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Trouble with dual-boot on separate HDD's

  1. #1


    Posts : 231
    Windows 8.1 x64

    Trouble with dual-boot on separate HDD's


    G'day,

    I've been wanting to create a dual-boot of Windows 7 and Windows 8 as follows:

    1. Windows 7 on an SSD
    2. Windows 8 on an HDD

    Currently, my Windows 7 installation resides on my SSD (C). My WD HDD (H) has been formated as a single Primary partition.

    Using Brink's dual-boot tutorial, I attempted to install Windows 8 to the HDD as follows:

    1. With the exception of the SSD and the WD HDD, I physically unplugged the other 4x HDD's from the motherboard.

    2. I booted from a USB containing the Windows 8 Developer x64 ISO (the 3.6GB version)

    3. During installation, I was presented with two disk to install to:
    • the SSD (with the existing Windows 7)
    • the HDD
    I selected the HDD, but got the following message:

    "Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the setup log file for more information"

    I backed out one step, selected to delete the partition, and then recreated it again, and then once more selected the HDD for installation. Unfortunately, I got the same message.

    I completely exited the installation, shut the PC down, physically disconnected the HDD from the motherboard, and then tried to boot into Windows 7 as normal , but was left with this message and the flashing cursor:

    Loading Operating System ...
    _

    After a few attempts at a Windows 7 Repair Install and an MBR fix in Partition Wizard 7 mini-tool, I was able to rescue my Windows 7 installation. I noted that during the repair install, my SSD was renamed from C to H - I'm guessing something went wrong with the MBR during the attempted install of Windows 8....but thats a guess.

    Has anyone been succesful at installing Windows 8 to a separate hard drive, whilst retaining their Windows 7 installation on a different hard drive, for a dual boot environment? Both the SSD and HDD connect to the motherboard via SATA connectors (Brink mentioned he had done this succesfully but his SSD was connected with PCI-E - perhaps that the issue?)

    Can anyone offer any advice? This exercise scared the crap out of me, especially when the drive letters changed, but I do want to install Windows 8 outside of a virtual environment (e.g. Vbox) if possible.

    Does anyone know if its possible to install Windows 8 to a separate HDD with its own MBR, and then merge the MBR's (one on the SSD and the other on the HDD) using EasyBCD?

    Thanks,
    Golden
    Last edited by Golden; 29 Dec 2011 at 07:40. Reason: tidy up details

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 1,396
    Windows 8 Developer 32 bit


    When I first got Windows seven, I installed a 3 way switch that let me use either XP64 or 7. That way the two OS's on separate drives never even saw each other
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Sofia
    Posts : 135
    XP, Win7, Win8_Eval


    You can have only 2 ways of booting:

    1. Completely independend installations of Windows 7 and Windows 8 on separate disks.

    The current "first disk" is choosen at boot-time with "one time temporary boot device selection key (F11)"
    This way there are on each disk a BCD and a bootmgr. (and MBR and PBR)

    2. Windows 8 boot manager installed to first disk active partition. (replacing Windows 7 bootmgr on SSD)
    Two entries in the system BCD - one for W7 second for W8.

    Windows 7 boot manager cannot boot Windows 8.

    If method 2 is choosen Visual BCD Editor - Windows 7/Vista can help - it comes with "Dual-boot Repair" tool that can fix Windows 8 booting. Then a second entry for W7 can be added. Both operations are one-click automatic operations - the user does not have to specify any parameters like drive letters, partitions e.t.c.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 231
    Windows 8.1 x64


    Quote Originally Posted by boyans View Post
    2. Windows 8 boot manager installed to first disk active partition. (replacing Windows 7 bootmgr on SSD)
    Two entries in the system BCD - one for W7 second for W8.

    Windows 7 boot manager cannot boot Windows 8.
    Hi,

    Thanks for the reply. I cannot see how during Windows 8 installation, I can install the Windows 8 boot manager to the SSD, but install the rest of Windows 8 to the HDD? Have I missed soemthing? Recall I want to keep the two installations on separate disks but use a common MBR.

    I see some folk have reported success here, so I'm not sure what I am missing:

    How did you setup your Win 8 install?

    Regards,
    Golden
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Sofia
    Posts : 135
    XP, Win7, Win8_Eval


    Windows always installs its
    1) MBR to first disk,
    2) PBR to active partition on first disk,
    3) boot manager to active partition, first disk - root folder.

    The rest of the OS goes to the specified partition.
    Works best if the partition is primary - can be on any disk (first, second ...)

    The boot sequence is always:
    BIOS - first disk MBR - PBR of active partition on first disk - boot manager (reads BCD)
    and here the the boot-menu comes up.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 231
    Windows 8.1 x64


    OK. So, if I understand correctly, even though I choose to install to the second disk (the HDD), the Windows 8 installation will write/update the existing MBR on the first disk (the SSD). I wonder why I'm getting the this error then:

    "Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the setup log file for more information"

    This happens when I choose to install Windows 8 on the second disk.

    Thanks for your replies,
    Golden
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Sofia
    Posts : 135
    XP, Win7, Win8_Eval


    On an unpartitioned disk when installing Windows 7 (or later) a small and special partition called "System Reserved" is created where the boot related data is put. A second partition gets the rest (99%) of the operating system.

    If the disk is already partitioned Windows 7/8 puts the boot related data on the active partition and the rest on the partition specified for installation.

    Windows 7/8 cannot put its "System Reserved" on a disk which is not the first in the list of disk devices.

    By default "System Reserved" is the first primary and active partition on disk and usually it is not mapped to a drive letter so it is hidden from the normal user and protected in some way.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Posts : 231
    Windows 8.1 x64


    OK, I'm more confused than ever..........I have no idea how to proceed at all, or what I should do next

    What would you recommend?

    Regards,
    Golden
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Sofia
    Posts : 135
    XP, Win7, Win8_Eval


    I would format and partition the new disk again
    40-60 GB is the size recomended for Windows 7 or Vista.

    1. Delete all existing partitions on HDD.
    2. Create a new primary partition say 100 GB. Do not format. Mark it as active.
    3. Reboot from Windows 8 USB.
    (assuming SSD is first in disk sequence, HDD second)
    4. Select HDD first partition for installation.

    If error message comes again:
    Change order of disks in BIOS putting HDD first.
    Now installation should go without problems.

    Windows 8 will put two boot entries in the newly created BCD on HDD - one for itself and one for Win 7.

    Reboot.
    Now you can put again SSD as first disk in BIOS.
    Boot to Windows 7.
    In Windows 7 you should see the HDD and Windows 8 partition.
    Run "Dual-boot Repair" - "Automatic Repair", this will replace Windows 7 boot manager with Windows 8 boot manager and make Windows 8 the default OS.
    Reboot - you should have two boot entries one for 8 as default and one for 7.

    If boot entry for 7 is missing you can add it when in Win 8 DP using Visual BCD Editor - right click in treeView and select "Create missing Windows loaders".

    So Windows 8 Boot manager will be on SSD - active partition and the system BCD in "\boot" folder on same active partition on SSD.

    Later you can completely delete Windows 8 DP from HDD if you want.
    Windows 8 boot manager will stay on SSD and be in control of the booting.

    Deleting Windows 8 boot manager from SSD or replacing it with Windows 7 boot manager
    will not be easy as Windows 7 Recovery recognizes the file "bootmgr" as being a later version (Win8DP - NT 6.2....) and does not replace it automatically.

    You can delete both "bootmgr" and "\boot" folder using command prompt when booted from Recovery CD/DVD.
    But that would go to another thread or guide.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Posts : 231
    Windows 8.1 x64


    Boyans, thank you very much for the detailed steps. I will attempt this over thre next day or so, and post back here with the results.

    Regards,
    Golden
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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