What is the ultimate answer for a dual boot XP and Windows 7?

By cca50 ·
First and above all, I am far from an expert. I have been reading for over 3 weeks trying to find the ultimate answer. I am running XP Pro, have 3 SATA 250 gig hds(one is cloned the other is storage)I have a new Windows 7 Ultimate staring me in the face. I realize there are boot issues between the 2 different versions. What is the best installation to do a dual boot, partition one hard drive and install Windows 7 or install Windows 7 on a empty hard drive? Should I clone my current hard drive and disconnect it in case of a failure to be safe?? I am retired with a bad back and this occupies my days.
Help Please...
and Thanks in advance!!

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All Answers

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The Ultimate Answer is 42 never forget that

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to What is the ultimate answ ...

But in answer to your question it all depends on what it is you want to do here. Assuming that you don't have some form of RAID Array involved here you can do whatever you like to Dual Boot XP and 7.

However I would look at the Hardware involved and then chose the most suitable version of 7 before proceeding any further.

All 32 Bit OS can not read more than about 3.25 GIG of System RAM so if you have a Large Video Card in terms of Memory and 2.5 GIG or more RAM installed I would suggest a 64 Bit Version of 7 not a 32 Bit Version.

As for Dual Booting both XP and 7 if you have a spare HDD available I would use that. Shut down your system install any HDD's that you have and then with the 7 Install DVD in the Optical Drive Boot the system and when prompted press any key to start the 7 Install Process. Follow the prompts till you are asked where you want to install 7 to and chose the spare unused HDD format it and allow the version of 7 you have to install to it.

When this is finished you'll need to add an AV product of some kind to minimize infections and more to what you want to know you'll be prompted every time you start the system to chose which version of Windows you want to load. It's just a matter of leaving the system alone if you want the highlighted version to install and letting the system boot or if you are in a bit of a hurry pressing the Enter key.

However if you want the other version of Windows to Boot you need to press the Arrow Key to highlight the other version of Windows and then Press the Enter Key. So if the system starts with XP and 7 is the option below it you use the Down Arrow and press Enter. If it starts with XP and you want 7 with the 7 Install Listed above the XP install you use the Up Arrow Key and press Enter.

Things get a bit more involved if you want to install 7 to the same HDD as you have XP on as you'll need to use a Partitioning Utility like GParted


A free Partition Utility to shrink the existing XP Partition and create a new unused Partition on the HDD that you can use to install 7 to. The steps to install 7 to the same HDD after you shrink the existing Partition are exactly the same as above except that instead of selecting the unused HDD you select the new Unused Partition.


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Beat me to it

by NexS In reply to The Ultimate Answer is 42 ...
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But the Ultimate Answer is 42

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Beat me to it

The question of course loosely is What is the Meaning of Life The Universe and Everything?

Doesn't everyone know that?

I of course understand what 42 Means when I'm told it's the answer to the question but I'm not telling anyone else what it actually means. They need to work it out for themselves.


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It went good for the first 2 days... then it went downhill fast

by cca50 In reply to What is the ultimate answ ...

The first 2 days went well with XP Pro on SATA drive 1 and Windows 7 on SATA drive 2.The boot sequence gave me the choice to boot from Windows 7 or "older version" Then it stopped asking and would not let me boot even going through the bios to XP. Seems Windows 7 rewrote the boot on the XP drive. Made me smile that I had cloned the XP drive before starting. Windows 7 ran fine, just would not let me have the dual boot option. I restored the XP drive and have the Windows 7 drive disconnected. I did not ever change my bios to boot from the Windows 7 drive. Which drive should be set as the boot drive in the bios, XP or 7? Now I am wondering whether to try it again or not.. Help please!!

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If it was anything like what happened to me

by santeewelding In reply to It went good for the firs ...

Mandriva + XP, which blew up in my face, neither one available, both screwed up, despite all my careful partitioning on one drive, I'd say: run for your life.

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Well this shouldn't be happening

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to It went good for the firs ...

It really sounds as if something in the Boot Loaded has messed up.

I would suggest trying again but I would first test the HDD with their Makers Testing Utility you can get that free from here just click on the makers name


It could be a failing HDD or M'Board Controller so test things first.

If the HDD fails the first test remove it test again in a different computer. If it fails again it's dead/faulty and needs replacing but if it passes the second test the Power Supply, Data Lead or M'Board is faulty and needs replacing/repairing as required.


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I had the same thought

by cca50 In reply to Well this shouldn't be ha ...

I have already tested the HDDs. They are all Seagate and I have their testings programs already on a disc. Still wondering which HDD, xp or 7, should be set as the first drive in the bios??? I do appreciate all and any help given!

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Well as to which OS should be first

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to I had the same thought

It doesn't really matter I just set which OS was installed first as the default Boot Drive.

I'm not aware of any reported problems like this from 7 so I would be looking into the Windows Boot Loader as the problem here. Unless there was some other change made to the system during that 2 day period.


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ultimate answer..

by The 'G-Man.' In reply to What is the ultimate answ ...

2 PC's
Small KVM
1 Monitor, keyboard & Mouse.

Best performance out there bar non2.

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