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I accidentally made my new hard drive (the non system drive) my primary partition

Here is my configuration:

C: - system/Windows XP HDD

D: - empty

I just added a new hard drive (D) and formatted it and made it a primary HDD.

Since then Windows hasn't been able to boot. Is the computer able to have both the system and the new HDD as primary? If not, then that is why Windows isn't booting.

If it IS possible, then I have no idea what the problem is.

Any help or thoughts would be fantastic! thanks!

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@qwerty2: you've already asked one question about this (two counting the one posted to StackOverflow that was migrated here); this one is not appreciably different from the earlier one. please don't post multiple times. instead, edit your first question so that the problem is clear, and we can help you there. –  quack quixote Mar 24 '10 at 23:55
    
duplicate: superuser.com/questions/123703/… –  quack quixote Mar 24 '10 at 23:56
    
note that you can have multiple primary partitions (up to 4) on a single hard drive; this is normal. you can also have partitions that are set as active; only one partition should be set active. (this was already mentioned by someone on your other question.) this is not the same term as "primary hard drive". (and there's no such thing as a "secondary partition".) –  quack quixote Mar 24 '10 at 23:59
    
Sorry about that quack, this topic was more a question of whether or not it was possible to have two HDDs as primary. I understand what you're saying about having multiple primary partitions on a single drive. When I went into Disk Management, and formatted my new drive, and set it up as Primary, would that in any way conflict with my system HDD? It's just strange and coincidental how as soon as I formatted and partitioned my new HDD, Windows wouldn't boot up. And now it seems to need the new, empty HDD. When I remove it, a warning pops up on screen saying it can't be found. –  user32220 Mar 25 '10 at 0:28
    
you're still confusing the terms drive and partition -- Disk Management doesn't allow you to set any drives as "primary", although it does allow you to create (many) primary partitions -- it's the active flag mentioned previously that is confusing your BIOS. note that a "drive letter" doesn't refer to an actual hard drive, it refers to a partition. –  quack quixote Mar 25 '10 at 0:53
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marked as duplicate by quack quixote, ChrisF, Ivo Flipse Mar 25 '10 at 17:21

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

2 Answers

No you can't have two primary drives on the same IDE cable. If you make D: a secondary drive your machine should boot.

Having said that it could be that it's finding D: first and as it's a primary drive it stops looking, but as it's empty there's nothing for it to boot from.

You could try swapping the drives over, but you should just have one primary and one secondary drive.

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Thanks very much for your reply. I've just run Partition Wizard from a bootable CD, and it's showing that both Disk 1 (the system disk) has 2 partitions, both primary. Disk 2 (the brand new HDD), has 1 partition and is also primary. Not sure how this can be since you said there can't be two HDD's as primary? I've tried swapping the two HDDs around, but that doesn't make a difference, it still comes up with the same error message when botting up: "Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM" Any thoughts would be v appreciated –  user32220 Mar 24 '10 at 23:16
    
@qwerty2 - take the second drive out - can you boot now? –  ChrisF Mar 24 '10 at 23:20
    
Unfortunately not, same problem. I only had the C system drive in, rebooted, still won't boot the OS. Any ideas? Sorry to bug you about this but I'm pulling my hair out –  user32220 Mar 24 '10 at 23:25
    
By the way, this time is says "Drive 1 not found: SErial ATA, SATA-1. Alert! Failed to detect one or more drives during POST. Strike F1 key to continue" –  user32220 Mar 24 '10 at 23:30
    
@qwerty2 - I think you've reached the limit of my knowledge in this area. Can you change the state of the partitions from Partition Wizard? I'm guessing not, because otherwise you'd have already tried that. –  ChrisF Mar 24 '10 at 23:32
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My guess is that when you made it primary this replaced the first C: drive as primary.

I would try changing the primary back to C: in the BIOS settings because the computer is looking for an operating system on D: and finding none to boot up.

To answer your other question, no you can't have two primary drives.

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Unfortunately the BIOS on my Dell machine doesn't let me change partitions on the drives. As I said above, I've just turn Partition Wizard from a bootable CD, and it's showing that both Disk 1 (the system disk) has 2 partitions, both primary. Disk 2 (the brand new HDD), has 1 partition and is also primary. Not sure how this can be since you said there can't be two HDD's as primary? It still comes up with the same error message when botting up: "Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM" Any thoughts would be v appreciated –  user32220 Mar 24 '10 at 23:18
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