Partitions are numbered from 1, disks from 0

Spent all day yesterday trying to move my primary Win XP boot drive to a larger disk. I tried every partition management and copy tool I have and, while the copy seemed to work flawlessly, I still got an error message that ntoskrnl.exe was corrupt. Nothing I did worked and I couldn’t even boot the Recovery Console I’d installed way back when on my primary disk. I booted my XP Pro installation disk and ran the Recovery Console from there but I couldn’t see anything wrong.

Having converted my system partition to NTFS many months ago, my recovery options are somewhat limited. I explored the world of alternative boot disks, Ultimate Boot CD and Bart’s Preinstalled Environment being the two leaders. The Linux distros on the Ultimate Boot CD appear to support NTFS but I couldn’t tell since my keyboard is a USB model and it looks like their Linux version don’t support that (yet).

Bart’s is a stripped-down XP installation you boot from CD. It’s really quite a remarkable effort — there is no Explorer GUI but you can run the command processor and REGEDIT and edit your services definitions and, since it’s really XP, you can get to all of your NTFS disks.

I also discovered some good resources on the syntasx and options available in BOOT.INI. This one from SysInternals defines all of the options for Windows 2000. And, of course, Microsoft has an excellent description of all parameters in this article from the Windows XP Resource Kit. It includes not only the explanation for the multi() lines but also scsi(), signature() and a section on editing and repairing BOOT.INI. Sure wish I’d known all this ahead of time!

Anyway, after nearly an entire day I decided I’d try BOOTCFG /REBUILD from the Recovery Console and, y’know what? — it worked! I still haven’t figured out why, with an identical partition structure, the old disk’s OS was on partition(1) and the new disk’s OS is on partition(2) but I’m sure I’ll find it.

Just wanted to pass this along.

2 thoughts on “Partitions are numbered from 1, disks from 0”

  1. Yeah, I’ve been working on narrowing this down. I think it all depends on whether the “areas” on the disk located physically before the boot partition are formatted partitions or empty space. I don’t think empty space counts as a partition … which makes sense if you think about it, it’s not a partition, it’s empty space.

    Dunno, I’ve got more research to do but I think you’re on the right track.

  2. Don’t know if this will help, but I had some Dell servers that I was responsible for previously that were all shipped with a small EISA partition at the beginning of the boot disk. Those boxes wouldn’t boot without it.

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