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Dual-boot...which one?!

Last response: in Windows Vista
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May 28, 2009 11:19:57 PM

So I'm going to buy a new I7 system with a brand new and powerful GPU capable of running games with high detail, with 6Gb or Ram tri-channel...you know all that stuff! The thing is, I'm one of those persons that actually buys PC games and I have a bunch of older original games and some are know to have compatibility issues with 64bit SOs. So I could stick with XP or Vista 32 and solve the question but then I'd have 2Gb of Ram not being recognized by the SO and only 3Gb usable, so I'd need (even if I don't want it) a 64bit SO!

So my questions is this, which is dual-boot is the best option:

-XP Pro 32 + Vista Ultimate 64
-XP Pro 32 + XP Pro 64
-Vista 32 + Vista Ultimate 64

The 32bit OS would be used to run older applications and games that don't run in 64bit OSs and the 64bit OS would be used to run everything new,like newer games and applications that actually run better on 64bit OSs and take advantage of let's say DX10.

I apologize if this has already been asked many times before but I really need to know this. And BTW having a WD Velociraptor 300Gb how should I partition it for the dual-boot? In terms of space dividing that is.

More about : dual boot

May 29, 2009 3:26:15 AM

I'd go for XP Pro 32 + Vista Ultimate 64. I wouldn't mind "wasting" actually 2.25GB of RAM, since I'll probably do more work under the 6GB made possible by Vista Ultimate anyway.

Regarding partition, just allot 20GB for your XP installation, and the rest for your Vista 64. You can always install programs on your Vista partition anyway, since it will appear as D: under XP.

An alternative is using a low-capacity hard disk for XP, and your 300GB for Vista. I've read that maintaining two partitions on the same physical disk can reduce performance.
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May 29, 2009 11:49:54 AM

That was actually my next question, would it reduce performance on the VR to have it partitioned. So that means that I only need a few Gb of space to the XP installation and I can install every 32bit application on the Vista drive as though it was a secondary/data drive? But when I boot from Vista won't it make some confusion because there are 32bit apps on it that actually don't run. Let me simplify the question, won't there be a lot of stuff on the Vista drive that doesn't work on Vista and won't it cause any kind of conflict?

Thanks for the reply.
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May 29, 2009 1:03:30 PM

Ive been running multi boot on the same drive for years.
At one point I had 3 op systems on the same drive including windows 3.1
Having them on seperate drives is a good idea from different reasons but I dont think performance is a problem. I havent had any problems.

There are a few things that you can consider depending on what you choose.

2 different drives can be helpful for system segregration and backups as XP deletes the Vista restore points.
I think it was Badge that created a post in the vista forum that addresses how to work around that.

2 different drives would also be helpful with the page files of each system.
Put the XP page file on the Vista drive and vice versa for a little better performance.

If you want the same program on both systems, install it where you want it to be and then reboot to the other system and install it again to the same place.
It doesnt matter where you put them as the installer will make all of the correct registry entries. (unless the program is REAL old)
This saves a tremendous amount of disk space.
I have only run accross a few programs that had a problem with that.
I wouldnt recommend that for AV or other system protection progams. Well at least I dont do that.

As for gaming I generally run them all in Vista. Im running 32 bit right now but I dont have any problems. You will see alot of posts that say gaming and Vista are bad, but I figure it must have a lot to do with their hardware or something else..
Ive done it both ways with Crysis, Warhead, and Flight Sim X which are 3 of the most demanding things out there and I stick with Vista.

Just remember when putting this together.
Get the correct drivers for both systems installed and working correctly.
When it comes time for windows updates dont just pile them on.
The key to success is do a little run for awhile and do a little more.
If something does go wrong it is easier than trying to figure out which of the 37 updates or drivers is causing a problem.

Once you get everything working in a good bare bones stable condition use some kind of disk imaging software to capture the moment. Then if problems arise you wont have to go through an entire reload.
PS: make a third partition somewhere to store the images and a cd backup just in case.

Good luck and if I can help more, post back Pat
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May 29, 2009 1:38:37 PM

I've been recommended in a Portuguese PC Forum to buy an OCZ Vertex 60Gb (for instance since they cost the same) instead of the WD VR 300Gb and I had a big talk through PMs with that guy about that, but for space reasons I still though that I was better served with the VR. Now I see and know that I MUST HAVE a dual-boot 32/64bit on my system HDD so it came to my mind that the Vertex was now a better option.

Going slightly off-topic, for this to work and as you say I should have two drives, one for each OS, so is it possible to partition an SSD? I've been googling but found no definitive answers...

If that's possible then would it be feasible to do something like this:

1 - Partition Vertex 10/50Gb to XP 32/Vista 64 system directories only
2 - Have a second physical HDD like WD Caviar Black 1Tb and install apps there
3 - Boot from XP and run apps installed on Caviar Black
4 - Boot from Vista and runs apps installed on Caviar Black

And as you say I could install the same apps on both OSs to the same folder but wont it cause conflict between 32 and 64bit? Or is it better for the sake of sanity and considering the small price of 1Tb+ drives to have a separate folder for each OS's apps? For instance:

Caviar Black root:

32bit folder
-Program Files folder
-Games folder

64bit folder
-Program Files folder
-Games folder

Is this feasible or a good option? One more thing...where the hell would the MyDocs folder of each OS go? Or the 10/50Gb partitions would be enough to have the need-to-have files there and reroute storage of all the other stuff like docs and pics to another individual folder on the Caviar Black?

Sorry if I sound too confusing or confused, but I'm one of those guys that goes the whole nine yards when start asking questions,lol!
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May 29, 2009 4:33:31 PM

There's no reason I can see why partitioning a solid state drive shouldn't work or cause conflicts. Basically it is the same as any non-volatile flash memory, it should be able to be partitioned as you can do with a USB flash drive. Although new, the technology is quite common now in the latest release laptops... especially of the EEC ilk, and more often than not these laptop HDD's are nowadays released with an OEM OS which include a recovery partition as opposed to CD's / DVD's.

I agree with all of the above advice, but am wondering why for a new i7 rig you are contemplating Vista X64 and XP X86 OS's. Why not try the Windows 7 X64 RC1 release to the public and XP X86 dual boot instead? You have nothing to lose... I believe the 7 RC1 is upgradeable when you purchase the OS.

I do like Vista, but Windows 7 has personally won me over. It has faster start up / shutdown time than Vista, I've encountered less compatibility issues with 7 than Vista (don't know why this is, it's the same kernel, maybe software developers have adopted 7 more readily) and basically found it to run very smoothly, and this is with the beta release.

*shrugs* Just food for thought.
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May 29, 2009 5:06:44 PM

So a Vertex SSD 60Gb just for OS's directories and a second HDD for apps is definitely a better choice than a VR 300Gb with OSs and apps installed in it, both 32 and 64bit (on two partitions also)? And it is a good idea to separate setup folders of 32 and 64bit apps as I described above?

Window 7 is totally unknown to me, hell even Vista is a bit of a stranger since I've been on XP like forever! I just want to put a nice decent and rock stable dual-boot with the best performance possible. I guess the best choice in that matter is using the description above, SSD Part1 (XP) + SSD Part2 (Vista) + Caviar HDD (apps and storage)?!

Thanks to all that replied.
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May 30, 2009 2:30:44 PM

I think with the proper care the SSD will be ok.
Something that you will have to concern yourself with on a drive that size is you may have to point the temp files and the restore points to the data drive.
Vista more than XP grows as it ages due to the way that it stores dll files for compatability.
I cant remember the exact name of this service offhand (Ill edit later) but Vista stores the DLLs that a progam installs with to prevent compatability issues in the winsxs folder and this folder is always getting bigger.
It does this so the program always has the dll that it wants instead of a different version that could cause prolems. Otherwise known as "dll hell"

As for the SSD I have never used one but I know they are very fast. I just dont want to see you get caught up with size issues later on.
If it were me I would keep the 300G that you have and use it for XP and the 1TB if you get it (it doesnt have to be that big) for Vista and select which at boot.
Then just aim the page files to the opposite drives for performance.

Another option could be to put Vista on the SSD for speed as it will be the one that you use the most and XP on the 300G in its own partition and the rest for programs and backups.

As for the my docs and other folder like it I can tell you how to point them so that they are all the same places eg. XP mydocs and Vista my docs = common my docs.
Thats easy.
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May 31, 2009 1:09:21 AM

Doesn't that service you talk about Vista have parameters for maximum size like the amount of disk space the Sysvol folder on XP takes? Or does it just grow on and on endlessly? I haven't got that of swapping the locations of PF to different partitions, what exactly does it do?

I'm still unsure on buying the SSD for two reasons, the reduced amount of free space given the high price and the youth of this technology. If I give 240€ ($336) for a 60Gb SSD now there's always the chance that one year from now that price will apply to a 250 or 300Gb SSD that now costs nearly 800€ (more than $1000). And probably a more reliable one! As for the VR it is slower than any SSD but it's a proven fact that it is really good and it has 240Gb more than the SSD with the same price.

Any advice you want to give on improving performance under Vista and/or dual-boot I'd by glad to hear. If you see that this is going off-topic you can always PM me.

Oh and BTW I don't actually own a 300Gb VR...I'm going to buy either one of those or an SSD for system drive. Hence my questions and doubts! And they cost roughly the same, OCZ Vertex 60Gb and WD VR 300Gb.
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May 31, 2009 1:39:22 PM

The Vista and W7 systems use the new service and it is different than sysvol.
Yes it always grows everytime you put on a new program.
Here is a link to help explain it.
http://www.winvistaclub.com/f16.html

As for the SSD or the VR debate you are completely correct. The prices are coming down and the capacity is going up. I dont see it as a wise investment at this point personally. I would go for the drive with the highest capacity and the fastest throughput.
My current HDD is 250G divided roughly in half with XP on one side and Vista on the other. I have several games currently on it including Crysis, Warhead, Flight Sim X,
Far Cry 2, Ms Office all on Vista and several of the same on XP plus WOW for the kid with every update and add on available and I still have quite alot of space. So I think the 300G will serve you well for some time to come.
I must add though that I have a 500G external drive used mainly for movies and music storage.

As for the swapping of the page files you need 2 HDDs. It doesnt work with one drive and 2 partitions.What that does is enable you to read and write to both drives at the same time. Your system is much faster than a HDD so it can be reading or writing from drive A and if it decides that it needs something from the page file on drive B it can do that at the same time. It isnt as important as it once was with MBs using so much more memory, but it does still help a fair amount at certain times.

One other advantage of Vista is that you can dynamically change the sizes of your partitions without having to reload the whole mess as you do with XP. A damn fine feature.
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May 31, 2009 9:29:57 PM

Quote:
One other advantage of Vista is that you can dynamically change the sizes of your partitions without having to reload the whole mess as you do with XP. A damn fine feature.
Yes this looks pretty useful indeed! I once used Partition Magic to do that but it allocated those 8Mb of space that are reserved I think for the file allocations tables, when you're partitioning a disk using XP's setup you'll always end with 8Mb of unallocated space that's the one. So PM allocated that space as usable and by the time I defraged my HDD it was good for a format, it wouldn't boot the system nor in safe mode, last know config, XP's recovery console, zip nothing. So I had to format it, which pretty much sucked!

Thank for the "tutorial", you're actually one of the first persons to tell me not to buy an SSD now as everyone has got the "SSD fever" here in my country. It doesn't matter if they have so little space that you can't even install the OS, everyone wants one and feels that everyone should have one....

Know what I mean?! :whistle: 
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May 31, 2009 11:29:12 PM

Yeah I cant wait for the SSds to get larger and afforable.
I watched a You Tube vid. of a guy on XP do a restart on his computer in under 30 seconds or so. I was amazed.

I can see some things that it would work great with including a op system, but it would require a fair amount of maintenance.
Certain games I think would be unmatched with the speed available, but you are putting together a system, and then you can get some fun toys.
I wish I was rich.....
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