I have recently acquired a second SSD, and decided I would utilize a multi-boot setup to increase my productivity. One drive is for "work" (only contains Windows 7 and software needed for work) and on is for "play" (contains Windows 7 and anything else, games, etc.).

I have my "Play" drive set to boot by default, and I can select my "Work" drive from by BIOS boot menu when needed, but I have been continually frustrated when I forget to press the boot menu key during boot!

I have done some research, and it looks as though there are boot-selector programs that run before any OS gets to start. The most popular one I found is GRUB.

Can I use GRUB for what I am trying to accomplish? I do not use Linux.

  • Shouldn't the default Windows bootloader automatically ask you which OS you want to use on startup? However, yes, GRUB is a great solution as well. Feb 2, 2013 at 5:31
  • If you want to "increase your productivity" shouldn't you have the work drive set to boot by default? :-)
    – terdon
    Feb 2, 2013 at 14:15
  • @MarcusChan, I'm not sure why it's not asking. They are each installed on a separate drive with separate installs and are not connected in any way (except that, as storage drives, they are obviously visible to one another), so I'm not surprised, but I am new to multi-booting.
    – Atlantic
    Feb 3, 2013 at 5:49
  • @terdon I probably should, huh? I'm just worried that I'll end up using it to surf the web! This is a psychological experiment :)
    – Atlantic
    Feb 3, 2013 at 5:50

3 Answers 3


The second Windows installation should have been detected automatically. I am surprised that you don't see the Windows boot manager on each boot.

Anyway, yes, you can do this with GRUB but using the Windows bootloader is much easier. GRUB needs to chainload Windows and configuring it is harder than for Linux systems. Plus, you will probably have to boot from a Linux live CD and use a chroot environment to even install GRUB. As far as I know there is no Windows version of it. So, unless you also have an active Linux install on your machine, I highly recommend using the Windows bootloader.

First of all, make sure that one Windows install can see the other. Click on the Windows button and search for msconfig. Now, select the boot tab and check if you can see two Windows installs (I only have the one installed, yours should list two):

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If you can see two installations, make sure the timeout is set to a reasonable value (not 0).

If you only see one OS, you will need to tell the Windows bootloader about the second. Download and install EasyBCD and use it to add the second Windows install to your primary Windows's bootloader. The tutorial I linked to is using two Windows 7 and Windows XP but the principle is the same.

  • I love finding out new tricks! While the second drive did not show up in msconfig, I was able to use EasyBCD to add it to the bootloader. It was extremely easy and only took a few clicks. I'm probably going to spend some time figuring what else I can do with this program! Thanks.
    – Atlantic
    Feb 3, 2013 at 5:42

If you're not using Linux, just create a bootable USB stick with EasyBCD and add an entry for each Windows installation to it. It'll do exactly what you want, and should be a net total of 3 point and click operations.

  • Thanks for the tip and the link. I will read some more information on the program to see if I can benefit from the bootable USB feature or not. EasyBCD is looking pretty nifty so far!
    – Atlantic
    Feb 3, 2013 at 5:44

Grub is definitely more complicated in most respects to bootmgr, but it also offers far more capabilities as well, like a very capable and customizable GUI front end. It CAN boot all Windows OS variants via chainloading as pointed out by terdon, but a Windows boot loader of some type is always required, such as ntldr and bootmgr. Grub just invokes them to boot Windows, it can't boot them "directly".

I have a system that multiboots 6 different OSs, including Windows 7 and Windows 10. The bootmgr is never seen (I set the bootmgr timeouts to 0), grub is the only user interface required. It was rather tricky to get each Windows installation to use it's own bootmgr however, so the grub could chainload one and only one Windows.

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