New Build - Dual Hard Drive XP Boot Problem

First off, I'd like to admit my stupidity in what i did, but it made sense at the time. Second of all i do have a work around that seems to work fine, but it is a bit of a hassle each time i boot.

1. Built a new computer with dual physical hdd's. WD - 250gb - sata - 16mb cache.

2. Everything posted fine.

3. Installed xp on the first drive, leaving 80gb unformatted for a future install of linux....installed antivirus, updated drivers. everything was good.

4. At this point, everything works, and is stable so i decide to format the second drive. All of it one partition NTFS. Being fresh off of the install from xp on the first drive, i figure (and my brother recommended) i should boot to the xp cd, and use the provided partition utility. I do, and walk off for a while as it formats. (i chose the full format, not the fast). And i also chose, ONLY to partition, NOT to install windows.

5. I come back a couple of hours later, and somehow the thing had actually started installing windows on the second drive. I tried to cancel out...but it didnt work. I tried rebooting, with the other drive as the priority...didnt work. It kept asking for the windows disk so that it could finish its install no matter what i did.

6. i went ahead let it finish the windows install on the second drive.

7. i rebooted, and up pops a boot choice screen. i find that i can still get to my original install, and that it works fine. so thats good.

8. at this point i figure i should just completely reformat the second drive, and all will be well.

9. i figure out that there is a utility within xp to do just that under disk management. so i run that.

10. a couple of hours later, i come back, and everything is working. until i try to reboot.

11. now when i reboot, it keeps looking for an HAL file, or something similar. i think that its trying to still boot off of the second drive.

12. i go into setup, and switch the hdd priority around to see if that dice.

What else should i try? I had to come to work this morning, so i didnt get to check if the boot selector works or not yet.

I was thinking that there used to be two types of formatting...high level, and low level. where one goes deeper than the other. although, i cant recall which.

Also, i was thinking that somehow there is a file left over from the install somewhere that keeps making the computer look for xp on the second drive.

Or...perhaps its somewhere in the bios...perhaps i should pull the batter, and let it reset?

Any suggestions?

ps, i am going to post this in the hard drive section, as i think it could apply to both. thanks.
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More about build dual hard drive boot problem
  1. Simply put the XP CD in and do a repair on your primary installation.

    Also, I wasn't aware that you could boot from the XP CD and tell it to only partition and format... so that might be your mistake right there. The best way to format an unformatted partition is to do it within Windows if you already have it up and running. Also, if you were going to use this partition for Linux, formatting it with NTFS is a waste of time anyway.
  2. try editing the boot.ini file to get rid of the 2nd xp installation.
    right click my computer - properties - advanced tab - startup and recovery settings.
    top part is system startup click the edit button and delete the second windows xp entry. You should make a backup copy of the boot.ini file before doing this incase you delete the wrong one.
    Main windows xp install shoud be on this line: multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

    The second copy should be on disk 1 or rdisk 1 or something like that.
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