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Restore the Windows Boot Loader After an Ubuntu Update

Will your computer not boot into Windows after installing an update on your dual-boot or Wubi Ubuntu install?  Here’s how you can get your Windows boot loader back so you can easily get back to work in either OS.

We’ve mentioned before how Wubi is a great way to run Ubuntu on your Windows PC or netbook, and in general it works great.  However, sometimes your system may receive updates to GRUB, and if you choose the wrong option, the next time you reboot your computer you may find that it think there’s only Ubuntu and no Windows installed on your computer.

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Or, perhaps, even more ominously, you boot your computer to see that it thinks it has no operating system.

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Often, there’s no need to panic.  If you recently received an Ubuntu update, or somehow managed to mess up or remove your boot loader, it’s quick and easy to get it back using familiar Windows tools.  Here’s how.

Reinstall Your Windows Boot Loader From the Windows DVD

To get back into Windows, you’ll need to reinstall your Windows boot loader.  Thankfully this isn’t as difficult or time consuming as reinstalling Windows, but it will require your Windows DVD.  Boot your computer from the DVD, and if it doesn’t automatically offer to let you boot from the disk, you may need to change your boot settings in the BIOS.  You can usually access by pressing the F2, F10, or Delete key on the initial boot screen, depending on your computer.

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Save the changes and reboot your computer from the Windows DVD.  After a few moments, you should see the install setup screen.  Select your preferred language, then click Next.

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Your install disk is designed to install Windows on your computer, but also contains tools to help repair your existing Windows install.  On the bottom left of the Install window, click the Repair your computer link to get started repairing your current install of Windows.

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System Recovery will automatically start scanning to see if there’s an existing Windows install with something it can easily fix automatically.  You may have to wait a few minutes while it scans your computer.

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If your only problem is the boot loader, often it will automatically detect the problem and offer to fix it.  If so, simply click Repair and restart, and your computer should be booted back into Windows as normal within minutes.

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Reinstall Your Boot Loader Manually From the Windows DVD

Alternately, if it doesn’t automatically detect anything to fix, you’ll have to choose your own recovery options.  Click the bullet option on the top then click Next to use recovery tools to fix Windows.

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Now, select Command Prompt from the available recovery tools.

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In the command prompt window, enter the following to repair your boot loader:

bootrec /rebuildbcd

After a few moments, it should detect your Windows installation and ask if you want to add it to the boot loader.  Enter Y to add it, then exit the command prompt and reboot your computer when you’re finished.

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Moments later, you should see your standard Windows login screen as normal, and all of your files and programs should be fine and ready to use.

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As you may notice, the option to boot into Ubuntu will no longer show up in your boot menu, and your computer will act like you only have Windows installed.  To get your Wubi Ubuntu or full Ubuntu install accessable from the boot loader again, you’ll need to restore it as well.  The easiest way is to Add Wubi Back to the Bootloader With EasyBCD.  Once you’ve done that, you should be back in business, ready to use Windows or Ubuntu as you need.

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 10/29/10

Comments (10)

  1. Kevin

    What if you do not have a Windows disk?

  2. Dinesh

    @ Kevin, you can create a windows 7 system repair disk. Search this site for more info on how to create a system repair disk.

  3. miki

    Form my experience …is better to virtualize linux machine so you can use windows and linux in the same time…without problems like this.

  4. dave

    Damn, I wish you’d posted this 2 days ago.

  5. Frank

    Virtualize?

  6. lankapo

    same here with dave

    i wish u could post this earlier, i just format my hd because of this problem.

  7. Carls

    I’d suppose a large percentage of folks who want to try linux and end up with a dual boot are exactly those folks who have computers that came with installed Win and where the “restore” partition doesn’t give up the installation files that are needed.

    All well and good to say use the Win install disks, but you’re talking to a vanishing minority of folks who paid out extra. Think they can find WinPE or BartPE or follow the installation steps on this site? Not really likely… (experience talking here).

    So your article really lacks the meatit should have. At least a link to get the most likely problem fixed with tools that are most likely at hand.

    Please excuse if this sounds a bit strident, it’s not anger at you, certainly. But until MSoft allows some easier form of reinstall, all new linux aspirants ought to have it on a second, separate computer.

  8. Kurt

    Here’s an alternate solution – it’s one that I had to use when I attempted to install Linux to a flash drive (booting a live-CD on a Windows XP system) and the Master Boot Record got trashed. This worked like a charm:

    1. Boot up with your Linux live-CD of choice (I used Ubuntu)
    2. Open up a Terminal, and type the following commands:
    a. sudo apt-get install lilo
    b. sudo lilo -M /dev/sda mbr
    3. Reboot and see if it worked!

    (note – replace ‘sda’ in step 2b. above with the device ID of the hard drive where Windows boots)

  9. thomas salerno

    blocks on my edvr

  10. urshadow

    No MS CD/DVD. then you can downloaded the repair portion here..

    http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Recovering+the+Vista+Bootloader+from+the+DVD

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