Forewarned is forearmed...
My desktop PC runs Windows Vista/Windows 7. How can I install Windows XP on an external eSATA or USB-connected hard disk drive without having to reinstall Windows?
CLICK HERE! TO RETURN TO THE HARD DISK DRIVE PROBLEMS PAGES
My desktop PC runs Windows Vista Home Premium. It has a 500GB SATA hard disk drive and I also have a 500GB external eSATA hard disk drive. I want to install Windows XP Professional on the external hard drive without having to reinstall Vista, but I understand that doing so is more difficult than adding Vista to an XP system and that it is not even straightforward to add XP to an external hard drive. I need to do this because I still use software, such as Quicken 98, Dreamweaver 3 and MS Office 95, that won't run on Vista. Instructions on the web on how to install two operating systems on one hard disk drive are available, but I haven't been able to find anything about using two hard drives - one internal and one external.
You have to install different operating systems on different drive letters. With Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 (or any other version of Windows) those drive letters can represent different partitions on the same hard disk drive or different physical hard drives. However, as you said yourself, there are a number of issues involved in adding Windows XP to an external hard drive and in adding XP to an existing Vista PC. Starting with the earlier version of an operating system and then adding later versions is always easier than doing it the other way around.
Note that in order to boot from a CD/DVD disc, the CD/DVD drive must be set as the first boot device in the PC's BIOS setup program.
The first issue is that you need to have a Windoes Vista (or Windows 7) installation DVD, not a recovery disc that many PC manufacturers provide that can restore Vista but cannot be used as an installation disc.
The second issue is: Vista and XP use different boot loaders. Windows XP can be booted using Vista's boot loader, but the Windows XP setup program doesn't know anything about Vista, which is its successor, and consequently Vista's boot loader is overwritten when XP is installed.
Because Windows Vista cannot boot using XP's boot loader, the Vista installation DVD has to be used to repair the Vista boot loader after installing XP. If you don't have a Vista installation disc, you can't install XP on a Vista system.
The third issue is whether or not the computer's BIOS setup program has an option to boot from external hard disk drive. If the motherboard has an eSATA port, the BIOS will have an option to boot from an eSATA port. If the drive is USB-connected, there may be an option to boot from a USB device. If there is no USB option, perhaps installing a BIOS update from the motherboard manufacturer's website will add one.
An external eSATA drive connects to an eSATA port on the computer's motherboard, which shouldn't be problematic. Nor should an external drive that is connected to the PC by an SATA cable to a header on the motherboard problematic, because it it should function like an internal SATA hard drive. However, if it was a USB¬connected hard drive in a hard-drive enclosure, it is likely to be more problematic.
The fourth issue is: does the Windows XP installation CD contain the correct device drivers for the motherboard's SATA controller? Software device drivers are designed to make specific types of hardware, such as SATA hard disk drives, function. If they are missing the hardware cannot function. It won't have the correct drivers unless it is a slipstreamed disc that the correct drivers have been added to along with the missing Windows XP service packs (SP1, SP2, SP3).
Visit the Recovering Windows XP section of this website for information on creating a slipstreamed XP or Vista installation CD/DVD.
If the XP install disc doesn't have the correct drivers, the Windows XP setup procedure probably won't recognise the external hard drive. If it recognises the drive it will probably hang during the first reboot in the setup procedure. The Windows XP setup allows extra drivers for a SATA controller to be installed at startup, but, unfortunately, it wants to be loaded from a floppy disk in a standard floppy disk drive. A external USB floppy disk drive or USB flash drive won't be accepted.
If you encounter this problem, you'll have to create a slipstreamed Windows XP CD, which includes the correct drivers for the PC's motherboard's SATA controller. The easiest method is to use a program called nLite that guides you through the process.
With the correct device drivers installed, the Windows XP installation should recognise the eSATA drive and allow you to install XP on it.
As stated earlier, Windows XP will install its own boot loader on the first hard disk drive, which overwrites the Vista boot loader.
To correct this, boot from the Vista DVD. When the setup gets to Install Now, select the option called Repair Your Computer, which allows you to choose which copy of Vista to repair. You only have one copy, so select it. Next, choose Startup Repair, which automatically detects problems that prevent Vista from booting, such as a corrupt boot loader.
The PC should now be able to boot into Vista, but the repair process will have removed the ability to boot into Windows XP.
You can edit Vista's boot configuration files manually, but easiest way to rectify that is to use a free program called EasyBCD from http://neosmart.net/EasyBCD/, which does the work for you and is easy to use. It allows you to add the boot entries for many operating systems.
Since you have a Windows Vista PC , you could discover that the Windows XP installation doesn't support all of its hardware when you boot the system from it. If that is the case, you have find and install the drivers for any hardware that is not automatically recognised. However, new computers often contain new hardware and the manufacturer's websites might not provide XP drivers. If that is the case, third-party drivers might be available, which you can find by using a suitable search query, such as devicemake + model + xp + drivers, in a search engine. The following MS Knowledge Base article addresses the problem that its title describes.
Windows Vista no longer starts after you install an earlier version of the Windows operating system in a dual-boot configuration -
Click a link below to visit the described category of computer problems and solutions addressed on this website:
Click a relevant link below to visit the information it describes on this website:
Also visit the Software pages on this site for more information on specific software-related information and problems.
Click here! to contact me concerning the problem addressed on this page or the PC Buyer Beware! website.
CLICK HERE! TO RETURN TO THE HARD DISK DRIVE PROBLEMS PAGES
PC Buyer Beware! Copyright © Eric Legge 2004-2013. All rights reserved.