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How do I remove XP from a dual-boot on dual-drive system, leaving the Win 7?

Discussion in 'Windows 7' started by maxit, Nov 12, 2009.

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  1. maxit

    maxit Thread Starter

    Nov 12, 2009
    I upgraded to Win 7 (Home Premium) from XP by adding a new physical drive, not by inserting a new partition into the original boot drive. As a result, files essential to the booting of Win 7 are stuck on the XP drive. The XP drive cannot be removed or reformated because doing so would make it impossible to boot Win 7 from its drive, at least as is.

    I have already added a great number of files to the Win 7 drive, and there is no space left on the XP drive to reinstall Win 7 there either. If possible, I need a solution that will make the Win 7 drive bootable so I can remove the XP drive completely, or reformat it.

    As currently configured, XP is on drive C:, Win 7 was added to drive E:, and the system is currently run as a dual boot. Attempting to boot without the XP drive present will yield a "NTLDR is missing" error very early in the boot process.

    I have already tried the following:
    (1) I moved the hidden Windows Boot Manager files (bootmgr as well as the associated Boot folder) from the XP drive root to the Win 7 drive root.
    (2) After physically removing the XP drive, I rebooted to the Win 7 installation DVD, and used the "Repair Your Computer" option to pull up the "Recovery Tools". Then, using the command prompt utility, ...
    (3) I attempted to write a new boot sector to the Windows 7 disk using the command: Bootrec /fixboot, - that yields an error though. The Bootrec /fixmbr claimed success, but ultimately did not make Win 7 drive bootable.

    I had to reconnect drive C: just to boot into Win 7 again to write this. I do have files backed up, but to format and reinstall files would take many hours beyond just the time to transfer 400 GB of data, since I have dozens of purchased applications that need to be freshly reinstalled and validated as well. Basically I want my E: drive now to be my boot drive while the C: drive is reformatted and used for general storage.

    Any idea how to make my Win 7 drive bootable without reliance on files from another drive?
  2. maxit

    maxit Thread Starter

    Nov 12, 2009
    I found a solution. It's convoluted but it works. I will present it here in detail in case anyone else runs into this problem. I also found a Microsoft support article related to it, although it's discussing this problem for an older version of Windows:

    Changing Active Partition Can Make Your System Unbootable

    The article points out the boot-up error symptomatic of having multiple active partitions ahead of the actual partition with the OS: "NTLDR is missing". That is exactly what I experienced. Since most people use drive C: to boot from, they may never see be aware of this idiosyncratic problem, as active partitions after the first won't cause the problem. Microsoft blames an Intel's design for this oversight.

    I first disconnected all other hard drives except my chosen boot drive, - this allowed Win 7 to boot properly, if only from that one drive. Here's the way in which I finally was able to reconnect all the drives and boot from my Win 7 drive:

    (1) Once Win 7 was able to boot from the single drive remaining, I deleted the unnecessary boot menu left over from the dual boot by running the command prompt utility in the administrator mode, (right-click on command prompt program icon, select Run as administrator), and used the following command to delete the menu: BCDEdit /delete {ntldr} /f

    (2) I then reconnected all the drives I previously removed. Consistent with what I'd expect if the Microsoft article was true, Windows 7 no longer booted. The active partitions ahead of drive E: were still conflicting with the boot process. However, running the automated "Repair Your Computer" option from the installer DVD also didn't help, meaning it was probably necessary to manually inactivate the unneeded active partitions.

    (3) Given that possibility, I then booted to the Win 7 installer DVD yet again, selected the "Repair Your Computer" option and made my way to their various utilities. I ran the command prompt utility again, this time using the disk partition utility to mark the unnecessary active partitions as inactive, typing:

    list disk
    select disk n(where n = the drive designation: 0,1, etc)
    list partition (or the command, detail partition)
    select partition m(where m = the unnecessary active partition)

    ...repeated for all unneeded active partitions on all the various hard drives that were installed...


    Doing that alone, however, did not work by itself either, but it apparently was a step in the right direction.

    (4) I then rebooted (yet again) to the Win 7 installer DVD, which surprisingly was completely unable to find the Win 7 installation at that point, unlike all previous boots in which it immediately saw the Win 7 boot installation. However this time, when the automated repair function was run, it properly tied up the loose ends.

    Now Win 7 boots perfectly from drive E, even with two other drives ahead of it.

    I suspect part of the problem might be in the default expectations of the installer program: it only recognizes a boot problem when the non-OS partitions are properly marked. Somehow the active partititions fooled it into thinking everything was ok which ultimately triggered an improper "fix", or no fix at all, resulting in an inability to boot to the Win 7 partition until all other drives were removed.

    Correctly marking the partitions as active or inactive forced a correct fix by the installer program.
  3. fairnooks

    fairnooks Banned

    Oct 1, 2007
    I think if you run EasyBCD or the equvalent program to alter the boot loader in WIndows 7 prior to removing or reformatting the drive with XP on it, that would avoid all the hassle. One might have to additionally change the boot drive order in the BIOS to the Windows 7 drive but that should be all.
  4. Mumbodog


    Oct 3, 2007
    You can also mark the W7 partition as active in disk management.
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