Can Vista and XP be dual booted from separate disks?
March 18, 2007 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to dual boot Windows Vista and Windows XP Pro if each are installed on separate hard drives?

I just bought a Toshiba Satellite A135-S4487 laptop that came loaded with two separate hard drives, one holding 120 GB and the other holding 100 GB. It also came loaded with Vista Home Premium which I don't really want, but, having paid for it, don't really want to throw away either.

I've understood in the past that XP, and I presume Vista, get pretty proprietary about the drives they are installed on, and may not permit the use of conventional boot loaders to control which system the machine boots into, but since I have two physical drives, I thought there might be a way around it.

The BIOS setup screen allows the boot order to be set explicitly, so I'm thinking that I might be able to install XP Pro on the second hard drive and then switch between systems by setting one or the other hard drive to be first in the boot order depending upon what I need to do.
posted by hwestiii to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Switching the boot order in the BIOS should work fine, I think you can also re-install Vista with XP installed already and it will take care of the boot loader (even on separate HDs)

There is a thread on AnandTech about this very thing.
posted by mattdini at 1:21 PM on March 18, 2007

XP and Vista will dual boot nicely.

You may have some difficulty in that Vista is already installed, but the recovery tools should fix it with little trouble if you run into difficulty.

Switching in the bios is probably unneccesary, in fact, Windows setup will set up the boot loader to boot between the drives regardless of your intention.

There are tons of references on the intarwebs about doing this, but anyway, good luck.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:10 PM on March 18, 2007

Yes, I'm doing this presently.

I have a physical drive with two logical partitions ("C:" has XP installed and nothing else, "D:" has all of my programs and data.)

Vista is installed to "E:".

Only, when I boot into Vista, it inverts them: E: becomes C:, D: stays the same. This works out swimmingly, because I didn't have to reinstall absolutely everything (although indexing and a few other things were helped by re-installing over the current iterations on D:).

I use the BIOS "Press F8 to determine boot device." if I want into XP, otherwise it defaults into Vista. The Vista bootloader itself will NOT be capable of booting you into the other drive, (to my knowledge) so don't try to go that approach.
posted by disillusioned at 5:21 PM on March 18, 2007

This is the way I did it when I tested Vista on my home machine, before deciding to hold off until SP1 (the first time I've ever not been the earliest of early adopters), if I can hack it. The best order of install is XP first, Vista second. I might wipe and start from scratch to do that, but it shouldn't be necessary.

This tool will help, if you're nervous.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:30 PM on March 18, 2007

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