No matter how good our beloved Windows operating system has become, one has to expect that occasional problems with the boot process will arise. If you are a loyal Slick IT reader, you will have already read our article and made yourself a boot disk and already understand how the boot process works. Today, we are going to look into some common fixes for boot problems that IT techs everywhere are sure to have run into.
This article is applicable in some way shape or form to all versions of Windows, but primarily the information given here is for Windows Vista, Server 2008, Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. These newer flavours of Windows have a modified boot process that has both advantages and some quirks as compared to the NT/XP flavoured boot.
The first one that is 100 specific to the New NT 6.0 and later kernel, is problems in the Boot Configuration Database (BCD). Typically, this issue presents itself with an error message like “Windows could not start because of a computer disk configuration problem”; “Check boot path and disk hardware”; or “Could not read from the selected boot disk.”
These error message most often come from the careless deletion of the BCD but can also occur from disk issues resulting in BCD corruption or the addition of a partition that has somehow changed the name of the volume.
To fix this, simply log in to the Windows Recovery Environment and run the following commands: bootrec /scanos and bootrec /rebuildbcd. You will also find that the bcdedit.exe tool has some other options availoable that may be of use.
Common to all versions of Windows starting with NT is the infamous “Missing Operating System”; “Invalid Partition Table”; or the “Error Loading Operating System”.
The cause is simple. Ninety-Nine per cent of the time this is due to corruption by due to hard disk errors. Viruses and poorly written device drivers may also be responsible for corruption of the Master Boot Record (MBR).
Fortunately, this is also the easiest of all of our boot problems to fix. Simply run bootrec /fixmbr from a boot disk or the Windows Recovery Environment.
Many of you have probably run into “BOOTMGR is missing”. This too, is a result of corruption and is equally easy to resolve. Simply running bootrec /fixboot should clear this up.
Our final cause of boot problems may often be the most serious.
When Windows is reporting that operating system files and/or xxx.dll is missing, you should immediately suspect disk issues. This particular error may be indicative of many files missing and not just the one listed.
Often it is easier to just reinstall the OS, but if you are in the mood to try and recover from this, you will need to launch the Windows Recovery Environment and try to find the files needed on a Windows disk or in the \Windows\winsxs\backup folder. Or, failing that, try to find and copy the file from another running machine in your network – just ensure that it is from the same service pack and OS
These tips in unison should allow you to recover from almost all boot failures. If all else fails, go for the windows repair install and cross your fingers.
Hope these help.