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1/09/09 8:15am (

How to Dual Boot Windows 7 with XP or Vista (


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If you're dying to try out Windows 7 but aren't ready to give up your installation of XP or Vista, let's take a look at how to dual boot Windows 7 with XP or Vista.

Step 0: Download the Windows 7 Beta and Burn It to a DVD

Assuming you've already downloaded a fresh copy of Windows 7, you'll need to burn it to a DVD in order to do a fresh installation. To handle this task, grab a copy of the most popular CD and DVD burning tool ( ImgBurn (, burn the ISO to a DVD, and move right along to step 1.

Step 1: Partition Your Hard Drive

Before you go installing Windows 7, the first thing you need to do is create a new partition on your hard drive to hold the new installation of Windows. Partitioning your hard drive will vary depending on whether you're running XP or Vistanamely because Vista has a partition tool

baked in, XP does not.

Partition Your Hard Drive in XP

To partition your hard drive in Windows XP, you'll need to download some sort of third-party partitioning software. There are a lot of options available, but I prefer to stick with the previously mentioned GParted live CD (, a free, open source boot CD that can handle all kinds of partitioning duties.


To use it, just download the GParted Live CD (, burn it to a CD, then reboot your computer (booting from the disc). Y ou'll boot right into the partitioning tool. HowtoForge's previous guide to modifying partitions with GParted ( is a great place to start, but it's a fairly basic procedure: 1. Resize your current OS drive to free up enough space for a Windows 7 partition (the minimum system requirements ( ask for 16GB). 2. Create a new partition from the newly freed space. 3. Apply your changes.

Partition Your Hard Drive in Vista

The folks at Redmond were kind enough to include a disk partitioning tool in Vista if you know where to look. So go to Control Panel -> System and Maintainence (skip this one if you're in Classic view) -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management. Once you launch the Computer Management tool, click on Disk Management under the Storage heading in the sidebar. It's partitioning time.


Luckily we've already gone down this road before in step-by-step detail, complete with pictures, so check out our previous guide to creating a new partition in Vista ( In a nutshell, you'll need to shrink your current OS partition to free up at least 16GB of disk space (per the Windows 7 minimum system requirements (, then create a "New Simple Volume" from the free space.

Step 2: Install Windows 7

Now that you've done all the heavy lifting, it's time for the easy part: Installing Windows 7 on your new partition. So insert your Windows 7 disc and reboot your computer (you'll need to have enabled booting from your DVD drive in your system BIOS, but most PCs will have this enabled by default).

Once the DVD boots up it's a simple matter of following along with the fairly simple installation wizard. When you're choosing installation type, be sure to select Custom (advanced) and choose the partition you set up above. (Be careful here. Choosing the wrong partition could mean wiping your other Windows installation altogether, so make sure you pick the new partition you just created.) After you select the partition, go grab yourself a drink and let the installer do its work. Windows will run through some installation bits, restart a few times in the process. Eventually you'll be prompted to set up your account, enter your license key, and set up Windows. Keep your eyes open for fun new Windows 7 features, like your new homegroup (and the accompanying password). When it's finished, you're up and rolling with your new Windows 7 installation.

Congratulations! Y ou should now have a new entry for Windows 7 on your boot screen when you first start up your computer. Y ou've now got all the tools necessary to dual-boot Windows 7 and XP or Vistaor even to triple-boot Windows 7, Vista, and XP. This isn't the only way to set up a multi-boot system by any means, but it's how I pulled it off. If you've got a method of your own that you prefer, let's hear it in the comments.

176 discussions displayed because an author is participating or following a participant.

3 participants Blobdude (http://g33kb33r.k I'm having trouble with making a partition. I've already got the four I can have, but two are small, and I don't know why they're there. They're unnamed, and I can't look at their properties or anything. I've been running Daemon Tools Pro pretty much continually for mounting my .isos and stuff. Does anyone know if they're from that? Is it too risky to delete them?

3 participants EmersonCabaim (http://eme Ok, I tried Windows 7, it's ok, but now I removed it, and wonder HOW THE HELL I can get rid of dual boot screen. Deleting & formatting the drive Windows 7 was installed in didn't work at all, and now I am really in a pickle. I tried everything suggested in googles "how to remove a dual boot screen", and NOTHING worked. I'm starting to get mad. ANY IDEAS??

1/10/09 9:00am ( 1/28/09 6:21am (

Talon88 (http://talon88-old. @Blobdude: As far as I know, DT does not create partitions; it has no reason to. There are a few PC manufacturers that will make recovery partitions by default (HP comes to mind) and so it could be that.

Ian Samson (http://ian-sams @EmersonCabaim: Emerson, there should be a file called MSDOS.SY S on your boot directory. Edit this file and change the Multiboot from 1 to 0 save and reboot.

1/30/09 8:22am (

1/10/09 10:19am (

ShuchitaErichthonius (http://

@EmersonCabaim: Sorry for the

Blobdude (http://g33kb33r.k @Talon88:

anonoymous post, the sign-in links won't work. Ian, can you be a bit more specific

Well, I know about the default D recovery drive, and that's there, but there's two others, one 94MB, and the other 2.5GB and they're stopping me from making a new volume. Should I create a restore point and delete the partitions?

with your reply? Where do I find that record? BIOS? DOS prompt?

2/06/09 6:39am ( Phil Lozen 3 participants

1/10/09 10:29am ( rbedi (http://rbedi-old.kinja.c

2 participants
ShishirkanaMelcator I have an external hard drive. Can I install to that, and boot from it? thx...

MajorDad1984 (http://major I see one short post with this error... "Windows could not collect information for [OSimage] since the specified image file [install.wim] does not exist." Any ideas, Ladies and Gents? Thanks...and see you on the high ground. Jim

1/10/09 11:07am (

Jimmy McGinness (http://jim @rbedi: i believe you can use 7 zip to extract all the data and then use HP Drive Key Boot Utility to make the drive bootable

1/10/09 2:49pm (

1/10/09 8:46am ( ThayerJackal (http://thayerj

Nope. Y ou won't be booting from an WillardGaruda (http://willard @MajorDad1984: Same thing on my end. I do not have an 'advanced' install option to select location. Perhaps it is trying to upgrade XP? so OSimage is bad? Although, I removed the CDROM from my boot list on the most recent try but then manually selected to boot from CD during start-up. I was presented with an options screen which included 'press F8 for advanced options'. This was the usual Win laundry list: Safe Mode, etc. Still no luck. I cannot choose which partition to install to, it just loops through and gives me the same error. 2 participants Josh Szepietowski (http://jos I tried installing using this method, with the only difference being that I created the Windows 7 partition out of a partition on a different physical drive than the one my Windows XP installation is on. I got Windows 7 beta running, but there is no bootmenu that appears to allow me to pick Windows XP. Under System Properties > Advanced -> Startup and Recovery (in listed is Windows 7. Robert Walicki (http://robert- @MajorDad1984: re-burn you ISO to a new DVD. I had the same problem. Y ou'll notice the difference instantly in the initial splash screens. Perhaps related, one of my physical drives (which is not the one XP is on) is not appearing in Windows 7's My Computer view, although the Device Manager sees it. Anyone have any advice to fix this?

external drive unfortunately. @rbedi:

1/10/09 4:40pm (

1/10/09 3:26pm ( Windows 7 Beta) the only operating system

1/10/09 4:22pm ( 1/11/09 9:54pm (

2 participants AbigailEpeius (http://abigaile ThatsWhutSheSaid (http://th How can I share files between Vista and 7 on a dual boot @Josh Szepietowski: If you installed it on a different physical drive you have to go to your bios screen and select which hard drive you would like the

1/09/09 8:02pm (

AnielaJebbers (http://anielaj Anyone??? I'd also like to know this

computer to boot from, there will be no boot menu as thats only needed to switch between 2 OS's on the same HD

1/10/09 12:48pm ( 1/12/09 2:13pm (

tollwaytroll (http://tollwaytro @AnielaJebbers: Ah, I've figured it out. Go to the Disk Management page where you created the partition, right click on the disk that has your Vista files, and choose "Change

Josh Szepietowski (http://jos @AbigailEpeius: Thanks I moved it to the primary device and this fixed it exactly.

1/12/09 8:08pm (

Drive Letter and Paths" or maybe it's Choose before you do it. Either way, open that, then in the window click the Add button and pick F: or whatever you want and then you'll be able to browse it from My Computer.

1 participant Evilince ( Ok so I did all this, made a partition on the same HDD as XP and installed 7. It works no dual boot screen to choose which windows i want to startup. It just automatically starts up the default one. I did find out however that if I go into computer management and right click the partition with either windows and click "mark as active" (something like that), that one will startup upon next reboot. Does anyone know why the dual boot screen is not showing up?

1/10/09 7:51pm ( fine. But when I start my computer, there is

1 participant Chip Andrews (http://chip-an Partioning Problem: So, my harddrive is partioned ~200GB for XP, ~20GB for 7 and ~10GB in backup files. When I made the partition for 7 though, my XP partition stopped becoming bootable. All of the files are intact on it. Is there anyway to make this drive bootable again?

1/10/09 3:46am (

1/11/09 8:47am (

Talon88 (http://talon88-old.

zach382 (http://zach382-old @Chip Andrews: Y ou have to repair the MBR. I think it involves starting the XP installer in repair mode and in command prompt typing fixmbr or something like that. [] ( e/index.php/t-3975.html) 1 participant

@Evilince: Right click on my computer -> click on properties -> advanced tab -> startup and recovery -> settings. Is 'time to display list of operating systems' checked? Does the [boot.ini] (http://boot.ini) (accessible if you click edit) show both boot entries?

1/11/09 10:04am ( 1/10/09 10:15am (

Jared Burchard (http://jared- I boot it up fine but then I get the "Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an old one." error. What the crap? I've tried installing it on a clean Western Digital SATA drive with and without drivers (as emulated IDE and RAID) to no avail. Also, I tried partitioning my current XP system drive and installing to that but I get the same error. I've tried many different formatting programs, too, and have made sure that the disk is active. I don't know what else to do. ChanningVibius (http://chan @AmbroseAgasthenes: Just Install windows palehorse (http://palehorse- @Jared Burchard: I'm having the exact same issue... no matter what I do, it won't recognize a system partition on Disc0. I may try to install it on an older laptop... or in a VM. But, I wonder why the method described here won't work for me. I re-sized my Disc0 without any issues and formatted the new 40GB partition using NTFS... so what gives?
1/13/09 1:10pm (

1 participant AmbroseAgasthenes (http:// I have a secondary pc which currently dual booted with xp and vista. The main OS is XP, and I'd like to wipe the vista installation and chage/upgrade it to 7, how would I accomplish that correctly? I don't want to accidentally break it. Thanks.

1/16/09 12:55am (

@AmbroseAgasthenes: 1/12/09 8:15pm ( 7 over the vista by formatting that partition and installing windows 7 to the partition or drive windows vista was on. Simple as that!

1/18/09 8:08am (

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