To avoid an unbootable OS... install the OS with the same partition setup AND position that the OS will use when running.
For example second partition visible and three hidden partitions. The OS can become unbootable if the OS is moved to another partition or you add additional partitions to the visible setup.
Why? I'm not familiar with the fine details, but heard that NT based Windows finds it's OS by counting partitions from the rear of the disk. This count is stored in Boot.ini. So if NT is installed as the only partition (number one) and you add a partition for Linux or whatever (as number two), NT cannot find its OS in the first partition from the rear of the disk, which is now Linux territory. So the boot.ini needs to be updated to show it's OS as partition number two instead of one (counting from the rear of the disk).
So even if boot.ini is in the only active partition, it can point to another partition for actual OS loading.
Thanks to FutureDood for jogging my memory about this issue.
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