Definition of System and Boot Partition

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Article ID: 100525 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q100525
For a Microsoft Windows XP version of this article, see 314470.
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The names commonly used for the partitions containing Windows startup and operating system files are for the system and boot partitions, respectively.


System Partition

The system partition refers to the disk volume containing hardware specific files needed to boot Windows (NTLDR, BOOT.INI, and so on). On Intel x86-based machines, it must be a primary partition that has been marked active. On x86 machines, this is always drive 0, the drive the system BIOS searches during system boot for the operating system.

Boot Partition

The boot partition contains the Windows operating system files (usually \WINNT) and it support files (usually \WINNT\SYSTEM32). It can be the same partition as the system partition.


Article ID: 100525 - Last Review: February 20, 2007 - Revision: 2.2
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Server
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.5
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.5
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
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