In Windows: System Partition: Contain hardware specific files for boot(NTLDR, Boot.ini and ntdetect.com etc) Boot Partition: Operating System files

A partition can be both system and boot but this is not required and there can be two separate partitions one for system and the second for boot.

When a partition is both system and boot, there will be no problem and everything(boot files + OS files) will be in that partition plus Boot sector. Am i Right?

Confusion arrives when there are separate partitions for system and boot.

  • Where will be Boot sector when separate partitions? In System partition?
  • Will Boot sector always present in System partition?
  • Is there any other Boot sector that is associated with each Boot partition?
  • Normally in Windows XP the first partition is both System and Boot. In VISTA/W7 normally there is a separate System partition, this partition only contains the boot files(Boot Configuration Data, bootmgr etc) for booting. Is this configuration mandatory for VISTA/W7? Can we also do this for Windows XP?



From this Microsoft Support article : Definitions for system volume and boot volume.

System volume

The system volume refers to the disk volume that contains the hardware-specific files that are needed to start Windows, such as Ntldr, Boot.ini, and Ntdetect.com.

On computers that are running the Intel x86 line of CPU processors and later versions, the system volume must be a primary volume that is marked as active. This requirement can be fulfilled on any drive on the computer that the system BIOS searches when the operating system starts.

The system volume can be the same volume as the boot volume. However, this configuration is not required.

Boot volume

The boot volume refers to the disk volume that contains the Windows operating system files and the supporting files. By default, the Windows operating system files are in the WINDOWS folder, and the supporting files are in the WINDOWS\System32 folder.

The boot volume can be the same volume as the system volume. However, this configuration is not required.

There is only one system volume. However, there is one boot volume for each operating system in a multiboot system.

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