On Sat, 3 Mar 2007 14:51:32 -0500, "Richard Urban"
>I have installed the various versions of Vista on 56 various computers. On
>eight of those computers I have run into, and solved, this nasty boot
>problem. I have also assisted with this problem for a rather large handful
>of people who post here with a similar condition.
>The problem concerns computers with the following configuration/condition:
>1. A computer with multiple hard drives (any mix of S-ATA or PATA it
>2. Any of the 2nd, or higher, drives has been setup as having a logical
>3. The user installs Vista by booting from the DVD
>When a drive is setup with a logical partition, 8 meg of unallocated space
>is reserved at the beginning of the drive.
>The Vista installer, it appears, will start installing boot code to the
>unallocated space on a 2nd, 3rd or 4th drive. I have used a hex editor and
>have found this code there. This 8 meg of unallocated space is quickly
>filled and the installer places the remainder of the code on the disk chosen
>by the user for the Vista install.
This makes no sense. Boot code cannot be written to unallocated disk
space. It has to be written to a valid file system.
>The Vista install completes and the user removes the DVD. Upon startup, the
>user finds that Vista will not boot.
This is because the BIOS is booting from a hard disk that does not
contain the system partition. If you go into BIOS setup and change the
hard disk that the BIOS boots, then Vista will boot.
> Vista is looking for the boot code on
>the drive where the user had chosen to install Vista (system partition). It
>is not there. Part of it resides on another drive where it is not
>If the user puts the DVD into the drive tray, Vista boots fine.
This means that there is in fact valid boot code on one of the hard
disks, namely, the one that the BIOS told Windows setup is the disk
that it is set to boot. Otherwise, the operating system would not be
able to boot at all. The startup code (i.e., the code that issues the
"Press any key to boot from the CD/DVD") on the DVD does the same
thing that Windows setup does, namely, identifies the boot disk from
the BIOS. Then it boots that disk if no key is pressed.
>takes the code from the DVD.
>This should not occur, but it is too late to change the code on the Vista
>DVD's at this point. The work around is to physically disconnect any drive
>that you do not want the Vista installer to touch. In this way, all of the
>code is written to the desired drive/partition.
The problem is the motherboard BIOS. If it provides the wrong
information to Windows Vista or XP setup, there is nothing Windows
setup can do to fix it other than to allow the user to manually
specify which disk should contain the system partition.
If you want to see if a motherboard has this problem, just run
Windows XP setup (up to the point in the initial text phase that shows
the disks and their partitions), and see which partition is assigned
C:. Then reboot the computer, go into BIOS setup and change the disk
that the BIOS boots (i.e., the first disk in the list of drives under
Hard Disk Boot Priority (Award/Phoenix) or Hard Disk Drives (AMI)).
Run Windows XP setup again and check which disk now has the C:
partition. If the same disk has the C: partition, then the motherboard
BIOS has the problem. If the new disk has the C: partition, then the
motherboard BIOS is okay.
>Upon arriving at the Windows desktop, go to system management | Disk
>Management and change the drive letters for your CD drive, DVD drive, USB
>drives, card readers etc. to the end of the alphabet. This gets them out of
>the way prior to you shutting down the computer and reconnecting your other
>Now, shut down your computer and reconnect your drives. Upon booting to the
>desktop, you will see that the new drives are recognized and initialized.
>You will also see that the drive letters are in sequence, and not broken up
>by the various other drives (you previously moved them). You may be asked to
>reboot so the changes can be made permanent. Do so if directed.
>The next time you boot to the desktop you can rearrange those re-lettered
>drives if you so desire.
>Now, I am not certain how pervasive this problem is but I have seen it on
>old/new motherboards from 3 major M/B manufacturers. It is not, of course,
>going to affect those who purchase a new computer with Vista on it. It
>"will" affect those who upgrade or build their own computers, as these are
>the users who are more likely to have multiple drives installed in their