Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Dual booting Windows XP with Windows XP – Part 2 - Preparations

After explaining why ( we should have two totally independent Windows XP installations on one computer, it’s now time to describe how to make this configuration work.

First of all, you need to know that Windows XP supports the installation of two installations on one hard disk out of the box. If you have used Windows NT 4.0 in the past, you properly know the “Select which operating system to boot” selection that appeared in Windows NT 4.0.

This menu is still build-in into Windows XP but it will not be shown when there is only one installation of Windows XP. Using this menu, you could easily install a second Windows XP into the folder C:\WINDOWS-2 and select the version you want to have on each boot up (C:\WINDOWS or C:\WINDOWS-2). However, this is not what I want to explain here since both installations can access the data from each other and we want to have two totally independent installations. If this is what you want, try googleing for it.

First of all, you need to understand an important term: Partition. A partition is a slice, a part, or however you want to call it from a hard disk. You can not install Windows XP or any other operating system directly on a hard disk, you always have to create a partition and the operating system is then installed on that partition.

Normally, most computers now have exactly one partition that is exactly as big as the hard disk and this is where Windows XP is installed to. To allow a second Windows XP, we’ll need to make this partition smaller and create a second partition where later on the second Windows XP is installed to.

By default, Windows does not support to resize an existing partition so you’ll need to buy software to do so: I prefer Partition Magic 8.0 ( and this is also the software I’ll describe. Partition Magic 8 (PM8) will also come with a boot manger that will later on allow us to switch between the two XP installations easily.

Once you have bought and installed PM8, download and install the 8.01 patch from And now the most important step of all:

BACKUP YOUR DATA!!!! This is no joke, no exercise, no nagging, this is true. Although I never ever had any problems with PM8, a friend of mine totally trashed his XP after playing around with PM8. Don’t wait; BACKUP YOUR DATA BEFORE MAKING ANYTHING ELSE!!!

Made the backups? Fine, let’s go on. When you open PM8 you will see that it displays one partition in pink that covers the entire hard disk - right-click it and select “Resize/Move” from the appearing menu. Enter 256 MB as “Free Space Before” and round about 21,000 MB inside “Free Space After”. PM8 will automatically adjust the input to the nearest suitable values so don’t wonder if the values change automatically. Click OK to accept the changes.

What we have done with this is: We’ll have made the existing partition smaller to make room for a new partition before and a new one after it.

The first, very small, partition will be used to later on contain our boot manager that will allow us to switch between the normal Windows XP and the gaming Windows XP. The second partition is the space for the gaming Windows XP itself. I think round about 20 GB (21,000 MB = 20 GB) for the gaming XP should be enough, but you might decide to make it smaller or bigger.

Finally, click “Apply changes” on the left and PM8 will restart your computer and perform the changes. This might take a while so you’ll better get a cup of coffee or something.

Normally, this step should be executed without any problems. However, it might also happen that your computer is totally trashed so you’ll better keep your backups right beside you.

Hopefully this will not happen to you, and once all changes have been made and your are back in Windows, you should start PM8 again to review that all changes are made:

  • One very small partition
  • A second very big partition that contains the Windows XP installation you are currently using
  • A third 20 GB partition that will later on contain the gaming Windows XP
Finally, our preperations are finished!

No comments:

Post a Comment