How can I select which operating system to boot on a dual boot system with Windows XP and Windows 7 installed on separate drives?
Question by Swarup Sil /

I have installed two hard drives in my system and also installed two operating systems on each drive. HD 1 = Windows XP and HD 2 = Windows 7. How do I run / boot Windows XP or Windows 7 whenever I need ?

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Answers (6)

    Hello, first thing to do as already explained is to change your booting order.  You can do this by going into BIOS and select the drive you want to start first, or you could use the F10/F11 key to select the drive you want to boot as needed.  If you change the boot up in BIOS, it is somehow permanent…that is until you change it again. 

    My advice would be to set up the drive where windows 7 is installed to start in BIOS.  Once you boot up to windows 7, you can use the bcdedit command to create a boot loader and set the default operating system to start.  Here is a link explaining how to use the bcdedit command:

    Once that is done, follow the next steps to set up the default operating system in both operating systems.  Boot up into windows 7 and follow the instructions, which apply to both: xp and 7:

    — click on start + Pause/Break (the same time)
    — on box that pops up, select the advanced tab
    — Under the startup and recovery tab, select settings
    — On Default operating system under system startup tab, click on the arrow to select the default operating system you want.  It is up to you to choose the default operating system of your choice.

    — Make sure to check mark the option time to show the list of operating system.  Make sure to pick a number of seconds that gives you enough time to select and operating system.  By default, the time is 30 seconds. 

    — click on ok
    — boot up into xp and do the same.  Make sure to set up the same operating system as default on both.

    — Now when you next startup your computer, you will see a black screen showing you both operating systems.  This screen will show for the amount of seconds you set up on the previous instructions.  If for some reason, you do not choose and operating system and time runs out, it will boot up to whatever operating system is setup as default.  Hope it helps,

    • Sonny Bass

      Thanks for the link and finishing out that answer. I am used to a drive with Windows 7 and another drive with multiple Linux distros. I set the Linux drive to boot since it has a nice boot loader with Windows listed. This method saves Windows boot loader unchanged on its drive, if you make sure to install all the Linux boot loaders to the correct drive.


      no problem

  • Sonny Bass

    If it is one per drive it is simply a matter of choosing which drive to boot at start up. When the computer is started repeatedly tap whichever button provides boot options,(F12 on Gigabyte boards) a list of boot options should come up. Choose the drive you would like to boot. Some boards at the first boot options screen you will have to choose an option such as +Hard drive(on Gigabyte board) to get a list of internal drives.

  • Mike

    My first guess would be to use the method explained in the following HowToGeek Article – just jump to the section “Create Boot Loader”.

  • Sonny Bass

    Did you install two systems on each drive, or two total one per drive?

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