New subscriber Jim Boskey wrote to ask a question about active hard drive partitions and Windows.
While a new subscriber, I am not a novice, and have read your articles through PC Pitstop for some time. My career was in programing, and I build and fix PCs as a hobby. However, I have befuddled myself.
Still on Windows XP, I wanted to move my C: drive to SSD, so I did a backup from the original drive and a restore to the SSD. Something must have gone wrong, since now the SSD (C:) is identified as Active and receives all updates, other than Windows. The old drive (J:) is System, and receives the Windows updates.
I can boot from either one, but not get through the Windows start-up unless both drives are attached to the system. I guess I’ve never understood this Active (boot) drive vs. System drive very well.
Am I doomed, or is there some way to combine the drives? I’m planning to go to 8 shortly and don’t want to lose any data files.
Basically, "active" is a hard drive partition status that is independent of Windows. It is the "boot" partition on the ONE partition on the boot drive that the motherboard will attempt to start when you boot the computer.
The "system drive" is a windows-specific term and applies to the partition on which Windows has been installed.
I don’t recall how WinXP set the %system% variable, but I think that may be were Jim’s problem is. I no longer run WinXP so I couldn’t check this out, but I suggested that he take a look at the Windows boot.ini file in the root directory of the SSD. I think it may be pointing to the hard drive partition and not to the SSD partition.
Make sure you have a bootable disk with a text editor on it — remember that changes to boot.ini can make your system unbootable.