and it will work. But there are three main items to consider:

1. It will work ONLY IF the Win9x is installed on the first partition (Win9x's folders/files/Program Files are installed on C:)

2. In addition, if the Win9x system already has much software installed on other partitions, then this is hardly worth trying - all that Win9x software would have to be reinstalled (overlays, usually without loss) after adding a second hard disk containing a Primary partition. Best is a Win9x system with just one partition, a C: drive and no others.

3. You need to check that the Win9x system is suitable for running a Windows XP or 2K - mainly main memory and CPU speed. Check the requirements at THPC's Dual-Boot Win9x/XP/2K/NT (read first) and at Microsoft.com. Your alternative is to place the Win9x hard disk in the XP computer as the Primary Master, boot and test it, and move the XP disk to Secondary Master or a Slave.

You must have the XP or 2K installation CD (to run the Fixboot command - essential here).

Summary:
The Win9x boot sector (C:) is saved to C:\Bootsect.dos.
The XP/2K disk is added to the Win9x computer.
The XP/2K boot files are copied to C: (the Win9x disk - 1st partition, 1st hard disk, Active).
A line to boot Win9x is added to Boot.ini and the XP/2K line is adjusted.
The Win9x boot sector is now overwritten with one for XP/2K by using the Fixboot command.
Finally, when all else is well, a Repair of XP/2K from its CD will fix the drive letter
(but read Repair of Windows 2K/XP, below, before you start).

Details:
1. Read Bootsect.dos created new.
    Download Btsect25.zip (6 KB) from THPC.
    Extract all three files (17.5 KB) from Btsect25.zip to your Win9x Startup or boot disk.
    This floppy must contain the MS-DOS files Debug, Choice, Attrib, Sys (same versions).
    Boot the Win9x PC with that boot disk inserted and run A:\Btsect.bat.
      (this creates Bootsect.DOS on C:) (there's no need to use the Sys C: option).
2. Shut down, open computer box, install XP or 2K disk as Secondary Master or as a Slave.
3. Reboot (to Win9x)
    Copy these XP/2K boot files (Read-only, Hidden) from root of XP/2K disk to C:
    Ntdetect.com, NTLDR, Boot.ini. Also Ntbootdd.sys if present.
    If using 2K, also you must also copy Arcldr.exe and Arcsetup.exe
4. Edit C:\Boot.ini (Read-only, Hidden) in Notepad, and add this line to the [operating systems]
    C:\=" Windows 9x "
    Change the two occurrence of rdisk(0) to rdisk(1)
    Change the timeout to timeout=20
    Save Boot.ini
5. Cold boot from the XP/2K installation CD (or read Boot from a bootable CD),
    press R (and then C if using 2K) to enter the Recovery Console
    log on to the XP/2K installation, and type in
        MAP (and identify the letter allocated to Harddisk0Partition1)
        FIXBOOT C: (where C is the letter identified)
        EXIT
6. Reboot. Both Windows will boot from the Boot Menu.
7. Optionally, execute a XP/2K Repair installation from XP/2K's CD to accurately reflect the
    changed drive letter (but first read Repair of Windows 2K/XP below),
    or fix the XP/2K drive letter by other means (read Managing Drive Letters, below).
Finished.

8. Create a Rescue Boot Disk when all is well.


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#4: Add a disk containing Win9x to a computer with XP/2K installed

The best way to accomplish this is to make the Win9x hard disk the Primary Master on the XP/2K computer and change the XP or 2K disk to the Secondary Master or a Slave. In effect, you initially make the XP/2K computer into a Win9x computer.

You can now boot the computer straight to Win9x and check that Win9x functions correctly on the different PC.

If all is well with Win9x, you then proceed as in #3 above (#3: Add a disk containing XP/2K to a Win9x system)


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Managing Drive Letters

Creating these dual-boots is relatively easy. However, managing drive letters is the important factor in these procedures.

The methods described on this page are designed for users with single partitions on each hard disk. However, as many users will try with more than one partition/disk, the following may be helpful.

Win9x is rigid in its allocation of drive letters. However Win XP/2K handles this dynamically. That's why users sometimes find that XP/2K may call a drive, say, F: when they know it's the second Primary partition and would logically expect it to be D:! When a XP/2K disk is moved from first hard disk (rdisk0 in Boot.ini) to second (rdisk1), XP/2K automatically makes internal adjustments with the result that the XP/2K still boots.

That's fine for XP/2K. But what about installed XP/2K applications and software? You'll find that some/many/most will not run because the pathways are now incorrect for them. They point to the original drive letter and not the new one. You have a variety of options to correct faulty pathways. A lot depends on your partition status before you start and your best choice will depend on your own circumstances. Obviously the less partitions (with installed programs) you have then the less of a problem it is. Storage, or pure data, partitions should not present a problem.

Possible Options:
1. Change the pathway in your Shortcuts to point to the new locations. This may work with some installed items. Right-click the Shortcut, click Properties, under the Shortcut tab change the drive letter in 'Target:' and 'Start in:', and then click Apply.
2. Execute an overlay reinstallation of XP/2K application/software (over it in its new location). This should work (and retain data, settings, etc) but there may be too many to make it practical.
3. Use XP/2K's Disk Management to 'Change drive letter and Paths ...' (right-click on the drive). You can not alter the system or boot partition letters this way. Also, you can not change to a letter already in use, but you can use a 'dummy', like this:
rename E: to Z: (that frees up E:), rename F: to E:, and finally rename Z: to F:
(E: and F: have been swapped in this example and Z:, the 'dummy', finally becomes unused).
4. Use the DriveMapper utility in PartitionMagic to rename drive letter(s) and associated pathways. A good option!
5. Execute a Repair of XP/2K on the second disk. This is another good option as it's the 'natural' way, and drive letters and pathways will then accurately reflect the new drive/partition situation - but there's some cost - read below.

You can download a trial version of PartitionMagic 8.0 here (22+ MB) but it's unclear how much functionality you get
    http://www.softpedia.com/progDownload/Partition-Magic-Download-2118.html
Or try the utilities on the free Ultimate Boot CD (82-128 MB) at
    http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
Or read about various partition utilities at THPC's Boot Managers & Disk Utils page.


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Repair Installation of Windows XP or 2000

Last reviewed: January 2009

A Repair Installation of Windows 2K/XP and an "in-place upgrade" have similar results.
The information here applies to all Windows users and not just those who are dual-booted.

Re-installing Windows over an existing installation copies original system files to the hard drive but also resets certain settings to default values. It will feel like a new installation - and will appear to take longer! Also, you will receive a few prompts so it can not be left unattended. However, the end result is the correct (expected) allocation of drive letters and a fully functional Windows. Installed 2K/XP software should be fully functional; most settings, passwords, saved items, etc., should be unchanged.

A Repair does carry some small risk of failure and should only be undertaken when other methods have been tried and failed. All users should first read Repair a Dual-Boot even if not dual-booted in case your problem is with the boot sector and the boot files.

The Repair makes certain changes that may upset some users. The changes given below apply to 2K but you can expect the same from XP. Please note item 5 below in Preparing ... re Internet Explorer 7.

Items Changed:
1. Drive letters are changed to accurately reflect the current drive and partitions.
2. Installed Service Packs, hotfixes, IE upgrades are rolled back to original installation state, and will need reinstallation.
3. All existing restore points are removed and a new system checkpoint restore point is created.
4. Default registry values are restored.
5. Default permissions are reapplied.
6. COM and WFP are re-registered.
7. Plug and Play devices, and the HAL, are re-enumerated.
8. Device drivers not integrated into Windows may need reinstallation.
9. Automatic Updates (XP) will cease functioning until you manually download/install critical updates yourself.

Items Not Changed:
1. Installed components and programs are unaffected and will continue to function normally.
2. Passwords are unaffected.
3. Third-party registry entries are unaffected.
4. The computer's role is unaffected.

Preparing for a Repair Installation:
1. Installation CD: You need a full Windows XP installation CD. You can use an OEM XP Pro or Home, retail XP Home or Pro full or upgrade version CD of the same version to perform a Repair Installation. However, OEM Restore disks or hidden restore folders on the hard drive will not work for the Repair Installation. The CD must be capable of executing a non-destructive install - some OEMs do not!
2. You will need your XP/2K product key (or retrieved it from the hard disk using the free Produkey utility, 43 KB).
3. You may need plenty of free hard disk space to accommodate a large swap file.
4. NTLDR and Ntdetect.com: A Reinstall is not possible if the hidden files NTLDR and Ntdetect.com are not on the system partition (C:). If necessary, use these command from the Recovery Console run from the XP CD (change the Z: to your CD drive letter):
      copy Z:\i386\ntldr C:\
      copy Z:\i386\ntdetect.com C:\
4a Sources on the Web (not confirmed by THPC) say that the following must be in \Windows\System32\
      ntdll.dll, ntoskrnl.exe, \config\software, \config\system, and \drivers (can be empty folder but must exist).
5. Internet Explorer 7 and recent versions of Windows Media Player: It will not work after a Reinstall. Uninstall it and reinstall it later. Read Microsoft's KB917964
6. Service Packs: If your installed Windows contains any Service Pack (SP) more recent than is on your installation CD, you will get the warning "Setup cannot continue because the version ... " and you cannot install. You must uninstall the SP(s) in 'Add/Remove Programs' before reinstalling, or use Autostreamer to create a slipstreamed CD (good idea anyway!) - read How to use Autostreamer.
7. Backup all important data, My Documents, etc. This is important - just in case! Registry backups are in \Windows\Repair.
8. Backup the two files \windows\system32\WPA.DBL and WPA.BAK (to avoid repeating XP Activation).

How to Start a Repair Installation:
1. If XP/2K does not boot, skip to 3.
2. If XP/2K boots, boot it up, insert its CD, and click Install
    Accept the Upgrade option
    Skip to 4.
3. Set the boot order in the BIOS to CD-ROM as first choice (before IDE0 or any hard disk)
    Cold boot from XP/2K's CD (read Boot from a bootable CD if necessary)
    Press [Enter] to Install (do NOT press R to use the Recovery Console)
4. Accept the Licence Agreement
5. Press R to Repair the installed Windows
    Exit immediately if this Repair option is not available
    (if necessary, copy NTLDR and Ntdetect.com to C: and start again - read 'Preparing ...' above).
    Select the Windows to be repaired.
    Do not interfere with the installation reboots (ignore Boot Menu options).
    Setup will continue as if it was doing a clean install, but your applications and settings will remain intact.
    (expect at least one long apparent pause - note the information screen still changes).
5a If prompted to create new user accounts, create a new account with a different name - delete it later.
6. Reboot when finished and test.
7. Reset the boot order in the BIOS if you altered it (in 3. above).
8. Restore WPA.DBL and WPA.BAK if appropriate. Read XP Activation

Enable your Firewall before establishing an internet connection.

If you find that Windows updates fail to install, use the fix here.

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Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.

Copyright © LarryM 1998-2015 thpc@mail.com