Reinstalled XP, All Paritions Changed, OS Choices Deleted

I have encountered some strange things upon reinstalling XP.

Before the reinstall I had one 20 gig IDE and one 40 gig IDE. Running XP Pro SP1

The 40 gig IDE housed five partions.

C: Files
D: Win 2000 OS
E: Program Files
F: Files

20 gig IDE

H: Files
K: Files
This information will be useful later.

I reinstalled XP on C: after moving all the files from there to a SATA harddrive. This drive has more partition space, thus I choose this drive. In Administrator tools this drive was a system drive. I had a hell of a time reformating this drive, hmm must have been a reason for that, I gave up and figured I woul let XP do it on the install. After deleting all but the volume information from the partition I rebooted my computer.

Bootup failed. The system stopped on an error which was something like LTWIN OR NTWIN not found reboot (It was five letters, I should have written it down). Rebooting did nothing. I changed my Bios information to boot from the CD-ROM. I reformated C drive from the XP setup and then installed XP on C drive.

Upon bootup the system went directly to XP. I used to have choices of OS to run. It is obvious that I deleted something on C drive I shouldn’t have because now all reference of my other two OS system don’t exist. I can still access the data on those partions, but I cannot run the OS on bootup anymore.

I am now running XP SP2 on C Drive, everything seems to be working fine, except that:

D drive became E drive
E drive became F drive
F drive became G drive
G drive became H drive
H drive became I drive
K drive became D drive

It appears that all drive information moved one partition down and the last one became first.

Why would this happen? Does this have to do with something I shouldn’t have deleted from the original C parition? Is there anyway of automatically putting it back the way it was? Changing drive letters I suppose is an option, being there is no links to any other drives yet on the fresh install.

My second question is, is there any way to bring back the two options for which OS to boot from or is that information lost as well?

After this experience I don’t think I will try to install an OS to a system partition anymore. It’s just really strange, there has never been an O/S on C drive, it was D and G, C was used for internet temp files and backups.

Any help would be appreciated!

Sounds like a big screw-up and I doubt that just changing the drive letters would help.
AFAIK at least one OS must be on a system partition and the rule-of-thumb is to install the older OS first, then followed by the newer ones - but with Windows you never know what’s gonna happen.

Time to re-install everything perhaps?

hey Jeff
really sounds a bit tricky
just let me ask a few questions
you installed the os from a sata hd to your ide hd?

when you install winxp it will usually overwrite the fists hd mbr


No, I installed XP from the CD. I only moved all my files from C drive to my SATA harddrive, so I should have a backup of everything on C drive before I installed XP to it. The SATA drive really has nothing to do with this problem. The problem lies on when I deleted everything from C drive, reformated it and then installed XP to it. I’m sure I deleted a system file I shouldn’t have.

You’d be much better off asking on or another nerd forum. I am going to guess that it is because you had a dual-boot (Win2K and WinXP) machine, and that the dual-booting utility was on C:.

BTW, the “not found” thing was probably “WinNT” – the Windows NT directory, in which the OS files are stored. I know that Win2K still uses that directory name; I’m guessing XP does as well. Take a look at your SATA drive and see if there is (er, was) a c:\winnt directory.

the crux is the mbr
that gets usually overwritten when you install an new os
if you want the options of all os when you boot again
you have to rewrite the the mbr

It does sound a little odd though, since XP usually behaves like 2K did and recognises prior installations. I just did a similar thing with my PC, going from an install on F: to a new one on C: and had no problems.

Ooooooooh, I think I know what happened! I just realized, I did a similar thing once. There’s a file that usually (in fact, I think always) resides on C: that lists the options of OS to boot into. I’ll check on my PC and see if I can find it.

OK, here we go:

In C:\ there is a file, boot.ini. You need to have “Hide Protected System Files” or whatever it’s called unchecked in Tools->Folder Options->View (in Explorer) to be able to see and edit it.

Check how many entries there are under “[operating systems]”

Getting XP and W2K to run on the same machine even though different physical drives is an absolute nightmare, i gave up on this some time ago.

Both are based from NT, and both override certain files when being installed from the earlier install, one of these is the ntldr file which i suspect is the one you were missing. These files have the same names but slightly different formats.

No way of recovering as far as i know.


Thank you, I found it, however, now I have another problem, I have two boot.ini files, obviously one for WIn 2K and XP and the other for only XP, is there anyway of editing these or combining them somehow?

Would that file explain why all my drive letters changed? I changed them all back today, no problems thus far.


Thanks for the help.

I had two OS running on the same harddrive, just different partitions, for well over a year, have never had one problem. It seems NTLDR looks very familiar, and that is the file that was missing and thus did not allow me to even boot. I also have a copy of this file I moved over before I reformated C: However, again I have the same problem as above, I now have two of these files. Is there any way to intergrate the two of them?


Thank you, I found it, however, now I have another problem, I have two boot.ini files, obviously one for WIn 2K and XP and the other for only XP, is there anyway of editing these or combining them somehow?

Would that file explain why all my drive letters changed? I changed them all back today, no problems thus far. [/quote]
OK, this is just a suggestion, as I’ve never actually tried this, nor had to, but it’s logically sound. Although this being Windows, that’s not necessarily any indication it’ll actually work.

Opening boot.ini in Notepad will allow you to edit it. I just had to do the same in mine to remove my old XP install from it after deleting it (XP). Just copy the two lines in [operating systems] from the old one (should be obvious by date), and paste them in at the end of the new boot.ini. The default option, listed in the first section of boot.ini, will still be the new XP install, but you should have access to the other two as well. Since boot.ini refers to drives by their partition and not drive letter, this should, should be fine. The current XP install will ignore the old boot.ini (although the fact it’s even still there is… odd. I was under the impression that all of the files related to bootup were on the first partition, ie C:)

I can’t see any logical reason why the drive letters would’ve changed in order, although I can see why the overall range changed: it’s going logically and lettering each hard-drive partition first before going on to expansions like CD drives, DVD drives, etc. Hence the C>I ordering. But the letters themselves are entirely arbitrary anyway, at least to the best of my knowledge.

Could you post your boot.ini contents (new and old ones)? Btw, did the C: backup have the boot.ini? How did you back it up?
btw, Partition Magic has a Drive Mapper utility…

When I originally installed Win2000 it went to the H: drive and the original C: became D: Now C: is the first drive for my 6-1 memory card reader!

Here are a couple of links that might help: … indows.htm
You’ll have to scroll down a bit due to ads … 16357.html
note: this doesn’t have a conclusion…

Here’s what I suggest…

Don’t use the Windows boot manager, use a third party one. I HIGHLY recommend GAG, which can be downloaded from here:

It’s extremely easy to use. There is a README file, but you can pretty well figure it out yourself. It’s a graphical point-and-click boot manager. You can run it from a floppy or cdrom, and if you like it, you can (and should) install it to your hard disk’s mbr. GAG will directly boot Windows and the BSD operating systems. It will boot Linux too, but Linux requires a boot loader (LILO or GRUB) which must be installed in the root partition (not the mbr).

GAG will find all the OSs you have on your system and add them to the boot menu. So if you’ve got two Windows versions installed, it can boot both.


Thanks for all your help guys. I finally decided to give up accessing my previous operating systems. I decided to delete a few older partitions and merge them together and reinstall all programs to that partion after backing up everything I wanted. It was too much of a headache and a risk to try to get anything back the way it was. My drive letters are all still screwed up, but I have managed to rename them with no consequences as of yet. Anyway, thanks for the help and I will certainly keep this information in mind should I decide later on I want to try something else.