Remove hard drive from dual boot system

  Skippy88 05:29 19 Mar 04

I have a computer with a dual boot system. I have Win ME on the C: drive and XP on the D: drive. I want to remove the smaller of the drives containing Win ME and just run Win XP from the larger D: drive (which would obviously become the C: drive) but when I remove the smaller drive and reboot I get an error saying NTLDR is missing. I searched on another computer running Win XP and it is in the folder I386 so I copied the whole of this folder to D: and removed the small C: drive again but still get the same error.

How can I get the drive with XP on it to be the sole drive and get windows to load without errors??

  temp003 10:39 19 Mar 04

In your dual boot, all the boot files are on C. D has no boot files. If you don't mind the drive letter changes, try the following.

Your hdd where XP is installed needs 3 files: ntldr, and boot.ini

Ntldr and are in the i386 folder on the XP CD. They are also on the ME partition.

Reinsert your ME hdd and boot into XP.

Copy the 2 files from the CD or from C drive to the current D drive (so that they become d:\ntldr, d:\ntdetectcom) - copy, not move the files.

The boot.ini file, you can either use XP's Recovery Console (bootcfg command) or do it manually using Notepad.

First have a look at the existing c:\boot.ini file. click Start, Run, type c:\boot.ini and press Enter. Just have a look at the format of the text file. Don't change this file. Close this file.

In Notepad, create a new file by typing:

[boot loader]



[operating systems]

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition" /fastdetect

Save it as d:\boot.ini (DO NOT overwrite c:\boot.ini).

Click Start, Run, type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter.

Right click your XP partition and see if there is an option to mark partition as active. If so, select it. I suspect it's greyed out, that's OK.

Turn off computer. Disconnect ME hdd. Set XP hdd as master. Restart to see if it will load XP.

If it doesn't load XP, post back error message.

But in the meantime, you can insert XP CD and restart from CD. Press R for Recovery Console, press 1, Enter, enter Administrator password (if you have no password, leave it blank). At the prompt, type:


and press Enter. Note the drive letter of the XP partition. It should be C. Type:

fixboot x:

and press Enter, where x is the drive letter of XP partition. Confirm. Type:


and press enter. Confirm. Type exit and Enter to restart computer. Remove CD to let computer boot from hdd. See if it works.

As you said, XP will become C, and you'll take a long time changing desktop shortcut properties and registry references from c:\ to d:\ and so on.

  temp003 10:43 19 Mar 04

Just in case you wonder, in your current c:\boot.ini file, the reference to XP is:


When you remove ME hdd and set XP hdd as master, the XP hdd becomes rdisk(0) instead of rdisk(1).

  Skippy88 14:00 19 Mar 04

Tried as you suggested but just get "INVALID SYSTEM DISK" error

  temp003 14:58 19 Mar 04

Have you tried Recovery Console yet?

If you have, check in BIOS that the hard disk is detected, that it is master, and the BIOS is set to boot from the master (and that there is no floppy in drive A - wishful thinking).

If everything is OK, and the Recovery Console commands above don't make a difference, then in Recovery Console, you can do one more command.

At the prompt, type:

bootcfg /rebuild

Say yes to add XP installation to the boot list. When asked for Load identifier, type Microsoft Windows XP Home, when asked for load option, type:


exit. Try to restart again.

If that still doesn't work, do a repair installation of XP.

Boot up with XP CD, press Enter to go into XP Setup, F8 to accept agreement, then highlight the existing installation, and press R to repair existing installation.

  Skippy88 15:17 19 Mar 04

OK thanks I'll try that. Out of interest should I have formatted, at the installation stage of XP, with NTFS or FAT32?? And should I have chosen to create a partition at that stage or not??

  woodchip 15:22 19 Mar 04

If you upgraded from WinME then XP will have put some files on the C:\ partition, so if you remove C:\ XP will not boot

  Skippy88 15:41 19 Mar 04

Win ME installed on small C: drive. Win XP Pro installed as new install on larger new D: drive. Now i want to remove small drive containing Win ME and just have one drive and operating system. Not sure if by choosing wrong things at initial setup stages thats why re-written boot.ini file as described above might have failed to work.

  woodchip 15:54 19 Mar 04

Then take the WinME Hard Drive out of the computer with the power of, then start computer with the XP disc and restore the system it gives options on what to do

  temp003 03:41 20 Mar 04

I don't think you did anything wrong when you installed XP. The partition is not an issue, as new disks come with a partition these days (and there must be one, since XP was installed).

File system would not affect the disk's ability to boot. Either file system would do.

It seems the only option left is to do a repair installation. Make sure that the existing installation is shown by XP Setup, then highlight it and press R to repair.

I don't know why the above method doesn't work.

Too see if my method is supposed to work, I have just tried it on my own machine (with 2 copies of Windows 2000, one on the 2nd hard disk).

My 2nd hard disk, like yours, had no boot files. I put ntldr, and a new boot.ini there, with the path corrected to rdisk(0). Disk Management showed that the partition on 2nd hdd was already marked as active (option greyed out), so no need to change anything there.

I then turned off machine, disconnected the power from 1st hdd, set 2nd hdd jumpers to master, reboot the machine, and it booted up into my 2nd copy of w2k without a glitch.

I didn't even need to try Recovery Console.

What is interesting is that when the 2nd copy of w2k booted up from the 2nd hdd it's on, the drive letter for it did not change at all. Like you, I was expecting it to be C, but no, it kept its old drive letter (rather nice, because all shortcuts worked - it means if my first hdd fails, I can still rely on my 2nd hdd to boot and work immediately).

So, sorry, don't know why it doesn't work on yours. Repair installation is last option. If repair works, you'll have to re-apply all Windows updates.

  Skippy88 20:03 20 Mar 04

Thanks for your help. I tried all your instructions again and it worked! Not sure why it failed first time but anyway its ok now.

Thanks again.

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