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System partition mysteriously moved & 2nd Active partition appears

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#1 redbird14


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Posted 14 July 2016 - 07:27 AM

My Dell XPS 8700 desktop has 2 disk drives, a 256 GB SSD and a 2TB internal hard drive.  I'm running Win7 Pro which boots from the SSD.  In March, something happened and I didn't notice it until now.  Whatever happened didn't effect the computer's performance so far as I could notice.  I'm getting a new computer and want to repartition the hard drive on this one which would involve eliminating the 'Stuff' partition (S:).  But I can't as it is now the System partition (see screen cap).


Anyway, what happened is an active partition was established on the hard drive in the 'Stuff' (S:) partition and that was also made the System partition.  Prior to March, the SSD's RECOVERY partition was the System partition.  Both partitions have the full complement of boot files and both are designated as 'Active' which I didn't think could happen (unless the rule is only 1 'active' partition per drive, not per operating system).  What I want to do is move the 'System' designation back to the SSD/RECOVERY partition.  I found a video on YouTube that gave me some BCD commands but that didn't work.  It did no harm, it just didn't change anything.  The attached screen cap shows what appears on the Disk Management screen.


I do image weekly.  Unfortunately, I only keep the past 7 weeks so I can't go back to before mid-March which is the date showing on all the boot files on the S: partition.


If worse comes to worse, I'll just shrink the S: partition and leave it in place as the System partition but if there's a way to move the 'System' designation back to the SSD's RECOVERY partition, I'd appreciate it if anyone who might know would let me know.  Alternatively, if anyone can give me a google search phrase to find the answer I'd do that.  But I can't seem to phrase my google search to get a relevant response.


In advance, thanks for any help anyone may be able to provide to me on this.

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Edited by redbird14, 14 July 2016 - 07:32 AM.

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#2 hamluis



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Posted 14 July 2016 - 11:16 AM

Per wiki



Since Windows NT 3.1[4] (the first version of Windows NT), Microsoft has defined the terms as follows:

  • The system partition is a primary partition that contains the boot loader, a piece of software responsible for booting the OS.[5] This partition holds the boot sector and is marked active.
  • The boot partition is the disk partition that contains the operating system folder, known as system root or %systemroot% in Windows NT.

A single partition may be both a system and a boot partition. In case they are separate, however, the boot partition does not contain the boot software and the system partition does not have the system root.[6]:971


Before Windows 7, the system and boot partitions were, by default, the same and were given the identifier "C:". After Windows 7, however, Windows Setup creates, by default, a separate system partition that is not given an identifier and therefore is hidden. The boot partition is still given "C:" as its identifier. This configuration is suitable for running BitLocker, which requires a separate, unencrypted system partition for booting."


Honestly...as long as the system boots properly into Windows...I really don't pay attention to what is marked as "system", "boot", and so on.


I do know that installing Windows requires an active partition...there can be only one per disk, but multiple partitions can be designated such (one per disk) when more than one hard disk is used.  A partition set as active does not necessarily have to reflect an O/S install, but it is the only partition on that disk which can be used for such.



#3 FreeBooter


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Posted 14 July 2016 - 11:44 AM

I agree with hamluis as they say if it works don't fix it.


#4 redbird14

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 08:07 PM

Okay guys, thanks for the responses.  I was able to reduce the "S" partition's size so its effectively like a disk with some bad sectors on it that are unusable.  Doing so also allows me to get rid of the drive letter 'just in case'.


I have another Win7 machine and the difference in boot & shutdown times remains dramatic between booting from an SSD and a hard drive so it appears to me this machine is still booting from the SSD.


If I have the time I may unplug the internal hard drive just to see what happens.


Again, thanks for the prompt responses.

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