Removing NT from a Dual Boot System

Windows NT/2000/XP can be installed onto a system where another operating system such as Windows 95/95/SE/ME is already installed. When this is done without overwriting the previous operating system, both operating systems can be accessible via the boot menu that NT/2000/XP displays when you first boot your system. You might have installed the new operating system this way in order to check it out before fully committing yourself to the change. For some reason you have now decided to revert to your earlier operating system and wish to remove the newer one.

In many cases where you have two operating systems installed like this your original Windows operating system is installed on C:\ while the NT/2000/XP operating system is mostly installed to a separate partition. Alternatively you might have both operating systems installed on C:\ but in separate folders.

The first thing to check in either case is whether there is an uninstall option for NT/2000/XP in Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel. If there is then you can uninstall the operating system using this option which should make all of the necessary changes for you.

If that option doesn't exist then you will need to carry out a number of steps in order to remove the operating system manually.

  1. First ensure that you have a startup disk for your earlier Windows system. If not you will need to boot your system, select that operating system from the menu and go into Add/Remove Programs and click on the Startup Disk tab and then on Create Disk to create one.
  2. The next step is to delete the content of the NT/2000/XP folder or partition. If it is a separate partition that uses a file format that your earlier operating system doesn't understand then you will have to boot your system from the installation CD (or install disks) for that operating system to be able to delete the partition. If your earlier operating system can access the partition or NT/2000/XP is in a separate folder on C:\ then you can use it to delete the content of the folder or reformat the partition for you.
  3. Regardless of where your Windows NT/2000/XP was installed, some of its files are stored in the root folder of the C:\ drive. To clean these up you first need to boot with your startup disk that you found or created in step 1. At the command prompt you need to type sys c: and press enter. This will restore your boot to the way that it was before you installed the second operating system and the boot menu will no longer appear.
  4. You can now delete the following system files from C:\ (you might have to unhide them first)
    • boot.ini
    • ntldr
  5. Finally, if you deleted the partition holding the other operating system then you will want to use fdisk to create a new partition in its place using a file system supported by your original (and now only) operating system

If you have a copy of Partition Magic then you can use it in place of the NT installation CD (or disks) to delete the operating system partition and replace it immediately with one correctly formatted for your original operating system.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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