Dual-booting XP deletes Vista restore points

By Scott Dunn

My Feb. 14 article explained how to set up a Vista machine to dual-boot between that OS and Windows XP.

But booting to XP on a dual-boot system has the negative side-effect of deleting any Vista restore points, in addition to all but its latest backup file, and a Registry workaround is required to prevent this.

XP dual-boot is not system-restore friendly

Ian Brown was the first to describe an unfortunate fact of dual-booting XP and Vista:
  • “Dual-booting XP/Vista is wonderful; that is my current setup. But in a dual-boot scenario, XP deletes all system restore points on the Vista partition! This is well documented on the Web, and it appears a simple Registry hack on the XP side can fix this.”
Unfortunately, the problems Ian describes are not limited to system restore points. If you boot into Windows XP after using Vista’s so-called Complete PC Backup feature, XP deletes all but the most recent backup file.

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According to an unofficial site known as VistaX64, the problem is caused by new disk structures Vista uses that XP does recognize.

Although there is no perfect solution, Microsoft recommends two different workarounds. Both of the techniques involve preventing XP from accessing the Vista partition. This means you won’t be able to use your Vista hard drive when you’ve booted into XP. However, when you boot into Vista, you will be able to access all your drives, including the partition holding Windows XP.

For details on the two workarounds, see Knowledge Base article 926185.

Free and easy boot-loader management

Commenting on dual-booting Vista and XP, Allan Wright had this to say:
  • “I think it would be worth mentioning a free product called EasyBCD, which enables you to easily manipulate the Vista boot loader without recourse to the command line. It facilitates multiple booting of many operating systems, allows installation in any order, and comes with easy-to-follow steps to get most configurations up and running as painlessly as possible. Thanks for the article and keep up the great work.”
Although I have not thoroughly tested EasyBCD, it definitely provides a more user-friendly way to perform the steps described in step 13 of last week’s story and the steps for customizing your boot menu. Best of all, it costs you nothing to use it. Thanks, Allan!

Several miscellaneous dual-boot questions arise

When setting up a dual-boot system, Ron Acher has a question about licensing:
  • “I have a valid Vista license, and my XP discs were for another computer that is still running XP. If I do your XP dual-install on the new computer and then run both computers in XP, what happens? Effectively, do I have to buy up additional XP licenses before June 30, 2008 [when Microsoft stops selling XP]?”
Windows XP’s end user license agreement (EULA) states that you can only run that product on one processor at a time. “You may move the Product to a different Workstation Computer,” it notes, but “after the transfer, you must completely remove the Product from the former Workstation Computer.”

In other words, it’s a license violation to leave XP running on your old machine. You should note, however, that if you install XP on a new machine and activation fails, you can phone Microsoft, explain the situation, and the operator will usually provide you with a new activation key.

Reader Jim Engh speaks for many when he writes:
  • “The article describes a need for the Vista DVD. If Vista was factory-installed and no DVD was provided, what is the alternative?”
Sadly, this situation is faced by many who purchase a new computer with Windows preinstalled.

Having no Vista DVD leaves you without the important repair and recover options the disc includes. Fortunately, Windows Secrets columnist Susan Bradley tells you how to create your own Vista recovery disk in her column in the paid version of today’s content. To get the paid content, please see how to upgrade.

Michael Gasca was one of many to ask about a situation that’s the reverse of the one the article addressed:

  • “What if you have XP and want to add Vista and still dual-boot?”
Fortunately, going the other direction — installing Vista on a machine that already has XP &#8212 is much simpler than the process described in Feb. 14 article.

First, make sure you have a separate drive or partition that’s big enough to hold Windows Vista (roughly 10GB). Next, run the Vista installer, taking care to install Vista on its own drive or partition. The Vista installer will do all the work of setting up the dual-boot menu for you.

Readers Brown, Wright, Acher, Engh, and Gasca will each receive a gift certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of their choice for sending comments we printed. Send us your tips via the Windows Secrets contact page.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-02-21: