I'm about to build a new gaming PC for the first time in seven years, and I'm a bit rusty, so I thought I'd ask the community here some advice on the OS side of things before committing some cardinal blunders.

I've got a 60GB Intel 520 SSD to put Windows 7 on along with some bog standard 1TB HDD data drive. However, I keep returning to a few old games that are troublesome on Windows 7, so I thought I'd install Windows XP on the side as well.

I'm determined to try putting the OS partitions for both W7 and XP on the SSD. I've gathered that XP makes things a bit difficult due to lack of TRIM support, partition alignment issues, and deleting system restore points from the W7 partition, if it's visible to XP. I've done some research into this and I think I've got a functional setup process figured out, and outlined below.

The actual questions follow after this bit.

The proposed install process

  1. Boot off the Windows 7 install media, use the command prompt to partition the SSD with diskpart into one 40GB partition (for W7) and one 20GB partition (for XP), as primary partitions, in that order. The partitions should get aligned properly. Format them as NTFS.
  2. Quit the W7 installer and boot off a custom XP install disc, slipstreamed with SP3 and the motherboard SATA driver.
  3. Install XP on the second partition, presumably seen as D: by the installer.
  4. Boot XP and use the registry hack outlined here to hide the future C: W7 partition from XP's prying eyes.
  5. Install Windows 7 on the first partition.

I've never used it, but I gather that Windows 7's boot loader should basically just work and display XP as a booting option.

So, the questions:

First, are there some glaring issues with the above install process that I've overlooked?

Second, Intel's SSD Toolbox has a utility for doing TRIM even on XP. How does this actually work with this partition arrangement, though? Does the native TRIM on W7 only deal with the partition space it's on, and TRIM from SSD Toolbox on XP only on the XP partition? That is, are they cleanly isolated without there being some mysterious issues here?

Third, my gut feeling is that the data drive shouldn't be having any issues from being shared by XP and W7, since it seems unlikely that advanced FS features like volume shadow copies that XP would mess up would actually get used there. Am I right? If not, I could always split the drive into two partitions and again hide the W7 data partition from XP using the registry hack in step 4.

  • 40 GB sounds too little for Windows 8, unless you aggressively move all user data and programs to the hard drive. Remember that your 60 GB SSD will actually have only ~55 GB usable space, plus SSDs start to lose performance when filled up past 75% or so. – Indrek May 27 '12 at 13:58
  • I intend to store only the minimal OS and speed-critical stuff on the SSD, everything else on the HDD. As a strictly gaming-centric machine, there won't be a lot of user data to begin with, mostly just save games. – JK Laiho May 27 '12 at 14:40
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    On XP be sure to disable Indexing and Defragmentation. 60gb will be a tight fit after time passes and software/updates get installed, W7 tends to bloat over time. You can always disable system restore on XP. – Moab May 27 '12 at 22:46
  • Good tip, thanks. I'll rely on full-disk images for system-level backups, will probably disable system restore on both OSes. – JK Laiho May 28 '12 at 10:58

Honestly dont do all that partitioning and stuff... If you wanna run XP and you have a descent setup just configure your computer to do a virtual machine, That way you can load windows XP inside windows 7. No conflicts at all... that would work or you can do a portable Windows. you can boot straight from USB no installation what so ever... find your drivers make it stable. Lastly the best way to do it is ramdisk and then load windows XP, Ram disk takes ram and makes it into a hard drive of sorts except ram is faster than SSD since its right next to CPU its like direct communication line. ive never did it except with a modified XP which was stripped down but its almost instant open n close on files n tasks. the usb would be something good with a USB3.0 interface since 2.0 lacks read and write speeds

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