Can't start computer

  Fraser243 17:56 28 May 2009

I have reason to believe that I have royally messed up the family computer. Earlier today, I installed the Windows 7 RC from the DVD, just to see what the performance was like on an older computer. Having decided that it wasn't that great, I deleted the Windows 7 partiton, and resized the XP partition to the full size of the drive, as it had been before. It was annoying having to select 'earlier version of Windows' from the boot screen, so I decided to insert my Windows XP CD and run both fixmbr and fixboot from the Recovery Console. Now, however, I cannot start the computer at all from the hard disk. I receive the following error message:

"A disk read error occurred
Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to restart"

Now, when I boot from the XP CD and select Recovery Console, it doesn't detect the XP installation, and displays "C:\_" or whatever it is, without the option to login to a Windows installation.

Is there any way I can get back into XP and fix the bootloader? If not, I have umpteen Ubuntu CDs lying around, so would I be able to access the hard drive and recover all our data?

Many thanks in advance,

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 18:15 28 May 2009

1. Boot to recovery console again
2. type: bootcfg /rebuild, and then press ENTER.

This command scans the hard disks of the computer for Windows XP, Microsoft Windows 2000, or Microsoft Windows NT installations, and then displays the results. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen to add the Windows installations to the Boot.ini file. For example, follow these steps to add a Windows XP installation to the Boot.ini file:

When you receive a message that is similar to the following message, press Y:

Total Identified Windows Installs: 1

[1] C:\Windows

Add installation to boot list? (Yes/No/All)

You receive a message that is similar to the following message:

Enter Load Identifier (my note - type something or you will see no label when you boot). This is the name of the operating system. When you receive this message, type the name of your operating system, and then press ENTER.

You receive a message that is similar to the following:

Enter OS Load options

When you receive this message, type /fastdetect, and then press ENTER.

Note The instructions that appear on your screen may be different, depending on the configuration of your computer.

Type exit, and then press ENTER to quit Recovery Console. Your computer restarts, and the updated boot list appears when you receive the "Please select the operating system to start" message.

Boot into XP

Check boot.ini file and remove invalid entries

  Fraser243 08:22 29 May 2009

I tried your suggestion this morning, and on typing bootcfg /rebuild and pressing ENTER, I was presented with this message:

"Failed to successfully scan disks for Windows installations. This error may be caused by a corrupt file system, which would prevent Bootcfg from successfully scanning. Use chkdsk to detect any disk errors"

I'm unsure as to how the file system could have become corrupted, as I was able to boot in to XP AFTER I deleted the 7 partition and restored the original disk layout. Fixboot or fixmbr by any chance?

If the file system IS corrupted, is there any chance of me using a Linux CD to retrieve our data, if this can't be fixed? I will run chkdsk when I get home later.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 09:06 29 May 2009

Insert the Windows Vista or Windows 7 DVD installation disc into CD-ROM or DVD-ROM optical drive.

Run Command Prompt

issue the following command and hit Enter:
[DVD Drive Letter]:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt52 ALL /force
For example,
If the DVD drive path is D:, then enter the following:
D:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt52 ALL /force
The step will remove the boot menu to select operating system to start.

Remove the DVD disc and restart the computer.

The computer should boot up with Windows XP installation partition.

Manually remove files and folders of Windows 7, including Windows, Program Files and Users folder. If you’re installing to separate partition, just format the partition to clean it instantly (with FDisk, Disk Manager of Computer Management or third party partition management
software such as Partition Magic or EASEUS Partition Manager).

8. On the root system folder of Windows XP, delete Boot.BAK and BootSect.BAK. The two files are remnant backup leftover files of previously installed Windows Vista or Windows 7 bootloader, but no longer useful for Windows XP only system.

Tip: NT52 is the MBR (Master Boot Record) used by Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, while Windows Vista uses NT6. So if you’re uninstall Windows 7 in Vista/7 dual boot system, change the NT52 in the command to NT60.[Via Digital Life]

  Fraser243 23:32 29 May 2009

How would I go about running Command Prompt from the Vista DVD?

  woodchip 23:54 29 May 2009

Best way is boot with the XP CD and do a Repair Install of the Operating System. You will need to download all MS updates after

  Fraser243 00:02 30 May 2009

I did think about that, but I believe it's too late now considering that even Recovery Console will not pick up the fact that there is an XP install on there.

  Fraser243 11:58 30 May 2009

This morning, I decided to start the computer from one of my Ubuntu CDs to try and back up all of the important data from the PC (emails and such). However, Ubuntu does NOT detect the Windows partition, there is no mention of even a hard drive in Computer, and I can't find it in the Media folder.

If this means there's no chance of us recovering our data, then we'll be losing important work documents and confirmation emails (I'm kicking myself for not backing up before installing 7).

Is there any hope left?

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 13:42 30 May 2009

Your data should still be there its a mater of just getting at it.

By removing / extending the XP partition over the vista one you have lost the orginal boot files that need to be on the master drive Partition 0.

Do you have a floppy drive? if not make a bootable CD. Or you could even doit by making a pen drive bootable.

It takes just one floppy disc,

First format a Floppy disc

Run type
Format A: /u

Then open Notepad and copy and Paste this

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="First harddisk, first partition" /sos
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="First harddisk, second partition" /sos
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS="First harddisk, third partition" /sos
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS="First harddisk, fourth partition" /sos
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Second harddisk, first partition" /sos
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Second harddisk, second partition" /sos
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(3)\WINDOWS="Second harddisk, third partition" /sos
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Second harddisk, fourth partition" /sos
C:\="Previous Operating System on C:\"

Save as

in Notepad as BOOT.INI

Then in search find


Add these to the floppy disc

you can now try starting your computer with the floppy disc

  woodchip 14:05 30 May 2009

Try using TestDisk to see if it will restore the Partition information. Use a boot floppy or such.
Download the DOS version click here

  Fraser243 17:29 30 May 2009

Unfortunately, your suggestion didn't work. On selecting the first option from the boot menu after attempting to boot from the floppy disk, I received this error message:

"Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:

<Windows root>\system32\hal.dll

Please re-install a copy of the above file."

Using the partition manager of Ubuntu (GParted), the partition was displayed as being NTFS, but also as being inaccessible, probably due to corruption. In addition, on trying to run chkdsk /r from Recovery Console, I was presented with this error:

"The volume appears to contain one or more unrecoverable problems."

Surely this means that the file system is indeed corrupt, and thus will not be accessbile/recoverable without buying expensive recovery software?

I'll contact Virgin Media about the email situation later - hopefully the important emails are still on their servers - but we're really running out of ideas. I've also posted this on the Sysinternals forum under Troubleshooting, but I've had no reply as of yet.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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