Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Windows 8.1 on SSD, dual boot existing XP on separate HDD

  1. #1

    Windows 8.1 on SSD, dual boot existing XP on separate HDD


    I've read around this but can't find definite answers for my situation...I'm hoping someone can help;

    I have XP (32 bit) installed - one HDD partitioned into F: drive (XP - Boot/Logical), and C: (a few games - System/Primary). Two other 1.5TB drives, both partitioned into two for storage/data.
    I want to install Win8.1 Pro (64 bit) on a new SSD which is also not yet installed, but be able to use (at least for some months) XP as well.

    I would want to re-use my C:/F: HDD eventually as I don't plan on keeping XP once (if) I am confident I have everything up and running on 8.1.
    I therefore have lots of questions, eg:

    • how do I actually install 8.1 eg should I unplug all other drives wen installing?
    • Will I be able to access my XP drive (F) when logged into 8.1?
    • Does 8.1 need a MBR, and if so, shouldn't it be on the SSD (as I do ultimately want to remove/wipe my XP disks).
    • How best to manage dual boot?
    • Will I have problems with drives being re-named under different XP vs 8.1?
    • Will I have problems if I do remove my XP drives and/or wipe and use for data?
    • Any problems with using 64 and 32 bit OS's on same system?

    The list could go on...so I'd really appreciate any help.
    Thanks.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 2,690
    Windows 3.1 > Windows 10


    how do I actually install 8.1 eg should I unplug all other drives wen installing? Yes or No

    Will I be able to access my XP drive (F) when logged into 8.1? Yes if install with MBR partitions

    Does 8.1 need a MBR, and if so, shouldn't it be on the SSD (as I do ultimately want to remove/wipe my XP disks). MBR is a partition structure. But disk partition type has to match other disks to make all disks readable

    How best to manage dual boot? dual boot disks or disk partitions

    Will I have problems with drives being re-named under different XP vs 8.1? Drive letters to drives will change ( but can be changed back once in OS the first time)

    Will I have problems if I do remove my XP drives and/or wipe and use for data? If 8 installed with XP HDD attached, then 8 boot manager will be included in XP NT bootloader, may have to run startup repair if xp hdd formated

    Any problems with using 64 and 32 bit OS's on same system? Not as long as partition structure the same
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Thanks for reply - I've added a few questions....

    how do I actually install 8.1 eg should I unplug all other drives wen installing? Yes or No
    Any practical differences?

    Will I be able to access my XP drive (F) when logged into 8.1? Yes if install with MBR partitions
    Does that mean I'd have to keep both MBRs and on the same drive - if so can I still easily get rid of XP later without any trouble?


    Does 8.1 need a MBR, and if so, shouldn't it be on the SSD (as I do ultimately want to remove/wipe my XP disks). MBR is a partition structure. But disk partition type has to match other disks to make all disks readable

    How best to manage dual boot? dual boot disks or disk partitions

    Not sure what these really mean...eg does that mean I can only have one boot disk?
    Can partitions and dual boots both allow me to remove XP later? what are the pros and cons?


    Will I have problems with drives being re-named under different XP vs 8.1? Drive letters to drives will change ( but can be changed back once in OS the first time)
    So drive letters will change on 1st login, but if I change them (so they match between XP and 8.1), those changes will stick?

    Will I have problems if I do remove my XP drives and/or wipe and use for data? If 8 installed with XP HDD attached, then 8 boot manager will be included in XP NT bootloader, may have to run startup repair if xp hdd formated
    Does this suggest I should install without XP HDD attached, or are there other implications of that?

    Any problems with using 64 and 32 bit OS's on same system? Not as long as partition structure the same
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 2,690
    Windows 3.1 > Windows 10


    when you dual boot disks - you will need to change bios settings to tell it what disk to load - boot manager from.. XP or Win 8

    If you install windows 8 just like the system is - the bios will load XP boot manager, then redirect the actual boot to windows 8 OS or XP OS..

    You remove XP boot manager (XP disk), then windows 8 will not boot on it's own - unless you repair (create) a windows 8 boot manager..

    a PC first loads the bios - then loads the boot manager (disk 0) - then loads the OS1 or OS2 or OS3
    ................................. - then loads the boot manager (disk 1) - then loads the OS1 or OS2 or OS3
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Posts : 1,875
    Windows 10 Pro Prieview x64


    Going back to your original question, what do you really want to do?

    Do you want to install 8.1 and only occasionally boot XP until 8.1 is working to your satisfaction? Or do you think you'll want to switch back and forth on a daily (or more frequent) basis?

    I'd remove XP disk, install 8.1 and my programs on the SSD. Take the defaults - it doesn't matter. You can then connect your old disk and copy the data and other files you want and later format it. In the interim if you need to you can take out the SSD and put in the old XP disk if you need to.

    I dual boot (for fun really) but to me it sounds you want to migrate to 8.1 while keeping your XP disk as a backup until you are sure all is OK. In that case I'd recommend not dual-booting.

    If it turns out there is some program you really need that only runs on XP you can convert your old XP disk to run as a VM.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    I think the 1st option is getting close to what I'd want (ie occasional and hopefully diminishing XP use).

    Installing everything will be a big job, and I'm assuming there will be new options for me eg defraggers for HDDs, partition managers, firewalls/virus scanners etc may all be ok in Win 8.1, and I may not need external programs. I also use audio/media software and it's likely some of my older hardware/software won't be compatible so I'll need time to get replacements - and in the meantime use XP.

    In summary, I'm thinking
    Unplug XP drive - single HDD partitioned into two - C: and F: (XP).
    Plug in SSD and install win 8.1 (will be new C:?), and it will see my other data hardrives. (2 HDDS, partitioned into 4 - they'll probably different letters initially but I can change them?)
    If I plug my XP drive back in as well, will that then boot instead, or do I have to unplug 8.1 drive to boot XP? What happens if I boot with both drives in?

    • I'm a little confused by the BIOS/boot options. Would I need to keep changing my BIOS, as currently it looks to CD 1st, the IDE drive (XP), then external device. No mention of my SATA drives (AHCI) - they don't even show up in BIOS.

    Could I boot win8.1 in such a way I could access my XP drive, or would I have to plug it in as an external/USB drive etc?

    Thanks for this - this is really helpful, as I really don't want to start installation and then have to try and back out of lots of things!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Posts : 2,690
    Windows 3.1 > Windows 10


    1) currently it looks to CD 1st,
    2) the IDE drive (XP),
    3) the SSD (win 8), you will need to swap in bios to boot before XP 3 before 2 to boot windows 8 ( swap order to boot back to XP) ( two boot disks)
    4) then external device.
    No mention of my SATA drives (AHCI) - they don't even show up in BIOS. Because not bootable disks

    Boot manager is one file on one disk - although that boot manager can have may OS options (Dual Boot)
    Dual Disk is single disks each with there own boot manager..
    Some swap out disks (only one drive bay) or you can change the bios boot order ( multi drive bays) and select which disk to boot first

    I have one disk - with one boot manager file - and can boot into 1 of 4 OS's (one disk, one bios boot option)

    Or you can have one disk with one boot manager on that disk and boot to 4 different OS disk's (one bootable disk, one bios boot option) (three slave OS disks)

    Or you can install 4 disks - and have four boot options in bios.. ( four disks, four bios boot options)
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Ok - so this is my plan...will this work?

    Remove XP drive
    Install SSD and install Win 8.1 on it etc.
    Put XP drive back.
    Boot into BIOS and check boot order and basically ensure it is;
    1. CD
    2. Drive of whichever OS I want to use next
    3. Drive of other Windows version,
    4. external device

    Each time I start up, if I want to go into a different version to last time, I simply change the boot order in BIOS.

    Will both versions of windows then also see the drives with the non-booted version so I can access the content?
    If so, that sounds as near as perfect as I could hope for!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Posts : 2,690
    Windows 3.1 > Windows 10


    Yes and Yes
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Brilliant - happy with all that then.
    Looks like I've got a busy weekend ahead :-)
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

Windows 8.1 on SSD, dual boot existing XP on separate HDD
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