How To Dual Boot Windows XP And Vista

Even though Windows Vista has been around for close to two years, there are still many people who can’t bear to get rid of Win XP due to its stability and better hardware support. Luckily you can get the best of both world by creating a dual boot between Vista and XP.

Here is the tutorial to create a dual boot Vista/XP system. It is divided into 3 scenarios: Installing XP/Vista on a blank unformatted hard disk, installing Vista with XP pre-installed, installing XP with Vista preinstalled.  You will find yourself in one of these scenarios.

Installing windows XP and Vista on a blank unformatted hard disk

Step 1: Insert in the WinXP installer CD and boot up the computer into the blue WinXP installer screen.

Press Enter, follow by F8 to reach the hard disk selection screen.


Press C to create a partition. Enter the partition size for WinXP. Press Enter


It will prompt you again to allocate partition size for the remaining space. This time, enter the partition size for Vista and press Enter. Vista will need at least 15 GB of hard disk space.


Once done, the installer will bring you back to the hard disk selection screen, now with two partitioned hard disk.

Select the partition that you going to install WinXP and press Enter.


When it prompts you for partition format, select “Format the partition using the NTFS file system“.


Proceed with the Win XP installation.

Step 2: When you have completed the WinXP installation, insert in the Vista installer CD and reboot the computer into the Vista installer mode.

Follow the instruction on the screen until you reach the point where it asks you to select the partition. Choose the partition that you created for Vista.


Proceed with the installation.

When it is done, it will reboot and you will be able to choose if you want to boot up Win XP (Earlier version of Windows) or Vista.


Dual boot Vista with Win XP pre-installed

Let’s say your hard disk is already installed with Win XP and you want to create a dual boot between your existing Win XP and a new installation of Vista, here’s how you do it.

Follow the instruction here to create a new partition for your Vista installation.

Once you have created a new partition, follow the Step 2 above to install your Vista (make sure you select the correct partition when installing Vista, else you will erase all the data in the WinXP partition).

Dual boot WinXP with Vista pre-installed

If you have bought a new system that comes with Vista pre-installed and you want to create a dual boot between the existing Vista and a new installation of Win XP, here’s how you do it:

Follow the instruction here to create a new partition for your WinXP installation. (Alternatively you can use the Disk management in Vista to resize and create the partition).

Once you have created a new partition, follow the Step 1 above to install your WinXP (make sure you select the correct partition when installing WinXP, else you will erase all the data in the Vista partition).

After you have installed WinXP, you will find that it has erased the bootloader and you can’t boot into your Vista anymore. To fix this, put in your Vista CD and boot the computer into the installer screen.

Choose Repair your computer

Vista repair bootloader

Highlight the Vista partition and click Next

vista bootloader repair select

Click on Startup Repair from the list of option


The installer will now restore your Vista bootloader. When it is done, it will prompt you to restart your system. Click Finish to restart.

vista finish bootloader repair

It should boot back to Vista now.

In your Vista, download and install EasyBCD

Launch the application.


On the left pane, select Add/Remove Entries. On the right pane in the Add an Entry section under the Windows tab, select Windows NT/2k/XP/2k3 under the Type dropdown bar. Name it Windows XP and click Add Entry.


Close the EasyBCD application and restart your system. You should be able to select to boot into Windows Vista or XP now.


That’s it!

Damien Damien

Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.


  1. Hi, I just wanted to thank you for writing this guide, now my brother and I can finally use our pc without having to fight over which os to install.


  2. Hi Damien,

    Met you at SMB5. Your blog looks interesting. Shall keep a lookout because I just clean install Ubuntu 8.10 and seeing if there is anything I should install.

    1. Thanks for visiting. Hope you like it.

      Ubuntu is my favorite distro and I am sure you won’t be disappointed too.

  3. Hi Damien,

    This guide is great, thanks! Unfortunately, I can’t seem to get to choose the option of Vista or XP without having the Vista Install dvd in the drive. Which is weird, cause I did exactly as you said earlier (that would prevent this from happening). Without the dvd in it just goes straight to XP.

    Any thoughts on what else I can try to do to fix this? Or am I doomed to always have the dvd at the ready whenever I want to run Vista?


  4. @Nicholas: I assume that your computer has Vista pre-installed and you dual-boot with WinXP. Did you use the Vista installer disk to repair the boot record?

    Alternatively, if the above steps don’t work, download and install Easybcd on your WinXP. Run it in your WinXP, it should detect Vista and fix your boot record.

  5. Hi Damien,

    I am having a system with vista ultimate already installed and want to dual boot it with XP. I tried following the steps given here. The problem I encounter is that when Xp asks the place to install, it does not see the second partition. It defaults the installation to the first partition which has Vista in it. I have no idea how to get over this.

    Is there any way to get dual-boot in my system?


    1. There can only be two possibilities: The second partition is not created successfully or it is not formatted in ntfs format.

      You should be able to check from your Vista whether the new partition is created successfully. Go to your Windows explorer and see if there is a new drive. If you see only the C: drive, it means that the new partition does not exist.

      1. Hi Damien,

        Thanks for the prompt reply. The partition is created successfully and is formatted in NTFS format. In fact, I am able to save other files in that particular partition. Only when I try installing the second OS, I am unable to see the partition. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


        1. Nirmal,

          You might have to change the drive letter for the newly partitioned drive in Vista. In some cases, the existing drive letter could conflict with the CD-rom drive letter and that’s why you can’t see the partition when you boot up XP installer CD.

          Hope this helps


        2. hello Nirmal I was reading the problem you have when you try to install xp , I wanted to know if you ended up finding a solution or you are still stuck with the same problem ! any solutions will be very appreciated !

  6. Hi Damien, I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction here. I have vista pre-installed on my system and I don’t want to wipe out everything to install windows 7 beta, you know just to test it out. Would you be able to help me with this? Can I follow this same procedure for vista-windows 7 dualboot?

    When I tried to shrink my C: partition it is not letting me shrink more than 1mb. Thanks :)

    1. I am trying to shrink it by using the Disk Management method, sorry forgot to mention. Happy new year :)

    2. Regarding the Windows 7 dual boot, I can’t really help you at the moment because I do not have a copy of Windows 7 beta to test on. Probably until I get my hands on one.

    3. Yes you can. I have done it and it works fine.

      i used this guide

      and there are some others just google dual boot and “windows 7” eventually something should come up but it’s the same as you see above. but the disk management partioning didn’t work for me. I read tons of comments on one guide and everyone used “Perfectdisk” to defrag at startup. Then created a partition in disk Manag. Then installed windows 7 on the partition. Didn’t need easybcd. They both showed up. only problem now is Windows 7 is my default but i can boot to both.

  7. another tutorial i used. same method. Note: this one says you have to format fat32. I didn’t i used ntsc and it worked fine. not sure why they say that but i’m no expert.

    oh i easybcd finally allowed me to change the default OS and after assigning a drive letter in disk managment to the big partion under windows 7 it’s all good

  8. Hi again Damien,

    I’ve only had one issue since successfully installing Vista 64 Ultimate with my XP SP3.

    Data dvds that I make in Vista, either with the built in burning software or a free 3rd party program like BurnAware aren’t recognisable on other drives! But if I do it on XP then it works the same as always. For example, if I wanted to burn some divx videos to data dvd then play them on my dvd player (with divx playback), I’d have to make sure I was in XP as a disc burned in Vista just isn’t recognised by my dvd player.

    My disc drive is an ASUS LightScribe and I have checked for the latest drivers while in Vista, I haven’t been able to find out any more info about this problem on the web so far.

    Do you have any suggestions?


    1. I guess the issue is not about the disc drive, but the software that you use to burn your data. You might want to give Nero burner a try?

  9. Hi Carl,

    I kind of had of had the same problem for some time.. I uninstalled the pre-installed Vista, re-formatted the hard drive. Then I made two partitions C and D. I installed XP first on drive D first. without updating XP, I installed Vista on C.. used EasyBCD to change the entries and everything seems to work fine…. The problem i find now is when I boot up XP, sometimes the internet connection doesn’t work.


  10. VISTA uses an advanced version of NTFS; encryption, compression etc not supported by Linux, XP, etc. VISTA has usually a hidden partition at the end of the main HDD; this can be NTFS-COMPRESSED, allowing SP1, etc to be added to it, but cannot be transferred to a DVD of any kind AFASIK.

    VISTA-HOME takes 2 DVD BACKUPS for DVD re-installing. Haven’t tried re-installing from one DUAL-LAYER DVD yet. Also, on my HP Pavillion, it seems impossible to partition as mentioned in the article; just half the main HHD, twice only,so that the smallest partition that I can make is a quarter of the main HDD.

    Had to use the latest version of Ranish Partition Manager to create the partitions, before installing any operating systems.

    Greg Zeng, Australian Capital Territory.

  11. I formated a new HD two partitions C: and D: (Parted Magic). WinXP installed on the partition C: and now I install Win 7 in partition D:. How will stay the MBR? I can achieve with Dual Boot automatically, installing Win 7?

    Thank You very much.

    1. If you install WinXP first, follow by Win 7, the MBR will auto correct by itself. After the installation, you should see the black screen for you to select “Older version of windows” or “Windows 7” in the bootup screen. You can follow the this article for the full documentation:

  12. I have been trying to get a dual boot functioning correctly for a short time but am haveing some problems. I have followed your guide as well as a few others, but still cannot get the results I want. Here is the setup:

    computer has 4 hd; 320gb ide, 2x120gb SATA, 750gb SATA.
    Vista 64 installed on the first 120gb SATA
    WinXP installed on the second 120gb SATA in 20gb partition
    Win 7 Beta installed on the 320gb ide drive

    Vista installed first, then I installed XP but I had disconnected the vista drive before installing XP. I have now reinstalled XP to the same drive as before but I left the Vista drive connected. I have to change the boot drive in the bios to the XP drive to allow booting to it. The boot loader has XP and Vista listed but not Win 7. If I change the bios to boot to the Vista drive I can choose either Vista or Win 7. I have run EasyBCD in both XP and Vista and in the Settings window I get three entries, but the boot manager only lists two entries to choose from when when booting, depending on which drive is set as the boot drive in the bios. Any suggestions for fixing this problem?

    1. Hey there

      not sure if this will help but this is how i did it, i have 2 hdds, a 250 and a 320 in my system and am runninge windows xp/vista and windows 7.

      What i did was install xp first on the 250 with a partion of 100g and then ran the vista cd from with in xp and clicked clean install, it asked me what drive i wanted it on so i clicked the second partion, once that was done i ran windows 7 from with in vista and did the same thing clicked on clean install and clicked the 320g hdd.

      Now when i boot i have all 3 listed on the boot loader screen.

      I did a dual boot of xp and vista on another system and used EasyBCD and it took me 2 days to get it to work but that is ok for me i like to learn that kinda stuff, you can use EasyBCD or try to do a install starting with xp and then just load the cd’s from with in the os’s and click clean install, that should get you all 3 on and going :)

      Hop this helps

  13. I have a dual boot with XP and VISTA Business each on their own drives. When I boot to XP, XP is listed as drive C and VISTA is listed as drive D. When I boot to VISTA, VISTA is now listed as drive C and XP is listed as drive D. Is there a way to keep them the same?

    XP was loaded first on this box.


    1. For your current setup, it is not possible to keep the drive letters the same. However, if you do a reinstallation, Vista first follow by XP, then the drive letter will be maintained, in both Vista and XP.

      1. That all depends on the cd he has, if its the full vista then he can do that… If its the upgrade then he can’t, at least i couldn’t with my upgrade vista cd.

        What i tryed was to install vista as a clean install on a clean hdd but it wouln’t let me do that unless i had a o.s. on that drive then it would do a upgrade to that O.S. or do a clean install.

        So i just installed XP first then install vista and i named the drives i.e. xp was on drive c with out vist install so i named that drive XP, then added the second drive and install vista to it and named it vista so that way no matter what O.S. i was in i would know what drive i was on.

  14. hi Damien,

    Well from the comments it seems your instructions are correct but i have a problem, i don’t have my Vista CD that is needed in one of your steps. Is there anyway i can do to still do this dual boot?

  15. Yeah, I didn’t receive a Vista DVD with my computer purchase. I think it’s installed and if I need to do a system restore, the files are installed on the computer.

  16. well check and see if in your all program list if there is a system restore cd maker for your system… I know HP does that i bought 2 3.0GHZ systems that had Vista installed on the drive and i got a popup every 5 days to make a restore cd for those systems.

    I forget whats its call but if your system is a HP the look for some thing like HP Control Center and in that or some thing like it will be a option to make a restore cd.

    Once you have that you should be good to go with dual boot and if you mess up you have the restore cd’s

  17. No it doesn’t. I’ve checked everywhere on my computer and it doesn’t have a restore cd maker.

  18. I have a question. I just installed vista ultimate on my system running xp sp3. i did not make a separate partition. i had my two 500g hard drives in raid 0. before i did the install my computer said that my hard drive was about half full. i unraided my drives. not i can only boot in vista and all my files are gone! it shows disk c and disk d. it says i have 20 gig used on disk c and disk d is not formatted. HOW CAN I RESTORE XP, OR AT LEAST RECOVER THE IMPORTANT FOLDERS ON MY HARD DRIVE. I HAVE 100GIG OF VERY IMPORTANT FOLDERS AND AUDIO FILES.

  19. If he tries to recreate the RAID0 he will have to reformat the drives, which would destroy any data left even if it could be syncronized correctly, not ot mention losing the Vista install too. A good learning experience at the least.

  20. I have a problem and I’m wondering if anybody can help. I orginally had XP installed on C:. I then installed Vista on my D:. Recently, I formatted my C:, and now my Vista stopped working. How do I fix the boot so it boots straight into Vista?

    1. You can use the Startup repair with Vista Installer DVD or use easyBCD to edit the startup entry



  22. Damien,

    I have a Win XP x64 system and would like to add Vista Home Premium 32-bit as an alternate OS. I am going to install a second hard drive, but am not sure how to get Vista to recognize the second drive for an installation. Can you help?

    Also, will any applications currently running under Win XP x64 that I wish to run under Vista have to be installed under Vista also?

    1. Boot up with the Vista installer DVD. On the option page, you should be able to choose which drive to install your Vista.

      Your Vista won’t be able to run the 64-bit Win Xp programs.

  23. Damien,

    please help me i have my pc with vista buet i cant install a game called¨warrock and anygame… so after some trys i tried installing xp… but i dont do any partition anythinG!

    just in the installation i install it in a folder named windows2 because if i installed it in the folder windows(wich is from vista) it would ruin my vista…

    then it boot xp and in xp i can install and play warrock and in xp i look all my documents and see all my videos and music..

    but theres no boot option for vista or xp.. it just loads xp…

    can you help me or i can do what is above? (try to repair vista)

    vista and xp are in the same drive in the same partition i just have one HD and its c:/

    can you give me a guide or if i do the same?

    1. If you have a Vista installer DVD, boot it up to the installer page and select Startup Repair. Alternatively, you can try bcdedit to configure your startup option.

  24. hi guys i have dual boot of vista 32bit and xp sp3 in two harddisks of 250gb and 80gd
    the problem is taht i cant see the the drive of xp in vista and in disk managmnt it is givn as unallocated bt in xp i can access both the drive so plz help me

  25. Basically same question as Ron:

    Is there a way to install XP and Vista such that I can boot into either OS, but share the user accounts and applications between the two OS’s?

    I would really not like to have to install/maintain all my apps in two places, and then deal with potential licensing/activation issues for apps (such as MS Office) that are licensed for one install. This would be a big waste of space, as well.

    Worse, though, is having my user data in two places. Then, I’d have to worry about where the current version of each document resided. Things like email mailboxes would get really messed up if I tried using them from both OS’s.

    I was actually hoping there was a way to install both OS’s on the _same_ partition (we used to be able to do this on the Mac before OS X), and then select which OS to boot. This doesn’t look possible with Windows, but is there at least a way to share users & applications (without running under a domain controller)?

    1. If there’s really a need for you to have both XP and Vista in the same computer, perhaps you can try virtualbox/vmware and install Xp as a virtual machine inside your Vista. In this way, you can access to both OS and share the resources at the same time.

      1. Running XP as a virtual machine still doesn’t really get me what I want, since with that you still have separate locations for all the apps and user directories, so the apps need to be installed twice, and many apps are hard-coded to store data in the distinct user folders.

        Truth is, I’m already running Windows as a virtual machine under Mac OS X, although I can also boot directly into Windows if I need that last 10% of performance. So, having one VM for XP and another for Vista is no problem, and I can access data from one side on the other. But there are some basic things (like MS Office) that I’d like installed on both the XP and Vista sides, and don’t want to run into licensing / activation issues with multiple copies, but can give it a try. I was just hoping there was a better way (where one OS could be directed to access apps and user folders from the other’s partition).

        On the Mac, I can easily launch Apps that are located on the non-boot volume, and everything just works. But Windows’ reliance on the Registry generally makes this difficult under Windows.

    2. Mari,

      I have successfully installed Win XP 64-bit on one drive and Vista 32-bit on another drive. However, any applications do have to be installed under the operating system in order for the registries to be properly configured. Installing Win XP first followed by Vista did provide a boot option to select the operating system. This boot option comes out of Vista so it should be installed after XP.

  26. That is just ace!
    My old drive is failing on me as we speak and I need to grab new set of drives – I was thinking of going with XP once again, but reading this I am going to buy Vista and pop them together.

  27. Hi everybody.

    I have a tablet PC. Hp TouchSmart tx2 1020us. I have preinstalled genuine Windows Vista 64-bit, service pack 1(I dont have any disc to repair my computer). AMD turion X2. And I have one hard disk partitioned in four drives (as I see on my computer’s properties): Local Disk(C:)98Gb free of 143Gb New Volume(D:)70/70, New Volume (E:)70/70, Recovery(F:)1.96 free of 12Gb.

    I want to install Windows XP but I heard from my uncle that Windows Vista works with different a File System (not with NTFS) than windows XP that works with NTFS. He said that if I install Windows XP in one of those new volume partitions that OS is not going to work, and if it does maybe I will lost my Hard Disk.

    -Its that true?
    -If there is no problem to install xp, Can I repair my computer making the recovery disk? I dont wanna waste my vista
    -I know that there aren’t drivers to tablet pc on Windows XP, (or maybe with XP service Pack 3), but my question is, Will I be able to use my computer at least in the normal mode, like a normal laptop?

    Sorry by my english and
    Thanks in advance!!! (from Peru)

    1. I am not sure where your uncle received that information, but both Windows XP and Vista (even Windows 7) run on NTFS file format.

      For your situation, you won’t be able to install Windows XP because you have a 64-bit system. Windows XP only runs on 32-bit system.

      1. OHH thanks for your answer !

        but are you sure?? How could be this possible???
        Any advice? How can I get XP on my tablet? :(
        with a external Hard disk (HD) ??

        thank you

      2. Vista was originally supposed to ship with a new file system, “WinFS”, based on a relational database. This was to be one of the three core “pillars” of Vista. As the release schedule kept dragging out, WinFS was dropped, along with a number of other core components. Some of these made it into Windows 7, but WinFS appears to be dead.

        There is a 64-bit version of Windows XP (“x64”), and you can install (32-bit) Windows XP on 64-bit systems just fine. Many people do this, due to the problems getting 64-bit drivers for many devices. You won’t be taking advantage of 64-bit addressing, but most applications don’t benefit from it anyway.

  28. Hi, again. Ive heard that exist a XP – 64 bits. Also exist some OS like Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 but in 64bits?
    Would I be able to install windows xp 64bits on my tablet….and if that happens….. How many options will remain disable on the tablet? (dont care if I cant use as a tablet)


    1. Truthfully, I have not tried the 64-bit version of XP and Vista, so I don’t know if they are working the same as 32-bit. Theoretically, they should be the same, but I might be wrong on this.

  29. I have tried everything as directed to dual boot vista with xp when vista is installed first. The problem i am running into is that my sata hdd is not found by the xp install. I partitioned correctly using vista disk management and formatted the xp partition using ntfs file system. the trouble is, like i said when i go to install xp it says no hdd found. is there a way to do this on a sata drive? when hitting f6 to install 3rd party drivers it only gives me the option of using a floppy and there is no floppy drive on my machine and no way to use a ribbon cable. any help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Your main problem is that the Win XP installer disc does not detect the SATA drive. What you should do is to use nlite and create a custom copy of the WinXP installer disc with the SATA driver included.

      You can check out this article for more detail on nlite.

      1. thanks for the info. that looks like what i need. I’ll let you know how it works out. This seems like the best tech site ever and is now in my favorites. And thankyou again!!!

  30. I am not that techie type but can I use Verbatim mediastation external hard drive for dual booting? I have vista on laptop and could I use my external hard drive for booting XP? Can you enlighten me with this? I hope you get my question LOL

  31. I installed vista ultimate 32 bit 1st and then installed xp. I downloaded and installed easybcd on Vista and created the option for xp. When I select vista it works great but xp gives the following error: “system32hal.dll. Please re=install a copy of the above file.”

    I tried to reinstall it by booting with the xp cd, running the repair utility, and expand the hal.dll file from the xp cd over to the d drive (where xp is installed) with no luck. Any suggestions on how to fix this?


    1. @David: If you install Win XP first, follow by Vista, you will not have this problem. This issue occurs mainly because there is a mix up in the boot sequence. You will have to edit the boot.ini to fix the problem.

      Check out this article ( on how to edit the boot.ini file.

  32. I installed vista ultimate 32 bit 1st and then installed xp. I downloaded and installed easybcd on Vista and created the option for xp. When I select vista it works great but xp gives the following error: “\system32\hal.dll. Please re=install a copy of the above file.”

    I tried to reinstall it by booting with the xp cd, running the repair utility, and expand the hal.dll file from the xp cd over to the d drive (where xp is installed) with no luck. Any suggestions on how to fix this?


  33. I have a Dell workstation running XP 64 I have added a second HDD and have installed Vista 64
    Have configured to Domain with the same name in Vista & XP all works well in Vista however when booting in XP trying to login as a users domin cannot be found? Howevere login as local administrator and can see domain?

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