Using NT Bootloader to Dual Boot XP for Ghost Recovery of System

I've been asked how to do this privately via ITKnowledge Exchange. I thought I'd submit my response(s) for anyones comment/ideas. ColinNZ

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Basic Steps for Dual Booting NT;2K;XP with something else (like Win98 Recovery):

Please don’t be fooled by the number of words here. Once you understand the process this is incredibly simple.

Small C: (5-20Gb) for System, Programs, and user settings. Large D: (10-60Gb) for ALL user data. Small (100Mb) Win98 Dos partition for recovery boot.
Boot to main operating system, or recover partition via NT Loader boot menu.

1. Install main operating XP (or NT;2K) system – selecting to make C: partition NTFS, and only ~25% of total disk size.
(I use a 10Gb C: on a 30Gb drive, or 15-20Gb c: on an 60-80Gb drive. Depends on how big you think your C: will need to be. Only YOUR experience will tell).

1a. If C: is already taking up entire hard disk use PartitionMagic;BootIT;Acronis; to shrink as required. Note: We’ve had the odd laptop fail to boot after resizing. In this case expand c: back to original size, confirm successful boot, and try a different resizing tool. Possibly someone else will have an answer for why the occasional PC fails after a shrink of c: I’m assuming it has something to do with SWAP file relocation/corruption?

2. Boot main operating system, and use Disk Manager (Right-Click My Computer => Properties) to create & format (quick format – or you’ll be waiting an hour or more) the user data drive (d: NTFS – and a Primary partition – Name=Data).
Make the size of this partition “everything that is left minus ~100Mb”

3. Create the 3rd PRIMARY partition – 100Mb or whatever is left. Format this as FAT32 Name=Recovery

Drive Letters: (This is the way I do it, however it’s up to you)

C: – always allocated to Windows System partition.
D: – 2nd partition – User data
No Drive Letter: – 3rd partition (Fat32). Left without a dive letter to stop either virus or users mucking around in there!
Z: – CDROM. We make this Z (instead of E:) to allow USB keys/camera’s/Cell Phones to be allocated e: (F: is our 1st network drive). If we use e: for CDROM then removable media often is not allocated a drive letter as f;g;h are already taken by Network mappings. As our users are “restricted users” there’s not much they can do to fix the problem – so Z: it is….

4. If you’re following my instructions for doing GHOST backups of c: to file on d: then create a directory d:image for storage if ghost images.
This directory can be hidden to stop users from mucking around with it. I have not played with permissions to stop users getting in there – but that might be worth a try. I don’t think that will affect the ghost process. Not sure without testing.

Dual Booting:

5. Boot from a Win98 floppy (Sorry… Dos 6.22 is not capable of booting further up the drive than 2Gb, so you need Win98 boot floppy).

6. Confirm that c: is empty, and only around 100Mb. Should be, as Win98 DOS won’t see the NTFS partitions.
7. Format c: as system – ie format c: /s (that was ‘slash s’ however this forum removes the slash).

8. Type the following… (don’t muck this bit up.. These instructions assume that the Win98 partition is the 3rd partition, and others are NTFS – see footnote 8a).

Note: Assume <enter key> at the end of each line. Anything looking line ‘0’ is a number (not a letter).

L 100 2 0 1
N C:Bootsect.dos

8a. Note: in the line “L 100 2 0 1” the 2 (hex) refers to the drive that you’re dumping the boot sector of. 2=C, 3=D, 4=E etc. Since we booted via a 98 floppy, the NTFS partitions are hidden, and the Win98 partition will appear as c:

This will create a file called “bootsect.dos” from the boot sector on the Win98 partition in the root of that partition.

9. This file needs to be copied to the root of your nt;2k;xp system drive. I’ll leave the how up to you.

10. reboot the PC (into NT;2K;XP) and In the hidden & readonly file C:BOOT.INI, add the line:

c:bootsect.dos=”Win98 Recovery” (or whatever you wish to call it).

We also usually change the timeout from 30 down to 5 sec, so that if a user isn’t specifically looking for the boot menu under our instruction then they’ll usually miss it.

Credits… (and another safer? way of creating the bootsect.dos file):

11. Test it… On startup, you should now be able to boot successfully to either Windows (NT;2K;XP) or DOS (Win98).

One Use:
You can now use this Win98 recovery partition for an automated GHOST backup/restore of your system (c:) from an image file located in d:image.


P.S. Important Note:
All our users are Domain users who’s passwords change regulally. When you or they create a backup image, it’s important that the user records what their current password is . Otherwise – on restore you have a good PC, but the user can’t log on (we’re assuming that the user is away from the network, on the other side of the world).

An addidtional issue – If the restore image is fairly old, the PC will no longer talk to the domain when the user plugs into the LAN. I assume that machines periodically change their machine account passwords – and that what we’ve done is to restore the machine with an old password.

This is not an issue while the user is still overseas. However once back on our network we occassionally need to remove the machine from the domain, and re-join manually. (Possibly we could just reset the machine account in AD).

This is a small price to pay for getting the user up and running after a fatal op system failure while they’re overseas.


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  • ColinNZ
    GHOST Command line options: (For automated backup) 1st partition (Win2K/XP System) is NTFS 2nd partition (User data - large) is NTFS 3rd partition (Ghost - not given a drive letter under windows so virus does not infect ghost) is FAT32 So - when you boot to 3rd partition it comes up as c: drive. NTFS partitions are not visible from DOS. So all ref to drive is "Drive:Partition" in answer files. The Win98 directory c:ghost contains 4 files: Ghost.exe GHOSTERR.TXT (created by Ghost prog) GIMAGE.TXT (Answer file for backing up 1st partition) GRESTORE.TXT (Answer file for restoring 1st partition) Batch File "Reimage.bat": cd cd ghost ghost.exe @gimage.txt Batch file "Restore.bat": cd cd ghost ghost.exe @grestore.txt File "gimage.txt": -clone,mode=pcreate,src=1:1,dst=1:2imagemainimg.gho -ntic -ntil -sure -rb -quiet File "grestore.txt" -clone,mode=prestore,src=1:2imagemainimg.gho:1,dst=1:1 -sure -rb -quiet Pretty quick and nasty - but it works! Note: You need to take extra care to ensure all user data is on 2nd partition. ie if using Offline files use cachemove.exe to shift cache off c: and onto d: Ensure all outlook mail files (pst/ost/pab) are located on d: (the default location is in users profile on c:). +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ From: marvingaye3 To: ColinNZ Date Sent: 18 May 2005 01:08 EDT (05:08 GMT) Subject: Backup Hi ColinNZ, Can u please email be the batch file when executed will: make a ghost image of of c: drive into an image file located on D: drive and, the batch file which uses ghost to restore c: drive to last known good state. Thanks Marvin
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  • HappyGene
    Colin, Excellent idea! I.d *strongly* recommend having a copyof ntfs4dos handy since MS.s booter sometimes gets confused when the ntfs partition isn.t first in the boot record. Here.s a link to get you started: I.d also recommend out the .chkdsk. and similar utility lines in the config/autoexec as you may need to attempt an xcopy from the partition before allowing utils similar to chkdsk to make any pointer changes. You can always call them from the command line. Cheers, :) Gene
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  • ColinNZ
    Ooops... This forum removes back slashes! Here's two of the files again, with backslashes replaces with forward slashes (they should be backslashes). File "gimage.txt": -clone,mode=pcreate,src=1:1,dst=1:2/image/mainimg.gho -ntic -ntil -sure -rb -quiet File "grestore.txt" -clone,mode=prestore,src=1:2/image/mainimg.gho:1,dst=1:1 -sure -rb -quiet
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  • Mistoffeles
    I find it much easier to install the 98 partition first in the c: drive. Currently I have this: P1 : 30GB FAT32 with multiboot config for "dos 7" and "win 98SE" P2 : 120GB extended partition P2a: 90GB logical drive NTFS P2b: 30GB FAT32 for data transfer and Ghost images P3 : Linux swap P4 : Linux root The only hard part is finding a distro I like as a desktop workstation OS, I may have to bit the bullet and do a "Linux from Scratch" install to get exactly what I want. Thank god I have no use for any flavour Windows on my server, security is much easier without it.
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  • ColinNZ
    Yep... My work laptop is set up to dual boot. There are definitely easier ways to do this if you're able to install Win98 1st - however I was faced with 20 laptops already in service with Win2K. So installing Win98 1st was not an option. If you install Win98 1st, then the debug process is not required to set up the dual boot. (XP sets it up automatically). However... once you understand what's going on with dumping the bootsectors to file with debug - then you can make almost any dual/tripple boot system work. When using Linux I use the "DD" command to dump the bootsect for the Linux boot partition (instead of debug). ColinNZ
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  • Mistoffeles
    Point taken. Although you could have ghosted the w2k systems up, installed win 98, ghosted the w2k back down and fiddled with it all, why waste all that time when you had such an elegant alternative? :)
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