How to Dual Boot - Vista 32 bit and 64 bit

By tcavadias Staff ·
Yeah I know Google it. and I did, but wanted to get your advice as well.

I have ordered a new computer to replace my dying Dell that is now 6 yrs old. It will come with Vista Home Premium 64 bit installed. I bought a copy of Vista Home Premium 32 bit so I can dual boot. Several of my programs at the moment only use 32 bit drivers, so I need that version as well. Why did I not get 32 bit when I ordered? Well I figured if I was going to have to pay for a new computer I'd prefer the 64 bit over the 32 bit.

Anyway the new computer will come with two new hard drives - 300 gb each (for a total of 600 gb) - my plan is to put the 32 bit version on that second hard drive. This computer will also come with 6 gb of ram installed, so shouldn't have an issue in either of them departments.

So my question would be - what is the best/simplest way to do this with the least amount of problems? Googling shows several different ways and I've never dual booted before, having never had the need.

Thanks everyone,

-Tammy :-)

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All Answers

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Maybe the Not so easy answer here Tammy

by OH Smeg In reply to How to Dual Boot - Vista ...

You need to keep the different OS's on different partitions so if you load the second OS the 32 Bit version on the second HDD it will work and you will be given the option of which OS you want to start when you boot the computer after the Dell Splash Screen.

Now for the possible problems.

Here it all depends on how Dell configure this computer if they actually load any software on the second HDD you will need to reload the Primary OS as well if you have bought the 32 Bit Version from Dell as they do not sell full OEM Copies just Slipstreamed Recovery Disc's so they need to format the drive before you can install the OS.

Even if you have a M$ Supplied OEM CD it's still better to keep all of the 64 Bit Software on it's own drive away from the 32 Bit OS and Associated Software as there will be problems that arise.

If Dell have configured any sort of RAID Array you'll have to reinstall both OS so do this before you do anything else and remember unless you have a license of Office 2007 remove it completely Do Not us it as you will have formatting issues with older versions of Office when it comes time to use your primary Office Application. Of course if you plan on using something like Open Office, Word Perfect Office because they can edit PDF Files you don't need to worry about 2007 anyway.

Drop me a PM if you need any assistance.

edited because I'm an Idiot.

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Couldn't be as easy...

by tcavadias Staff In reply to Maybe the Not so easy ans ...

as the Googling I did said it would be huh? None of the tips I found said anything about raid (and yes it will come configured that way)

This is actually the basic configuration for the new one:

XPS 630, Intel Core2 processorE8500 (3.16 GHz,1333FSB) w/Dual Core Technology and 6MB cache

6GB DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz

nVidia GeForce 9800GX2 1024MB

Serial ATA RAID 0 With Dual 300GB SATA HD(10KRPM),Western Digital,VR150

Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 Home Premium 64-bit Edition English

and of course MS Office 2007

Sound card will be the SB XFI Plantium


The Vista 32 bit is a retail copy not an OEM copy from Dell. I wonder if XP would be easier to dual boot instead of Vista 32 bit? or the same issues?

Any chance of there being a software program out there that would do all the leg work for me???? (wishful thinking huh?)

Dual booting and Raid - two new items I have yet to experience - but hey I'm always up for learning new things.

Thanks OH Smeg :-)

-Tammy :-)

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Actually May be easier

by IC-IT In reply to Couldn't be as easy...

Your programs do the require 32 bit Drivers or run in a 32 bit OS?
If the OS then they will generally run in the 64bit OS at 32bit.

If there is a problem, turn off 64 bit;

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It's the drivers they need...<NT>

by tcavadias Staff In reply to Actually May be easier
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Re: RAID 0

by OH Smeg In reply to Couldn't be as easy...

Well in that case Tammy you only have 1 HDD as a RAID combines both Drives and only shows one Drive available in Explorer.

If it comes that way you'll have a Stripped Array so you get better performance as both drives only hold part of the Data to improve speed.

If you want to use the 2 drives separately you'll need to reinstall the 64 Bit OS without the RAID which may not be the easiest thing to do as the Recovery DVD will have the RAID Drivers and setup slipstreamed on it and want to install it. You may need to remove one of the drives to get the system to load if it will at all.

I'm not sure about the Dell RAID as I seem to remember that it's not actually a RAID 0 Array it is only described that way to make it easier to sell the idea. Dell has this description on their Web Site but I seem to remember that they do it differently.

Just another thought any 32 Bit Windows can not use 4 GIG of RAM so 6 will most defiantly be over kill but work a treat with the 64 Bit version of Vista.

Now for your other questions. :^0

I wonder if XP would be easier to dual boot instead of Vista 32 bit? or the same issues?

Sorry same issues but XP works better than Vista and supports more hardware so it might be a better option depending on your hardware include external things like Printers and so on here.

Any chance of there being a software program out there that would do all the leg work for me???? (wishful thinking huh?)

Sorry No there isn't and even if there was such a beast I wouldn't trust it as far as I can kick the M$ building as unassembling a RAID 0 Array and removing the RAID Driver from the Windows Kernel isn't something that is possible or desirable. Well with a software solution at least.

On the Plus Side installing the OEM 32 Bit version of Vista will be a breeze after you have reinstalled the 64 Bit version without the RAID. Though you will need to download the 32 Bit Drivers for this hardware as the 64 Bit ones will not actually work on a 32 Bit OS. To do this open Device Manager and make a list of all the hardware and then look for 32 Bit Drivers for it. Start off on the Dell Web Site they should have the 32 Bit Drivers already there so you can download them easily. If they don't have em all try Drivers Guide for the required drivers that Dell doesn't list.

Just remember to save them to a different location as when you delete the RAID all of the Data will be lost. But on the up side Dell provides several different Install Disc's there is the Primary OS and the Media Center or something like that which needs to be installed first to set the basic Partitions on the HDD's But you may not want to use this as it is only a recovery option which you can do without.

Then you will have a Driver Disc which contains some system drivers and all of the Utilities and another Driver Disc and then the Office Install Disc.

The OS install Disc is a DVD and all the rest should be CD's so they will not take long to install but none the less you should install one driver at a time and not allow the system to use the complete Driver Install Utility as they do produce problems with incompatible drivers conflicting with each other on the install.

Unless you are a glutton for punishment it may be easier to just fit another HDD to install the 32 Bit Version to.

OH also be prepared to need to download up to a GIG of Dell Drivers and Utilities for the 32 Bit Version of either XP or Vista so if you know the model that you purchased or are otherwise getting you could start download loading the drivers and Utilities now for the 32 Bit. You'll need to run the EXE on the system after you get it and they will install to a folder on the C Drive called dell where they will run from.

Also when you install the 32 Bit OS Do Not Enable the Auto Update Option on the screen before Windows Opens for the First time as you will have problems with the Sound Driver which needs to be installed before you connect tot he Windows Update Server.

Having second thought yet? ?

OH and very importantly remember to remove the COA for the plastic Covering on the 32 Bit OEM Disc you can not install this without that 25 Digit Alpha Numeric Key. It should be stuck onto the case for use latter but none the less I always make a record of the Product Key as I find the COA very hard to read when it's on a case. Maybe that's just me and my 21 + year old eyes failing but I have seen numerous cases with OEM Product where the plastic covering is just ripped off and tossed and the COA gets lost. The COA is a Sticker on the outside of the OEM Product which you peal off supposedly before opening the product.


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Nope no second thoughts...

by tcavadias Staff In reply to Re: [i]RAID 0[/i]

but it does leave me with another question...

I just like to see all my angles...

Since the 64 bit is what I'll be after long term but need 32 bit short term... Since I have a windows 32 bit retail copy and can get 32 bit drivers for everything... What if I just wiped out the HD(s) totally and reinstalled with Vista 32 bit only..then when I didn't need the 32 bit anymore... format it again, but this time using the 64 bit I get from Dell? I do have a 4 yr warranty on this including accidental, so I know I can get their assistance later if putting back the 64 bit goes horribly wrong.

Simpler method? Too hard? Too screwy of an idea?

The Third HD is an option.. would an external work?

-Tammy :-)

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Forgot to ask...

by tcavadias Staff In reply to Re: [i]RAID 0[/i]

Is it possible to remove the raid? Say by reformatting... and then using the two hard drives as such - one for each OS?

I know a million questions...

-Tammy :-)

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Well in answer to your questions if I can remember them all

by OH Smeg In reply to Forgot to ask...

Tammy do you realize that there is an Edit Function available?

Yes you can install the 32 Bit Version of the OS without voiding the warranty but Dell may not be much help when you have a software problem. Though to be perfectly honest that aren't much help anyway so maybe there would be no difference. Their First Option is to always **** away the existing install and rebuild the system with the supplied Recovery Disc. Hardly helpful if you have a software conflict as as soon as you reinstall the offending bits it will be back again.

But the Problem here is that the 32 Bit doesn't come slipstreamed for a RAID installation so you would need to set this up if you wanted to use a RAID.

The 64 Bit Version from Dell should come with a pre-configured RAID on the Install Disc and should install this by default which could be hard to work around if it's not on a separate Install Disc.

A External HDD wouldn't be my first choice as they are more vulnerable to damage from Heat and getting knocked about. In a External Case every HDD runs hotter than it would in a computer case as it just lacks the surface area of metal in the case to act as a Heat Sink and drag heat away from the HDD. It's also far less stable in an external case then in a Computer Case as you are very unlikely to bump a Computer Case and knock it off wherever it is positioned but a External HDD case is far easier to knock around. Remember you have Kids around you so you need to Child Proof the unit. Maybe your Hubby could explain this to you. :^0 :^0

The Raid is actually setup in the Pre Windows Configuration so just by installing the OS again and not configuring the RAID you could install Both OS's easily but the problem here is that one is on a Dell Recovery Disc not a M$ Install Disc and doesn't follow the rules. Besides formatting the Drives would get rid of all the files which are 50% of the complete Data so it's a Good Idea Anyway. But Technically it's not necessary to reformat but it is highly desirable.

If this was my system I would probably do a Wipe & Reload as I just don't like all of the junk that comes with prebuilt systems all of the Dell Utilities slow things down a lot and I don't like them but that's just me others may like it all.

I use Wipe & Zap from IBM but that's no longer available and while not as good as Boot & Nuke it's faster and I'm not patient. I only use Boot & Nuke when I need to wipe a drive totally and that isn't often.

Anyway I hope that is of some assistance and isn't tooooooooooooooo confusing.


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Not worried about kids

by tcavadias Staff In reply to Well in answer to your qu ...

While they are teenaged boys.. they don't come into my office. I have an upstairs FROG that is roughly 20x18 with a U shaped desk.. that is 6 feet on the left... 13 feet across (where I sit) and 9 feet on the right - this gives me plenty of room to spread things out (as I hate things all cluttered together when I'm working) and not have things bumping or getting knocked about - so that might not be an issue for an external.

So it looks like I'm down to three main choices:

- wiping everything out and using 32 bit only for now (later when the time comes wiping again and going back to 64 bit with Dells help on getting the raid reset back up - I don't see the point in that (raid) for the 32 bit for now) After all even when I'm not working - I'm working if something comes up while I'm playing, so I don't want to have to switch OS's in the middle.

- Going external - a viable option if this would allow the main OS to remain - then once I no longer needed the 32 bit, its just a simple matter of uninstalling anything that needs uninstalling and removing the external. Saving the hassle of reinstalling the 64 bit further down the road.

- Going virtual? But as you mentioned it might be too clunky.

So that really probably would leave with with two choices - External or wiping and going soley 32 bit for now.

-Tammy :-)

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Have you considered

by Jacky Howe In reply to How to Dual Boot - Vista ...

a removable drive kit. There would be a lot less mucking around.
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