Looks almost like you've got more than just 4 partitions if 0,5 & 0,12 mean what I think :-)
If you have 12 or more partitions I would call that advanced.
I myself cut back to 11 at the most, 3 primaries and 8 logicals usually.
The reason was in windows, if you have all 11 visible on an internal HDD, and you plug in an external drive also having 11 visible, that gives you 22 plus you've got a CD/DVD or card reader, and you only get 24 letters since A & B are taken.
For chaining reasons explained later, if it's a large HDD where there is supposed to be a lot of storage way beyond the OS's GB, then I will
make the first logical volume be the largest and use it alone for true storage.
Among the logical volumes only the first one has recoverability which compares more straightforwardly to a primary in case of corruption in the extended partition chain.
All the other logical volumes I will usually size to contain a bootable OS each with room to spare, but usually don't do any true storage on them.
They can be relatively small compared to the primaries and first logical, and usually have a well-backed-up OS fileset standing by for replacement. This makes each logical booter quick and easy to write zeros to and replace it from backup in only a few minutes each.
Now don't give up on logical XP, people know a good answer but usually wouldn't think of going there ;-)
>unless [XP] is the first OS installed with no unhidden primary partitions preceding it
and you said:
>I gave my 150 MB "MS System" partition the letter "B" and then let EasyBCD define An XP Partition -- and it chose B.
Well, if there are no unhidden primary partitions preceding the logical volume holding the XP fileset, then an NT5 boot floppy would be pretty convenient about now.
And "B" would be an identifier which is so sensible it's supposed to always be a floppy itself.
I have a procedure and a REG file to make logical XP booting work directly, I'll have to clean it up and post it some other time. If you have the full XP fileset uncorrupted out there on a logical volume, it can probably be made to boot properly, so don't erase it prematurely or without backup.
And floppy isn't really necessary,
but do you by chance have a floppy drive on this PC? USB is OK if it boots.
Well, I'm downloading PartitionWizard now to give it a try,
and have kept trying to make a few notes which I though could be helpful.
I carefully selected a single tool on windows 98 (partiton magic 7, then 8 while booted to DOS) and stuck with it for consistency as many years as I could while I learned to accomplish what I needed manually which led to using Linux for partitioning. I don't like to do any fancy stuff, just create partitions right the first time, then leave them in place. Plus check up on them from time to time.
I will generally not make a significant change to size or location of a partition without zeroing the whole HDD beforehand, or at least the functional equivalent targeted at potential problem areas of the platter.
Otherwise previous information can still be in place where it was before under a different geometry, filesystem, or volume size. I like to start out with a zeroed virgin HDD before partitioning, and a zeroed partition before formatting it.
I also first got accustomed to Linux for Zeroing whole HDD's or just individual partitions when needed, using the very powerful DD command, which you need to be careful with, especially syntax & nomenclature.
DD is native to linux but there is a windows version which is almost as good, I think it is still a good idea to be very acquainted with DD in linux before trying to accomplish the same things in windows later down the line.
One important nomenclature for devices (not just using DD) in linux is that the first logical volume is always the 5th device, such as /dev/sda5, since /dev/sda1 thru /sda4 are reserved for primaries.
If the partitions are created just like you want them to begin with, it is possible to zero each partition later individually using DD without affecting the others. For instance if you had XP on a primary partiton2 and you wanted to change to W7, in linux you could write zeros to /dev/sda2 and the partition size & location do not change (since the partition table in sector0 remains unchanged when you are only zeroing /sda2), but the entire section of the platter occupied by that partition will be erased. It will need to be reformatted, and from a zeroed state will be just as much of a virgin as if the whole HDD had been zeroed, regarding that one partition.
Using DD on /dev/sda for instance will zero the whole HDD, since you are specifiying the entire device, not just a single partition which is being treated as a device.
DD is powerful enough that you can target specific sectors, so you will need to study it & experiment on drives which contain no valuable data, to become the most familiar.
Now the following was from an outline where I was thinking of a possible configuration you had for XP and two W7 installs:
assuming your blank HDD was zeroed then partitioned only (without formatting or installing any OS yet), into a 150MB primary followed by 3 more sizeable partitions (like it was a virgin), then sector0 would contain only your partition table (PT) at bytes 446 to 509 (out of 512 bytes in the sector, numbered 0 to 511), plus the final standard disk signature 55 AA in bytes 510 & 511.
If only partitioning has been done to a zeroed HDD, then in sector0 there will still be only zeroes from bytes 0 to 445,
IOW that is where the Master Boot Record (MBR) will be placed but it is not there yet since nothing has been "installed" yet and no other action such as running BOOTSECT.EXE with the /MBR option has occurred.
Both the MBR and the PT are different from each other and share sector0 by occupying their respective different byte ranges, when each is present. The MBR will extend from bytes 0 to 439. The NT serial number (for the whole HDD) will be automatically placed by windows in bytes 440 to 443 the first time the HDD has been present on a motherboard while the motherboard was booted to an NT version.
Bytes 444 & 445 are supposed to be zeroes. Sector0 is important and that covers the whole sector.
At this point if the 3 partitions intended for your OS's were also primaries (therefore using up all 4 of your primaries), then all your partitions would be fully defined within the main regular PT in sector0.
The remainder of the HDD would still be all zeroes until formatting.
In this case the complete partitioning scheme can be preserved by backing up sector0 alone, to specifically focus on bytes 446 to 509 (or up to 511 to complete the sector).
Later, in everyday operation, if corruption of sector0 occurs, then it can often be fully corrected by restoring either the MBR to the first bytes
of sector0, or the PT to the last bytes of sector0, or both, from a backup.
Attention is sometimes needed to restore the NT serial number which exists in between the MBR & PT.
OTOH, if the 3 OS partitions were all logical partitions ("contained" within an extended partition), then only part1 (the primary) would be fully defined, and the extended partition would only have its size & location defined, within the sector0 PT.
In that case there are 3 additional logical volume sub-partiton tables scattered deep into the platter at the sectors preceding where each of the volumes will begin after formatting. Usually this is 63 sectors before where each Volume Boot Record (VBR or "bootsector", there is one for each formatted volume) formally begins each logical volume after formatting.
Your logical volumes are not actually contained by the extended partition, they are "chained".
Only the first logical volume is pointed to by the extended partition data in sector0, then the second logical volume is pointed to by the first logical sub-partiton table out there on the platter.
Therefore preserving the entire partitoning layout can not be done simply by backing up sector0.
And if you have corruption to an early logical volume sub-partiton table, all the following logical volumes will usually appear to be nonexistent.
When some partitoning tools do this for you automatically, jaws sometimes drop.
Just some things to keep in mind.
Which is why if there are only going to be 4 (or fewer) partitions total, they should probably all usually be primaries.
If there is going to be an extended partition (it is technically a "primary" itself), it should be created following the final regular primary partition which has been made.
anyway, back to the ranch
I like to format in advance before installing.
Formatting is what places (or overwrites to an extent) a version-specific VBR onto the platter at the beginning of the volume, among other things, such as assigning the Volume ID number (there is one ID for each volume, not to be confused with the NT serial which is for the entire HDD), and very importantly for multibooting; Volume Labeling.
But formatted in advance or not,
If XP was installed first while the 150MB was active, it would most likely simply put ntdetect.com, ntldr, & boot.ini on the 150MB to serve as the proper Boot volume, and the remaining XP fileset onto the target volume you select during install.
Boot.ini would automagically be configured to point to the partition containing the XP OS fileset (the true XP System volume).
Also besides dividing the boot & system files between the two filesystems on the boot & system volumes, then a virgin sector0 would have been populated with the XP MBR during install. Also an NT serial number assigned during the first NT boot. This would occur without any changes to your PT.
Either when booted to XP and formatting the volume, or during XP installation, an NTLDR-seeking VBR would be placed out there on the platter at the beginning of the formatted volume targeted for XP.
An NTLDR-seeking VBR would also be placed out there on the 150MB boot volume either during formatting by XP or XP installation when Boot & System volumes are two separate things.
On bootup, the typical MS MBR seeks the active partition, then runs the VBR on that active partition.
If the VBR on the active volume is an XP one, it then seeks NTLDR. If there is no NTLDR on the active volume, then booting halts with NTLDR Not Found.
If NTLDR is properly found, then the (NT5) bootmenu contained in Boot.ini is consulted to seek the OS.
If there is only one OS in Boot.ini or the timeout is set to 0, then no boot.ini bootmenu is displayed and the default selection booted directly.
If xp (NT5) was your first version of windows installed this would be it so far.
Then when you format with NT6 or install NT6, it will place or overwrite to an extent the VBR on the target volume(s) with one which seeks BOOTMGR.
If W7 was installed next after XP, then the 150MB boot volume would have its VBR changed to one that seeks BOOTMGR.
The XP boot files in the 150MB would still be there, but BOOTMGR (and BOOTNXT if W8) will be placed by the install process to the boot volume also, along with a new BOOT folder containing the BCD and its auxilliary files & folders.
The BCD (Boot Configuration Data) contains the NT6 bootmenu but it is not a simple text file like boot.ini was, so when BCD needs to be changed you need to use MS BCDEDIT.EXE in the command line, or something from a third party like EasyBCD to accomplish that.
After adding NT6 to an NT5 system, a multi-entry NT6 bootmenu (including access to NTLDR) is automatically created within BCD, then it works something like this:
On bootup, the MBR still seeks the active partition's VBR, it's still the 150MB but has been updated to seek BOOTMGR,
if bootmgr is not found it will then fall back to seeking NTLDR and boot according to boot.ini if possible.
If neither bootmgr or ntldr are there booting will halt with an error.
If bootmgr is properly found and the timeout is not 0, then the NT6 bootmenu contained in \boot\bcd is displayed for the timeout period before booting the default selection if you make no other choice.
Adding another version of NT6 to a third volume like I assume you have with W7-64 would entail putting its entry as a third choice on the bootmenu contained within BCD on the 150MB volume.
The above material is intended to apply to your particular outlined system as I have interpreted it,
so you can have better grasp from personal experience.
Now take a look at my "factory" procedure I have documented for installing 4 versions of windows on a single HDD.
This tries to be a step-by-step howto without requiring all of the details I have posted here for deeper understanding.
It is a good excersize if you imagine these details as you logically go through this simplified (but lengthy) howto.
It's lengthy because I've tried to document every little step, and it naturally takes 4 times as long to install 4 OS's as it does to install a single one.
I'll fill in a little key background on the howto:
It is a learning experience, but worth actually doing if you have a spare old PC of the proper vintage, or can assemble a suitable one just for the demonstration.
A 120GB HDD is employed since FAT32 is the filesystem of the fundamental DOS boot testing, and windows 98 is involved.
Also, any interpretation of HDD or volume size limitations of FAT32 are not exceeded when using only a 120GB HDD,
i.e. each partition is under the 32GB max for mainstream FAT32, and no data at all is written or read from beyond the 128GB point which is another expected limitation of DOS and maybe Windows 98, which is the DOS version being employed.
Windows XP is installed to a FAT32 partiton just like it was always intended to be.
After testing & proving in FAT32 with DOS, partitions for NT6 are reformatted to NTFS before installing NT6.
This way you can at least be sure the partiton itself is proper & bootable before adding a more complex OS.
Many essential multiboot parameters are transparently configured by this carefully selected howto, but it can be seen that the steps do follow the general recommendations from the factory to install the oldest windows version first.
There is more than one way to accomplish what the howto does.
If you were going to improve your abilities to accomplish a quad-boot without following factory guidelines, such as installing any older windows after newer ones were present, you would then need to add a number of important boot-oriented details that could get more confusing without understanding this as an example first, and that might be good to have in mind as you look it over or give it a try.
Same with the imagex technique which is more powerful than installing, but you might as well have good understanding of what installing can accomplish before tweaking small bits or large amounts of the process manually.
Where you have a 150MB partition1, I have a 30GB partition1 so I can fit an OS (& more) in there along with the boot files, I still backup all the boot files separately from the OS that is there.
>keep letters of linked ' support partitions the same
I don't do this by partiton position, but it can be accomplished in Disk Management by assigning desired letters.
I label the volumes systematically and keep track of them myself.
The last section of the howto has some info. So I am avoiding support partitions and preferring each one to stand alone so I can hide or unhide the rest when I want.
The name of my drive in the example is Z120 because it's a 120 GB and I wanted to differentiate it from drives I had given a different first initial.
Z120_P1 is FAT32 partition1 on Z120, and Z120_N2 is NTFS partition2 on Z120.
I don't label the volumes with what they contain or what they are for, I specify which HDD & its size, plus Partition and Filesystem.
This really helps when multipartitioned with multiple HDD's.
With multibooting what you really need to watch out for is daylight savings time. Once the date passes where the clock is supposed to be set, each OS may by default want to change it by an hour until they have each been booted, so you may have to change it back manually a number of times. You may not boot an OS or two for a number of weeks and then if you are not careful your clock will end up one or more hours off without you knowing it.