Thoughts, information and reflections about technology

Dual Booting Windows 8 and WIndows XP

With the end of life of Windows XP, a lot of people are moving to Windows 8.1. However, with the economy, many people are hoping to hang on to their current computers. IF your system is capable, you might be able to set up a dual boot so you can go back into XP for data.


I had a situation where a client had a LOT of data on the XP machine. He had enough space to be able to run a dual boot. Here is the general procedure.
NOTE – This procedure involves some pretty serious changes to the machine. You will be changing the partitions and the boot process. A lot could go wrong.. Be sure to do a thorough backup before proceeding…
  • BACK UP.. BACK UP ALL OF YOUR CRITICAL DATA TO ANOTHER DRIVE.. Back up .. Did I mention backing up???
  • Make sure you have enough space for a dual boot.
  • Clean as much junk off the XP system as possible. This means deleting temp files, caches, unneeded applications etc.
  •  Run a checkdisk scanning for bad sectors (this will take a while)
  • Check the events viewer to make sure that the drive is not failing.
  • Run a defrag. This isn’t totally necessary but it won’t hurt.
  • Purchase Windows 8. We purchased it from the Microsoft Store.
  • Install a partition manager such as mini partition manager. Split the existing drive where XP lives. Be sure to leave some free space on that drive. We left 20 GB.
  • Install Windows 8 as a clean install TO THE NEW PARTITION.. BE CAREFUL HERE. Windows doesn’t seem to ask “Are you sure?”..
  • Once Windows is running, you need to set up a dual boot. There is a system command called BCDEDIT that can do this. However, it is a command line interface. We used Visual BCD downloaded from  . You should be able to find it here  With Visual BCD, you can tell it to add the old XP installation as a boot option. You might want to back up your boot info. Visual BCD gives you an option to do this.
  • If you are successful, you will see that Windows 8 will start and then show you the start up options. You should see your old XP as an option and Windows 8 as the default.
Now, you can boot to XP if you need to go back into your old applications. Keep in mind the dangers of running XP. Once you are sure you no longer need XP, you could reformat the partition and use a partition manager to merge that space with the windows 8 installation. If you do that….. Backup Backup Backup…

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