| By Fred Langa |
A hard drive without a boot sector means big trouble — but the situation is not necessarily fatal.
Without your hard drive’s boot sector, your PC can’t boot or access any software on the hard drive; but thankfully, Windows’ built-in repair tools can put things right.
Singing the ‘can’t boot my drive’ blues
Karl Barton encountered one of the worst problems that can happen to a hard drive, perhaps second in severity only to a mechanical head crash:
- “My mother’s Dell Inspiron 8100 died the other day. Through the process of trying to find out what went wrong with it, we lost the boot sector of her hard drive. What can I do to recover it without losing the information on it?
“I purchased a USB-to-SATA/IDE adapter that recognizes it there, but nothing shows in Windows Explorer. I tried another drive and it shows up. Is there a safe-and-easy way to repair the boot sector without losing the information on it?”
The information you’ll need for XP is in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 314058, “Description of the Windows XP Recovery Console for advanced users.”
Vista’s version of the Recovery Console is called the Windows Recovery Environment (RE) and operates quite differently. The Bootrec.exe tool in Windows RE serves a function similar to XP’s fixMBR and fixBoot commands. Bootrec.exe lets you troubleshoot and repair various boot and startup issues. (BTW: Windows 7 uses the same Windows RE as Vista.)