Some advanced technical help needed



I have tried this thread on a few forums, and not yet had much joy, so I thought I would drop this one in here to see if I could stir up some thoughts…

For those who are not sure what I am asking, please refer to the following website which has software which does just this.

However, there are some limitations with this software which make it not an option for me. The main one being, that to select the OS you want, you must boot into the last used system, select the new one, then reboot… how stupid is that… a simple boot menu would suffice!!

At present, my system is a dual boot XP build. I use BootMagic for OS selection (2 x 100mb Primary FAT partitions contain the respective boot files (BOOT VOLUME)… 1 Active & 1 Hidden), and have OS installed on drives D & E (SYSTEM VOLUMES). Ive set it up like this so its easy to backup and restore individual partitions.

I am thinking of increasing my XP partitions, to say about 6… for testing, games, burning etc… I DONT want to install the OS 6 times, and load drivers and settings…

HYPEROS has the ability to clone an OS install and stick it on any partition and will allow you to BOOT into the copied system. Is there any other way of achieving this. I dont mind having a single primary partition to host all the boot files, rather than one for each, which limits me to 3/4 primary partitions on one hard drive.

I have my boot files on C, and my original XP install on D, and I want clones of it on E, F, G, H… without installing each one seperately.

PartitionMagic/ghost and such programs are fine for cloning the partition, but you cant then boot to the cloned system.

Anyone got any ideas??


Have you investigated Acronis OS Selector 8.0 and VCOM System Commander 7?



Yep tried both of them… again, they only pick up installed os from their boot volumes and boot ini files, and dont detect a cloned system volume.

I think I need to modify other viles in the Boot Volume, not just the boot.ini alone, and maybe the MBR… not sure though…

If I were to install a copy of XP over another, and chose a different install dir, what modifications are made to the boot files… is it just the boot.ini file… showing the additional oc, and its location on the hard drive??


Maybe I don’t understand exactly what you are looking for. From the way I interpreted your original question, it sounds to me that the Acronis product would do what you want:

  • Repartition your system for a new OS installation.
  • Resize Windows FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, Linux Ext2, Ext3, ReiserFS and Linux SWAP partitions.
  • Clone an OS installation as a back-up.
  • Full copying of Windows 95 / 98 / NT / 2000 / XP operating systems.
  • Support several Windows 95 / 98 / NT / 2000 / XP OSs on a single partition.
  • Operating systems with same folder names (e.g. C:\Program Files) on one partition are supported.
  • Hide any partitions independently from any given operating system.
  • Automatic detection of both known and unknown operating systems.
    Here is what it says about copying an OS:
    Acronis OS Selector allows not only copying a configuration of an operating system but can also copy a whole operating system. Copying an operating system includes copying all its system files, all system folders and all the configurations. … (The) configuration (that) is created that is totally identical to the original one including the configuration files. After copying the new configuration, it can be adjusted to your taste, with files and configuration name edited.
    Here is what it says about adding a new OS to the boot menus so you can boot into it:
    If the Loader detects any changes in the hard disk partition structure… (s)etup scans the hard disks of your computer for operating systems, tries to identify them and adds their configurations to the Boot Menu.
    Of course, you can add them to the boot menu manually as well.

I’m really surprised none of the commercial products do what you want, since it sounds like one of the intended uses of such products, and they even advertise such use:

Protect your data using separate operating systems for work, tests and entertainment
(emphasis mine)

Is there any chance you just missed a step that prevented you from booting into the OS after copying it? Did you contact techincal support from the software verndors?

It has been a long time since I have done anything with multi-boot systems, and I don’t have time to investigate now, so I’m afraid I won’t personally be able to add anything more. Perhaps someone else can help. Sorry.



Thank you very much for the input…

I read the same as what you have had posted, and came to the same conlcusion as you… I will spend a bit more time looking into the apps to make sure I am preparing the system right.

I can only think that is is something related to when you first install the os, it prepares the boot volume; ntloader, boot.ini etc… whcih reside on my c: drive and are directed to my d: drive which holds th os. If I have a clone of this on e:. the c: drive will not have been modified to direct to e: for the os. I know when you install a second os, it modifies the boot.ini which points to the disk/partition where the windows install is. I dont know if the MBR is also modified, but I imagine it is.

HYPEROS seems to be able to achieve this flawlessly, and will clone an os in a couple of minutes, and you can then boot to it. I just think the prog needs some tweaking, and Im not yet ready to shell out the £100 for it.

Anyway… in the time Ive spent looking into how to achieve this, I could have installed XP about 40 times!!!

Cheers for spending the time to help.

Much appreciated…


I tried to do something similar before, but I can’t remember exactly.

When you have XP using C and D, you’re forgetting that the registry will point mostly to D. So obviously, if cloned drive is on E the registry will not work.

Why don’t you try this way:

Have XP installed only on C, then install System Commander (or something capable of custom hiding partitions of your choice, depending on option in the multiboot menu). First create some dummy primary partitions so that you can setup the multiboot menu with each option hiding the other partitions and will in future make the cloned partitions become drive C. This will allow you to boot into them. It takes a bit of practice but it does work - personally tried it myself about a year ago.

When cloning I was using Ghost.


Originally posted by DrScouse
I can only think that is is something related to when you first install the os, it prepares the boot volume; ntloader, boot.ini etc… whcih reside on my c: drive and are directed to my d: drive which holds th os. If I have a clone of this on e:. the c: drive will not have been modified to direct to e: for the os.
That is an interesting thought. I wasn’t truly taking into consideration that aspect. However, even if this is a problem, shouldn’t you be able to work around this by cloning both the C: and D: drives/partitions, and then hiding the originals with the boot manager so that only the cloned versions show up? That way the cloned versions would also be C: and D: and match what the cloned boot.ini and loader are expecting.

Another way you might want to try (potentially) avoiding the issue altogether is to go through the pain and install XP in the “normal” manner once into a single partition so that everything is all in one place and you don’t need to worry about mixing and matching drives and partitions during the boot process. Do this install with the boot manager software in place so that it can pick up on what is going on. Then clone this copy and use it for all your testing needs.

Finally, there is an outside chance this has something to do with XP’s activation mechanism. I don’t use XP, so I am not familiar with it and whether it might be impacting what you are trying to do. However, I seem to recall some people attempting to upgrade a hard drive without reinstalling everything by cloning the original drive to the new drive using Ghost, and then having trouble getting XP to boot on the new, cloned drive. If none of the above suggestions or your own ideas end up working out, you might want to do some Googling on this issue as a last resort.

Originally posted by DrScouse
Anyway… in the time Ive spent looking into how to achieve this, I could have installed XP about 40 times!!!
Oh, the joys of computers! :wink:

Originally posted by DrScouse
Cheers for spending the time to help.

Much appreciated…

You’re welcome. I just wish I could have been more useful.




You write too much. I can’t understand what it is you are trying to accomplish. In 15 words or less, can you paraphrase please. So far I interpret that you are trying to set up a few diff hdd with XP to boot int, each for diff testing purposes. Please verify or be more clear. I have made my system boot into various diff things, its not hard, and the boot.ini is all you need from XP for an initial boot menu screen.



In basic… all I want to achieve is a pc with 5 installs of XP on it, which are all bootable from a boot menu WITHOUT the hastle of installing them all seperately.

The best place to see what I mean is the link I posted to software which does just this…

Hyperos can move or copy any Windows System to any drive letter (after D) and automatically reconfigure Windows and its applications to run from that new drive letter. No other Software has ever been able to do this.

Sorry if I wafled on a bit… but most of the advice I have received from forums is regarding taking an image only using ghost… this will not make the image a bootable OS.

Thanks for all the input people…


A simple mod to the boot.ini was all that was needed… I think I was doing it wrong last week when I was experimenting.

I decided to start from scratch…

100mb FAT C: Drive (For system boot files)
10gb NTFS D: Drive (Main XP system)

I then copied drive D, to E, F and G, and added the additional lines required to the boot.ini… and hey presto 4 XP installs!!

I wasnt too sure if it was as easy as that, I was expecting to have to do a few more edits of files…

Thanks for all the thoughts and help!!


the most difficult problems usually have the simplest solutions :wink: