Boot.ini on wrong partition following re-install

Posted on 2007-10-19
Last Modified: 2008-10-03
Morning all,

I've recently reformatted and reinstalled my Windows XP system.

Prior to the reinstall my primary IDE drive had 2 partitions on it, a C partition and an F partition. The F partition was just a data storage section, the C partition was the system boot partition.

During the Windows XP installation in has the setup program delete the existing C partition, and create a new partition in the now unallocated space. It titled that C: and proceed to install Windows. Everything worked fine, and I have a booting, fully functional system.

The problem is that it has placed the boot.ini, and ntldr files into the F partition.

Computer Management shows the C partition is a Boot partition, and the F partition is a System partition.

Is there anyway I can get these boot files back on the C drive, so I have a completely self-contained operating system? If I just move the files I know the system will not boot.

Question by:Robmonster
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    You could delete the file - reboot - and boot into Recovery Console - then run the following commands (in order)

    fixmbr (don;t do this if you have linux installed/dual booted)
    bootcfg /rebuild

    Please bear in mind that this is not a guaranteed method of fixing the issue - take a backup of important data just in case.
    LVL 69

    Expert Comment

    I would just run setup again this time be more careful when you get to which windows.
    Delete all the partitons. re-create them
     there is the computer manager in control panel administrative tool computer manager
    here you will see all your drives and partitions.
     different methods to install xp    
    LVL 6

    Author Comment

    @ Mertr,

    What do you mean by 'be more careful when you get to which windows' ? I didn't get any option of which partition would receive the boot.ini and associated files during the installation. It just chose to put them on the alternate partition for some reason. Thanks for the reference to Computer Management, but you'll see form my question that I have already looked there. It shows the F partition to be the system partition, and the C partition to be the boot partition.

    As I mentioned I deleted the xisting C partition, recreated a new C partition and then installed XP into it.

    LVL 6

    Author Comment


    Thanks for the advice.

    this rather long winded link has someone with the similar problem:-

    They suggest that the ntldr and boot.ini files should live in the Active partition, which suggests that my F partition is not the currently Active one.

    How can I easily check this? If I copy the files onto my C drive and somehow make that partition Active do you think I'll be able to boot normally?


    LVL 6

    Author Comment


    Ok, digging further it seems that my F drive is the only Primary partition on this drive, the C drive is a logical partition.

    So, am I right in thinking that I can do the following:-

    1) Copy the boot.ini, and ntldr files from F:\ to C:\

    2) Use a partitioning tool such as Acronis Partition Expert to convert the C drive to a Primary partition and set it Active, and convert the F drive to a Logical partition.

    3) Reboot

    4) Delete boot.ini and so on from F drive.

    5) Reboot

    6) Win

    What do you think?

    LVL 32

    Accepted Solution

    That is certainly a possible alternative method.

    You would need to edit the boot.ini first - to correspond to the partition changes (if applicable)

    Even if you copy those files - you may get "....dll missing or corrupt" or some such message.

    You may need to carry out a repair install to get things working properly.
    LVL 6

    Author Comment

    From my reading I'm not sure of the fixmbr and so on will work since the only Primary partition is the F drive. I think the fixmbr will still write to this partition.

    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    Forced accept.

    EE Admin

    Expert Comment

    I had the same problem and tried a lot of different solutions.  The Recovery Console method did nothing for m, and the rest of the comments were difficult to make clear.  So here's what I did to fix the problem in 2 simple steps:

    1)  Copy the boot files from their current location to the drive you would like the boot files to be on.  For me, I enabled hidden files and folders and system files and folders to make the files all visible, then copied boot.ini, NTDETECT.COM, and ntldr to my C: drive.
    2)  Open Computer Management and select Disk Management on the left (to open Computer Management, open a run window and type compmgmt.msc).  Right click the drive you would like the boot files to be on and click "Mark Partition as Active".  It will give you a warning, just press OK on it.

    Those two steps fixed the problem completely for me.  I formatted my D: drive (formerly held the boot files) then tested everything and had no problems.  I have a Dell XPS laptop and was worried about the MediaDirect button breaking something, but I retain full functionality of the entire system and now I am able to format my D: drive without killing Windows.

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