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Multi OS on different Drives ?

Hello Gurus,
I have a notebook toshiba that has 2 HDD 100gb each.C and D
I also have a seagate external HDD USB drive of 160GB - it has a drive letter of Z:
What I would like to do is have windows xp installed on C / Windows Vista Installed on D and Windows 2003 Server installed on Z.
I would like on startup to be able to choose which os to boot from.
(I am a developper so I need these for testing purposes.)
I have read about acronis disk director 10.0 but I am not sure if it does the job.
Can someone pls help me out...
I how-to guide will be greatly appreciated.
thanks a lot
Avatar of SpYd3r05

Basically if your computer is set to boot from the "d" hard drive first you can install vista first on there, then xp on the "c" then 2k3 on "z", in that order, when you start on the xp, you will have to change the bios to boot  that drive first, and same with 2k3, when you get done installing them seperatly you have to go to the vista boot properties and add lines for the other two os's
I am not so sure if this could work...
But assuming ur XP is ur "default" booting system,

Right click my computer > properties
Advance > Startup and recovery > Settings
You should be able to see the OS listed and you can edit the "MENU" that u see when u boot up...

U might need to do this on the VISTA OS though....
Just a thought... dont know if it could work
Darenceang: There is a known issue between vista and xp, that Vista must Boot, but, on the same token C and D are relative to the boot os ususally...
Avatar of Gary Case
No need for three separate drives => you can set up the system so as many OS's as you need can all boot from independent partitions on your primary drive;  they will be totally isolated from each other;  and all will be on "C:" so everything will work as it normally would if the system was on its own drive.    I have one system with 14 different OS's; the one I'm using right now has 7;  my "spare" has 6; etc.    These can be whatever OS's you need --> XP, Vista, etc.    The system I'm using right now has XP Home, XP Pro, XP MCE, XP Tablet Edition, Vista Ultimate, Vista Ultimate x64, and Ubuntu.  Adding Server 2003, etc. would be trivial.

The way to achieve this is with Boot-It NG ... an excellent boot manager, partition manager, and imaging tool.   You can try this with the free demo version ... and to license it is only $35.   The download is at    The free version is fully functional except for "Image Sets" and "Boot Now!" support ... two very nice features but you don't need them to give it a try.   Once it's set up, however, you'll definitely want these features -- they will allow you to set up icons to easily boot between the various OS's and also to make a current image of the OS with a simple double-click.

What you'll want to do is structure the primary drive with several partitions large enough to install the various OS's.   In most cases 20GB is plenty ... but how large they should be depends on what you'll be loading in each OS.   The only restriction on how many OS's you'll be able to load on the same drive is the size of the drive and the size of the partitions you need.   You can also set each boot item to only "see" whatever partitions you want ==> so the OS's can be totally isolated from each other; but can all "see" a common data partition, etc. as you choose.

Once it's set up, you simply choose what you want to boot to when you start the PC [It can also be set to automatically boot to a default OS if you don't make a selection within a specified number of seconds].   Here's an example from one of my spare PC's:

Avatar of ammounpierre


once I am in a OS , can I see the other partitions ? (access their files ?)
You control that.   For example, I prefer to keep the different OS's completely isolated, but do want to have some commonly accessible data ... so I structure my disk something like this:

Partition 1 =>  XP Pro
Partition 2 =>  XP MCE
Partition 3 =>  Vista Ultimate
Partition 4 =>  Vista Ultimate x64
Partition 5 =>  XP Home
Partition 6 =>  Vista Home Premium
Partition 7 =>  Common Data

When I boot XP Pro, it only "sees" Partitions 1 & 7 [as drives C: and D:]
When I boot Vista Ultimate it "sees" Partitions 3 & 7 [as drives C: and D:]

So no matter which system I boot to, the OS is on C: and the data is on D:    The D: partition is the same data for all OS's.

But you can set each boot item to see any 4 partitions on the disk ... so, for example, if I wanted Vista Ultimate to also "see" the XP Pro data and the XP MCE partition, I could configure it to "see" Partitions 3, 1, 2, and 7, with the OS on C:, data on D:, and the other two partitions whatever drive letter I wanted to assign to them.

In general, I'd think you would want the other OS's to be totally isolated so there was no possibility of conflicts arising from duplicate files, etc.

so to sum things up here is what i have to do :
format my hard drive and partition it using fdisk into 4 partitions.
and I install windows xp in partition 1, then I use the bootit program to install the other OS ??
Not exactly.

First, install Boot-It on your primary drive.   Then resize the current OS partition on that drive to as small as reasonable [20-25GB is normally plenty large].   You'll then have lots of free space to create additional partitions.   If you want to simply start over you can (using Boot-It) just delete all of the current partitions (except the very small Boot-It partition) and then create the partitions to install the OS's in directly from Boot-It (on the Partition Work screen).

The first thing I'd suggest you do is install Boot-It; then post EXACTLY what the current Partition structure looks like (from the Partition Work screen) and what you currently have installed on that disk ---> then I can give you very specific advice on how to proceed.
I installed Boot-it and created the bootable Cd and I booted from it.
It is showing only 1 partition with 182784 Kb.
I selected resize and it went into a long... checking disk for error and then it gave me "runtime overlay error press enter to reboot.."
what now ?
My current OS is Windows XP MCE
If Boot-It finds errors it won't proceed with a resize --> but I've not seen it fail with that error.

Boot to Boot-It again; go to Partition Work; and post EXACTLY what it shows on the left side (drives) and in the center (Partitions).   For example, here's an example that shows HD 0, HD 1, HD 2, and CDz on the left; and 6 partitions or free space in the center (describe exactly what yours shows):

I had a major pb...
when I plugged in my USB Drive (Seagate freeagent Go 150Gb) it asks to format it...invalid partition table.,..
how to fix that ? there is tons of data on that uSB...
It is by mistake I left the USb plugged in while I was testing these things...
It sounds like you may have started a restructuring on the WRONG drive [that's why I wanted to see the details of your Partition Work screen] ... and if you aborted it while it was in progress; or had a USB drive connected without enabling USB support in Boot-It and tried to work on the drive, then you may very well have corrupted the external drive.

I would download the demo for Active Partition Recovery [ ] and see if it shows a recoverable partitoin structure on the Seagate.   ... if so (there's a good chance it will) then you simply need to buy a license and it will recovery your partition structure.
Any updates here?   I'd separate the actions of getting the notebook OS's structured for your multiboot OS's [I'd put them all on the same drive but in isolated partitions];  and recovering the data on your external drive (which you apparently corrupted).

With the external drive NOT connected, boot to Boot-It and post the current Partition Work screen so I can see the partition structure of your system => show the results for both of the drives [HD-0 and HD-1 in Boot-It].
I recovered my Disk,
Now I am back to step 1...
Garycase, if what I need is too risky (meaning crashes might happen...) I do not want it !!!
It took me over 4 days and nights to recover my data !!!

Here is my summary...
My laptop has 2 hdd each 100GB.
what I need is to be able to load windows xp,vista,2003 server and Ubuntu.
is that feasible ?
Avatar of Gary Case
Gary Case
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Thanks Garycase. After few works like a charm !
You're most welcome => glad you got it working.   As you now know, Boot-It gives you a LOT of flexibility.   The only real limit in how many OS's you can boot to is how big your hard drive is :-)