I have dual boot set up on the computer. Both Vista and XP are on different partitions on the same physical drive. I have Vista on hibernate, and for some reason now want to boot into XP. Can this be done? Right now, when I start, it does not give me dual boot option.

Note I cannot shut down the Vista machine.

  • Why is it that you can't shut down the Vista machine? – nhinkle Sep 12 '10 at 5:28
  • I was running a simulation in Vista that I didn't want to restart from scratch. Eventually, I ended up doing that. – Jus12 Mar 6 '11 at 17:27

You may end up with problems because when resuming from hibernate because the disks that the resuming version of Windows sees are going to have have "magically" changed. How confused would you be if, when you woke up, someone rearranged all the stuff in your bedroom overnight while you were asleep?

If you want to do it anyway you are going to need each version of Windows to be able to boot itself, as well as another way of choosing which one to boot.

So you get three partitions (all need to be primary), say:

partition1: Vista

partition2: WinXP

Partition3: Linux

The Vista partition needs to have the "bootmgr" program in its root, and the XP partition needs "ntldr". For each of the Windows partitions in turn, mark that partition as "active" and do the "fixboot" thing so that each Windows can boot itself.

Install your favourite Linux distribution on partition 3, installing Grub on partition3, not in the mbr.

Make partition3 "active" and you are done.

Note 1: You do not actually need to install a Linux distribution, just Grub, but as you are going to be playing around anyway, having Linux installed will make playing around easier. I have an opensuse 11.3 virtual machine with the LXDE window manager using about 3GB of space. If just installing Grub, the partition can be tiny.

Note 2: There is a bug in Windows' GUI partition manager which means that it will not set a non-Windows partition as active. Use the command line "diskpart" program in Windows if necessary.

Note 3: You could install Grub in the mbr, but I think that is a bad idea.


The only way I can remotely think of how to do this is to use a Linux boot disk and possibly copy/rename the hibernate file.

IF however the Windows as you said is on a different partition, you may have luck using GRUB or an alternate boot loader - using it from a boot disk and directly booting/loading the alternate Windows partition - if it has its own bootloader on that partition.

I really wouldn't recommend this.


This won't be possible in a normal way, as far as I know in hibernate mode, the desktop/workspace is saved to the RAM. If you would try to boot a second system, this could try to overwrite the RAM or it will crash because of the locked RAM. The second problem is, that both systems are stored on the same hard drive, that will make it nearly impossible to realize what you want, and I may be wrong, but I think, that all hardware is locked by the hibernated system. I've never heard of someone, trying something similar as you do and if you find a way to do it, you should write a detailed manual and publish it. It may be the first one.

  • exactly what I was going to say – subanki Sep 8 '10 at 20:57
  • ... I thought the point of Hibernate was that memory is written to the hard drive? – William Hilsum Sep 8 '10 at 21:23
  • @ Wil..correct, suspend is written to memory. – Moab Sep 8 '10 at 22:08

Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe when you put a computer, or operating system in this case, in hibernate mode, it writes the data to the hard disk along with the instructions to wake up. To clarify, the MBR remains untouched. Meaning, you should be able to boot into any other partition while leaving the Vista partition intact and ready to be resumed at any time. That said, it should be relatively easy to configure something like grub4DOS to choose which partition you want to boot. The reason I say grub4DOS is because it sounds like you may not want to have to fool around with grub or linux distros.

I have my hard drive set up to boot into freeDOS and then using the prompt, I load grub4DOS, and from there I load the O/S of my choice. Of course you could omit the freeDOS part and install grub4DOS to the MBR but I did not want to do that.

Also, I used gParted Live to partition my hard drive. No better partitioning program out there, in my opinion.

  • This solution will work - you need a different bootloader - either GRUB for DOS or something like BootIT – jtreser Oct 23 '10 at 11:37

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