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  1. #1
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    Win 7 SSD won't boot unless XP/HDD hooked up

    To summarize, the problem is that my system won't boot to the Win 7 SSD unless the XP/HDD is hooked up. To explain...

    On an XP system, I recently added a Corsair SSD and installed Win 7 on it. The XP drive partition (HDD) is C drive, Win 7 is I drive. Hence, it a dual boot system of sorts (also two other HDDs, SATA & IDE). This is a Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD4P motherboard (AMD).

    Since my goal is to eventually get rid of XP (and maybe make the SSD C drive), I wanted to see how booting directly to the SSD worked, i.e., without XP present. So far I've failed to find a way. I went so far to disconnect all the other HDDs, clear the CMOS and reflash the BIOS (qFlash), but nothing works; start up won't get past "Verifying DMI pool data" without the XP drive connected. To make matters a bit stranger, in the midst of this "Bootable Add-in Cards" showed up as a choice under HDD boot order in the BIOS set up. I have no idea what that refers to or where it came from.

    Any ideas for solving this? It's not an optimal situation being constrained by that XP drive partition. As it stands, I'm not even sure the unpleasant idea of starting again with the SSD and Win 7 will work if start up can't get past verifying DMI pool data - or is it really a Windows problem, startup not seeing what it needs for the next step? Thanks,

    P.S. An added detail: The SSD is plugged into a GSATA2 header, which was needed to update the Corsair firmware, and ACHI is turned on in the BIOS and in Win 7. I've long had the XP HDD in the other GSATA2 header, although an oddity of the situation is that the SSD won't boot in ACHI to Win 7 unless it's in the GSATA2_1 header; i.e., it won't do it in the GSATA2_0 header. Maybe that's a symptom of the problem.

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I would suspect your MBR is on the Xp drive. When the XP drive is disconnected, you don't have a MBR. A Google search shows many sites on how to fix the MBR on Win 7. Once the MBR is fixed, you should be able to boot to Win 7 when the XP drive is disconnected.
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  3. #3
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    Good idea, but System Repair and bootrec.exe and its options didn't solve it. I ended up playing with EasyBCD and that plus a couple runs of System Repair got it so the SSD can boot Win 7 on its own. It shows in Startup as something like "Windows 7 Home Premium (Recovered)." It also works with the other drives connected. But funny thing is when I run System Repair now with the other HDDs connected, no OS shows in the System Recovery Console table and System Repair's details show the error as "The partition table does not have a valid System Partition." Perhaps that's related to the problem discussed in the next paragraph.

    The catch in playing with EasyBCD is that I must have gotten a little carried away, since XP won't boot anymore. In fact, the XP Recovery Console can't find any hard drives! When the Win 7 SSD is first in boot order, the XP drive doesn't show at all at startup (in the OS list; the physical drive does show). When the XP drive is first, it shows in startup as "Windows 7." When chosen, it returns an error page with the message: "The Windows Boot Configuration Data file does not contain a valid OS entry," and then will list a file, either "\Boot\BCD" or "Windows\System32\winload.exe." I assumed this was referring to the XP drive, but can't find any winload.exe file on that drive or its partition copy. I've got a post on EasyBCD forums about this, but wonder if bringing back the partition copy might solve the XP boot problem (EaseUS Partition Master).

    In terms of changing the Win 7 SSD to drive letter C, does that would require a reinstall of Win 7? I notice that System Repair and DOS see it as C, but once booted it shows as I drive. Thanks,
    Last edited by highstream; 2011-09-11 at 04:27.

  4. #4
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    If Win 7 is the only listed OS, try going into Disk Management (type disk management in search box and choose Create and format hard disk partitions) right click the partition in question and choose Change drive letter.

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  5. #5
    3 Star Lounger
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    Ted, I assume you're speaking to the last part of my post about drive letters. I had already tried changing it manually and got an error message about an incorrect parameter.

  6. #6
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I wonder if you could set the drive letter in EasyBCD as shown: Advanced Settings tab

    EasyBCD.jpg
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  7. #7
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    LOL. Good suggestion. I tried that last night and sort of wonder if that was the step which messed up the XP drive. I know changing drive letters can be tricky. I've done it before, but never when I had two systems installed. Even if it worked to make the Win 7 C drive, I'm not clear what would happen to the current (XP) C when I plugged that drive back in.

    Update: Ok, using EasyBCD what I've discovered is that 1) the second of the Windows 7 I've been seeing is really the clone; it presumably doesn't have a BCD, which is why it shows an error; and 2) I used the "Add new entry" to get it to see the XP drive and can now boot to that (ahh...). What clued me in on the second Win 7 explanation is that now if I pick XP at startup, there are two choices, the original and the clone; only the first will boot, since the other presumably doesn't have an MBR. Is there any problem with that clone getting an MBR, which would allow me to free up C?

    I have some decisions first to make about drives and where I want things, but suspect it might be easier to move drive letters around now. You're getting me to look at EasyBCD again got this going.
    Last edited by highstream; 2011-09-11 at 19:08.

  8. #8
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    Windows always boots to first disk, active partition

    The only rule to remember when setting up multi-boot, multi-disk systems is that
    Windows always boots to first disk and the active partition on that disk.

    The numbering/order of disks can be set up in BIOS.

    In a multi-boot system with Windows 7 it is Windows 7 boot manager which should be in control of the multi-boot. So in this case the SSD should set as first disk in BIOS.

    Now running Windows 7 Automatic Recovery would repair/create the Windows 7 boot environment on SSD.
    (it should be run up to three times with rebooting after each until no errors reported).

    After successful Windows 7 recovery the BCD (boot config data) is in \Boot folder on SSD.
    Windows 7 bootmgr is in \(root) folder.

    After booting to Windows 7 only an entry for XP should be added and the dual-boot is ready.

    Visual BCD Editor has the functionality to create automatically Windows 7/Vista/XP loaders for the installed Windows systems on the computer. No selections, drives or whatever parameter to specify.
    The "Dual-boot Repair" tool which comes with the Visual BCD package can automatically fix a multi-boot system with Windows 7/Vista/XP.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the Visual BCD Editor link. It looks interesting. I picked up much of what you discuss along the way to fixing things.

    There is one more outstanding problem of sorts at the moment: How can both the Win 7 and XP drives show as the same drive letter - I? After playing with changing drive letters in EasyBCD and not getting the result I wanted, I reverted back to the way it was before. But that left the Win 7 SSD and the XP HDD drive partition both showing as I drive within EasyBCD (and now in Visual BCD Ed). When I switched that to C, XP wouldn't start. So I deleted the XP entry in EasyBCD and let the app find and add it, but it still came up with I. The other odd thing is that in startup (Win choice screen) and in file managers the XP drive still registers as C. It's not affecting anything that I can tell, but it sure is puzzling. Any ideas?

    One other question: I've got a copy of the XP partition on another HDD, and it shows up as a choice if I choose XP at startup. However, it doesn't boot, but returns an error message. Would that be because there's no MBR on it? I'm wondering if it can be made bootable. Presumably, that would let me then delete the XP C: partition, merge that chunk into another partition on that HDD, and re-designate the Win 7 SSD drive letter as C.

    Thanks,
    Last edited by highstream; 2011-09-12 at 00:21.

  10. #10
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    The drive letters attached to drives/partitions are symbolic links. It is not possible that a link ("I:") points to two different locations (drive or partition or volume).

    Usually every Windows version(XP, Vista, 7) when booted regards itself as being on drive c: and has its own mapping of drives/partitions.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volume_(computing) for more details on volumes, drives, partitions.

  11. #11
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    My post makes clear that they do *in EasyBCD.* Don't ask how that came about, but it's because the app sees the XP boot file in Win 7, as I understand it should.

  12. #12
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    I've had the same thing occur in EasyBCD, which just proves that the letters truly are mostly symbolic representations...the only reliable method for sorting and keeping track of them is to go by partition/drive size. For instance, I know on one given system, XP is installed on the 97 gig partition and W7 is installed on the 147 gig partition...impossible to confuse.
    If all the partitions are exactly the same size....ummm, that's not going to work either.

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