Dual-Boot Vista/Vista on external HD with OSS

Discussion in 'Acronis Disk Director Suite' started by Andreas Kungl, Jan 5, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Andreas Kungl

    Andreas Kungl Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Posts:
    10
    First things first: Hi everyone, this is my first post and from what I see, my problems are marginal in comparison to those of others. Nevertheless, any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Apologies: I searched this forum to a certain degree, and even though I found related stuff, I have the impression that almost everybody has highly specific (aka non-transferable) problems. So have I.

    Stuff I have: Vista Home Premium (SP1, mildly tweaked and vlited, up to date), DiskDirector 10.0.0.2161, OSS 10.0 (build 2161), also TrueImage 11.0.0.8105.
    All this is on a Dell Laptop (Inspiron 6400) where I run a well kept harddisk without any hidden Dell partitions. Instead my internal harddisk features:
    C: The Vista together with very few select programs (primary, usually active)
    D: All other programs (logical)
    E: Data (logical)
    Acronis SecuryZone with Backups

    The idea: I have a very obscure issue with the integrity of certain program that I simply need to run from time to time, but that utterly screws my system. Therefore, I wanted to have a second (booting) system for the sole purpose of running said program independently from anything else. Diskspace is valuable on the internal harddisk, so I wanted to set up the alternative system on a partition of an external USB drive.

    The plan: Was to create a copy or make a new installation of vista on a prepaired partition of the external harddrive, employ OSS and voila. This naturally failed.

    The problems:
    1. Creating a second system partition
    I tried several things. First I thought I could just use OSS copy function. This makes OSS crash, the problem being somehow related to the ntdll.dll. Alternatively, I tried to use the clone function of TrueImage, which I aborted, since it wants to clone the whole disk and not a selected partition. I considered to retrieve a system backup with TI and place it to the new partition, but settled to use the copy partition function of DD, which did the job. WHAT I DON'T KNOW AND UNDERSTAND HERE, is if OSS (if functioning) would already do something about making the new alternative system understand that it's not on C anymore. With my method, it is quite clear that the copied version doesn't know about its relocation.

    2. Working with OSS
    OSS looks nice, as long as you access it in the regular Windows environment. The loader version seems flawed, though. First my mouse behaves like it had 27 espressi. OK, no big deal. Bigger deal is that sometimes the system stops before enetering the selector GUI. After a reboot, it will work, but after choosing a system to boot it will stop again. The only choice that works is to deactivate OSS in the selector GUI. Note that this behaviour is not regular. In all my experiments it worked more often than not.
    OSS recognizes my two systems fine. From what I can see, I cannot hide them from each other though.
    I cannot boot my alternative system though, because Vista doesn't find some bootsector or whatnot.

    3. Making Vista do it
    Vista doesn't like USB Disks, I understand that now. My BIOS can (in the setup as well as in the boot menu) but Vista doesn't want. I found online solutions, where it is explained how to tweak the registry of the external system, so that it boots. I tried that and it worked to the degree that the initial booting actually really starts from my external disk, but then it happily starts to use the system files of my original C. I guess because that is not hidden and a lot of the parts of the alternative system still point to C. I am too amateurish to find and change those signposts myself.

    4. Back to OSS
    So I thought: Isn't there this nice Folders/Data feature in OSS. If I understand correctly, I can actually tell my alternative system where it finds its folders (partition J, NOT C). But when I had a look, what did I see? The partitions page of the properties option of the two systems showed the partitions of all drives screwed up driveletterwise. J had become D (the alternative system), E had become something else, and so on. So J (which was now called D) still had its folders in C but its bootthingy file in D, which was, when I looked in DD still J! So DD tells me everything is like it should be, but the OSS plugin shows all screwed up driveletters.

    At this point I stopped.

    Am I on the right track at all? I appreciate all and every comment! Thanks so much in advance!
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2009
  2. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Posts:
    6,482
    Location:
    California
    Welcome to the forum.

    I think you may be able to get this to work. However, I haven't ever used OSS to boot Windows from a USB drive, so keep that in mind.

    The first step is to get Vista actually booting from the USB drive and not "cross-linking" with the internal drive. (I'll leave the USB "tweaking" of Vista to you.) The problem is that the internal drive is still visible and Vista sees it when it boots. Since the files are the same as the ones it's expecting, it boots (sort of). You need to get it separated from the internal drive. There are a couple of things you can try:

    First, you can load the Registry hive for Vista on the USB drive (you can do this when booted to Vista on the internal drive) and clear the MountedDevices key. That will make Vista reassign drive letters. Hopefully, the USB drive's partition would get C: since it's booting. You can find similar instructions here. I think I would try this first.

    Second, you could try removing the internal drive from the laptop (usually, there's just a screw and it slides out) and booting to the USB drive. This will get the internal drive completely out of the picture and force drive letter reassignments.

    Once Vista is booting successfully from the USB drive, you can try to finish setting up OSS. As you found out, you don't want to Copy the OS entry. I would also recommend you don't get mixed up with the "protected" system files/folders option (assuming it even works with Vista). Instead, OSS should detect the USB Vista normally and boot it normally. If you want to hide the Vista partitions from each other, you should be able to do that. Don't worry if the drive letters don't match between OSS in Windows and OSS booted -- go by the partition labels. If your USB Vista partition's label is the same as your internal Vista partition's label, rename it to something else.

    Another option you may want to consider (depending on what type of software you need to run) is installing VM software (MS Virtual PC 2007, VirtualBox, VMWare, etc.). If you place the VHD on the USB drive, you won't be using much space on the internal drive. Of course, to do this, your computer needs to have enough CPU power and RAM to run two Vistas at the same time.
     
  3. Andreas Kungl

    Andreas Kungl Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Posts:
    10
    Thanks for this quick and informative reply! I will try out some of the things you said and will give a feedback here later.

    Additional comments always wwelcome!
     
  4. Andreas Kungl

    Andreas Kungl Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Posts:
    10
    Unfortunately, things don't look well.

    I tried both suggested ways to make the computer boot from the USB drive.

    I copied the system to a prepared partition on the USB harddisk using the copy partition function of DD (since no other way for copying worked; see original post).

    I tweaked the registry of the USB Vista to make it bootable at all. This consisted of loading the registry (hive?) and manipulating some keys that start with "usb". I found this solution somewhere online.

    I also deleted the Mounted Devices entries as suggested (for the USB Vista, of course).

    The first kind of tweaking really makes a difference in that respect, that I don't get an error message when trying to boot from the USB device with the help of the BIOS' Boot Manager. Something is being taken from the USB drive, because if I boot in such a way, I cannot unmount the USB device from the taskbar, because "the device is in usage". Nevertheless, the USB Vista is still heavily cross-linking to the internal system partition, which I could already see from disk activity, but also via the task manager, where still all processes point to the internal C. Also, when checking the registry of the USB Vista again, the entries for the Mounted Devices are still void, meaning the booting process didn't even bother to try to use the USB system.

    So I physically removed the internal harddisk. Firstly, I noticed that the BIOS behaves slightly diferent. When I go to the Boot manager, I cannot see the option for USB Device anymore. In the Setup, the USB Device entry is still available in the Boot Sequence section, so I set it to first place there. After that, I get the error message that I cannot boot, because of an issue with winload.exe in relation to some hexnumber (00000000x0 something or other).

    I am running out of ideas (or: other peoples' ideas). Obviously, the USB boot tweaking is faulty, or the way of copying the original system is the source of evil. Unfortunately, Microsoft was so unkind as to disallow installing the Vista directly on a USB drive, for whatever reasons. Since I just can copy the system with the DD, I don't know how to clean the copy properly of any reference to the source (or repointing everything to the target).

    As you can see, I never even came close to actually using OSS in this problem context. Still some further questions remain:
    Why does OSS crash when I try to copy a system?
    Why is OSS's Loader GUI so uninviting? (Am I to stupid to set it up properly?)
    And if I would bring myself to use a second Vista on my internal HD how should I proceed? I don't see much input in the forums in this respect, because everybody seems to want to run a Vista/XP setup.

    I would refer to the official Acronis documentation, but I honestly don't understand much of what they are saying. Don't get me wrong, I am a very happy user of both DD and TI (and I recommend the products all the time), but in some respects, both the GUIs as well as the documentations are a bit cumbersome (even if they are better than most). So if somebody from Acronis is actually reading this (I don't know if the everhelpful MudCrab is an official representative), contact me if you want to have some professional input in respect to documentation or interface usability, since I did this as a wage slave before, but now I am freelance. Excuse my blatant self-advertising (and my shaky English, which derives from the fact that I am not a native speaker).

    Thanks for reading this, even if you are not commenting! I hope to find a solution still and will drop in here again from time to time.
     
  5. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Posts:
    6,482
    Location:
    California
    I think you may be close to a solution, at least in booting the USB drive.

    Good.

    The computer is still booting the internal C: drive.

    This is most likely the problem and I forgot to mention it before. You will need to update the BCD file on the USB drive to point to the USB partition. The copied BCD file still points to the internal drive's partition which is why it boots. Bascially, the partition on the USB drive is currently being booted, but then completely passing off to the internal drive. Removing the internal causes the error because Vista's loader can't find the Vista partition.

    Boot to Vista from the internal drive (if it's been reinstalled) or boot to the Vista DVD and enter the Repair mode. Find out the drive letter for the Vista partition on the USB drive. In this example, I'll use E: as the drive letter. Open a Command Prompt (if in Vista, start it in Administrator Mode) and run the following commands (<ENTER> means to press the ENTER key):
    Code:
    bcdedit /store e:\boot\bcd /set {default} device partition=E: <ENTER>
    bcdedit /store e:\boot\bcd /set {default} osdevice partition=E: <ENTER>
    bcdedit /store e:\boot\bcd /set {bootmgr} device partition=E: <ENTER>
    bcdedit /store e:\boot\bcd /set {memdiag} device partition=E: <ENTER>
    This will set the BCD values to the correct partition. The MountedDevices key in the Registry should still be clear since it didn't boot before so that should be okay. Remove the internal drive (if installed) and try booting to the USB drive. Hopefully, Vista will start.

    The Copy feature creates a copy of the system files and folders and saves them in the BOOTWIZ folder (where OSS is installed). When you boot an OS, OSS copies (or "re-links") the OS to the correct files. This can take a while depending on how it does it. Personally, I don't trust this feature and avoid it. You also must have enough room on your OSS drive to hold all the files/folders.

    OSS, when it works, isn't so bad. The problem is that OSS wants to do everything automatically. This causes problems when it doesn't work and you need manual control. Most problems can be worked around, but it would be nice if Acronis would add Manual Options to the program.

    This can be done. Instructions can be provided if you want to proceed.

    I'm not. I just use the programs.
     
  6. Andreas Kungl

    Andreas Kungl Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Posts:
    10
    ROCK N ROLL!

    Or at least: Partial success...

    Again first things first: Thank you so much, MudCrab! That you are not affiliated with Acronis makes your input even more valuable. You know, I got better advive and help from you than from some people I gave money to in the past. What else can I say?

    So the recap:
    Vista is booting from the USB harddisk. That's the important part.

    On the way,

    I followed your instructions on modifying the bcd file (whatever that is).

    Then I once more removed the internal harddisk. I started the system from the USB drive. This lead to a BlueScreen crash right at the beginning. The secure mode showed the problem to be crcdisk.sys.

    I reconsidered my infos on making Vista USB bootable and installed the harddisk again to check the web. A lot of isssues with crcdisk.sys but none related to my setup. I found another guide for tweaking the registry for USB drive usage, which was close to the one I originally had but with minimal differences. [The long story is that you have to change values of usbhub, usbehci, usbohci and usbuhci to start=0 and group=system reserved. Additionally usbstor has to be set to start=0 and a new entry group=systemreserved has to be created. My original guide said to change also usbgccp in the same way, but my new guides didn't. Then again my new guides suggested changes in files that my system doesn't even have. So I just stuck to the minimal registry changes.]

    I removed the internal harddisk and booted. After another crash, just when I inserted the Vista Disk to see if I can do something with autorepair, my boot manager was quicker than me and started before I could set the boot sequence to disk and what happened? Vista booted fully. I even managed to install my ominous programme and got everything running. Super!

    The registry thankfully didn't autorepair and reset my changes. Mounted devices where repaired. Funnily, the system partition changed to C as expected, while the other two partitions of the external drive kept their letters and names (is this stored on the drive itself, I wonder).

    Restart didn't work. Vista shuts down, but then the black screen stays while the PC is still on. Obviously the BIOS cannot handle this. Switching off and on made the Vista boot once more. While trying around a bit I found out that I should keep USB mouse and USB keyboard disconnected when booting from the USB drive. If I connect the mouse I got a "no bootable device" message from the boot manager, while a retry makes the USB drive boot. Connecting the USB keyboard leads to a BS crash.

    I am not quite sure anymore what the initial problem was. Maybe my changing back of the one registry key made the difference. Maybe it was all the time about the USB keyboard. Anyway, so far so good.

    I think I won't be able to keep this running in a comfortable setup. Obviously I have to disattach at least the other USB stuff before booting from the USB drive. But that is a minor issue. At the moment I am actually also very anxious about even connecting the USB drive while having Vista running from the internal disk, because I am afraid that the drive(letter) assignment will get screwed up. Then again, internal Vista with its own registry should still know the external partitions by their old names, shouldn't it? I am even more scared about trying to boot from the USB while having the internal drive connected.

    If you would be so kind, MudCrab, it would appreciate your comments on the state of affairs once more!
     
  7. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Posts:
    6,482
    Location:
    California
    If you attach the USB drive when Vista is running from the internal drive, I think it should be okay. Any drive letter assignments will only be for the internal Vista (the Registry on the USB drive won't be changed).

    As for booting the USB drive when the internal drive is connected, I think that should work too, but I can't say for sure (I've never tried it). If the Vista partition on the USB drive is still detected as the C: drive and Disk Management doesn't show anything weird, then it will probably be okay.

    I would recommend you create a backup image of the internal partition (and possibly the USB partition) before you try either, just in case. Or, at the worst, you'd need to resetup or fix the USB Vista system if it became corrupted.
     
  8. Andreas Kungl

    Andreas Kungl Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Posts:
    10
    I will cautiously proceed after a good night's sleep. Feedback will follow...
     
  9. Andreas Kungl

    Andreas Kungl Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Posts:
    10
    OK, connecting the USB harddrive after booting from the internal one doesn't damage anything. Even the original drive letters and names are still there.

    Trying to boot from the USB drive without removing the internal one failed, though. I have the impression that the Boot Manager of the BIOS is a little bit impatient. As I said befor, I cannot choose USB device anymore in the Boot Menu (this option was there in the past, I don't really understand the absence, because I first thought it is related to the internal HD being there or not). So I settled to setting USB Device in the BIOS setup to first place in the boot sequence. This led to a feeble attempt and a very quick BIOS response "No bootable sector", which I actually experienced before when trying without the internal HD and which was simply solved by retrying (possibly giving the USB drive time to heat up...). When the internal HD is there, the BIOS just jumps to the lower entry in the boot sequence after its weak attempt to boot from the USB drive. Damn!

    So in the future I either have to take out the internal HD whenever I want to use the USB Vista, or find another boot solution. Here, OSS may come into play again. What are the chances that it will help to boot from the USB while the internal HD is attached? As I said in my original post, OSS could recognize the USB Vista fine, even before I managed to get it booted with MudCrab's help. If I would try it with OSS, where should I install it? (I guess my internal C). Should I try to hide the systems from each other? What else should I think of?

    Again, any comments are met by my deepest gratitude!
     
  10. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Posts:
    6,482
    Location:
    California
    Before you try a boot manager, does your BIOS have a Boot Menu key that you can press when the computer starts. This may be F8, F11, for example. If it does, see if that menu shows the USB drive and allows you to boot it.

    Is the USB drive powered via USB or does it have its own power supply? Does it power down when the computer reboots or shuts down? If so, does it have an option to remained powered up?
     
  11. Andreas Kungl

    Andreas Kungl Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Posts:
    10
    That was what I was referring to. The BIOS has a Boot Manager that can be triggered with F12 (setup is F2). This Boot Manager used to have an option USB Device which is now curiously missing and I don't really understand it. The setup still has the USB Device option in the Boot Sequence setup. Also pre-boot USB accessability is enabled. Riddles wrapped in enigmas. The USB drive has its own power supply but no further power up/down option than actually connecting/disconnecting it to/from the computer. If only I could make the BIOS try a little harder or at least have a bigger time lapse between activating the drive and trying to boot...

    I will try to make the BIOS giving me the USB drive option again. Somewhere there must be a solution.
     
  12. Andreas Kungl

    Andreas Kungl Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Posts:
    10
    I take everything back and proclaim the opposite!

    No, seriously: All is fine now. My BIOS based Boot Manager gives the USB Storage Device option, but only when a USB Storage Device is detected in time!

    With my first try I obviously had such a bad component timing, that the BIOS didn't even recognize the USB drive. I then set the BIOS Boot Option to "Thorough" (in opposition to "Fast") giving the USB HD more time to proclaim its presence.

    This did the trick in the end, but only when shutting down the PC, starting it again and then choosing the once again accessible USB Storage Device option in the BIOS Boot Manager. If I simply restart from Vista, the timing between BIOS and USB HD is really a mess: The HD switches off exactly in the moment when the BIOS starts its thing again. By the time the Boot manager triggers, the USB HD is correctly identified as such, but when chosen the old "no bootable sector blahblah" message turns up. The BIOS then falls back to booting from the internal HD.

    So it works all in all (including drive letters: both systems handle them nicely for themselves). I have to shut down and restart and to remove my USB mouse and keyboard for a second, but generally I've got what I wanted!

    All this thanks to MudCrab!

    I will come back here pretty soon to sum up the effort, so that somebody else may learn from it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2009
  13. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Posts:
    6,482
    Location:
    California
    Does the USB drive only shut off when you restart from Windows?

    I was just wondering if you could "cheat" a little. Have you tried doing the following? With the USB hard drive connected, boot the computer (either from a cold boot or from Windows) and press either the key to enter the BIOS or the key for the Boot Menu (this will prevent Windows from booting). Wait enough time for the USB drive to restart and then press Ctrl-Alt-Del to reboot. Now, can you select the USB drive from the BIOS boot menu or does the USB drive turn off on a Ctrl-Alt-Del restart?
     
  14. Andreas Kungl

    Andreas Kungl Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Posts:
    10
    Our last posting times were pretty close, so maybe you didn't see my last post.

    Anyway, I tried the BIOS cheating to not much effect. Still the only way to boot the USB Vista while not having to remove the internal HD without any trouble is to shut down the PC completely, than start it enter the BIOS Boot Menu and voila. In all other cases the USB drive is too inert before the BIOS loses patience and switches to booting from the internal HD.

    Anyway, I'm fine with the solution. As I said I will post a summary here later, when my wife is back to keep my baby son from dismanteling my PC or himself.
     
  15. Andreas Kungl

    Andreas Kungl Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Posts:
    10
    SUMMARY

    So for future Search Engine Explorers with similar needs I summarise:

    Problem: How to install Vista to and boot Vista from an external USB harddisk (as a second, alternative system to the Vista on the internal HD)? How to do this with only minor inconvenience?

    Involved stuff (in my case):
    • Dell Inspiron 6400 with Dell MM061 (A17) BIOS
    • Western Digital USB HD (1GB, the most basic model of this bookshaped series)
    • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit with SP1 and updates til January 09 (mildly tweaked and vlited)
    • Acronis Disk Director Suite 10 (10.0.0.2161)

    Things to do:
    1. Make sure that your BIOS supports operating system independent USB usage. With my BIOS I could verify this at several places: An entry "USB Storage Device" in the Boot Sequence menu. The same entry in the Boot Menu, if such a device is detected by the BIOS at system start up. An entry in the so called POST Behavior menu of the BIOS setup which actually determines if pre-OS USB support is enabled or not. If your BIOS doesn't support OS independent USB support, you can stop reading now, since you most probably cannot succeed.
    2. Get your Vista onto the USB HD. I gather that the installation DVD of Vista will not allow something like that. On the net there are tutorials how to work around that problem. I simply copied the system partition of my internal HD with the Copy Partition function of Disk Director (DD for future reference). Alternatively, I am quite sure that you could use True Image (TI) to restore a backup of the system partition to a partition on the USB HD. Since Acronis doesn't have a monopoly on those functions you may as well check for free solutions. Nevertheless, note that I succeeded with the mentioned DD option. The OS Selector which comes with DD also has a Copy System function, which always lead to the application crash after a few seconds when I tried it out. Whatever you do, make sure about one thing before you clone your system: expose it to a USB drive (by connecting it), because we need Vista to create a certain registry entry (usbstor).
    3. As soon as you have the system files on the USB HD, you have to tweak the registry of the USB Vista, so that it allows to boot. I assume that you started your PC with the Vista on the internal drive. I also assume that you switched off the bloody User Account Control or whatsitsname. I also assume that you have administrator rights. If not, adjust. Open the registry editor by typing "regedit" in the command prompt (that you can get with Windows+R, for example). Click on "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE". Choose the from the menu bar File>Load Hive... (in German version: Datei>Struktur laden...). [This will allow you to load a part of the registry of the USB Vista into your editor]. In the file dialogue move to your USB Vista partition and look for the folder Windows\System32\Config. Choose the file "System". When asked for a key, type "USB_Vista" for example. You will now see the entry "USB_Vista" sorted under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.
    4. Open this branch. You will see a subbranch called "ControlSet001", and maybe more Control Sets of the format "ControlSetxxx". Open the ControlSet001 branch, then open "Services". What opens is a very long list. You have to find and manipulate a couple of entries that are pretty far down. The entries we need are usbehci, usbhub, usbohci and usbuhci. One after another, click on the name in the list. The right part of the registry editor will now show the content of the element. We want to change the values of "Start" and "Group". Rightclick on Group and choose Change. Set the value to "System Reserved" (without quotation marks). Rightclick on Start and choose Change. Set the value to "0" (number zero). Do this with all the entries mentioned above. With USBSTOR you also have to change the value of Start to "0" (zero) but the Group entry is not there. Create it by rightclicking into the right part of the editor. The only option is "New". Choose "String" (German: "Zeichenfolge"). Set the value to System Reserved.
      If you have other entries ControlSetxxx in your USB_Vista branch, make all the described changes there as well.
    5. Find the entry "MountedDevices" directly under your USB_Vista entry. There, remove all entries except for "(Standard)". This will force the USB Vista to reassign Device IDs. We need that, because Windows is allergic against System partitions that are not called "C". In the end, when everything is working, you will see that the two systems operate with a different set of driveletters, always calling themselves "C". [MudCrab provided the instruction for deleting the Mounted Devices].
    6. Finish the registry tweaking by clicking on your USB_Vista entry. Then choose File>Remove Hive (Datei>Struktur entfernen). You successfully used the Registry Editor of your internal Vista to tweak the registry of your USB Vista.
    7. The copied Vista on the USB drive still doesn't know that it has been relocated. We have to correct some references.
      From MudCrab comes this guide:
    8. Now you have to try if Vista boots from the USB HD. In the best case scenario you can restart your computer and enter the Boot Menu of the BIOS to choose the USB device. I advice to removing all other USB devices (mouse, keyboard etc.) before doing this, because they can screw up the process. Check for HD activity of your internal HD. If there is none and Vista boots, still check in the Disk Management application of your Windows if your USB Vista is now considered as "System" (and then probably "C"). If this doesn't work (which happened to me) the most likely reason is that your USB drive is to inert in relation to the BIOS boot sequence, meaning that the BIOS is impatient and doesn't realise that it actually can boot from the USB HD, quickly falling back to booting from the internal HD. In such a case, you have several options: Look into your BIOS if you can choose a different booting behavior (my BIOS had the option of "fast" and "thorough" for example), then make the BIOS boot more seriously. Or try not to restart your PC before the attempt on the USB boot, but shut the PC down and switch it on again (this makes a huge difference in my case, where otherwise the timing between BIOS and USB HD is screwed up). Or, finally, physically remove the internal HD and try to boot from the USB drive. This should be working in the end. If it fails, retries may then suddenly work for some occult reasons.
    9. If your USB Vista booted once everything is very groovy. The USB Vista will have replaced the missing entries in its registry for Mounted Devices. It will thus have reassigned driveletters to all partions giving itself the wanted "C".
    10. After that, you should be able to choose the two systems alternatively from the Boot Menu of your BIOS. In my setup, I always have to shut down the PC and start it again (in opposition to a simple restart), because of the timing problem between BIOS and USB HD. I also have to disconnect all other USB devices (mouse and keyboard) while booting from the USB HD. But hey: only death's for free.

    Voila: You can now boot an alternative Vista from your external USB harddisk

    I realise that there was not much Acronis involved anymore. Originally I had planned to employ the OS Selector, but since my BIOS Boot Menu can handle it somehow, I'm fine with that. Nevertheless, I read around here in this forum about possible other scenarios that may be combined with the USB booting. In those cases DD and TI (and possibly OSS) seem more essential.

    Shouts to MudCrab who gave the crucial hints. If he or anybody else wants to use this summary for a tutorial of their own, be my guest. Happily copy and modify and correct. Hopefully somebody will then have a fast solution for what seems to be an originally not very exotic need.

    Search engine keywords: booting vista from a USB drive booting Vista from a USB harddisk Vista USB drive USB harddisk boot booting dual-boot BIOS usbhub usbehci usbohci usbuhci usbstor MountedDevices
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2009
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.