HOW TO: Dual Boot Windows 7 with XP/Vista in three easy steps

HOW TO: Dual Boot Windows 7 with XP/Vista in three easy steps

Windows 7 has proved to be quite the drastic improvement over Vista, enough that it even has XP stragglers crawling out of the woodwork to check it out. Your chance to test drive the release candidate is now running thin, in fact, if you haven’t tried the new OS until now you are better off postponing your plans for a week and installing the real thing. The final version of Windows 7 has already been sent to partners and is scheduled to debut publicly later this week on October 22.

Even if you have pre-ordered Microsoft’s latest OS, installing it on top of your existing copy of Windows may feel a bit premature if you haven't been running the beta or RC as your main installation. Thankfully, setting up a dual boot configuration is both easy and practical. If you’re looking for a quick and dirty, yet thorough how-to on getting Windows 7 to run alongside your installation of XP or Vista, read on.

Step 1: Create/Obtain an Installation Disc

Yes, we’re all aware most motherboards these days allow you to boot from a USB flash drive, but setting that up is a guide in itself. We’re going to assume that you either already have a Windows 7 DVD, or have an ISO file. If the former is true, feel free to skip ahead to Step 2.

To create a Windows 7 disc, pop a blank DVD into your burner, and burn it as an image file with any of the countless apps that can handle ISOs. Our personal favorite is ImgBurn, but to name some others: Burn4Free CD and DVD, CDBurnerXP and Ashampoo Burning Studio Free.

Step 2: Create a New Partition For Vista (see below for Windows XP)
Editor’s note: Before continuing I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that data corruption is a possibility. Even though this guide is absolutely harmless, random software anomalies can and do occur – do yourself a favor and backup your precious data before proceeding.

Moving on to more pressing matters, we will need to create unallocated disk space by resizing an existing partition in your current hard drive, and then create a new partition on that free space for Windows 7 to run on. Most of you who are reading this will probably only have one existing partition, dedicated to the operating system you’re currently using.

With that in mind, to help you in the process of creating a new partition we’ll be looking at two separate approaches. While Windows Vista has built-in utilities to resize active partitions, XP does not, and thus we must resort to using a third party application (GParted).

Create a New Partition on Windows Vista
If you are currently running Windows Vista as your primary operating system, we can use its built-in tools to modify your hard drive partitions. You can also use a third-party tool called GParted, which we are recommending to Windows XP users (see below). You can skip to the XP section and follow the exact same directions if you prefer the GParted route for any reason.

On Windows Vista, click Start and enter “diskmgmt.msc” into the search bar. A window titled “Disk Management” should open displaying basic information about the drives attached to your PC.

Right click the partition on “Disk 0” and select “Shrink Volume”.

This should present you with drive capacity information as well as the option to enter an amount you'd like to “shrink” your partition by. The recommended minimum partition size for Windows 7 is 16GB, so enter a figure of that size or larger and then hit “Shrink”.

You should now see unallocated space on your hard drive in the capacity you specified, situated just after your now resized original partition.

Before creating a new partition and assigning a letter to it, be a perfectionist and reassign your optical drives to the next letter down from what they are now, so that your new empty partition can have whatever letter follows your first partition (probably “D”).

Right click the newly unallocated space and select “New Simple Volume...” which ought to open a wizard screen.

On your way through the wizard you'll be asked to define the capacity for your new volume to be; let it occupy the entire size of the unallocated space you've created, assign it the letter that you've just freed, quick format the volume using the NTFS file system and default allocation unit size (volume label can be anything, just name it Windows 7).

You should now see a healthy primary partition with the capacity and label previously defined replace the unallocated space.

Step 2: Create a New Partition on Windows XP

If you've read the previous section explaining how to create a new partition using Vista’s built-in tools you will undoubtedly notice that the following additional steps are not required in that situation.

Here, the overall process is essentially the same, but we'll be using GParted instead of the Windows Disk Management utility. Windows XP users will ultimately have to rely on a third party tool like this.

Download the copy of GParted here, and then burn it to a disc just like you did with the Windows 7 ISO -- GParted will fit on a CD.

After you've downloaded and burned your image of GParted, put it in your optical drive and reboot. Shortly after booting off the disc you'll have to choose your preferred language, keymap and screen resolution.

Once the partition software has loaded, right click the partition you're going to resize (you probably only have one and it's likely on “dev/hda1”) and select “Resize/Move”.

This should present you with drive capacity information and the option to enter a new size you'd like your partition to be. The recommended minimum partition size for Windows 7 is 16GB, so ensure that your new partition will meet that requirement.

You should now see unallocated space on your hard drive in the capacity you specified, situated just after your resized partition.

Right click the newly unallocated space and select “New”. This ought to open a window requesting the amount of free space you'd like preceding and following the new partition as well as the new partition’s size. Fill in 0 for both the free space preceding and following to occupy the entire unallocated space. Designate it a “Primary Partition” and format it using “NTFS”.

You should now see a healthy primary partition with the capacity you defined replace the unallocated space. Click apply up top to initialize the operation.

Step 3: Install Windows 7 + Tips

With the Windows 7 DVD in your optical drive, reboot and “press any key” to boot from the disc when prompted. The installation wizard that will greet you is pretty straightforward. Despite that, there is one critical thing to note:

Make absolutely sure that you choose the “Custom (advanced)” installation option, so you're able to select the freshly created partition. Be careful, you run the risk of installing over your old operating system along with all of your data if you select the wrong partition.

After defining all configuration parameters Windows will continue on with the installation process for roughly 15-30 minutes and then prompt you for more basic input.

Pat yourself on the back! You've successfully installed Windows 7 alongside your previously existing instance of Windows and you'll be able to check out Microsoft’s most recent operating system.

Troubleshooting Tips:
Make sure you shutdown/reboot your PC from within Windows cleanly if you're having issues when attempting to alter your partition with GParted.

Can't boot off the GParted or Windows 7 disc?
Take a look in your BIOS and ensure that your boot sequence is configured properly. You'll want the optical drive to take precedence over your hard drives so you can boot off the CD.

1 Response to HOW TO: Dual Boot Windows 7 with XP/Vista in three easy steps

  1. gle weh..ko amek kos IT eh??penin gak pale aku bace ne..aku da la bute mekaseh la..bagos blog ko ne..ntok org bodoh IT cm aku..huu

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Your Ad Here