Problem with reinstalling Windows 8

I am attempting to reinstall Windows 8 Pro (from DVD) after disk changes that have removed the previous 100Mb system partition.  This is on one of two disks in a dual-boot setup where my primary disk is my Windows 7 drive.

The target disk is a 2Tb disk partitioned into 500Gb (for Windows 8 once reinstalled) and just short of 1500 Gb (for Windows 7 data).

It's not a Logical disk.

All my attempts to reinstall are greeted with this error message:

"Setup was unable to use the existing partition because the system volume does not contain the required free space"

What should I do?

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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
from windows 7 if you go into diskmgmt.msc is your disk information like so:
drive 0  
is your drive layout like this?
phl6halAuthor Commented:
Here's how it looks at the moment (explanation follows):
phl6halAuthor Commented:
..this was after I tried creating as small a first partition as I could and restoring the system partition from a backup of the earlier Win8.1 installation.  Still the Win8 installation refused to proceed.

Most of the time I have been seeing a disk arrangement like the one in your image.

(I was surprised to see that my D: drive was now 'Logical' but I think that has arisen because, somehow, I got too many partitions.  D: is in use as my main data drive for Windows 7.  If necessary can be backup up and restored (yet again) if I need to change it back to Primary from Logical.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
you don't need z: give H: a meaningful name and install to it. you can have 4 primary partitions or 3 primary partitions and unlimited logical partitions (the main logical partition uses one of the primary partition).
Because you are using mbr disks you MUST use the mbr dvd boot and not the efi boot.

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yep - MS limits to 4 partitions
but if you want no hassle, use bootit-BM - it handles up to 128 partitions - and sets them up independent from each other :       

it is a very stable program, and has many partitioning tools and options -but alas , not free
phl6halAuthor Commented:
> give H: a meaningful name and install to it (from David Johnson).

Sorry I have tried that many times!  Every time I got that error message.  I even tried removing my usual C: drive (Windows 7) so that the intended Windows 8 disk was the only one in the computer, and also had only one partition; I still got an error message (slightly different as I was installing using the default mode, not Custom to choose the Win8 drive).

Until this experience I had assumed that the Windows installation process would reinstate the hidden partition.  I seem to have been wrong about that.
phl6halAuthor Commented:
> if you want no hassle, use bootit-BM (from nobus)

Thanks for the tip.  On this particular drive I really need only three partitions, where the hidden partition counts as one (plus one for the bootable Windows 8, and one for my Windows 7 data).  I got more than four quite by accident, and at present the (logical) d: is doing its job for my Windows 7 so I am leaving it alone with its unexpected companions until I sort the Windows 8 reinstall process.
It looks like the system is currently booting from the 2nd disk and not the one with Windows 7, as "Z:" is set to active. Probably if you remove the large disk and you try booting Windows 7, it won't boot, correct?

If that is the case, boot the PC using Paragon's free rescue kit with only the Windows 7 disk attached, and then use the kit to repair your Windows 7 so it boots again Properly:

After that Windows 7 should boot normally even with the 2nd disk removed. Now attach the 2nd disk again and delete the first 2 partitions on it. When done, boot using the Windows 8.x installation media and try the installation again. Select the unpartitioned space on your large disk and Windows 8.1 should partition and format it as needed.
phl6halAuthor Commented:
Windows 7 is booting normally from the 1st disk.  I am trying to reinstate the dual-booted Windows 8.x (starting from my original Windows 8 DVD).  

The partition to which I gave letter 'Z' is a recent addition - I wondered if the installer was looking for two partitions, one to be the new hidden partition, the other to be the bootable partition holding Windows 8. Using Disk Manager I could not get it smaller - the old hidden partition was only 100Mb.

However: among the various things I have tried I'm not sure I have attempted to install Windows 8 to unpartitioned & unlettered free space on the second drive.  Worth a try!
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
you have two options
use the windows boot manager from the windows 7 drive
keep changing your bios boot settings to boot from windows 7 to windows 8

you have to chose Custom since it is not an upgrade and you did not boot from the operating system.

My suggestion is keep the first drive as the one in the boot order and use the windows boot manager you can then install windows 8 onto ANY drive/partition you decide on. Why not use the unpartitioned space on the first drive? and use the 2nd drive strictly for data?
does it still boot with the  2nd drive disconnected ?
phl6halAuthor Commented:
> use the windows boot manager you can then install windows 8 onto ANY drive/partition you decide on.

I think that's where I was before and hoped to get back to.  But: does using the Windows boot manager affect how I reinstall Windows 8?

> Why not use the unpartitioned space on the first drive? and use the 2nd drive strictly for data?

Thanks...that's a new thought because I have only just upgraded my SSD from 64Gb to 250Gb.  It was not a viable option before.  

I have maintained the Windows 8 option mainly for supporting members of our computer club who may have Windows 8, and once I have this sorted out I expect to move the Win8.x up to Win10, again for that reason, not because I am anxious to move on from Windows 7 just yet.

[Note: I am in Australia so I'll sign off now but hope to give some time to more testing tomorrow.]
does it still boot with the  2nd drive disconnected ?
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
phl6halAuthor Commented:
Footnote to:

> Why not use the unpartitioned space on the first drive? and use the 2nd drive strictly for data?

I think that's reserved space allocated by the Samsung SSD's management program ('Magician').

However I'm now thinking of placing the reinstalled Win8 on my older SSD.

I also think I have an explanation for repeated failure to reinstall Windows 8 from my DVD.  

This was never possible onto a 'clean' disk.  This Win8 was the low-cost upgrade.  (I have only just realised the relevance of that.)  Accordingly I think that (like the current Windows 10 offer) it looks for an installed...older OS.

I have tested (again) restoring my old Win8.1 from backup.  It was a failure to do that, that led me to try a fresh install.  (It's an Acronis backup.)  That has failed repeatedly, and I suspect the reason to be that I was running Acronis from my Windows 7, backing up the Windows 8 drive when it was not the current c: drive.  The backups do not include the 100Mb System Reserved partition.
If you are using an upgrade, then you should run the setup.exe file of your upgrade media from within Windows 7, and allow it to upgrade Windows 7. Of course you'll need a valid key for the upgrade which hasn't been activated on another PC.
phl6halAuthor Commented:
> you should run the setup.exe file of your upgrade media from within Windows 7, and allow it to upgrade Windows 7

Not so easy!  I have no intention of upgrading my Windows 7.  The (lost) Windows 8.x installation was originally upgraded from Windows XP SP3.  (I mentioned it is - was - a dual-boot setup.)
it looks like i'm tlking to a wall - goodbye !
phl6halAuthor Commented:
> it looks like i'm tlking to a wall - goodbye !

With respect, I don't think walls correct (understandable) misconceptions.  You took it that I was upgrading Windows 7.  That is not the case.  As I wrote, the 'upgrade' that produced the problematic installation of Windows 8 was not from Windows 7.
why did you not answer my question i asked 2x  ?
>>  does it still boot with the  2nd drive disconnected ? <<
phl6halAuthor Commented:
> why did you not answer my question i asked 2x  ?

Because I did not have an answer - had not had the time to try it.  (I did not notice that you asked twice.)

In the end I have resolved my problem in this way:  I connected my older SSD and disconnected all other drives (only the latter required opening the case - the former was possible using an external SATA tray).  I found that my Win8 32-bit upgrade would install fully, all the way up to requiring Activation.  None of my previous attempts had got as far as that.  However I cannot say what made the difference this time.

I then contacted Microsoft and with Live Chat over a full two hours (with remote control and escalation to a supervisor) they finally managed to Activate the new installation for me.

The Microsoft support person did not ask for any evidence that I had had the right to upgrade a previous Windows installation, just took my word.

I have verified that I can boot into Windows 7 and Windows 8 using the BIOS priority setting for the boot drive. Shortly I'll attempt to reinstate dual booting.  My main interest in this Win8 is as the basis for a demonstrator installation of Windows 10.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
all you need to do is from ONE of the operating systems is from an elevated command prompt enter the following
bcdboot x:\windows  where X: is the current drive letter of the other operating system
phl6halAuthor Commented:
Note: I see that the System Reserved partition of Windows 8 is 350Mb in size, whereas Windows 7's takes up 100Mb.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
100 MB was found to be too small so they increased the size of it.  Most people can get away with the 100MB
phl6halAuthor Commented:
Afterthought re:

>>  does it still boot with the  2nd drive disconnected ? << 

I never disconnected the second internal drive where Windows 8 had lived (until I disconnected both the drives mounted internally).

However the system was booted many times when there was no other OS on the 2nd drive.  Booting from the main SSD was robust throughout.
with all respect - that is not what i ask
if the boot partition is on the 2nd drive - it may even look empty - but the system won't boot  when it is disconnected
phl6halAuthor Commented:
The boot partition (as used also for dual boot) was always on the first drive, where Windows 7 resides.

The old Windows 8 partition was 'to the right' (as viewed in Disk Manager) of another data partition on the 2nd drive.  

Back then I wanted to move it to the start of the 2nd drive so that I could (if necessary) use the BIOS setting to access Windows 8.  That's when things started to go wrong...
why not just disconnect it and test? takes 1 minute
i prefer trying things, not discussing it for  some time..
phl6halAuthor Commented:
More like ten minutes for me!  Case is in awkward place and closed now.  Shut down, power down, move and open case, disconnect drive...restart...shut down, power down, reconnect, close case.

Also the computer in question is my workplace and I am very busy just now.

But if you need to know for reasons going beyond this particular problem (which is solved) please say so and I'll try to fit it in.
i did not realise it is solved
what was the solution?
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
asker hasn't mentioned that the problem was  solved.. just that the pc is in an awkward location and opening closing the pc case is a problem he'd rather not do at this time
phl6halAuthor Commented:
> what was the solution?

Sorry if I did not make it clear.  

After numerous false starts when I was not allowed to proceed with a fresh installation of Windows 8, I was finally  allowed to go right through with the process all the way to having the OS running, however still requiring Activation.  I got Activation with assistance from Microsoft (a long live chat session).

The setup which allowed me to proceed with the installation was with only one disk connected to my PC - this time my older SSD, with a blank single partition.  I had previously tried installing to a blank single-partition HDD so I do not know what made the difference this time.  It is true that this was the first time I had tried with only one disk attached at all.

The advice to install to a blank (unallocated) partition was helpful, but that does not seem to have been the only factor.

One thing I did learn was that the 'upgrade' version of Windows 8 was installable to a blank disk - I had not expected that.  I hit the buffers and turned to MS only when I found that I was unable to Activate the OS after installation.

As it happens the version I managed to install was the 32-bit version whereas previously I had been trying with the 64-bit version.  I can't imagine that made a difference.  (I have postponed moving to 64-bit until I go to Windows 10, as the process is now better-documented than the one I previously used to upgrade my Windows 8 from 32- to 64-bit; the problem being that these upgrades like to take their bit setting from the OS they are upgrading.)

I was relieved to find that my dual-boot setup was restored for me after I booted from a Windows DVD and went to Repair.  I had expected to have to do this manually using information from diskpart etc.
phl6halAuthor Commented:
> asker hasn't mentioned that the problem was  solved

Sorry again - I hid this in an earlier post!

> In the end I have resolved my problem in this way

(I had not signed off completely because I wanted anyone interested to have the chance to ask more questions.  As mentioned above, I'm puzzled why earlier attempts failed.  A good thing I take away is that MS are not too picky about helping with Activation for an upgrade Windows version - I was not quizzed about the pre-Win8 XP which was the basis OS for this upgrade.)
As long as it is the same PC that the upgrade was originally activated on, reactivating it again by calling m$ should not be a problem Whether it was an upgrade or not doesn't matter then. They should be able to see at their activation center whether the PC matches or not.

The upgrade to Windows 10 (as with any other upgrade for that matter), will only work for the 32 bit version. So if you want to upgrade to Windows 10 64 bit, you will have to upgrade from a 64 bit version of Windows 8.x or 7.
phl6halAuthor Commented:
> The upgrade to Windows 10 (as with any other upgrade for that matter), will only work for the 32 bit version. So if you want to upgrade to Windows 10 64 bit, you will have to upgrade from a 64 bit version of Windows 8.x or 7.

Right..and I may even end up doing that.  I managed, on advice, to upgrade my older Windows 8 from 32- to 64-bit (actually, replace it).  I don't have notes on the work-around I used but it may possibly be here:
What might work, although I haven't tried it yet, is to first just do the normal upgrade to Windows 10 32bit.

Then when you have checked everything went fine and Windows 10 is activated, do a clean Windows 10 installation after that, using the corresponding 64 bit iso, on the same PC. As far as I know, the license of Windows 10 32 bit and 64 bit are the same, so chances are that the 64 bit version will get activated automatically after that. Just make sure that you are installing the correct Windows 10 version (home if the original update was also home, and pro if the original upgrade was pro).
phl6halAuthor Commented:
All comments very gratefully received.  Many contributed to the eventual solution.
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