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How to Manually Repair Windows 7 Boot Loader Problems

If you’re having boot problems on your Windows PC, it’s often helpful to repair the MBR (Master Boot Record) to restore the Windows 7 boot loader—and you can do it easily from the Windows installation disc.

This is generally most useful if you’ve broken something and there’s a boot loader error, or if you have made the mistake of installing an older version of Windows on the same PC that already has Windows 7 which wipes out the boot loader.

Note: If your PC starts booting into Windows but fails, you should probably try using Safe Mode instead.

Boot From the Windows Install Disc

The first thing you’ll need to do is boot off the install disc, and then click through until you see the “Repair your computer” link in the lower left-hand corner.

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You’ll need to choose the correct installation of Windows and then click the Next button.

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And then you’ll get to the System Recovery Options screen, where you can get to the Command Prompt.

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Repairing the Master Boot Record

If you want to restore the master boot record, you can simply type in the following command:

bootrec /fixmbr

You can also write a new boot sector onto the system partition with this command (which is often more useful):

bootrec /fixboot

And of course, if you just use bootrec /? you’ll be able to see all the options.

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This is the same way that we fixed the “BOOTMGR is missing” error when trying to boot up Windows 7 or Vista.

Replacing the Windows XP Bootloader with Windows 7

If you’ve managed to install XP on the same PC that you already had Windows 7 on, you’ll noticed that you can’t boot into Windows 7 anymore. You can use this command to fix that and restore the Windows 7 bootloader:

bootsect /nt60 all

Depending on the partition that you’ve installed, you might need to substitute the drive letter instead of “all”.

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Note: if you want to restore Windows XP back to the menu, you can open up a command prompt in Windows 7 and run this command:

bcdedit /create {ntldr} -d “Windows XP”

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Using the Automated Startup Repair

Of course, all this command-line stuff is probably not necessary in most cases. You can usually just use the Startup Repair option from the Recovery menu…

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It’ll check for problems and probably fix them. If not, then you can always use the command prompt.

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Have you ever needed to restore your boot loader to get Windows working again?

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/20/10

Comments (54)

  1. vistamike

    As has been suggested on the main forums, could this be a sticky?

  2. bassman22

    Great article! This information is SO useful, this would’ve come in handy about a year ago, when I encountered some trouble after I deleted an Ubuntu partition. I eventually got to one of the solutions mentioned in the article, but it did take a while of researching. Thanks!

  3. Penny

    I just had to restore the Win7 (dual-booting with Vista) boot-loader after installing Ubuntu, and I took the automatic path. Now the start-up menu has “(restored)” after the Windows 7 choice. Is there a way to get rid of that?

  4. MJ

    Great article, I deal from time to time with this problems and try to solve them by myself, but it’s not easy for begginers, as I was one day. Sometimes the auto-repair option fails.

    @Penny You can use EasyBCD. It’s a great tool I use a lot, specially since they updated it to version 2.

  5. Enrique Indacochea

    I would like to know how to proceed in the case of a netbook computer with Windows 7 Starter Edition that has a pre-installed system that doesn´t come with an install disc. I wold appreciate any suggestion. Thanks in advance.

  6. henry chapman

    Who has an install disc? Most of us have recovery discs.

    I think the repair option is on a repair disc which can be created by most users.

  7. Sophia

    I just started getting this newsletter yesterday and this sounds impossible but this very article which was in my first newsletter was exactly what I needed! I did something while doing a system restore because (unknown to me) my modem was going off and on. Apparently it had been doing it for hours while the computer was on but not being used…..so I hope I do it correctly when I try to fix it. I just have two questions…. I am totally ignorant in such matters, and need all the help I can get.. I turn it on while I push F8 to get to safe mode window.
    It gives me options (I tried them all) When I hit enter to continue it will flash the windows XP page and it shuts down every time. How do I get it to stay on so I can correct it? There is one option that says start it so it won’t shut down everytime. When I do that I get a error message saying it can go no futher. Any help would be very much appreciated! The system is windows XP, should I do anything diffrent then what is recommended for win7? Loved the informative article!

  8. Big Dan

    I use bootrec /fixmbr after I wipe my Ubuntu partition.

  9. MJ

    @Enrique You can install Windows 7 from a USB Flash Drive, just Google for it. From that USB drive you will be able to access recovery options too.

    If you don’t have an install disk but just want to access recovery options, you can try to download Windows PE (the operating system that you use to install Windows) and add it to the USB drive.

  10. MAtt

    I NEEDED THIS LAST WEEK@!!!!

  11. Brian Carr

    CREATE A WINDOWS SYSTEM REPAIR DISK

    Windows 7 and Vista

    From the Start menu, select Control Panel.

    Click Backup and Restore, and then on the left, choose Create a system repair disc.

    Select a drive, and then click Create disc.

    Windows XP

    From the Start menu, select Programs or All Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools, and finally Backup.

    On the welcome screen, click Advanced Mode.

    On the next screen, choose Automated System Recovery Wizard.

    Click Next, and then make sure you have a blank floppy disk in the floppy drive. Confirm that the path shown under “Backup media:” or “file name:” points to the blank floppy disk. If not, click Browse… and navigate to the blank floppy. Click OK.

    Click Next, and then click Finish.

  12. thorgred

    i used that trick after putting my windows 7 acronis image back on a new harddisk (same size harddisk)
    it was very usefull
    all what was needed was my windows 7 dvd

  13. TOM

    My window 7 came with the computer so I do not have a widows 7 disk. I my computer sets for an hour or so it will not start again. I have to shut down the tower and start from scratch. Once up and running it is great. :-)

  14. ProstheticHead

    @Tom, it sounds like you have a problem there. Why not post it with as much information as you can provide over on the main HTG forums?

    http://www.howtogeek.com/forum/

  15. sxnin

    HI,
    please help me, what exactly of theese solution will help to me, I have win7 but when I instal win8Xtream for just to see it, an i decide to remove it , I make new clean instalation of win7 7600, an format partition before instalation, same as format partition where I have win8Xtream, but, noe when my win boot from HDD I have solution-option for dual boot for win7, one is from HDD and one is from dvd drive???, I put back all settings on default in bios, but have this masage??
    So I run on to this article, what from this orders will solve my problem??

  16. sxnin

    Uff i don’t have option “repair” in that window whn I put instalation DVD for instaling…WHY??

  17. hardik

    I have sony vaio laptop.It has error of bootmgr is missing.I want to repair without format.Because i want to same my data.I try early to repair but it format whole internal hardisk.

  18. hardik

    thanks , it’s done.

  19. hello

    Hi Thanks for the advice I seem to be having a problem with it though when I click repair the computer the next step does not load. Is there any other way I can fix it.

    Thanks

  20. daveisnotme

    Brian Carr

    Not many new computers have a floppy drive. None of mine do and I cant remember the last time I used one. Can you do this with a flashdrive instead?

  21. Mattie

    Thanks for this article, it saved me today!

  22. amrish

    thanks

  23. Gopal

    not working

  24. kms

    Thanks alot I use ur guide and it worked on my pc. It got me depressed today… .

  25. Nancy

    This is helpful, thank you!

  26. kutta

    i tried to boot from the repair disk that i put on a usb flash but my system is not listed when it gives the option for recovery system. it now says that i need to load drivers and i dont know what ones i need to load or if i have them. im working with a hp mini netbook so i had to use a flash hd. if anyone knows what dirvers i need or what to do plz help. thx

  27. danb

    i don’t have a Windows installation disc the laptop didn’t come with cd’s software please help ive done almost everything and nothing work
    where i find a windows 7 installation image cd for download my laptop didn’t came with one and now i need it

  28. Rajan

    on my PC i have windows 7, but it does not boot completly to desktop, it stops booting at my documents folder. then i go to windows folder and run explorer.exe file then windows boot to desktop

  29. jake

    When i try to boot up my computer with the disc in (my bios has been changed so my computer boots from the cd) it totally ignores the cd and goes straight onto trying to load windows, the loading bar doesnt appear, then i get another loading bar saying *loading windows files* (im guessing this part its switching to the vista loading screen. and sure enough the vista loading screen pops up and its trying to load vista, but since i dont have vista on my computer, it goes to a black screen and stays like that til i turn it off. how do i fix this. please

  30. Geoff

    Thanks!!! Worked like a charm!!!

  31. Zarquon

    Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou – All I had in my Win7 laptop was a flashing curser – no error messages – I read your article re “How to Manually Repair Windows 7 Boot Loader Problems” – rebooted and now have the login screen – i have now signed up

  32. a

    I needed your mom last week Tom

  33. Talha

    when i type the command
    bcdedit /create {ntldr} -d “Windows XP”
    it gives me an error :(
    this is what it writes
    A description for the new entry must be specified.
    Run “bcdedit /?” for command like assistance.
    The parameter is incorrect.

    Please anyone help me here i really need to fix this :(

  34. Chris

    thanks a lot!!

  35. buyoy

    Thanks! this solves our hp mini blank screen during windows 7 boot

  36. Jack Gura

    Is there a way to perform “bootrec /fixmbr” and “bootrec /fixboot” or “bootsec /nt60 all” type commands from a freedos environment for Windows 7 partitions? I have an old free drive cloning program that clones my Windows 7 just fine, but when I restore the image i have to use the Windows 7 system recovery disk to repair the startup environment for it to boot and work. I restore my c: drive (system,boot,active partition) from a freedos environment and would like to just command line repair the startup environment in my batch file after the restore partition event completes.

  37. mike chandler

    my lenovo laptop just keeps restarting and running the automated startup repair tool. i can’t get it to boot form a rescue disk, external drive, cd drive. it just keeps saying it is loading files and then begins the startup repair tool again. any assistance would be appreciated.

  38. Rohit

    You all are just good.. KEEP IT UP!!

  39. Joeeisie

    I mean seriously. A fixmbr command when others had me deleting, reinstalling, and many more crazed procedures. I know sometimes it has to be done the hard way, but with the right info. life can become whole again. I am trying to be a better geek, and now I aspire to be a howtogeek! Thanks ya’ll and you do make a diff!!!!!!

  40. suraj

    it worked for me….thank q so much

  41. ahmed7

    I was have windows XP sp3 and windows 7 sp1 and then i format the partition which contain xp with xp compact disc and reinstalled windows xp, after installing complete i tried to make repair to windows seven startup but it didn’t success. Then i installed EasyBoot 2.2 in xp and it can’t start after complete installation it give me ()

  42. ahmed7

    This is the error message t the boot configuration data store couldn’t be opened the system cannot find the file specified
    You should know that my windows 7 installation disc isn’t with SP 1 but i install it later

  43. Dave

    THANKS MAN, I attempted in cloning my OS drive which is a share of WIn7&Linux, after ghost both failed to startup, not even after reloading linux which usually sort it out, this repair got my windows loader back and now I can finally trash linux, ,

    Thanks again

  44. bob white

    Does this work when Microsoft taps you out?

  45. Grace

    After Following these steps, are you files deleted? Is there any hope that your files are still on your hard drive if your computer goes to ‘Startup Repair’? Does this help if you accidentally download a virus? I had the Frostwire program open while I was gone, and when I got back, it was on the sign on screen, where I type my password normally, but all I could see was the mouse, so I powered off and this happened.

  46. ali

    Thank you very much. Very helpful :)

  47. fred

    good article

  48. Muna

    I installed windows xp on my external hard disk,after that when i boot my laptop which came with win 7 OS, it shows “windows could not start because of a computer disk hardware configuration problem.could not read from this selected boot disk.check boot path and disk hardware.”plz need help on what to do.

  49. In2Deep

    Thank you. /fixmbr worked like a charm.
    I was familiar with old windows commands such as fdisk/MBR option. Don’t know why Microsoft luv to confuse things.

  50. In2Deep

    Thank you. /fixmbr worked like a charm.
    I was familiar with old DOS commands such as fdisk/MBR option. Don’t know why Microsoft luv to confuse things.

  51. Anees

    I have the following issue:
    My laptop is: DELL N5110, core i5 with 4 GB RAM.

    Initially I installed WIN VISTA 32 bit on C drive and then applied crack. – worked fine.
    Then I tried to install WIN 7(cracked version) 32 bit in my other partition. worked fine.

    Again, when I loaded VISTA desktop, in the “System Properties”, the crack is no longer valid.(I see a message, 15 or 30 days trial).

    I would like to use both OS(cracked verison). Please help!!

  52. chancll

    How do you use the command promt at the end? It just keeps saying attempting repairs and never does anything. When I click cancel it says, “The current repair operation cannot be cancelled.” I click ok and it keeps doing the scan.

  53. CFJ90210

    chancll, I am having the same problem. I’ve fixed the MBR before using this method in the past, but in my current situation, it skips past the recover options menu altogether after choosing my OS. It is stuck in some “Startup Repair” mode, looping the message “Attempting repairs…” as you have mentioned. If anyone knows how to reset the system in such a way as to get back the recover options menu, I would be appreciative.

  54. Dr.sms

    Thanks a lot man..

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