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Q: Windows XP boots from floppy with ntldr &, but not from the hd ( Answered,   4 Comments )
Subject: Windows XP boots from floppy with ntldr &, but not from the hd
Category: Computers > Operating Systems
Asked by: jhs1-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 28 Jan 2005 14:19 PST
Expires: 27 Feb 2005 14:19 PST
Question ID: 465026
My goal is to clone a hard drive from computer A (with all my programs
set up) to computer B.

I have a corporate site license for Windows XP Pro, so this does not
violate the license. I just want to avoid having to install and
customize all of the apps, so I have the same look and feel on the new

I cloned the HD from computer A, installed it as the master in
computer B. Computer B has only 1 ide card (at the moment - I have
another one on the way), so I have the HD as master and CD as slave.

I booted from the Windows CD, ran Windows Repair, waited the 45 minutes or so,
and it worked -- sort of. It will not boot from the hd (see below for
symptoms), but will boot when a floppy is inserted with ntldr &, it will boot into the Windows XP on the HD. This is
great, the answer to my prayers. A few of the apps (MS Office and
Mathematica) will have to be reinstalled, but nearly everything works
exactly as it does on computer A.

I have only 1 partition on the 120GB hd. (start small & simple)

Norton Disk Doctor reports no errors with the hd. 

From the Windows Recovery Console, I ran FIXMBR. Along the way there
was the warning saying
?This computer appears to have a non-standard or invalid master boot
record. FIXMBR may damage your partition tables if you proceed. This
could cause all the partitions on the current hd to become
inaccessible." I continued to execute fixmbr. 

I also ran fixboot from Recovery Console.

After these steps, it still boots just fine with the floppy, but not from the hd. 

When I try to boot from the HD, with no floppy inserted, I see 
the CD drive operate (it is the first boot choice), then the floppy
drive operates (2nd boot choice), then the "push F10 to run setup,
etc." message at the bottom of the screen appears, then the HD (3rd
boot choice) flickers on for about 0.3 seconds, then the cursor is
flashing in the top left corner of the monitor. Oddly, the light on
the floppy drive is still on, but it doesn't seem to spin a floppy if
one is inserted.

So, my request is this. How can i get it to boot to the HD, without
the use of the floppy.

Bonus if you can give me any pointers for cloning a HD from Computer A
to Computer B. Things went well after the Windows Repair, but that set
the OS back to pre SP2. When I downloaded SP2, it klobbered the driver
for my monitor. I ran the device manager and eventually got the
drivers back, but much of the device manager window was off the screen
of the monitor and not accessible with the mouse.

Thanks in advance for reading through all of this and thanks even more for any help.

Request for Question Clarification by legolas-ga on 30 Jan 2005 14:10 PST
Is this:;en-us;298491

what you need? It talks about Win2000, but, it is the same process on
WinXP computers. Basically, it will allow you to create a 'master'
image and then 'reseal' the computer (remove the SID's and serial #'s)
and force a full hardware scan on the new computer. This is the method
used by MCSE's to duplicate machines on a network with dissimilar


Clarification of Question by jhs1-ga on 31 Jan 2005 13:36 PST
Thank you. This looks promising. 

I have something going on right now, so I won't be able to try it for a few days.

Request for Question Clarification by legolas-ga on 31 Jan 2005 14:57 PST
No problem. Just let me know if/when you are able to try the solution.
You still use some sort of disk-duplicating technology to copy the
contents of the drive from one to another, but, this is the 'correct'
method of moving a pre-configured image from one system to another.


Clarification of Question by jhs1-ga on 02 Feb 2005 07:30 PST
Thank you again. This continues to look like what want. 

The sysprep info says ?The next time you start Windows 2000 from a
cloned disk *or the original disk*, the following events occur?.. [new
SID & customize the new computer]

I wonder how I could avoid having this happen to the ?original? disk,
so that I customize only the new computer?

It seems risky to go through this process on the working computer.
Would this work? Copy the original HD1 in computer A first, creating
HD2. Then install HD2 in Computer A. This should work without sysprep
as it is the same computer. Then run sysprep to create a HD3. Then run
HD3 in the new computer B, and it would be customized for that
computer. I have ordered another HD in order to give this a try. Does
this sound feasible?

What are the implications of creating a new SID on the original
computer A? Will this make some things not work? What about NOT
creating a different SID for computer B? Will that cause problems if
both are on the same workgroup?

The sysprep for Win XP has some additional parameter settings not
listed for W2000, for which the instructions were written:
  -clean             Clean out critical devices.
  -forceshutdown     Force shutdown instead of poweroff.
  -factory           Factory preinstallation.
  -reseal            Reseal machine after running FACTORY.EXE.
  -mini              Run Mini-Setup after reboot.
  -activated         Do not reset grace period for activation.

Do you know what ?clean? means? (Or any of the others?)

Thank you again for pointing me this way. I should have the new HD in
about 2 days and give it a try.


Request for Question Clarification by legolas-ga on 02 Feb 2005 08:46 PST
Shouldn't be any risk for doing it to machine A. However, you could
clone the disk, then run sysprep on the HD2 and just install HD2 to
the new computer. No extra HD needed.

As for the new flags:

? Audit: allows for the verification of hardware and software
installation by a system builder while running in factory floor mode.
Audit boots allow a system builder to reboot after factory floor mode
has completed its automated pre-install customizations, in order to
complete hardware and software installation and verification, if
? Factory: allows for the automated customization of a pre-install on
the factory floor by using a Bill of Materials file to automate
software installations, software, and driver updates, updates to the
file system, the registry, and INI files such as Sysprep.inf. This
mode is invoked via the "sysprep -factory" command.
? Reseal: is run after an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has
run Sysprep in factory mode and is ready to prepare the computer for
delivery to a customer.

This mode is invoked via the "sysprep -reseal" command. When resealing
the machine for delivery to an end user, the preinstaller can specify
whether OOBE (the new wizard-based setup screens that an end user will
see upon first boot) or mini-setup (the classic setup screens that
were seen on first boot after running sysprep on Windows 2000) by
adding the argument -msoobe or -mini, respectively.
? Clean: Sysprep will clean the critical device database. The critical
device database is a registry listing of devices and services that
have to start in order for Windows XP to boot successfully. Upon setup
completion, the devices not physically present in the system are
cleaned out of the database, and the critical devices present are left
in tact. This mode is invoked via the "sysprep -clean" command.

Personally, I'd probably *try* the clean flag if you are doing the
above (clone first, then sysprep disk 2). Otherwise, I'd ignore the
new flags.


Request for Question Clarification by legolas-ga on 03 Feb 2005 21:05 PST
Since everthing seems to be working to your satisfaction, I'd like to
post the 'official' answer and close this question. If I don't hear
back from you with an objection to that (i.e. something isn't quite
working as planned), I'll post the answer within about 24 hours.



Clarification of Question by jhs1-ga on 06 Feb 2005 17:18 PST

Well, I agree that it should be working. 

Excellent point on not needing a third hd. I tried that with this result:

clone disk to hd2. (not sure how to boot to hd2, so I removed hd1, put
hd2 as the new master) booted to hd2. Windows detects new hardware,
reboots. All is well.

I run sysprep -pnp -mini -clean
[invalid combination of parameters. -clean can optionally be followed
by -quiet and nothing else.]
repeat as sysprep -pnp -mini
Displays a warning about creating a new sysid.
Then "end program now" window pops up. I leave this alone for about 2
minutes, but see no sign of activity, so close the window. This closes
the dos window from which sysprep was called.

Windows shuts down. Transfer hd2 to second computer. says disk read
error occurred, press ctrl alt del to restart.

So, something still eludes me about sysprep. When I ran it with 2 hd,
it displayed a windows window showing "sysprep working" and an
hourglass icon which flipped. This never appeared when working with
only hd2.

So, the darn thing still isn't running. There may be something about
running sysprep with only 1 hd, as it seems to expect to actually
clone the os itself.

Clarification of Question by jhs1-ga on 07 Feb 2005 11:37 PST
Hello Legolas-ga,

I?m a bit new at this Google Answers routine. It does seem fair for
you to receive the payment for this question, so if you can ?lock?
this Q, that would be fine with me. It seems likely that sysprep will
do exactly what I want. It also seems that there are several ways to
mess up, and that I?m finding them, one-at-a-time. I do have a ?day
job? so can?t work on this every day.

I plan to speed things up by creating a smaller image, just a fresh
Win XP, so the cloning of the image goes faster, so I can try the
different alternatives and get this to work.

Assuming that sysprep does work, it would be worth more to me than the
Q posed, so I would appreciate your letting me know what would be an
appropriate bonus for this. If you like, we can close this Q and open
a new one on getting sysprep to work, but I would appreciate your
suggestion for an appropriate price for that.

I very much appreciate your help. 

Subject: Re: Windows XP boots from floppy with ntldr &, but not from the hd
Answered By: legolas-ga on 07 Feb 2005 12:27 PST
Sure, I can certainly do that for you. In all truthfullness, I
normally charge $125/hr for this type of work when I'm doing it for my
day-job (and not on Google Answers). GA is a little different as I do
it when I'm not doing anything else, and it's a distraction. Plus, I
can pick and choose questions that I personally am interested in
(rather than a client telling me he wants x, y and z done today :) ).
All of which is essentially an explanation for why I answer
cheaper-priced questions than what I charge for consulting work in the
real world.

So, first issue: The original issue really dealt with the MBR. fdisk
/fixmbr or using the 'repair' function in the WinXP CD-Rom will fix
that particular issue. But, the larger issue is (whether you knew it
at the time that you asked the question or not) how to clone XP
without causing issues with the Security ID (SID). Sysprep is the

As for working through your issues with sysprep, I'm more than happy
to do so. However, one think is bothering me a bit.. Do you **KNOW**
that second HD and/or second computer is in 100% perfect working order
(i.e. the memory isn't bad, CPU isn't dead, etc.)? I'd almost want you
to install XP on there clean and just see if it's working! OR, use the
same imaged drive in both computers. Does it work in one and not the
other? Also, do you know that the BIOS doesn't have a problem with the
large hard drive? Do you have an OVERLAY (i.e. Maxblast software) that
you should be REMOVING prior to imaging? Imaging the drive alone will
not remove a driver overlay. You need to re-run maxtor's maxblast (or
equivalent) to remove that.

Sysprep is pretty easy to use for the most part.. But, obviously, if
the machine isn't working well, then, that would cause a problem too.

Anyways, I'm going to post this as the answer to this question. If
you'd like to post a second question on sysprep, let me know and I'll
be happy to answer it for you, and work with you on that one.

I always hate posting an actual dollar amount for tips and/or prices,
but, if you had called me up and wanted me to do the entire procedure
for you, it would probably have cost you around $250-375... Now, since
I'm not actually having to travel to you, and wait around while the
computer actually performs some of its tasks, the amount of time I
actually need to spend with the problem will be less.. Probably
between 1 and 2 hours (vs 2-3 hours).

Anyways, hope that helps? :)

Subject: Re: Windows XP boots from floppy with ntldr &, but not from the hd
From: snowdizx-ga on 28 Jan 2005 17:45 PST
The Master Boot Loader, or MBR is a point on the hard drive BEFORE all
the partitions that marks either partition for booting.  You can use a
utility such as partition magic to select the specific drive you want
to boot from and when you do an image of the drive.

You haven't really explained how you're copying drive A to drive B.
Ideally you'd want to use Norton Ghost, because it is capable of
copying 'everying' on the drive, including the MBR. Without a MBR and
a partition marked as 'bootable' specifically, it will not treat the
volume as a data volume which is an OS volume.

For your last problem, (VGA), when booting hit F8 before the windows
screen comes up and boot into 'VGA mode' or 'safe mode'.  This will
nullify the current driver and you can select whatever driver you
want, while it is on a generalized VGA driver.

Hope this helps! --Devon
Subject: Re: Windows XP boots from floppy with ntldr &, but not from the hd
From: jhs1-ga on 28 Jan 2005 23:13 PST
Thanks for the comment!

Yes, I used Norton Ghost 9.0 to copy the drive. After making the copy
from Computer A, I tried booting it in Computer B, before running the
Windows Repair, and B would boot into Windows from the HD, but then
Windows would shut down "to protect my computer" because it detected
it was in a different computer. Maybe I klutzed something along the
way, since this is my first time to do this. I would really like to
better understand what is happening, anyway.

I did boot to Partition Magic from the CD and check the HD, with no
errors. There is just the one partition, which is primary and active.
As you say, "supposedly" that should turn control to the OS on the HD.

I'm not sure how to tell exactly what step in the boot process is going wrong. 

Thanks very much for the VGA tip!

Subject: Re: Windows XP boots from floppy with ntldr &, but not from the hd
From: mister2u-ga on 29 Jan 2005 10:34 PST
You could have a look at which is a freeware drive
cloning program,they have a discussion group for that progam there.It
sounds to me as if you didn't copy the MBR from the first disk to the
second you could try using fisk /mbr to rewrite it.
Subject: Re: Windows XP boots from floppy with ntldr &, but not from the hd
From: mipet_computing-ga on 05 Feb 2005 21:56 PST
ok.. this should be a very simple fix for you.  If you enter the
install cd and go to the recovery console, run two commands. Fixmbr
and fixboot.  If those two do not work, get yourself a copy of a
windows 98 boot disk, or any bootable medium with fdisk, like a
windows 98 install disk. run the command "fdisk /mbr"

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