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My disks configuration is: disk0, partitions: p1, p2 disk1, partitions: p3, p4.

I had dual-boot: win xp from partition p1 (marked as * by TestDisk), win xp from partition p4 (marked as P by TestDisk).

Yesterday something happened to partition p1. When I tried to boot from it I got blue screen and restart immediately, when I booted from p4, boot was slower than before, and I couldn't access disk on partition p1 (got disk not formatted error).

So using TestDisk I recovered files I needed (yes, using TestDisk partition seemed to be ok), tried to recover partition, boot, mbr. TestDisk told me that everything was in perfect shape... but actually boot from p1 wasn't working, and I couldn't reach that drive when booted form p4.

So, I decided to recreate partition and reinstall win on p1. Reinstall went ok, but now I cannot dual boot. Is there way to recover my dual-boot without reinstalling win on p4?

Waiting for any information.

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1 Answer 1

In Windows XP there is boot.ini - a file containing XP boot configuration data. There is no BCD in Windows XP !!

You can dual-boot in two ways:

  1. Every Windows XP installation is independent on its own disk and active partition and has separate set of boot related files (ntldr, ntdetect.com and boot.ini - these files are hidden system read-only files and you have to enable explorer to be able to see them). You use the one time boot device selection key from BIOS to select which disk to boot.

  2. The two Windows XP installations are not independent - to boot the second Win XP you use the boot files from first installation and you have a boot menu with two choices. In this case first disk has a proper MBR, a XP PBR (partition boot record) on its active partition, and also three files on active partition: ntdetect.com, ntldr and boot.ini containing 2 boot entries - one for every Win XP installation.

Either way you must check that:

  1. every disk has proper MBR.
  2. every disk has a partition marked as active (use Disk Management) and has proper PBR.
  3. every active partition has the files ntldr, ntdetect, boot.ini

In the second way of dual-booting boot.ini file on first disk should have two entries - one for every Windows XP installation. You can download and use the utility ArcPaths and DOS drives to get exact ARC paths for your Windows XP installations. To be able to edit boot.ini you must unmark it as read-only, edit and then change back to read-only.

Hope this helps.

Note: The utility "Dual-boot Repair" that comes with Visual BCD Editor can write Windows XP style MBR and PBR records.

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Thanks for pointing me. Rebuilding boot.ini seems helped. –  testa00 Apr 25 '12 at 5:37

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