Friday, July 30, 2004

Dual booting Windows XP with Windows XP – Part 3 – Making it work

After having done the preparations (see its now the time to actually install the gaming Windows XP.

The process itself is quite simple: First, fire up Partition Magic 8.0 (PM8) again, right-click on the first partition (256 MB) and select “Create” which will display the “Create Partition” dialog box. Select “Primary Partition” as “Create as”, “FAT” as the file system and make sure that “Percent of unallocated space” is set to 100% since we want all the space to be one partition. Click OK to dismiss the dialog box.

Next, right-click on the third partition (with 20 GB in size) and hit “Create” again. Select “Primary Partition” as “Create as”, “NTFS” as the file system and make sure that “Percent of unallocated space” is set to 100% again. Click OK to dismiss the dialog box.

Now we have morphed the two unallocated partition to be fully accessible but one step is still missing: Formatting. So, right-click on the first partition again and select “Format”. Choose “FAT” as file system, “BOOTMAGIC” as the label and hit OK. Repeat these steps for the third partition, set the file system in this case to “NTFS” and label to “gaming_xp”. Hit OK again.

Now you will see all steps that need to be done in the lower-left corner of PM8 again. Hit “Apply” again and PM8 will restart your computer for the last time.

Once all steps have been done and you are back in Windows XP it’s finally the time to activate the gaming partition and to install the second Windows XP. We simply need to do this since we want the second Windows XP to be installed on our 20 GB partition and not on the normal system. Start PM8, right-click the 20 GB partition and select “Advanced” - “Set Active” from the menu. Click OK, Apply the changes and reboot the computer. Do not insert the Windows XP install CD at this time!

If everything works as expected, your computer should now display you a message that no operating system has been found. This is normal since we now tried to start from an empty partition. Insert the Windows XP CD and restart your computer.

Now the normal Windows XP installation procedure will take place but you will notice one difference: at an early state of the installation Windows XP will tell you that the selected partition is already a NTFS partition. Windows XP offers you to keep the existing file system so take this option.

Once you are finally gaze at an freshly installed Windows XP it’s time to install the boot manger so you can switch between the two installations. First, open the Explorer and look for a drive called “BOOTMAGIC”. Note the drive letter (e.g. X:) and enter your PM8 CD into the CD ROM driver.

We do want to install PM8 itself; what we need is called BootMagic and is located inside the folder \BTMagic on the installation CD.

Use the explorer to execute the file \BTMagic\Setup\SETUP.exe. A screen should pop up and ask you on which drive you want BootMagic to be installed. Select the drive later you have noted earlier. BootMagic will now be installed to that drive. Please note that the only change BootMagic will do to your system is to create an entry into the start menu and to add itself to the “Add/Remove Programs” list. The program and the configuration of BootMagic are stored on the drive you have selected.

Once the installation has finished, start BootMagic (Start – Programs – PowerQuest BootMagic 8.0). In some cases BootMagic will automatically detect everything and create the menu for you.

If this does not happen, do the following: First, hit the “Add” button. A new dialog box will open and allow you to select which operating system should be started if this item is selected. Select the partition on which your normal Windows XP is installed. It should have the entry “Pri – 2” in the column “Partition” and “NTFS” inside “Type”. When selected, click OK.

Click on “Add” again and select the partition “Pri - 3” as this is our gaming Windows XP we are currently using.

VERY IMPORTANT! BootMagic is a great program but has one annoying feature: By default it will hide all partitions it thinks that aren’t needed. This does also include the BOOTMAGIC partition so you’ll never ever have the chance to configure BootMagic since it will hide the X: drive where BootMagic and the configuration are stored. We’ll need to do this on our own.

Select the first entry in the list and select “Properties”. Click on the second tab and check “Ignore default selection”. Now select all three partitions so we BootMagic will not hide any of them and click OK. Repeat these steps on the second entry in the list also.

When done, reboot your computer and you should see the famous BootMagic menu with two entries. Select the first one and voila, you should be back on your normal Windows XP. Since we want to configure BootMagic from here also, we’ll need to create a shortcut to it. Start Explorer and search for the drive called BOOTMAGIC and open it. If you can’t see any folder inside of it, your Explorer hides hidden directories so you can’t see the BootMagic folder. Click on Tools -> Configure -> Options and make sure that you have selected “View all files and folders”. Now a folder called BTMagic.PQ should show up. Inside this folder there is the file called “BMCFG32.exe”. Right-drag this file to your desktop, drop it there and select “Create Shortcut here”. When you now click on this shortcut BootMagic will start and it will look exactly the same as on the gaming Windows XP. This comes from the fact that the configuration is not saved in Windows XP itself but on the 250 MB drive we have created.

Basically, that’s it. You now have two different Windows XP installations on one computer. Congratulations!

To make the system perfect, you might hide each Windows XP installation from the other. Inside BootMagic, select the first entry, hit “Configure” go to the second tab and de-select the third partition (Pri - 3). This will tell BootMagic to hide the third partition (Game XP) when running from the second partition (Work XP).

Then, select the second entry, “Configure”, second tab and deselect the second partition (Pri - 2). This will tell BootMagic to hide the second partition (Work XP) when running from the third partition (Game XP). In now case you should deselect the first partition since this will hide the BootMagic partition and you can no longer configure it.

If you need to exchange data between these two installations, simply use the BOOTMAGIC partition we have created. This data exchange was the reason why we have made it 256 MB in size and not around 20 MB since is the entire space BootMagic needs.

On the Windows XP Installation you will use for games you should only install the games, no Office or any other applications you don’t need. A virus-scanner and a firewall should be installed anyway, but not much more.

Also, do not install any drivers for devices you do not need for gaming. For example, if you have installed a Bluetooth adapter Windows XP will ask you for the drivers for it. Select “Cancel” in the “Found new Hardware” dialog, start the Device Manager, select the unknown device that represents the Bluetooth adapter, right-click it and select “Do not use this device (deactivate)”. This way Windows will never ever ask you for a driver for it.

And now enjoy your virtual second computer and start playing!


  1. Your "Dual booting WIN XP" post is excellent.Can I do the same on my PC (WIN "ME" pre-installed on a 30G HD)

    I'd appreciate any suggestions or comments!Thank you!


  2. Yes, this should be no problem. But of course, the file system for the second partition should be FAT also, ME can't read the NTFS file system.

  3. I want to move my current XP hard drive (2 partitions - 1 for system, 1 for data) to my DVDWriter cable and install a new (3rd) hard drive where it used to be (as master on different cable with my backup drive).

    I want a fresh install of XP on the new hard drive (also 2 partitions). Whichever hard drive boots, I want it to boot as C:\ (I figure to change the hard drive boot order in the BIOS when I want to switch boot drives). It can re-letter the non-boot drive partitions, but I always want the boot drive (C) to see all of the other drives/partitions, as I will be moving data from the original drive to the new one, a bit at a time, until I get my new installation set up. I want to be able to run my current system as needed (paying bills, etc.) until I finish with the new installation, at which time I will switch over permanently and re-format the original drive for another use (to hold Acronis images).

    Is this possible? For two separate hard drives to each boot XP as C:\ and for the boot drive to still see the non-boot drive - albeit with reassigned letters?

  4. AFAIK this isn't possible. Which drive letter is assigned to C: is determined by Windows according to the settings by the BIOS.

  5. excellent Thanks a lot! Worked without a hitch :) x

  6. This is priceless. I just loaded XP to a working 7 machine and the drive letters were right! Thanks!