XP – down

My 5 year old PC with many partitions and several OS’s needed a repair of XP.
When times are good I only have to reinstall an OS with years between. This also meens I never remember how to do.

This time there was a partion that needed more space.  I had some space infront of it, so I could move the whole partition a little forward using Partition Magic. With a Windows version that is straight forward.
Unfortunately XP in that partition wouldn’t fully load and stopped before login after the move. Probably due to bad sectors on the disk.

I use a Windows OS loader that uses the options from boot.ini to present partition selections. My boot.ini contains something like:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XPHome-Film" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(10)\WINDOWS="XPPro-Mail" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn
C:\CMDCONS\BOOTSECT.DAT="Microsoft Windows Recovery Console" /cmdcons

Here you see two Windows installations (in partition 1 and 10 on the first disk) and the recovery console in the end.  In this case partition 10 was causing trouble.

With the OS menu open you also have the choise to press F8 and get options to start the OS in safe mode and thus be able to disable some drivers which might cause trouble.

But in this case it would only enable safe mode on partition 1. Maybe I could have added a safe mode switch in the boot.ini? I didn’t consider it at that time.

Instead I found a nice XP repair description.

First I wanted to repair the partion without reinstalling. For this I found the XP boot disk.

  • I booted on the disk
  • Pressed Enter for Setup
  • F8 for agree to licence
  • browsed to the damaged OS, and pressed R for repair.

But no luck. The installation complained about a missing usb file. The keyboard and mouse was usb connected and at that moment out of reach.

So the next option was to reinstall… which would mean reinstall firewall, virus, Service Packs, settings and so on. Arg. Almost same procedure:

  • I booted on the disk
  • Pressed Enter for Setup
  • F8 for agree to licence
  • browsed to the damaged OS, and pressed ESC for installing a fresh copy.
  • This time I also chose to format the partition in the slow option, which might fix possible bad sectors on the disk.

    This time all went on without problems.


    A neat little trick with the above setup in the boot.ini is that the partition 1 and 2 contains original partitions which makes it possible to restore the original OEM OS using recovery disks produced right after initial installation of the PC.

    Then second step was to resize the existing partitions to smaller sizes using partition magic.

    Third step was to add more partitions and install OS’s in them using XP boot disks.

    Today one would probably use Virtual PC’s instead.


    Years ago around 2000 I was unlucky to delete the last unassigned 8 MB of a disk using partition magic probably. What I didn’t know was that it contained some info for Windows. At least I kept getting the blue crash screen. I guess it was during installation.

    If you get in that situation there is a fix: Open a recovery console:

  • boot on the XP disk
  • Pressed R for Recovery Console
  • Command DISKPART will recreate the needed unassigned 8 MB partition, if it is available.

    Other usefull disk commands:

    • FIXMBR

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