Ask How-To Geek: Unmountable Boot Volumes, Opening Word Files in Works, and Removing Bootloaders

By Jason Fitzpatrick on June 20th, 2011

Ask-How-To-Geek-TemplateEvery week we dip into our mailbag and answer your pressing tech questions. This week we look at unmountable Windows volumes, opening Word files in Works, and removing a haywire bootloader.

Resolving the Unmountable Boot Volume Error in Windows

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Dear How-To Geek,

When I boot my Windows XP machine I get a blue screen of death that says “UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME” and then nothing happens. I cannot boot into Windows. What can I do? Is this something I can fix myself?

Sincerely,

Blue Screen Watching in Boise

Dear Blue Screen,

There are three principle causes for that blue screen error code: the file system is damaged and cannot be mounted, you’re using a 40 wire IDE cable instead of an 80 wire IDE cable, and/or you’ve set the BIOS to force UDMA drive mode. Since it sounds like this just started out of the blue (you didn’t mention any cable swapping or mucking around in the BIOS), there’s a very high chance that your Master Boot Record has become corrupted. Fortunately it’s dead simple to fix.

Insert your Windows XP installation disc into your computer (or if you don’t have the installation disc download this recovery console disk ISO and burn it). Whether you’re using the official disk or the recovery disk we linked to, press the R button when the “Welcome to Windows” screen pops up. If you’re using Windows XP Home it won’t ask for a password if you’re using Windows XP Pro it will ask for your administrative password. At the recovery console command prompt type CHKDSK /R and then leave your computer alone. It’ll scan your hard drive with Check Disk and then repair bad sectors (as well as your Master Boot Record). It will easily take 30-45 minutes so just leave it alone for awhile. When you come back everything should be golden, pop out the disc and reboot your machine.

Opening Word Documents in Microsoft Works

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Dear How-To Geek,

My computer has Windows 7 64-bit. I do not have Microsoft Word on my computer I have Microsoft Works. Is it possible to open Word documents in Microsoft Works?

Sincerely,

Waiting for Word in Wisconsin

Dear Waiting,

Although you could try some of the many web-based convertors out there they aren’t very convenient (as they often vanish over night and require you to send your possibly sensitive documents to a 3rd party for conversion). Fortunately you don’t have to mess around with them as Microsoft has a Office Compatibility Pack. Download and install the Pack and you’ll be able to open .DOC, .DOCX, and .DOCM files in Works. You can download it and read about the Compatibility Pack here.

Removing Dual/Triple Bootloaders for Simple Right-to-Windows Booting

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Dear How-To Geek,

I unsuccessfully attempted to install Mac OS X Snow leopard on a PC (Pretty stupid attempt, I know…) [Ed. We wouldn’t call it stupid, maybe you just needed to do a little more hardware research!]  Well earlier I saw a guide showing how to get rid of boot alternatives/selecting default OS to boot… And I was wondering if you guys could make a guide to help me with fixing my bootloader or give me some tips how to select Windows 7 as default booting system?

Sincerely,

Dual Boot Meltdown in Delaware

It looks like we have a two-for-one special this week! Since your OS X installation was a failure and you don’t really want to dual boot (you just want to boot into Windows) you don’t really need to modify the bootloader to send you to Windows you really just need to remove the bootloader all together and return the Master Boot Record to it’s prior state. One of the downsides of using CHKDSK to repair the master boot record is that it removes the flags you need for a bootloader (and leaves you having to reinstall your bootloader) but in your case that’s exactly what you want. Scroll up to the top of this Ask How-To Geek post and read through the solution for resolving the Unmountable Boot Error in Windows. After you run CHKDSK /R you’ll have a clean Master Boot Record that boots right into Windows.


Have a pressing question? Shoot us an email at ask@howtogeek.com and we’ll do our best to answer your question.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/20/11
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