hi'yall. while trying to repair a XP media ctr. system (Gateway 5520), i discovered that this Gateway system lists the C: drive as active and listed as the #1 partition, but is only 73mb and named 'backup'. after a couple of trys with a non-destructive 'restore' (re-install with a data backup to 'old' file) the system continues to boot to the c: 'backup'. it will not boot to XP, and starts the restore process over again. i tried to change boot partition in the boot.ini file, but continue to have the same results. i already tried the 'fixmbr' in cmdline, to no avail. Any ideas?

Yep, we need more information.
fixmbr is a command found only in the Recovery Console [R for Reapir with RC during Setup on your installation cd]. It is not what you want, try bootconfig in the RC.
What is the drive/partition with your XP system files?
What is the drive/partition with your boot files?
Give us a copy of your current boot.ini

Windows folder is on the D: drive, including boot.ini.... i will post the copy of boot.ini on mon,,, cant get to the system this weekend. Question?, does daniweb allow screen shots, snips? sg

Screen shots are welcome... see allowable file formats by choosing Use Advanced Editor. If the format you need is not ther, then zip your file.
Boot.ini is on D: along with the system? Then your boot.ini should look like this:
[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows ...whatever.." /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

More or less. But further, because your boot.ini is on D: then so must be the boot file ntldr and ntdetect.com. And D: must be the drive marked Active, not C:
[BIOS reads the MBR of the booting hdd, notes which drive is Active, loads the MBR code into memory and hands control to it. The code goes to the Active drive, loads its boot sector code into memory. That loads ntldr which in turn reads boot.ini. And so on.
So if your boot.ini is in D; then D: must be active. Boot.ini says where the system files are.]
But anyway, post what you have.

great explanation (comprehensive!) i did notice the C: drive marked as active, suspected this is the problem, now on to changing that. i will include scrnShots next post (when i have access to the system again, mon). sG

And just in case you are still scratching your head over how just to mark the other partition active, here is a free tool that will accomplish that task for you, as well as remove the current active marking from the wrong drive:
Free, choice of cd or USB flashdrive versions. The installable program is free also, although a feature that is lacking allows Easeus' similar offering to edge it out. But only just.