Lock up on boot up - cant find boot record.

  JohnS 17:17 20 Jun 2004

My PC suddernly locks up when booting. It does the RAM check, finds the hard disks, but don't think it can find the boot record from hard disk. It can boot from boot floppy and can and read the hard drives when in DOS. (I got 2 drives dual booting with 'C' as Win98 and 'D' as Win xp)

It tries to search for boot record from A then CD drive then C, screen goes black with small flashing cursor top left and hangs there.

Is there a way I can repair without rebuilding?

Is it the boot record as I assume?

I got second machine to download any fix files if suggested.

Help appreciated

  Dorsai 17:45 20 Jun 2004

Have you done anything to it recently? i mean install new hardware/software etc? or did this just 'happen overnight'?

  bretsky 17:49 20 Jun 2004

This may help click here

bretsky ;0)

  JohnS 18:07 20 Jun 2004


thanks - ran fdsik /mbr from floppy and no different. It still hangs. Trid this in A> and also from c> but no different.

This just happened overnight - have full up to date virus guard, wireless Netgear router accessing the outside world so don't think it a virus thought one never knows.

Any other ideas please - according to the info of Bretsky web site, even if I rebuild the drive it still won't solve the problem.

John S

  temp003 06:10 21 Jun 2004

Go into BIOS settings, and double check that for boot devices, the first hard disk to boot from is the primary master, i.e. your C drive. This is to exclude the possibility that somehow BIOS is looking at the wrong drive for the boot files.

It may be that the computer can't find an active partition to boot from, in which case it is the boot sector of the active partition which has been corrupted. But I would have thought that there should be some sort of error message, but there isn't in your case.

How was your dual boot created, by simply installing XP to the 2nd hard disk (letting XP Setup set up the dual boot), or by using third party software or boot manager?

If the former case, try the following (If you use third party software to create dual boot, don't try this):

Boot up computer with the XP installation CD inserted. When you get to the XP Setup Welcome Screen, press R to enter Recovery Console. It should then say 1. D:\WINDOWS

Press 1 and Enter. Enter Administrator password. If you haven't got a password, just leave it blank and press Enter. You should then get to the D:\WINDOWS> prompt.

At the prompt, type map and press Enter.

It should list out the drives and partitions, and sizes. This is just to double check that the partitions and drives and their sizes are properly seen. Make sure that the C drive and its size are as you expect. [If not, do not proceed.]

Your first hard disk (where C is) should be described as Device\HardDisk0

If all looks OK, at the prompt, type:

fixboot c:

and press Enter. You will receive a warning. Just confirm that's what you want to do.

Then at the prompt, type:

fixmbr device\harddisk0

and press Enter.

Confirm the action. Then type:


and press Enter. This reboots the computer. Remove XP CD and let it restart and see if it loads properly (getting the usual dual boot menu).

If it doesn't work, you can try and do a repair installation of XP. Boot up with XP CD again, this time, press Enter to enter XP Setup, F8 to accept Agreement. It should then detect existing installation of XP, and should say D:\WINDOWS, and ask you whether you want to repair or install fresh copy.

Choose repair existing installation by pressing R, and just follow the prompts. At the next restart, leave CD in, but let computer boot from hard disk, not CD. [During next stage of installation, if asked to choose computer name, account and so on, try to use previous names and passwords, if you can remember.]

After installation and final restart, you should get the dual boot menu again, and try booting into XP.

A repair installation as above leaves programs and data intact, but all XP system files are brought back to original CD state, so that you will need to reinstall all Windows Updates.

  JohnS 22:42 21 Jun 2004


Thanks for excellent details but I had problem early on in your resolution.......

When I inserted the WinXP disk, (after changing bios to boot to CD first), it hung on booting at the 'Starting Windows Setup' message. Prior to this, I 'pressed any key to boot from CD' as requested, got the blue screen message saying 'Windows setup ' and hung there. If I didn't press 'any key' it also hung.

I did the dual boot using Win 98 first then XP and no 3rd party software.

Have since run scandisk on both disks (from boot floppy then dos) and no errors found.

Am I looking at a complete rebuild of both disks?

If I do a complete rebuild, will the MBR be remade?

Further help much appreciated.

  temp003 00:25 22 Jun 2004

If computer hangs at "Windows Setup" when you boot up from CD, then I don't think the problem is the mbr or boot sector, but I don't know what could cause the problem (since you seem to have no problem booting up with a floppy).

This also means you won't be able to install XP in the normal way.

I would put the hard disks into the other computer, one by one, retrieve the data, and then try a format and reinstall on the problem machine with one hard disk first.

  woodchip 00:32 22 Jun 2004

Start Computer with a Windows Boot floppy Disc, at A:\> type FDISK /MBR like this

A:\>FDISK /MBR press enter

  woodchip 00:35 22 Jun 2004

If you have more than one stick memory remove one at a time and test. the memory should be in the first slot

  JohnS 09:22 22 Jun 2004

I have tried the fdisk /mbr from floppy to no avail - it still hangs.

I have also tried running windows 98 set up to reinstall windows on drive C (where it already exists) but part way during the install it does a reboot as is normal but then hangs with the black screen and flashing cursor top left (which is the initial problem). (Didn't though format first).

Will do fdisk, format and reinstall 98 to see if that works on C drive. Will this prevent the XP drive boot up option from appearing I wonder?

Just a thought - could this be caused a problem on the mobo. Not sure where cmos comes into this?

Regarding memory (woodchip's point) - all mem passes the post mem check showing the full installed mem as ok.

Never had such fun!!

thanks for all your help..........

John S

  temp003 07:48 23 Jun 2004

The fact that POST detects the correct amount of memory doesn't necessarily mean the memory is not faulty. I would still try woodchip's suggestion of removing one to see if it makes any difference, then try the other one.

If you fdisk, format and reinstall 98 on the C drive, you won't get the dual boot menu after that. But that's something which can be repaired. I would disconnect the XP hdd first before you fdisk the 98 hdd.

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