In the Disk Manager, two hard drves are shown:

  • C: (160 GB) (Boot, Page File, Crash Dump, Primary Partition) which contains Windows 7
  • D: (500 GB) (System, Active, Primary Partition)

When I remove D: and start it shows "DISK boot failure, insert system disk and ...".

This is because System Reserved Files is only on D:. How can I move that to C:?

  • When you say system, do you mean the windows system folder or the windows folder, or do you mean that in disk manager the d: drive is showing as the system drive?
    – Col
    Aug 14, 2011 at 12:59
  • 2
    Incorrect, M. Wijsman. "System" denotes the system volume. %SystemDrive% denotes the boot volume, and as you can see even from what's in the question that's marked "boot" by Disk Manager.
    – JdeBP
    Aug 15, 2011 at 1:35
  • @Tom&Col: sorry for being ambiguous. Yes I found the attributes from Disk Manager. It shows the windows flag on C: drive i.e windows folder is in C:. But doesn't boot if I remove D:
    – ruben
    Aug 15, 2011 at 7:33
  • @JdeBP: Incorrect, M. de Boyne Pollard. %SystemDrive% is defined by Microsoft as \$OEM$\$1 where $1 is equivalent to the System Drive letter. This is the partition which hosts Windows 7, in this case C:. System by Disk Manager refers to System Reserved where as Boot refers to the partition you boot from. Your link is incorrect and doesn't contain any references to hold your statement. Don't mix these two up because you'll then get incorrect statements, %SytemDrive% does not always point to boot volume. Aug 15, 2011 at 11:06
  • I'm not sure where to even start, you've got that so badly wrong. Let's start with the page that you're pointing to. You clearly did not even read it. That's the worst sort of research-by-Google. It's not telling one the definition of the environment variable. It's telling one how to set up some folders for automated installation, and what folders contain the stuff to be written to the boot volume by the install utility.
    – JdeBP
    Aug 15, 2011 at 12:36

3 Answers 3


You don't need to move all your data just to get your Windows booted again, that's so unnecessary.

Such actions are the result of not reading official Microsoft documentation, which should be your first stop whenever you have a problem with Windows. All the commands I'm going to use there are properly documented by Microsoft, thus doing a quick X Command-Line Options site:microsoft.com where X is the command gives you information about how these tools work and their options...

Good luck!

Your C: drive doesn't know how to boot, you can easily solve this:

  • Remove the D: drive, of course.

  • Start into the Windows 7 Installation Medium.

  • Go to the Recovery Environment and start Command Prompt.

  • Run the following: BootRec /FixMBR && BootRec /FixBoot && BootRec /RebuildBCD

Also, to really ensure that the boot sector works, this will ensure that BOOTMGR is loaded when boot:

  • Run BootSect /NT60 ALL /Force /MBR

Also, mark the boot partition as active again:

  • Run DiskPart

  • Type List Disk followed by ENTER.

  • Type Select Disk X (where X is the 160 GB disk) followed by ENTER.

  • Type List Partition followed by ENTER.

  • Type Select Partition Y (where Y is your boot partition) followed by ENTER.

  • Type Active followed by ENTER.

Been there, done that, works even if the System Reserved partition is missing (which hosts recovery).

  • I tried to do this. But unfortunately having another interesting problem as I use AMD motherboard processor:'( forums.speedguide.net/… And the solution says I need to install from operating system.
    – ruben
    Aug 15, 2011 at 11:44
  • @newcomer: That's illegal, unless you are a subscriber. Buy a legal installation medium or motherboard... Aug 15, 2011 at 14:14
  • But the problem still remains: cannot boot from cd, error code 5
    – ruben
    Aug 15, 2011 at 18:05
  • @newcomer: How could the problem still remain with a new motherboard? Did you buy the same? Aug 15, 2011 at 21:12
  • 1
    @newcomer: Because I'm the owner of this post, you don't need to include it in that case. Could it be possible that the original disks has been damaged? We really can't help you if you are unable to access the installation medium, your best bet is to try to put it on a USB instead and try to boot from there. (Search Google & Super Users for instructions on how to do that) Aug 16, 2011 at 11:54

You don't need to reinstall everything, nor do you need to repair MBRs. You simply need to ensure that, after you've removed the disk you still have a system volume. You always need a (single) system volume for Windows NT. It's a volume dedicated to "the system", i.e. to the machine itself, as a whole, irrespective of operating system.

If you remove the disc where it has been up until now, you must create a system volume on one of your remaining discs, resizing and moving existing partitions to make enough room. As Microsoft explains, you can use bcdboot and bcdedit with the /import option to copy over the Boot Manager and BCD store over from the old system volume, and bootsect /nt60 sys to install the correct bootstrap program into its Volume Boot Record.

You may or may not also need to alter the disk numbering in the Boot Manager menu entries, to point to the disc number and partition of the Windows 7 boot volume if your installing different hard discs and shifting partitions around changes things. This can be done using bcdedit in the Windows Recovery Environment.

  • This. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. Now, when I re-install my OS onto a new disk, I disconnect all other disks until a basic OS is installed. IIRC correctly, you can also re-create the BCD using BOOTREC /recreate - might also work in this instance.
    – CJM
    Aug 15, 2011 at 8:04
  • -1 @JdeBP: Incorrect, Windows NT does not need a separate System Reserved partition. Neither does Windows 7, all System Reserved does is host the Recovery Environment, so you can actually just repair the MBR and the boot sectors to boot into the boot partition. See my answer on how to do this correctly, rather than moving all the data because you don't know better... Aug 15, 2011 at 11:32
  • 1
    Windows NT has needed a system partition since Windows NT version 3.1, M. Wijsman. And you clearly haven't read Microsoft's own explanation nor simply looked in a system volume. You'll find that that's where the Boot Manager lives, not in the boot volume, when you actually do. Adjusting the bootstrap to try booting the VBR of the boot volume will produce a system that doesn't work, because of course neither Microsoft Boot Manager nor the BCD store are there. Indeed, have you haven't even read what the questioner said. Xe already has a separate system volume, whether you like it or not.
    – JdeBP
    Aug 15, 2011 at 11:51
  • @jdeBP: What?! I didn't say System Partition, I said System Reserved. I know what you say... Aug 15, 2011 at 14:31
  • No, you clearly don't know this, otherwise you wouldn't be trying to say that the system reserved partition isn't the system partition here: a statement that anyone who has even cranked up Disk Manager and just looked would know to be wrong.
    – JdeBP
    Dec 25, 2011 at 13:49

Be careful about the method i'm going to describe, despite the method will help you to solve the problem, any inconvenience will leave you in an unbootable state.

In your case I'll go this way: I'll grab a partition editor, maybe Easeus or Paragon free editions will be good enough, resize the C: partition up 100 or 200 MB, according to your System partition size, then copy the System partition to disk 1. Note that the System partition will be placed at the beginning of the drive. Make sure your new system partition is marked with the boot flag. Maybe you'll need to edit the boot.ini file. If you cannot via Windows i'll suggest you to use a linux live CD for that task. Then i'll detach the D: device and then proceed with the Windows 7 DVD and restore the installation.

I forgot to say. If i will be in your case, i'll backup everything before starting or be mentally ready to reinstall Windows 7. It is not a simple scenario and you are going to risk the stability of the system just by moving the system partition.

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