Help-I need an NTLDR expert-XP/Vista dual boot
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Thread: Help-I need an NTLDR expert-XP/Vista dual boot

  1. #1
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Help-I need an NTLDR expert-XP/Vista dual boot

    I've talked about this a bit in a Disk Partitioning thread here, but it wasn't really the subject of the thread as it developed when another things ran off at a tangent. Since this has now got much more depressing and serious I hoped I might be lucky and find an answer here.

    Basically, I resized my XP partition in Disk Management with the idea of expanding the Vista partition as it was running low on space. I found that the Vista partition just wouldn't expand though, even with unallocated space next to it.

    Anyway, the next reboot I got "ntldr is missing. Press ctrl alt and del to restart". I've tried everything - running the vista rescue boot disc, the XP recovery console (though I'm not really sure what I'm doing with fixmbr) and downloading a set of so called system tools. Eventually I reinstalled Vista and copied across a saved Acronis backup to restore. I had to ditch the XP partition to do this as there wasn't room for the backup on the laptop but it had to be moved there to restore. Guess what? Once I'd finished the restore (which was a very up to date backup, taken in case anything went wrong with the resizing), I was back to the same message "ntldr is missing".

    It's driving me mad that a sleek, customised, tweaked and functional operating system is sitting there, and I can't get at it. I've spent weeks working to resolve hardware issues that Vista presented and installed loads of programs etc. I've spent hours setting up other user profiles and getting Vista just how I wanted it. With the exception of bluetooth and my network printer, all the hardware conflicts were fixed and it was just how I wanted it! I'm going on holiday soon and working full time until then - I really didn't want to have to start again and try to have the laptop ready to take with me.

    There has to be a way round one stupid f***ing file preventing me booting into a perfectly usable system! I'm not too bothered that I've lost the XP partition, it was becoming redundant anyway but at the moment I've got a totally useless piece of expensive junk! I'm sitting looking at an icon in my Vista tray here "Windows Media Player Found: ToshibaVista" (the laptop is on the table a few feet away).
    Last edited by Moira; June 2nd, 2007 at 07:11 PM.
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  2. #2
    Dissident 4dm1n brokencrow's Avatar
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    Is that a dual boot system? I believe MS did away with NTLDR in Vista.
    I may be mistaken, but Vista loads from BOOTMGR now.

    Boot to a live cd (linux) and see what's there, what may be missing. And
    start googling for answers.

    No sense in whining about it...you broke it. Nothin' like being up Chit Creek for some real-life learning...

    “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” — Will Rogers

  3. #3
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    *sigh* I've come here precisely because Google didn't provide answers and I thought that's what forums were for anyway.

    I've had ubuntu installed once, it sees there's a Vista partition but there's precious little to be gained from that. Clearly it relied on something set up with the XP partition to boot and once I shrank that drive it caused problems. I wish I'd never seen the forum post reply that told me XP had its own drive resizing tool in Disk Management, frankly. I still didn't do anything that should have been risky, why include the ability to resize drives if it is?

    I did everything right but it highlights a weakness of imaging a drive and thinking you've got a failsafe backup ...

    I love people who don't know the answer to something, but instead of admitting that they say "google" like they're being dismissive of someone who hasn't tried. "I could help but I'm not going to lower myself because you've got to learn how to solve your own problems" really means "I haven't a clue where to start but I couldn't let anyone see that I don't know the answer to everything to do with computers."

    All I can do is try a repair install if it'll let me. I don't think there is any other way to fix this, I might as well face up to a clean install of Vista even though I really, really hate reinstalling Windows and always have. I feel like I've lost an arm until it's all back to normal again and it's just so much work, specially with Vista.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    Exactly! brokencrow,

    "If it ain't broke then don't try to fix it" and "If you don't stop picking at it; it will never get better"

    Moira, I have really lost track of where you might be at right now! I would confirm that Vista does not use NTLDR, so your machine is still trying to boot Windows XP............... if you want to boot Vista, I would seriously suggest that you start from scratch. I would also forget about dual booting. I know of very few people who actually need it apart from bragging rights, and I suspect that we are both a little too long in the tooth for that?

    Microsoft make serious operating systems, not some cringing stuff you dump at the tail end of your HDD and promptly forget about. If you just want to learn then you really should look at VM solutions............. just copy any files you want to share onto a RW dual layer DVD

    Basically XP and Vista want to be first, as in: "I am the Lord thy Operating System; I am a jealous Operating System, and thou shalt have no other operating systems before me".

    Whilst you could reasonably dual boot with Microsoft stuff before and including XP, this is not the same with Vista.

    Vista boots differently and more importantly handles offsets differently. This is probably why you still have the remnants of XP on there. Vista expects to occupy the first partition on your C:\ drive and it doesn't start in the same place as XP and earlier versions.

    If I recall correctly, you started off with XP and then loaded Vista into another partition? You then shrank the XP partition and tried to get Vista to expand into it?........... from what I have been hearing from others, this is the way it works. It will not backfill (maybe it is afraid of falling off the edge of the HDD ?) so if your XP and the released space is before Vista, it won't be recognised as available. A bit like this:

    A1

    VVVVVVVVVVVVXPXPXPXPXPXPXPXPXP

    A2

    VVVVVVVVVVVVFSFSFSFSXPXPXPXPXP

    A3

    VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVXPXPXPXPXP

    That will work from left to right, but not the other way round?

    EDIT: You can still restore back to where you were before trying to resize things? Try creating separate images of the two partitions then clear the HDD out completely repartition and take it from there?
    Last edited by nihil; June 2nd, 2007 at 09:22 PM.

  5. #5
    Dissident 4dm1n brokencrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moira
    *sigh* I've come here precisely because Google didn't provide answers and I thought that's what forums were for anyway.
    ...you haven't look long enough or hard enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moira
    I love people who don't know the answer to something, but instead of admitting that they say "google" like they're being dismissive of someone who hasn't tried.
    ...never said I had the answer. I googled a few keywords because
    I do NOT have the answer. It's an answer, like you, I'd like to have,
    which is why I posted to begin with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moira
    I've had ubuntu installed once, it sees there's a Vista partition but there's precious little to be gained from that. Clearly it relied on something set up with the XP partition to boot and once I shrank that drive it caused problems. I wish I'd never seen the forum post reply that told me XP had its own drive resizing tool in Disk Management, frankly. I still didn't do anything that should have been risky, why include the ability to resize drives if it is?
    So you've got GRUB on the MBR, and are dual booting Windows with
    Ubuntu? Don't run an MBR fix from a Windows CD or you'll lose GRUB
    too. And where in the h-e-double-l did you ever get the idea Window's
    disk mgm't would let you resize a partition? That's one you SHOULD'VE
    googled!

    Quote Originally Posted by Moira
    I did everything right but it highlights a weakness of imaging a drive and thinking you've got a failsafe backup ...
    Well, if you did everything right, why do you have a problem?

    Try putting this one down for awhile and coming back to it in a day or two...you've obviously run out of patience. Been there, done that...

    edit -- obviously disk mgm't lets you resize a partition, but not necessarily
    in a useable, i.e., bootable form. Apps like Partition Magic were written
    for that.
    Last edited by brokencrow; June 2nd, 2007 at 09:25 PM.
    “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” — Will Rogers

  6. #6
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    nihil I'm at a point where my laptop contains a wonderful vista install I can't access because unless I boot from a cd I get "ntldr is missing". It was a dual boot system with XP NOT because I had anything to prove, but because particularly at first, Vista was too buggy and too much didn't work for me to want it to be the only system on my laptop, which I take away with me and for instance, find the memory card reader useful. I've downloaded updates and worked hard to find solutions to the hardware issues (for instance, when it won't recognise the mouse plugged into a particular USB slot, direct the hardware wizard to search the C drive) and now the only two things I can't get to work are a connection to my photo printer and bluetooth.

    My bluetooth dongle has been dodgy from day one even in XP and I could use the memory card reader to read the phone's memory card so that's not so important. I'm sorry Vista has such a problem with my printer as I would have liked that to work so I could print off holiday photos and stuff. But I guess I can work round it and it makes sense to just install Vista this time as a single boot.

    Where I'm at right now is also tired, having spent 5 hours in bed over the last two nights and been to work each day! I was up till 3 am last night trying to get the disk partitions sorted out and had to get up at 5 am for work.

    I am now installing a clean version of Vista having accepted the inevitable - it's the only solution. If I can find a way round the ntldr problem over the next few days it's still worth installing the backup image, otherwise I'll just work on the new install.

    brokencrow I might have had a problem because the software didn't work properly. Not every problem is caused by the person on the receiving end of it. However, I'm prepared to accept that I didn't check whether Disk Management shrank volumes in a non destructive way, I just assumed it did.

    As for Ubuntu, when it looked like I was going to format the disk I thought it would be nice to dual boot Vista with linux rather than XP as I still fancy having a linux install to play around with. So Ubuntu did get installed, however it had to go once I realised I couldn't restore an image over the network (because Acronis boot loader doesn't install network drivers) and I needed room for the Vista backup. So I don't have Grub.

    And I got the "idea" disk management would resize partitions from a reply in the thread I posted about looking for a boot manager that worked in Vista.

    I took exception to being advised to Google something which has occupied the best part of 3 days now - it's not like I haven't worked on it!
    Last edited by Moira; June 2nd, 2007 at 10:18 PM.
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  7. #7
    AO Curmudgeon rcgreen's Avatar
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    I am not an expert, heck I hate windows. Found a good link explaining the
    differences between XP and Vista bootloaders.

    http://articles.techrepublic.com.com...1-6169638.html

    I assume you started with XP and added Vista later. So it's looking for the XP
    boot loader, which got trashed when you had your unfortunate accident. (If God
    had intended for people to resize partitions, he would have built that
    functionality into Fdisk back with dos 3.3)

    Armed with information about how it is supposed to work, I'm sure
    there is a way to repair the bootloader. Either reinstall XP onto its original
    partition (original size), or install the Vista bootloader, or maybe Gore still
    has a copy of OS/2 you could install...
    I came in to the world with nothing. I still have most of it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    Hey brokencrow,

    Let's forget about the restore this with that nonsense. It obviously does't work, and I can't say that I am particularly surprised, given the different ways in which the two OSes work behind the scanes.

    What we DO have is an IMAGE of the original disk before any of this happened. So at least we can go back to that?

    Now, my problem is that I don't really know what Acronis (latest version) can do, and what it can't.

    Say, for argument's sake, we restore the disk back to it's original state. Surely, we can then use a different approach and possibly different tools to achive the original objective when the image was created? or am I being naiive and over-optimistic?

    What I would want to do is extract the Vista partition and restore it to a larger one, and do the same with the XP (if required). I really would want to reverse their positions on the drive though.

    I guess I would be looking for a spare drive or one with a lot of space on the network right now?

    What I would be aiming at would be to create partitions of the desired size then restore back into them. I could see that working for the Vista, but the
    XP one would be more of a problem as it would be smaller? An easy way round that would be to insert a larger drive? Or I would first try separating the XP partition, shrink it, then repartition it?

    Any ideas?

  9. #9
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    Moira,

    Am I right in thinking that you have an Acronis image of the disk before you started your resizing attempts?

    If that is true, that is surely where we should start?

    I don't know how Acronis would handle restoring onto a larger drive/partition, perhaps you could check that?

  10. #10
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    The trouble with restoring the disk back to its original state, is that each backup was done when it was dual booting with XP, and having read that article on Vista's new boot loader - thanks rcgreen, it was most interesting - I'm beginning to see why it's unrealistic to think there's an easy fix for this. Each image will bring up the same error message because in each case the snapshot of the system was taken when it was relying on XP for initial bootup. I can't think why it would be doing that but it obviously was because the first thing the - well BIOS I suppose - is looking for is the NTLDR file, which doesn't exist in Vista and couldn't be restored to a Vista install.

    I don't see myself fixing the BCDEdit file when I can't get past the "missing ntldr" point. Sure, I can see the disk in Ubuntu or even XP if I installed it, but realistically what can I do to the BCDEdit file from merely exploring the image?

    I suppose things are not as black as they look. The timing's not great, but I've ended up with slightly more space for Vista - the alternative of doing nothing would have meant I was constantly trying to keep that red line off the Vista drive icon while looking at all the space I didn't need in XP. I'm annoyed I couldn't seem to get 3 partitions last night, but the second drive can still be carved up - or I can try. Chances are if I'd wanted more space for Vista I was going to have to do a clean install of it anyway.

    Edit Sorry nihil I hadn't seen that last post. Yes I have a perfect image of my lost-for-ever perfectly customised and set up Vista install! That was what I restored last night and came down this morning to the message "NTLDR is missing" etc. Restoring that image means restoring the OS back to a point where it had XP alongside it to boot.

    I suppose I could try installing XP, then installing Vista, then restoring my image ..... but the way I've organised the drives now I don't really want to have XP dual booting and I would find I couldn't remove it. In a way, once I can manage without XP it's better with the smaller constraints of a laptop, to just have one operating system, or at least not waste space by having almost duplicate installs of two very similar OS's.
    Last edited by Moira; June 2nd, 2007 at 10:51 PM.
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