Active or logical partition

Discussion in 'Windows Vista Installation' started by Paul, Sep 1, 2007.

  1. Paul

    Paul Guest

    If I'm setting up XP and Vista on separate drives for dual boot, do I make
    both drives active? I've installed XP already and will be installing Vista
    on the second hard drive but don't know if that second hard drive for Vista
    should be set as active or logical.
    Paul, Sep 1, 2007
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  2. Paul

    dzomlija Guest

    Your active partition is the one that the BIOS will boot from. In you
    case, this will be the one that currently has XP on it. When you instal
    Vista to the second drive, it will automatically make the changes fo
    you on the "Active" hard drive's MBR

    When you then boot, you'll get a screen that gives you a choice o
    which OS you want to load, "Microsoft Windows Vista" or "Previou

    However, if I might make a suggestion? You don't really want to b
    wasting your time setting up dual-boot between Windows XP and Vista.

    Because of the numerous, unfounded horror stories about Vista x64,
    originally setup dual-boot between XP Pro and Vista x64 Ultimate back i
    February of this year. I discovered that I never rebooted into XP, an
    so I wiped my entire system clean a couple of weeks later, and installe
    Vista as the only OS

    All my favourite games and applications work on Vista without problems
    even some of the older ones that where around before XP! So if you'r
    worried about compatibility, then you really shouldn't be. As long a
    you have all the correct Vista-certified drivers for your hardware
    you'll have no problems


    Peter Alexander Dzomlij
    Do you hear, huh? The Alpha and The Omega? Death and Rebirth? And a
    you die, so shall I be Reborn...
    dzomlija, Sep 1, 2007
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  3. Paul

    Paul Guest

    Thanks very much for the info. Great information!
    Paul, Sep 1, 2007
  4. Paul

    dzomlija Guest

    Glad to help.


    Peter Alexander Dzomlija
    Do you hear, huh? The Alpha and The Omega? Death and Rebirth? And as
    you die, so shall I be Reborn...

    - ASUS A8N32-SLi-Deluxe
    - AMD Atlon 64 Dual-Core 4800+
    - 4GB DDR400
    - ASUS nVidia 6600
    - Thermaltake Tai-Chi Watercooled Chassis
    - Vista Ultimate x64
    dzomlija, Sep 1, 2007
  5. Paul

    Paul Randall Guest

    I don't agree completely with the other answers you have gotten so far.
    This part of your question "but don't know if that second hard drive for
    Vista should be set as active or logical" indicates you don't quite
    understand the terminology enough to understand partitioning.

    At first it is kind of difficult to understand the difference between a
    physical hard drive and the various uses for the word "drive" when talking
    about drives. A drive letter never refers to the physical hard drive - it
    always refers to a partition on a hard drive or memory card or thumb drive
    or whatever.

    A brand new hard drive typically has zeros in every byte of every sector.
    Prior to using the drive, you must initialize and partition it (perhaps
    partitioning is initializing - I'm not sure). Windows can do this from the
    instalation CD/DVD or under disc management within windows XP or Vista.
    Physical drives are not 'set active' -- 'active' is a property of a primary
    partition. Only one Primary partition should be active at one time. The
    active partition is the one that the system will try to boot from. Primary
    partitions can be hidden or not hidden. For primary partitions, only
    non-hidden ones are assigned drive letters. (If you have less than four
    primary partitions, you can have one extended partition. That extended
    partition can be chopped into many partitions.

    Following is come info I copied from here:
    Most references to NT apply to WXP and Vista too.
    Okay, let's do a short review. The Master Boot Record (MBR) on each hard
    disk contains the Partition Table, and the computer uses the partition table
    to determine how to access the disk. There is room in the partition table
    for four entries, called (not surprisingly) partitions. A partition is a
    portion of a hard disk that is set up to act like a separate physical hard
    disk. A partition must be completely contained on one physical hard disk.
    The MBR understands two types of partitions: primary and extended.
    A primary partition is a portion of a physical hard disk marked as bootable
    by NT, is formatted with a particular file system, and is assigned a drive
    letter. With NT, there can be multiple partitions on a drive, of which one
    at a time can be marked "active", meaning that you can boot from it.

    An extended partition is effectively a logical disk and can be subdivided
    into smaller logical drives. You can have only one extended partition per
    hard disk.

    The "System Partition" is the partition that contains the hardware specific
    files used in loading and initializing the operating system. Only a primary
    partition can be used as a system partition. Windows NT actually requires
    that the system partition be a primary partition.

    Then there's the Boot Partition. The boot partition is also used in starting
    the operating system and contains the operating system files needed by the
    OS. Both a primary partition and a logical drive in an extended partition
    can be used as a boot partition.

    Try skimming this URL and then read the parts that seem to apply to your

    -Paul Randall
    Paul Randall, Sep 1, 2007
  6. Paul

    John Barnes Guest

    As you can glean from Paul's post, if you make it logical, you will never be
    able to make it bootable when you decide to remove XP, you would have to
    reinstall or continue to use the XP drive for your boot files. You should
    make it primary and active.
    John Barnes, Sep 2, 2007
  7. Paul

    Paul Guest

    Never expected to get so much info on this. Thanks to all.
    I reinstalled Vista and other than some blue screen problems I'm working in,
    it's just about complete
    Paul, Sep 2, 2007
  8. Paul

    R. C. White Guest

    Hi, Paul.

    Excellent post. One small quibble:
    The extended partition can be chopped into many logical drives.

    Each primary partition and each logical drive can be assigned a "drive"
    letter and separately formatted. The extended partition does not get a
    drive letter and cannot be formatted as a unit.

    The TechNet article you quoted from is dated 1999, before Vista or WinXP or
    even Win2K, but most of it is still applicable today. Just shows that a few
    hours spent studying the basic structure of hard disks will continue to pay
    dividends through several generations of Windows. ;<)

    And to Paul Costanza, the OP, no matter how many Windows installations you
    have, the boot process will always start in the System Partition (usually
    the first primary partition on the first hard drive - but not always) and
    then branch to the boot volume (primary partition or logical drive holding
    the \Windows folder) for whichever Windows installation you select from the
    opening menu - and that opening menu is one of the things store in the
    System Partition. So I like to have a single primary partition on the first
    HD to serve as the System Partition, plus multiple logical drives - on
    multiple hard drives - to serve as boot volumes for my multiple operating

    As some writers have commented, "Those not sophisticated about such matters
    may think it strange that we boot from the system partition and keep our
    operating system files in the boot volume." But that's the way it has
    always been. You might want to check out this KB article:
    Definitions for system volume and boot volume

    R. C. White, CPA
    San Marcos, TX

    Microsoft Windows MVP
    (Running Windows Live Mail beta in Vista Ultimate x64)
    R. C. White, Sep 3, 2007
  9. Paul

    John Barnes Guest

    Personally I don't agree with the definitions given in your link. Doesn't
    agree with most of Microsoft published material.
    for instance hardware-specific files that are needed to start Windows, such
    as Ntldr, Boot.ini, and
    should read software specific as this is for legacy nt booting OS's
    (software) and has nothing to do with hardware.
    John Barnes, Sep 4, 2007
  10. Paul

    R. C. White Guest

    Hi, John.

    I agree with your disagreement. KB 314470 was rewritten just last month to
    apply to Vista, as well as earlier Windows versions. I'll let them know
    that it needs still another revision.

    As you suggest, Vista does not require these 3 files at all unless it is
    dual-booting WinXP/2K/NT as well. The names of those 3 files did not change
    from WinNT4 (at least - that's where I started with NT) to WinXP, but the
    content of NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM grew with each new version of the
    operating system, partly because each version needed to know how to boot all
    the predecessor versions. Even in the SP2 version of WinXP, those files are
    larger and dated later than in the original WinXP. And the WinXP x64
    versions are still larger; maybe that's what made the article writer think
    that the files were "hardware-specific", since the x64 versions were larger
    than the x86 versions.

    For Vista, the files that must be in the Root of the System Partition are
    bootmgr (no extension) and the \Boot folder.

    Thanks for pointing out the error, John.

    R. C. White, CPA
    San Marcos, TX

    Microsoft Windows MVP
    (Running Windows Live Mail beta in Vista Ultimate x64)
    R. C. White, Sep 4, 2007
  11. This is really strange. I have 3 drives on my system, and they all have an
    active partition, and I boot to three different Operating Systems, with no
    From Disk Management in Vista x64 which I am running at the moment.

    Volume | Layout | Type | File System | Status
    Simple Basic
    Healthy (Active, Primary Partition) "Fedora 7 boot partiton" IDE 1
    Simple Basic
    Healthy (Primary Partition) "Fedora 7 System" IDE 1
    Programs and Files (G:) Simple Basic NTFS Healthy (Logical
    Drive) "Partitioned from XP Drive" Sata2
    TRA (D:) Simple Basic CDFS Healthy
    (Primary Partition) "DVD writer with dvd in it."
    Vista 64 (C:) Simple Basic NTFS Healthy
    (System, Boot, PageFile,Active, Crash Dump, Primary Partition) "Vista" Sata1
    Win XP 32 bit (F:) Simple Basic NTFS Healthy
    (Active, Primary Partition) Sata2

    When XP is the OS, the drives look different
    Win XP is C: ; Prog.... is Drive D: DVD writers are E and F, and the Vista
    Drive becomes G:

    So it looks like it is possible to have more than one Active partition on a
    Cesar Ventura, Sep 7, 2007
  12. Paul

    John Barnes Guest

    You can have one active primary partition per hard drive with no problems.
    John Barnes, Sep 7, 2007
  13. Paul

    R. C. White Guest

    Hi, Cesar.
    Yes. As John says, we can have one active partition on each physical hard
    disk drive. I haven't run a non-Windows OS since trying OS/2 Warp when it
    was new. But each of my 3 physical drives has a primary partition, and I've
    installed Vista with each of them, in turn, serving as the boot device. So
    now I can designate any one of them the current boot device and boot into
    Vista. I consider that good insurance in case my current favorite drive
    dies on me. And it has paid off in the past!

    (Actually, I'm exaggerating a little. I have had such a complete
    arrangement in the past, but I've been sloppy about updating it. At one
    point during the Vista beta, I was multi-booting both 32-bit and 64-bit
    versions of WinXP and of 3 Vista builds, eight operating systems at once.
    And my hardware has evolved, too; currently I have 4 physical drives, but 2
    are treated as a single RAID 1, so I have 3 active primary partitions.
    Since installing Vista RTM on my new mobo/CPU last December, I've seldom
    booted into anything else and I'm not sure I could right now. I need to do
    some maintenance - but Vista is running so well that I keep putting it off.)

    WLM messed up the formatting of your Disk Management details, of course, but
    this is the key line:
    When you are in Vista x64, this partition will be both the System Partition
    and the Boot Volume, and Vista will see it as Drive C:. But if you reboot
    from the same physical drive into WinXP, this same partition will still be
    the System Partition, but it will not be the Boot Volume for WinXP, and it
    might not be Drive C:. As you describe your system, you probably will
    switch your BIOS (temporarily or semi-permanently) to boot from your SATA 2
    when you want to run WinXP. In that case, the active primary partition on
    SATA 2 will become the System Partition and WinXP's Boot Volume. Vista sees
    that volume as Drive F:, but WinXP will see it as Drive C: - and WinXP has
    assigned the first partition on SATA 1, which Vista sees as Drive C:, the
    letter G:.

    This multi-booting gets very exciting - and confusing. Especially when
    there are multiple physical drives. Each physical drive can have up to 4
    primary partitions, and any one of them at a time may be marked Active, and
    a different one can be set active before the next reboot. Most users don't
    know or care about all this. For those who do, the Disk Management Help
    file has a lot of good information, but it is arranged as a reference, not a
    text, so there's a lot of jumping around to find the information.

    R. C. White, CPA
    San Marcos, TX

    Microsoft Windows MVP
    (Running Windows Live Mail beta in Vista Ultimate x64)
    R. C. White, Sep 7, 2007
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