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How to Move the Windows Vista or Windows 7/8.x/10 Boot Manager and Restore the Windows XP NTLDR


Windows Vista or Windows 7/8.x/10 was installed to a new partition on a system where Windows XP was already installed. The bootmgr file and \Boot directory used by the newer versions of Windows were installed on the existing Windows XP partition rather than on the new Windows partition, as was desired. For Windows 8.x/10, the \Recovery folder (WinRE) was also placed on the XP partition.


The Windows XP partition was Active when the newer version of Windows was installed. Consequently, the Windows installer placed the new Windows boot manager and associated files on that partition.


The boot manager for the new Windows installation can be moved from the Windows XP partition to the new Windows partition without the necessity of reinstalling either operating system.

Important: The Windows Vista and Windows 7/8.x/10 booting files must reside on a partition with a NTFS cluster size of 4K (the default size). If your new Windows partition does not have 4K clusters you will not be able to move the booting files to it. An example would be that you've formatted the new Windows partition with 8K clusters. More information can be found in this Microsoft KB article.

Note: These instructions assume that the new Windows partition is a primary partition. If Windows is installed to a logical partition, moving the booting files to the new Windows partition will most likely result in a non-booting system unless using a boot manager such as BootIt BM.

To move the booting files, proceed as follows:

  1. If the new Windows installation is Windows 8.x/10, disable the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE). In most cases, disabling WinRE before moving the booting files allows it to be easily enabled afterwards and, depending on the system, skipping this step may result in a non-functional WinRE after independent booting is established. Due to the nature of WinRE and the multitude of system configurations there may be systems where WinRE requires repairs to function properly.

    1. Boot into the new Windows installation.

    2. Open an Administrator Command Prompt:

      Press WinKey+X (or right-click the lower-left corner of the Desktop) and click Command Prompt (Admin) on the pop-up menu. If a UAC prompt is displayed, click the Yes button.

    3. Run the following command:
      reagentc /disable

    4. Verify that winre.wim now exists in the C:\Windows\System32\Recovery folder. Run:
      dir /a C:\Windows\System32\Recovery

      You should see winre.wim in the list of files. If the file is missing you will likely need to repair WinRE before it can be enabled.

  2. Reactivate BootIt BM if it was deactivated during the Windows installation.

  3. Boot into BootIt BM.

  4. If necessary, edit the Windows XP menu entry and make sure the new Windows (Vista, Win7/8.x/10) partition is not hidden.

  5. From BootIt BM, boot into Windows XP. This will bring up the Windows boot manager and require selecting the Earlier Version of Windows option.

  6. Once XP has booted, enable viewing of hidden and system files. This is necessary to allow access to the Windows boot manager files and can be disabled after the process is complete.

    • Click on Start and then select My Computer.

    • In the Windows Explorer window, select the Tools menu, Folder Options..., then select the View tab.

    • In the Advanced settings box of options, select the Show hidden files and folders option and uncheck the Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) option.

    • Click the OK button to save the changes and close the window. 

  7. Manually copy the file bootmgr (in the root directory, usually C:\bootmgr) and the directory \Boot (usually C:\Boot) from the Windows XP partition to the new Windows partition.  This can be done by dragging-and-dropping in Windows Explorer while holding the right mouse button and then selecting the Copy here option.  It can also be done using the standard Windows Explorer Copy and Paste file moving methods.

    Note: Windows 8.x/10 partitions usually already contain the bootmgr file (no need to copy it).

  8. Boot back into BootIt BM, enter Partition Work, select the new Windows partition, and click the BCD Edit button. Then follow the directions under the Important BCD Settings section of the article How to Use the BCD Edit Feature of BootIt BM.

  9. Ensure that you can boot successfully into the new Windows installation.

    Note: If you receive either of the following errors (or similar errors) when attempting to boot the new Windows partition, the boot sector code needs updated.

    • NTLDR is missing
      Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart

    • This partition does not contain an operating system.
      If you are about to install a new OS then insert the
      installation diskette into drive A:

      Press any key to run the BIOS bootstrap loader...

    To fix this problem, please see the KB article How to Rebuild the Boot Sector for Windows Vista and Windows 7/8.x/10.

  10. The next step is to repair the XP partition's boot sector. This is done by booting into the Windows XP Recovery Console and running the fixboot command. 

    Note: Alternatively, you could use the bootsect program (on the Vista or Windows 7/8.x/10 installation/repair media) to repair the XP boot sector (see the Additional Information section of the KB article linked in the previous step).

    Proceed as follows:

    • Boot to the BootIt BM boot menu and do a simulated boot into XP: Select the XP menu entry, hold down the left Shift key and click the Boot button. If the computer's internal speaker works, you should hear a beep. Doing this step will make sure the XP partition is set as the active partition before booting to the XP Recovery Console.

    • Reboot the computer to your Windows XP CD or XP Setup floppy diskettes.

    • When the Welcome to Setup screen appears, press either R or F10.

    • Follow the instructions shown to access the Recovery Console command prompt. When selecting which Windows you want to repair, 1 (1: C:\Windows) will usually be the correct choice.

    • Once at the command line prompt, run the fixboot command. When asked for a confirmation, type y and then press ENTER.

    • For more information on the Windows XP Recovery Console, please refer to the Microsoft Knowledge Base article Description of the Windows XP Recovery Console.

  11. At this point, you may delete bootmgr and \Boot from the Windows XP partition (due to file access restrictions, you may need to do this when booted to the Windows XP Recovery Console or the Repair Mode Command Prompt of Windows Vista or later). You may also disable viewing of hidden and system files in Windows XP.

  12. Windows 8.x/10 only: Boot into the new Windows installation and reactivate the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE).

    • Start an Administrator mode Command Prompt: Press WinKey+X (or right-click the lower-left corner of the Desktop) and click Command Prompt (Admin) on the pop-up menu. If a UAC prompt is displayed, click the Yes button.

    • Run the following command:
      reagentc /enable

      If there are any errors or issues please refer to Repairing the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE).

  13. Finally, use the BootIt BM BCD editor on the new Windows partition and delete the Earlier Version of Windows entry from the menu. This will allow Windows to boot directly without displaying the menu.

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