How to repair the boot sector by fixing the master boot record (MBR) in Windows XP

To repair the boot sector by fixing the master boot record, there is no doubt, you will have to be technically minded to proceed. You can sometimes fix the boot sector of a hard drive and your computer will magically start as normal.

Your computer may continually restart, sometimes load the Windows logo screen, or even just have a black screen. There are a number of symptoms that occur when you have a damaged boot sector such as the master boot record.

What is a boot sector of a hard drive?

Your hard drive is split into small sectors and the first of these is the boot sector. It is the most important and is obviously accessed first when the computer first boots up. If your hard drive is not partitioned it will have a Volume Boot Record.

What is the master boot record (MBR)?

The Bios looks for a boot sector of your hard drive. If the hard drive has a partition it will go to the Master Boot Record. This tells BIOS about your partition table and where the operating system is that you want to boot up.

What can damage the Master Boot Record in the Boot Sector?

  • Having problems when installing Operating Systems can damaged the master boot record. Stopping half way through installation is the most common cause.
  • Changing the Windows Registry entries.
  • Getting a virus that infects the MBR. Many viruses are built to attack the MBR.

What you will need to Repair the master boot record (MBR) of a hard drive

    1. An original Full Version Windows XP. The one you used to originally put Windows on your computer. An OEM version may not have this option, it depends on the company it came from. ( Dell, Acer, HP, etc)
    2. You will need to know the administrator password for your Windows installation.

Boot up any computer  restore your Windows and DataHow to repair the master boot record (MBR of a hard drive manually (quicker)

  1. Put your original Windows XP CD into the cd drive of your computer. If your PC cannot enter Windows, or your Windows has problems, this CD can help!
  2. Restart your computer and hopefully it will come up and say press any key to boot from the cd.
  3. So therefore you must press any key on your keyboard to start from the cd.
  4. If this does not come up you need to enter your bios and change the boot order or sequence.See How to get into Your BIOS and change settings.
  5. A blue screen will appear and you are on your way..
  6. You may need to press F8 to agree to the Windows Setup agreement.
  7. After that the setup options will appear (see screen shot below).
  8. Do not press ENTER as it will start installing Windows from scratch and you will loose all of your data on your hard drive.
  9. Press the letter R on your keyboard to enter the Recovery Console.
  10. When Recovery Console starts you will have to enter the number that corresponds with the installation you want to repair. For example if you have only one Windows installed on your computer then you would press the number one key. If you have two operating systems on your computer and you want to repair the second one then press 2.
  11. Enter your Administrator password for that windows installation. You must enter an admin password here and if you do not, you cannot continue.
  12. At the Recovery Console command prompt, type fixmbr.
  13. You will be asked to confirm that you want to do this by pressing the Y key for yes.
  14. Now your Master Boot record will be fixed.

Now if that did not work you can also repair the Boot sector by following the same steps but typing fixboot instead of fixmbr.

Fix the boot sector of a hard drive in Windows Vista and Windows Seven:

This screen shot below shows what you will see when you insert the Windows Vista or Seven operating system cd. You can try to do a Start up repair first. Generally this repairs Windows problems. If you want to fix the boot sector of a hard drive you will need to choose the Command Prompt option, as we did for Windows XP. Type Bootrec.exe, and then press ENTER. This will let you into the Bootrec.exe tool where you can type try to repair the boot problems.

fixing the master boot record

Please see more options on how to repair startup using the Bootrec.exe tool.

Using software to recover the Boot Sector of your hard drive

You can easily buy a boot disc to repair your computer for you, however if you are going to fork out your money you might as well do it properly with something you can use for more than just one purpose. Before buying anything you should look at paying $49.95 for The NO.1 Boot Utility Disk – praised by PC Magazine! This program will:

  • Boot up computer even if it is infected with virus.
  • Fast recovery from crashes such as bluescreen and blackscreen.
  • Fix booting problems and random crash.
  • Fix missing file crash such as “ntldr is missing”, “bootmgr is missing” etc.
  • Repair partition table, corrupt registry, registry key value infected by virus, and crashed MBR even it is infected with virus.
  • 1-click system file recovery.
  • Rescue Windows 98/ME/2K/HOME/2003/XP/NT/Vista/7.

It will also recover files from a damaged hard drive, format, clean, clone and backup. Need I say more? This is what the computer techies use to fix your computer and charge you loads of cash per hour for their labor.

Notes:

  • For earlier versions of Windows you can type in Fdisk /mbr at the command prompt.
  • Before typing fixmbr or fixboot you can type chkdsk and this will check your hard drive disk for bad sectors and offer to repair them.
  • A hard disk only has a MBR if it has been partitioned. If it is a new hard disk drive it will have a Volume Boot Record (VBR). When it has been partitioned it will have a MBR instead.
  • Also see more about your computer has a black screen or a black screen with a flashing cursor.

I am sorry I cannot help everyone here case by case but I do appreciate your comments and questions. If people share their experiences below we will all learn more about this problem.

Please comment below and let us know how you repair or fix your boot sector?

Comments

  1. says

    hello
    mitz
    grt to find that ur the admin of this blog I’m running vista and am trying to repair a corrupt boot sector. when I hit ‘repair’ I get the ‘system recovery options’ window will u help me in that case thnx in advance :)

  2. says

    MBR is such an awesome thing! Isn’t it? You have done an amazing job in defining this process in such details. I love to read your stuff here! Keep writing wonderful things for others!

  3. Samantha says

    Ok. I reached home to my mom who was explaining that the wireless kept coming and going on her computer so she decided to turn it off and turn it on ( her computer that is not the wireless router). When she did this the computer suddenly came on when she restarted it and as she explained it went as far as to the windows logo screen with the flag and the windows starting thing under the bottom
    It was unbelievable so i checked for myself and found out it was true
    My mom computer had the rain fall on it so the keyboard is messed up so we use an output handy keyboard. Now when i restarted the computer i realized….That this was going nowhere switching it on and off
    I pressed F8 and it only took me to a blue screen with many options. I made the decisio to click ESC the next time it came on and i was broutgth to a screen which offered me about five diffewrnt test. One was memory test. The other was start up test. The other was- uhhhh crap- i forget but there were like four of them (now that i think about it properly) No…it did not take me to the safe mode scrren. No…it did not take me to the start up repair screen even more. I ran theses test and i think it was on the ‘Start up’ Test that the results came in something like:
    #100080 Hard disk need to be ( I don’t remember wat it was but it was either-) repaired/fixed. I don’t remember specifically but it was a problem with my hard….or was the word hard drive….-sighs-. Anyways i redid the test got the same result except this time. When i pressed enter to leave the test result screen and back to my many choices. I was brought to this screen that said error #303 blah blah blah. It was like a short sentence. Now the thing is i tried exiting pressing F8 and all the things i could think of to get out. There was only one choice i had.
    I don’t know much about laptops but in It ( since i’m in school now) I know a few things here and there so my first thing i did when i realized the overall computer issue when i reached home was remove the battery and plug in the charger
    So yes
    I pulled out the charger
    Thats when everything went down
    I switched on the computer again and what do you know…….nothing
    I get a big black screen
    Now the thing is i can hear the regular sounds of my computer coming on the fan and all that stuff ( Except of course the welcome song which mean its still stuck at the windows logo screen). I am so upset i don’t know what to do, i think i made it worst i think i might have ruined it.
    ps. I really need a reply to this

  4. says

    a very nice piece of information mitz, I have referred to many of your articles, and all of them are very useful and some times life saving. you have the key of every problem related to computers.
    thank you for sharing these nice tips to your users..:)

  5. devaraju says

    1.what is the reason my system not boot from cd
    2.not install operating system many blue screen errors shown hdd gud condition
    3. if incase boot from cd files copy very slowly what is the reason
    4. how to solve these problems
    please teach me sir

    • says

      If you are using a copy of Windows or an old disc I suggest you make a new copy on a new disc and try that. maybe it cannot read the files on the operating disc. this has happened to me many times. My discs get worn or dirty and I just make a new one.

  6. Bert Leen says

    If you want repair the boot sector by fixing the master boot record (MBR) in Windows XP, use any hard disk repair software like Kernel for NTFS data recovery software makes the complex process of disk recovery extremely simple to you. Recovering deleted files is now an easy task with this advanced scanning mode and also repair master boot record error.

  7. Leah says

    Hi there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a
    good read. Thank you for sharing!

  8. says

    Great guide here. Windows XP is an old OS but there are still lots of people using it and sooner or later they will encounter this problem.

  9. lou says

    My hard drive did a crash dump, then did a orphaned file recovery test, then blue screen.The startup repair said bad hard disk. I took the hd out and when I put it back in, it says its not recognized because its not sitting right, which it is. How can I get all my valuable files off of the harddrive. I bought an external enclosure, hooked it p, and plugged it in my new computer. I don’t know where to get all my files because it says all the folders are empty. thank you

    • says

      if your data is precious I would not recommend you do anything yourself. Otherwise you are risking complete loss.
      If you are willing to risk your data for a few experiments then the tutorial above might help. Also a Windows disc can do wonders.

  10. Kathy says

    Ok I’m having the same problems as above; except, my pc will boot up without any beeps.. It boots up to a blank screen with the mouse arrow showing and that’s it. I try to press the f8 function and nothing happens. If I walk away from my pc and come back in about 10 mins….my screen saver is running…my screen saver is my photos that I have on my pc….I move the mouse and it goes back to the black screen with the mouse arrow showing. The arrow does move, but nothing happens

  11. Sri says

    Hi
    I have a startup problem in xp3 as when i start the system it is logging in but i am not able to open anything on desktop. then i need to logoff the user/administrator and login, when i log in it starts working. can u help me on this.

  12. Nicole says

    dell inspirion 1525 vista home edition….has black screen with blinking cursor after the dell blue screen comes up..I replaced the hard drive, placed the disc in there that came with the PC (fisrt time opening the disc)…now it says no boot scetor on internal hard drive. I have already changed the bios to start with cd, usb…etc…none of this worked. the only thing i can do is f2 setup utility and f5 diagnostics. I cant format the drive I cant to a complete reinstall of windows nothing. cant boot from a usb. How can a get the boot sectors onto the internal drive after I turn the computer on f12 will only let me select what device to boot from, tried all those three usb, cd and hard drive and Istill kepp getting that same error message no boot sector on harddrive…..how can I fix this problem…i thought the disc was bad so i copied the disc using a different pc and placed the new cd the laptop drive, changed the bios to boot from cd and i still get the same no boot sector on hard drive error…it never enters into windows it just starts with a blue screen then ends withthe black screen blinking cursor

  13. Kesha says

    The only thing I can get to come up is a no boot sector message. It doesn’t recognized my disks at all. I can go in and rearrange the boot order in the bios or run a diagnostic

  14. Aditya says

    I am having a desktop Pc. I learnt but I have one problem that my restart button of casing box is not working. My boot sector has been corrupted and now how to make it??? Please Help me…

  15. Kedar Parab says

    Hi,
    I’m going though a serious situation…
    i’m using a laptop and its got serious bootsec
    i’m using eset nod 32 antivirus 5.9.2.1 with daily updates…
    the problem is blue screen appears at time i put my anti virus for scanning and laptop shut down..
    i cannot stop the procass as it says ending this process will shut down immediately and it does too…
    i also tried to install winsetup but while it need to restart the system it disconnects with setup and could’nt continue with setup…

    Please Help!!!!!!!
    i’m feed up..
    i used all tools and anti viruses..

  16. Jacky says

    I have a HP. My computer was working fine until my 15 yr old needed to do some homework. I usually use explorer?.he used google chrome. In the middle of his paper the computer had a blue screen and asked for us to shut it down. We did and restarted it (not in safe mode..not offered). It seemed to b ok..I went on fb and my computer shut down and went into updates…so I left the room. When I returned..the HP logo was blinking off and on..I let it do that for a few minutes. I finally shut it down. Once I turned it back on it was black with a ( – ) on the top of the page. I don’t keep my sound on so I’m not sure about any noise..this is my work computer..I need it bad…Help!

  17. TK says

    Hi, my hard disk just crashed and am not able to boot normally or in safe mode. next I tried windows CD repair mode and tried fixmbr but it gave an error and didn’t work. when I tried to access the various drives with dir command to list the files, none of the 3 drives of my hard drive are accessible. please help.

  18. Patsy says

    I have win xp home edition.I got a black screen with the blinking cursor. I cannot get into safe mode I just have F2 And F12 , I have my win cd ful version. And I tried the repair but nothing happened I now have missing NTLDR a corrupted boot sector.I did the fixboot,fixmbr.I have Chkdsk done the test and they passed. Nothing changes. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

  19. daffodile says

    i hope you can help me with my problem….how to boot my loptop kacer and it has no cd room….it cant start up and it should be inserted to re open it again the notifications says…

  20. Hymne says

    Hi there, I really hope you can help me with a problem that needs to be resolved very urgently. I am trying to help my neighbour fixing her notebook HP Compaq Presario R3000 and tried to do a Windows XP repair installation but it got stuck at 39 minutes installing. Will it be safe to boot up via Hiren’s Boot disk and do a MBR repair with the MBRWizard? Please, I am very worried and she is a teacher who needed her notebook as of yesterday already. Sorry to bother, but awaiting your reply eagerly. Kind regards.

  21. Greg Patrick says

    One addition to the article above, if you don’t have a password, you can just hit enter. I have a fix the might work for bad sector(S) in the mbr. First, you got have windows xp or above installed. Make sure the partition is activate. Do the above in the article. Before running fixmbr, also run fixboot. The run fixmbr. It may not work for you.

  22. Charles says

    A family member has a Dell computer which is close to two years old which will not boot up. It shows the Dell screen and then it just goes black with a blinking cursor.
    I asked if a restore disk was available, but there is none. The only disk available is a documents and drivers, no restore. Had the computer run a couple of test and all passed. Pulled the memory out, cleaned them and put them back in, rebooted and still nothing. Do not get a beep or anything else that could help. Is there anything that be done? Please help!

  23. lance says

    Hi
    I am hoping that you can help me out. My wifes dell laptop is misssing the boot sector. I tried the dell recovery disc we created with no luck. I made a WINDOWS 7 32 BIT RECOVERY DISC from my machine AND TRIED BOOTING HER 64BIT machine also no go. I have tried all the various boot exe instructions that other users have recommended using the command prompt. I get the same answer no device is found. Is the problem that I have trying to use a 32 bit to fix a 64bit machine or has the hdd failed spectaculary. Its the second drive we lost in three days first a external drive on a media player now this hdd. Sighh!!!! hold my hands to my head :((( I am using a up to date bitdefender antivirus. the machine is only 9mnths old

  24. William Pittman says

    My church has a 1 year old HP computer with windows 7. It will not boot past a black screen with a blinking cursor. I can use the Windows 7 startup repair and it says it repaired an invalid system partition. The computer will boot and work fine with no problems untill it is rebooted then the same thing happens. I can run the repair disk again and get it going. It happens everytime the computer is shut down & restarted or rebooted. I have run several different virus scans and they cant find anything. Is there any thing else I can try?

    • says

      What about going into the bios and setting the boot order to go straight to the hard drive..
      Also when you are in the computer you could try checking the hard drive for errors:

      Open My Computer by going to the link in the start menu, right-click the drive icon (c drive) and choose properties from the menu. Switch to the tools tab and click “check now” under Error checking.

      • William Pittman says

        I changed the boot order and did the error check and it seems to be working now. Couldn’t tell what the result of the scan said because the screen went by too fast. Anyway Thanks for your help!

  25. Alwerfali says

    i forgot to mention that i rcover my vaio certain times by its recovery tool but still has the same bug .

  26. Alwerfali says

    my vaio pcg-k315z has got an error report in start up and got an empty desktop unless i log off and log again to get my desktop , then the error keeps on when i lounch IE , and then if accepet it the IE close unless i leaft this error on it will work normal .

  27. Georgina says

    hello there,
    ive seemed to had a problem on my laptop where i system restored and it froze and was frozed for hours so i turned the laptop off and on again it went to a black screen my parents said that ive lost everything so my dad put a format disk in to restart everything on my computer its working but ive lost all my data. but can i still recover some of my files? pleasee help me

    • says

      No probably not. Next time You could take the hard drive out and put it in an external case, plug it into another computer to get the files off..most of the time this works. Then you can put it back and format it.

  28. Robin says

    Fixed it: Clonezilla copied the old disk, including the restore partition, and made it bootable. Ghost 9 did neither.

  29. Ray says

    working on a laptop at boot it said starting windows and stays there till i turn it of is an acer aspire 5100 it will install windows almost to the end when it reboots windows logo stay like is brething thank you.

  30. James says

    Hello, I have a Dell Dimension 8400 that continually reboots to the screen where you can choose safe mode or last known configuration. I went through the steps in the recovery part of the xp cd. Ran the HD diagnostics and keep getting Fail return code 7. Would love to save the data on this HD. Thanks in advance

    • says

      if you want to save the data on your hard drive before you could try putting it in an external hard drive..

      I am not familiar with the HP diagnostic.. Did you get to the recovery console in XP and type in fixboot?

  31. Jim Keenan says

    Mitz, I have read your forum and it has been helpful but has’t resolved my problem yet. I did have a few blue screens where it said a memory dump was happening but would boot back up. Now I have a black screen, no curser. Won’t boot up repair disk either. Pressing F8 on boot up doesn’t get me anywhere. I have a 9 month old Dell with Windows 7. I can get to the Diagnostic screen by hitting F12, but that is about it. Do you have any suggestions on what to do? Thanks so much! Jim

  32. ClaFra says

    i have a desktop computer that was fine til one that i turned it on and it just have a black screen. i tried everything! and it didn’t work. what should i do?

  33. Kelly says

    I did all your suggestions up top to number 15 and I typed in fixboot and it says bad command
    Any suggestions?
    I just bought a new computer so I basically just want to get this one booted up just once to ensure I got all my data off of it?

    • says

      If you have Windows Vista or Seven the instructions are slightly different! Please see that section in the article.

  34. Alex Hollander says

    Black Screen fixed: Solved:
    Here is one black screen blinking cursor solution for disk corruuption that worked, after trying all others I had found on the net.

    This was on an Xp machine, but should work for Vista or Windows 7.

    An Hp Xp desktop had the black screen during boot with blinking cursor. This was caused by a failing power supply, that would shut off unexpectedly.
    It cause corruption of the hard disk. If you think your disk was corrupted in a similar way, try this fix.

    I had many years of experience troubleshooting Pc issues, viruses etc, but this had me stumped for a while. I tried fixmbr and two dozen other things replacing files needed for OS startup etc, but to no avail.

    Solution: I had a spare hard disk on hand, and an Xp install disk, although not the same version that came with the Hp system. ( dosent matter).
    I also had backup software that can create an image of the hard disk.
    I used Acronis 2009 home edition, which is useful for Xp and Vista. Newer versions are required for Windows 7.
    1. Use an Acronis boot disk, to backup the defective black screen disk to an external USB hard drive. During the backup configuration, select all of the partitions.
    2. Remove the bad disk drive, and install a good drive similar to that of the original.
    3. Boot with an Xp, install disk, and install Xp onto the new hard disk. After installation, the Pc should boot to that new version of Xp.
    Dont bother to update the software, or Windows update etc.
    4. Reboot with the Acronis boot disk, and backup the new disk, and all of it’s partitions.
    5. Use Acronis to restore the drive C partition on the good disk, using the C partition from the acronis black screen backup that contains all of your data.
    Notice, that when selecting which partions to restore, Acronis shows that drive C has a boot sector, and a data sector. Also possibly a restore partition as is on many OEM desktops.
    Only restore the C data, NOT the boot partition, to the good working disk. This will restore your data and OS, to the new disk with a good boot partition.
    After the restore is complete, try to boot to the new drive.

    This fixed the black screen issue for this PC. After this it started normally.
    I returned it to the owner before trying to fix the bad hard drive. I would have liked to try simply restoring the good boot sector to the bad hard disk and see if that would fix it, but at the time didnt want to alter the original drive.

    Some other software I have found useful:
    Partition Wizard free edition, resize or split existing partitions without damaging the data, simple. Worked great.
    UBCD4WIN for Xp boot disk, rescue disk, fix problems in Xp, recover your data supports USB drives, scan with popular antivirus tools malwarebytes, superantispyware etc, and manually restore the registery when infected, all even when Xp wont boot.
    PREVX black screen repair tool, fixes a lot of black screen issues, try this first.

    Hope this helps someone…

  35. karen says

    after reinstalling sp2 xp professional in my sony vio notebook at first time restart the screen resolution becomes smaller but after i turn off and on again i see sony vaio logo and windows xp loading after that the screen become black and i dont see anything..please help me…what should i do?? =<
    i can go to BIOS and i can F8 to safe mode….
    please…please…help!!!!

  36. parish says

    and a last question..when i type chkdsk /f in boot fix option its says “cannot lock current drive.”
    “Windows cannot run disk checking on this volume because it is write protected”

  37. parish says

    hi………..
    when i was changing my dynamic drive to basic………i used a hacking sofware………i made some changes in the primary hard disk as instructed by the sofware,to change it back to basic……….but next time i restared my laptop it didn;t started……a blue screen apperes after the boot screen every time i try to start…………
    WHAT CAN I DO………PLZ HELP :(

    • says

      I do not really know what you have done by using hacking software. I have never used it and probably never will. Did you try to repair the boot sector? Surely you could not have damaged the hard drive, just messed it up a bit? There is a cool boot CD mentioned in the article that is guaranteed to fix any of these kind of problems. It doesn’t just fix the master boot record, it does more. If you can’t undo what you have done, I suggest you check that out, as it may help

      • parish says

        i change some kind of codes…..there were some numbers,i replaced 42 with 07…but i dont know what they were and this happend…… n about that cd,is it the boot ultility disk..

          • parish says

            i change some kind of codes…..there were some numbers,i replaced 42 with 07…but i dont know what they were and this happended
            …… n about that cd,is it the boot ultility disk..

  38. Leo says

    Hello!

    I have a Seagate Barracuda 500gb HDD and it suddenly went RAW.
    So, I did as you said but nor fixmbr neither fixboot could be executed.
    What can I do? Please, help me! (I have Windows XP)

  39. Kitty says

    Hi Mitz, I have a less than year old (how sad huh?) 17” Toshiba Gateway that I received as a birthday gift in January of this year. Not even four months later, I started getting bluescreens for nothing at all and couldn’t diagnose the problem. I have a PAID version of Avast internet security that is kept up to date, so I was really expecting it not to be a virus problem. I let it go for a while (I’m out of the country on a working holiday visa, so I didn’t want to try and figure out how to communicate with a non-English speaking techy until absolutely necessary!) and I started getting an error saying “Warning, your Hard Disk Drive is failing and you should back up all files immediately to prevent loss”.

    This was at not even 5 months of using the thing. It’s always been on a solid surface in a well-ventilated area, though it did tend to get a bit warm on occasion. I guess Toshiba hasn’t perfected the art of fans yet heh. Anyway, I thought it was a weird malfunction related to the bluescreens and ignored it, though the computer was always a bit slower and slower after that. Surely enough, I went to start up my computer one day two months later and it didn’t start. It wouldn’t load Windows 7 normally, it just tried for a good five minutes with the windows logo and swirly dots and restarted by itself. So I went into safe mode, and it didn’t start either. I left it for 6 hours to go to work, came back, and it said there was an error preventing safe mode from starting. I did another restart (ouch) and tried again. Left it for nearly a day waiting for safe mode to boot and it just never did, eternal black screen with a cursor.

    So now I’m at the hard part. I lost my warranty in my luggage so this is going to inevitably cost me, I know. My question is- do you think the problem is fixable by the software you recommended? Or do you think the entire Hard Drive is actually unfixable and needing to be replaced? I left my recovery disks back home, thinking surely I wouldn’t need them in less than a year, so I can’t go in and try to fix it myself.

    • says

      The boot disc above does repair the boot sector on the harddrive..but I think your hard drive failed as you had blue screens and had a warning saying your hard drive failed…“Warning, your Hard Disk Drive is failing and you should back up all files immediately to prevent loss” I would try another hard drive..Go to the computer shop and ask them to test your hard drive…If they can show you it doesn’t work then buy a harddrive from them..

  40. Adel says

    I have a HP Compaq Desktop. When I turn the power on it turns on and stays black with a flashing underscore (_). I press ctrl+alt+delete and it takes me to a blue screen BIOS ( the set up) . I tried switching boot options and nothing. If I press F8 or any other option it just takes me to the BIOS page. HELP PLEASE. What am I supposed to do ?

  41. cosmonaut says

    Hi Mitz, first off i am glad to see someone actually replies here thank you for that!
    my issue:I have a WD 500gb drive that was disconnected improperly and now it’s giving the ‘You have to reformat Drive to be able to use it” message when plugged in, while it has 400gb of valuable data, (all of my wife’s pictures and videos collection). I’ve searched around and it sounds like the boot sector is damaged and found a bunch of utilities like Fixboot or Mbrfix, or one by Easus, they all promise to fix the issue and allow you to recover the data, though as valuable as the data is, they just sound complicated and risky to use. Is there an easier way for a not so tech savvy person to be able to safely recover the data and by pass or fix the problem or any of these utilities that you have actually used and recommend…? we’re on windows 7 and you would think windows should have an utility for this. We would greatly greatly appreciate your advice. Thank You!

    • says

      You could try the instructions above also and see how you go.. You might surprise yourself! I hate to tell you the software is the easy way out if you are looking to avoid technical stuff.:)

  42. gezza says

    Hi,

    I’m running vista and am trying to repair a corrupt boot sector. when I hit ‘repair’ I get the ‘system recovery options’ window but no os is listed. I click next and then command prompt but none of the commands (fixmbr, fixboot etc) is recognized as an ‘internal or external command, operable program or batch file’.
    the default drive is X and i can’t change to C drive.
    i’m stumped!

  43. Meg says

    Mitz,

    I am amazed by you knowledge of computers. I was surprised to finally find someone with a strong knowledge of computers that actually responds to questions sent to them!! I hope you can help me as well!

    I am having trouble getting my computer to restart after installing updates on my computer. This includes updates from window, defender and Microsoft Security Essentials.
    1. After updating, the computer prompts me to restart the computer to install the
    updates.

    2. When I do, a screen stating that the updates are being installed will appear.

    3. Next, the computer will attempt to restart.

    4. The next screen that appears is a black screen with “Microsoft Corporation” and the rolling line that appears when the computer is booting. This screen will stay up almost indefinitely.

    5. Next, a box will appear that states that “Windows was unable to restart the computer” and it gives me the option to allow windows to do the repair.

    6. Next, it says that it was unable to do the repair and offers me the option to restore to the last working point, which I have done several times at this point. It always restores to the point before the updates.

    Each time it is harder to get the computer to start up, and I am now afraid to update or turn off my laptop! Is this a virus or a booting problem? How do I fix this??

    Thank you for your time!
    Meg

    • says

      This is very common especially when there are a few done at the same time..
      When you said “It always restores to the point before the updates”
      what is the computer doing now? Is it slow, it is starting and booting into Windows? After restoring can you now try a repair?
      What operating system do you have? If you have Windows seven or vista..when you choose the repair option there should be a system files option to repair.

      • Meg says

        Mitz,

        I have tried doing each of the updates alone and the computer still behaves the same. My computer is working better now. I downloaded a different virus protection program (Ad-Aware) that seems to have cleared up many of the problems. It always booted in windows, but it would take a long time and it would only do it after restoring. My OS is Vista. Since I downloaded Ad-Aware I haven’t had any problems restarting my computer, but it turned off all of my plugins which changes the way I use the internet. Is it safe to turn them back on, or should I leave them off??

        Thanks again for all your help!

        Meg

        • says

          Yes maybe you downloaded a bad addon? Have you also got an antivirus installed? Make sure you never have two virus programs running..but Ad aware can be going with an antivirus though…

          • Meg says

            Mitz,

            Well, though I tried to rescue my laptop, I ended up getting a new one. I did have Microsoft Security Essentials as well as Ad aware, Malware bytes and Ccleaner. I did start having problems again with restarting the computer. Sunday morning I tried to start up my computer, and it wouldn’t power on. I check my cord and it was fried! I took the computer and the cord to the computer repair shop, and it turned out that the port for the plug was broken and shorted out the cord and my computer. I got three years of hard use out of that computer, so I still feel I got my money’s worth. Sad to see it go. Nice to be getting to know a new friend!! Thanks for your help!

            Meg

  44. kyle says

    i have a gateway laptop that won’t makes it through post and then goes to a black screen with no cursor or indication of operations. i cant boot the hard drive or from a cd/dvd… i need help with this problem. i have a blank hard drive with no operating system installed and no data. but I cant seem to get as far as to boot from a disk or anything. please help….

  45. Mark says

    Hi I’m hoping you can help me,
    I left my PC switched on overnight & in the morning the screen was just a bunch of flashing #’s & letters.
    I switched it off & now when I boot it up I just get a black screen with a single flashing cursor in the top left hand corner.
    I tried replacing the harddrive & the memory but neither helped. Even with no Hard drive connected I get the same screen. I also tried the boot CD but won’t work either?
    Its a 3 years old PC with 1gb ram and Windows XP,
    any help would be much appreciated

  46. Classic Andy says

    I read your articles and they are very interesting. I have a lot of questions and need solutions to them. I’m an upcoming Software/Hardware Computer Engineer and I desperately need your help. I have about 13 PCs which need help. First, I have a Pentium 3 and it doesn’t load/read the hard disk I put in it. It says that there is NO ROM BASIC and it will not load. I use the HDD on other PCs and it works well. The name of the PC is Hackers PC (www.getpc.co.uk)

    • says

      Here are some possible causes of “No Rom Basic” error
      NO ROM BASIC
      If there is no active partition defined, the master boot record returns an error to the BIOS. In some cases, the master boot code attempts to go to ROM Basic when no bootable disk is found. Since some computers do not have ROM Basic, they display a NO
      ROM BASIC or other error message. The message displayed is dependent upon the computer’s BIOS.

      Invalid Media Type
      This error message is displayed when the boot sector of a defined partition is damaged. The error message is normally received using a new partition that has not been formatted. However, if the boot sector is damaged, the partition may appear unformatted to the operating system, and this error message is generated.

      Hard Disk Controller Failure
      This error message indicates either the hard disk controller has failed, the hard disk controller is not set up properly in the BIOS, or the controller cannot communicate with the attached drive(s). In this case, do not perform the troubleshooting steps below. Instead, consult the documentation included with your computer or contact the computer’s manufacturer for more information.

  47. gail says

    I was given a computer, Toshiba satellite l25-s119, It has windows xp installed on it. I wanted to reset to factory settings. I have the original disks that came with the computer from Toshiba. During the install it reached a screen that asked me to “press any key to continue”. When I did that nothing happened. On my other computer I tried to research the problem. I tried a usb keyboard with no luck. The laptop doesn’t have an input to use an older keyboard with the adapter. (The name of the adapter escapes me) I tried to restart the install, not realizing what a bad idea that was. Now I’m left with a black screen, no beeps, but all other sounds are normal. I tried pressing every F# key possible while starting up. No bios screen comes up. I had just purchased a new ram so I would have extra. I tried it with just the new ram no luck. Power supply is good as it fits my other computer and that one works. Interchanged with known good power supply no luck. Now I was reading your suggestions and I’m at the step where your suggesting entering bios to change the boot order or sequence. How do I do that if the screen is still black? I read the link on how to enter bios but I can’t figure it out. Help!

    • says

      So there is absolutely no beeps or no bios..No sounds? Any fans running?
      Which key did you press when it said “press any key” ?

  48. melissa says

    my pc has recently come up with several problems that baffle me slightly. i can usually fix most simple things but these surpass my knowledge. i have 5 warnings pop up every time boot up the computer…
    -read time of hard drive clusters less than 500 ms
    -34% of HDD space unreadable
    -bad sectors on hard drive are damaged file allocations table
    -boot sector of the hard drive is damaged
    -HD doesn’t respond to system commands

    i need to know do i need to replace the main hard drive, like i think i should, or is it the mother board like someone else told me? i need to keep it as simple and as cheap as possible. any help would be greatly appreciated. thank you
    melissa

    • Anupam says

      Please throw some more light on the followings:
      a:) Which computer make u have? Notebook PC? How old is ur PC?
      b:) Which operating system and Service Pack?
      c:) What after these warning messages? Did ur PC Loads the operating System or unable to boot at all?
      d:) How many partitions on your Hard Disk? Did any one of them becomes inaccessible (if OS loads even after these warning messages)? or No Booting at all. Computer is fully useless, as for now?
      e:) Did you perform any major changes to your PC, since this problem occurs?
      f:) What application you were working on Last when this problem highlights first to you? Was it Internet Explorer (Which Version)?
      g:) Do you have an updated antivirus? Norton or AVG?
      h:) Anything else specific you would like to tell about these warning messages?
      Don’t worry. I M SURE ITS NEITHER HARD DISK NOR MOTHER BOARD.
      Thanks Anupam.

  49. Tom says

    I keep getting not responding program errors and my computer is running very slow. I think there is a virus or something in the boot sector or master boot record. The computer never came with the O.S. disk it was built in the the system. Can I still get the O E M O.S. disk for this computer and is it worth fixing ? Its max. ram is 2 Gig?

    • says

      Hmmm… What about computer maintenance? Has this been done on this computer? Maybe it is full of junk and files? Could this be the problem?

  50. Lynnae says

    I have the black screen after a Windows update (from disk). On reboot, I get the windows startup screen, then a black screen with small cursor (flashes 3 times) then it goes to a black screen with “We apologize for the inconvience, but Windows did not start successfully.” I then have Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, Safe Mode with Command Prompt, Last known good conf, and start windows normally as options. Each of these options on reboot just repeats this process and I’m unable to get into windows. I have reset the bios to boot from disk as i have the boot disk. I think I need to repair the MBR but I can’t access it. Suggestions?

  51. Brent says

    My computer gets a black screens randomly but within 30 secs of startup. I can’t even get into the disc menu to reinstall, reformat, or fix a boot sector. Is my hardrive just screwed or what? Please Help

  52. Lee says

    THANK YOU! Unfortunately, when I read your tips, hints and website, I may have pressed the ENTER key as opposed to R. Photos are still available upon search, one search, shows thousands of files, do the files (data) that are deleted, somehow renamed and saved? I have certain WORD docs that are showing, but not major ones that I may have left on my desktop. Any help you can offer would be most appreciated. Lee

    • says

      You might have lost them if you went ahead to format instead of repair. unless you have installed windows in another directory and left the original one there. Go to my computer, then click on your hard drive (probably C drive) browse for a second windows folder or browse into the users folder…

  53. Carol says

    I have a black screen with only my curser showing. I can’t open the CD Drive to insert a disk. I can enter my computer in safe mode but I still can’t get the CD drive to open.

    • says

      Is the light on the cd tray working? Maybe there is a problem with that? If you can get into your bios by entering setup, you should check the boot sequence and set it to go straight to the hard drive.