Windows 7 Dual or Multi Boot - What happens if I remove Windows XP Part 1
You have a Dual-Boot Windows XP and Windows 7 computer but after using Windows 7 for a while you decide that XP is no longer needed, so you deleted it by reformatting the partition. Unfortunately after deleting Windows XP you find that your Dual-Boot computer will no longer boot to Windows 7. Why can’t I boot to Windows 7: First a little primer; Vista and Windows 7 no longer use the boot.ini file that XP relied on to boot. Instead Vista and Windows 7 computer use what is called a Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store. The BCD on a typical single boot PC is located in its own special System partition (100MB in size) separate from the actual Windows 7 or Vista partitions.
However, when creating a multi-boot computer with Windows XP as the first operating system that was installed, there is no separate 100MB system partition created for the BCD Store when you install Vista or Windows 7 as the second operating system. The BCD store is instead created and located in the XP partition in a folder named: C:\BOOT\BCD. Once the Windows XP partition has been deleted, Windows 7 is no longer able to load as the BCD store on the XP partition has also been deleted. Restore your PC using an Image Backup: In advance of deleting Windows XP I created 3 sets of Image Backups. The first was created using Windows 7 built in “Backup and Restore” tool in the control panel to ‘Create a system image’. The second was made using a trial copy of Acronis True Image Home 2010 and the third backup was created using Norton Ghost version 15. All three backups failed: Keep in mind that the backup were created on a multi-boot computer with 7 boot partitions (Windows 7 - Dual Boot, Triple Boot, Quad Boot, Penta, Hexa, Hepta (7) Boot and beyond) and the image files would be stored on the same hard drive in a partition separate from the boot partitions. 1) Windows 7 Backup and Restore: Failed miserably. 2) Acronis True Image: Also failed, drive partition letters where all rearranged. 3) Norton Ghost: Failed, invalid backup location error. Was I doing something wrong? I’m not big on reading User’s Guides as I have a strong belief in user friendly and intuitive steps when using any software. Now I know Image Backup and recovery software is not in the realm of main stream software, never the less I wanted to see just how easy or hard it was to recover my computer. The Quick Fix: One easy way to recover the other six versions of Windows 7 installed on my Multi-Boot (Hepta) computer was to simply use the now free space (made available when I deleted the XP partition) to install yet another version of Windows 7. This will create that needed 100MB System partition for the BCD store and after Windows 7 is installed I could at least boot from the now usable first partition on the drive. The other 6 versions of Windows are not yet available in the boot menu as the new BCD store only knows about the fresh install I just performed. To recover the boot information for the other 6 Windows 7 partitions you need to perform a repair install. The repair process will scan your hard drive, detect the other 6 versions of Windows 7 and add them to the Boot Menu. Why didn’t the Image Backup work? To investigate the failure of all three image backups to restore my multi-boot computer I decided to create much simpler “Single Boot” PC with the BCD installed on the first 100MB (System) partition followed by Windows 7 on the second partition and the remaining unallocated/free drive space used to create a third partition for storing the image backups. Note: It is not recommended that you store image backups to the same hard drive that Windows is installed on. Simply put, if your drive fails you have lost your only means of recovering your backup to a new replacement drive. It’s best to use an external hard drive or a least a second internal drive as the destination/location for where the image backup file is stored. However for my tests I decided to use the same drive as Windows since I am only going to delete the System and C: Windows 7 partitions, leaving the partition for storing the image backup files in tack. Creating and testing the Image Backups: In advance of deleting Windows 7 and the System partition I once again created 3 sets of Image Backups. The first was created using Windows 7 built in “Backup and Restore” tool. The second was made using the trial copy of Acronis True Image Home 2010 and the third backup was created using Norton Ghost version 15. It should be noted that single boot computers are by far and away the most common configuration for most XP, Vista and Windows 7 users. So what follows could well apply to anyone who is reading this. Again I deleted the ‘System’ and ‘Windows 7’ partitions. Keep in mind that the backups where created on single boot computer with only Windows 7 installed. So how well did the three software applications recover my computer? 1) Windows 7 Backup and Restore: Failed miserably as was the case earlier. 2) Acronis True Image: Also failed. Same problem I had with the 2009 version which was never solved by Tech. Support. 3) Norton Ghost: Again failed, invalid backup location error. The supposedly easy task of creating an image backup and later using it to recover your computer should the need arise is turning into more than I bargained for. Therefore I’m going to split this article into multiple parts, which will allow me the time I need to research the problem yet keep you informed of my progress or lack thereof. As of this time I believe I found the problem with Windows 7’s backup and restore tool and a workaround if you encounter the same problem. More on this in the next part.
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