How can I boot Windows XP and Windows 7 from separate hard drives on same CPU?
Question by Roland /

I have a Dell Dimension with Windows XP Pro. I bought another hard drive and installed Windows 7, so now have two hard drives connected. The XP hard drive is connected to SATA 0 and the Windows HD is connected to SATA 1. They are both active as I’ve checked the setup.

When I boot, it goes directly to XP Pro. In XP in My Computer, I can see the hard drive with Windows 7. I’m trying to figure out how I can get my computer to give me the option of which hard drive/operating system to boot from. Is this possible?

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Answers (12)
  • jshm2

    To be honest dual booting is largely a waste of time. With the systems we have today you can get much better performance by using a Virtual machine and use an OS within an OS.

    Windows 7 is horrible to use but there are times when you would want to test something on it and instead of installing it you can just load XP64 and have the other hard drive have a dynamically expanding Windows 7

  • pceasies

    Go into the BIOS and set your boot drive as the one with Windows 7 since the Windows 7 loader can load XP, but the XP loader can’t load 7. Once you have Windows 7 hard drive set to boot, you should be able to get into it with no problem. Once your in Windows 7 you can use the already suggested EasyBCD to edit the menu and add XP to the list of options. If you can’t get into 7 even when you have your computer set to boot off that drive you need to use the recovery CD and diagnose boot problems options so it will get it fixed up for you.

  • JP

    The following link gives options for Dual Boot depending on which OS is the Primary.

    It is extremely detailed and has graphics for reference also.

  • Srinivas G

    I’ve come across the link Steve mentioned, earlier and the last step (screenshot) mentions the use of EasyBCD to tweak the bootloader to your liking. I’d suggest you connect the Windows 7 HD to SATA 0 (If it isn’t a problem) and install EasyBCD in it and tweak its settings to add an entry for xp. I guess the steps are mentioned in the link provided above. :)

    • Roland

      I appreciate all the comments. I am a relative newbie at this sort of thing and have never heard of EasyBCD. Firevas, you’re saying I should set Windows 7 at Sata 0 and XP at Sata 1 right? I’m assuming after doing this it’ll boot off of Windows 7. After that, do I then download the EasyBCD?

    • Roland

      firevas, thanks for the comments. so i should hook up the windows 7 hard drive to sata 0 and boot off of that? Then download the easyBCD to the w7 harddrive? That will allow me to choose which hard drive to boot from at startup? I’m a little new at the internals of this so sorry if you’re having to repeat.

    • Srinivas G

      Hey, no probs and yup, boot into windows 7 and Install EasyBCD. The process of adding an entry to the bootloader is mentioned in the link provided by Steve, above (The Last Step). Then, if you don’t mind keeping the windows 7 HD at SATA 0, you’ll have an option of booting into xp or 7 at startup. And I guess you can also do this from xp, but not so sure. Hence, I advised you to put the windows 7 HD first.

  • Steve Campbell

    Check out this guide:

    It walks you through using GPartEd. I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to install the OS on a partition that is on a different hard drive, so long as the hard drive is recognized at boot.

  • Srinivas G

    Oh Yes! EasyBCD should help you :

  • Srinivas G

    I think you can do that by Installing GRUB from an Ubuntu (or any other Linux distro) Live CD. Assuming that you use a Ubuntu Live CD, start the Live session, fire up the terminal and type “sudo grub-install” (without quotes) and press enter. If it doesn’t find Windows 7 on it’s own, you can add an entry to the grub file. All this is complicated for sure; and I’ll try to find an easier way for you. :)

    • Srinivas G

      “EasyBCD” should help you. Try googling for it as my post with the link is awaiting Moderator’s approval. :)

  • todd

    There are two easy methods of doing this – using the GPartEd Live CD and the DISKPART utility on the Vista DVD. On some systems, depending on the primary storage controller, We’ll then install Vista and use the EasyBCD utility to modify Vista’s bootloader to get XP loading properly.

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