Aug 25, 2011
tom

How can I add an existing OS install to the Windows Vista boot manager?

Question

I had Windows Server 2003 installed on my primary hard drive. I then added a new hard drive and formatted/installed Windows Vista on the new hard drive. The old drive with Windows Server 2003 is still on my system as D: but I don’t have the option to boot to it. Is there any way to set it up so that I can choose which OS at boot time?

It looks like the BCDEdit command will do what I want, but figuring out the command line options to give it was too hard so I used EasyBCD instead to add another entry.

Now the problem is I’m getting this error when I try to boot my Windows Server 2003 instance:

Invalid BOOT.INI file
Booting from c:Windows 
NTDETECT fail

My d:BOOT.INI file contained the following:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)WINDOWS="Windows Server 2003, Enterprise" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptOut

My wild guess was to change disk(0) to disk(1) on both lines, but it resulted in the same error. I’m wondering if its even possible to boot Windows off the D: drive when it was originally installed on C: or if any of my programs will still work..

Answer

EasyBCD will make handling this a tad easier (though nowhere near as cool as doing it manually with bcdedit ;)

Here’s a Microsoft KB about various bootloader problems with BCD and legacy/boot.ini systems.

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