Changing how you look at dual boot is best fix


March 18, 2004|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I acquired a second computer with Windows XP installed by the factory and no system recovery CD provided. The system was infected with a virus and was barely functional. So I purchased a new Windows XP Professional software package to do a clean install. Problems started when the computer would not boot from the install CD from Microsoft.

So I went into command prompt mode from the booted computer, switched to the install CD and ran setup. This installed XP, but it also created a dual boot computer with the good version on one partition and the corrupted one on the other.

I have tried with no success to remove the virus-infected operating system and now have to go through the process of waiting through the dual boot process when starting the computer. I want to get rid of this dual-booting situation.

You have two choices. You can either get deeply involved in a technical services project with the complex Windows XP Fdisk and Format tools, or you can simply paper over the problem and get on with life. This easy cosmetic fix consists of vastly speeding up that dual-boot delay time.

All you need to do to sweep the problem under the rug is to right-click on the My Computer icon, pick Properties and then click the button on the menu that pops up for Startup and Recovery Settings.

This brings up a panel to let one stipulate which available boot-up drives should be the default and how long the computer should wait for a user to select another choice before running the default.

Just set that time period to one second from the default of 30 seconds, and all you will see is a flash of light instead of having an agonizingly long wait.

If you want to go beyond this simple and effective fix it's going to get a bit complicated, I fear.

To get rid of the dual booting altogether, you will need to reformat that hard drive using tools included on the Windows XP CD to establish a single partition or a setup with multiple new partitions. This removes all data on the machine and starts over with a fresh installation of Windows.

First you need to make a startup floppy disk and boot from it rather than by booting up the computer from an operating system on the hard drive you want to delete. So put a blank floppy in the drive, right-click on the A drive icon, and select Format, and then choose to make a Windows Startup Disk.

With this disk in the drive, restart the computer to make it boot from that floppy. Now do as you did before and use the Startup floppy to change to the CD drive and run setup. This time you will be given a set of alternatives to do the disk formats and other changes to install Windows XP as the sole operating system on a PC without dual booting.

I don't know about you, but I think I would prefer sweeping a few crumbs under the rug over installing a new stove and baking fresh cookies.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. Contact James Coates at

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