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Can't boot from hard drive with OS but no MBR


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#1
zzz1527

zzz1527

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I have a 30 Gig hard drive that just won't boot. When the computer comes on, I get a blinking cursor in the upper left hand corner of the screen and nothing else. The hard drive light is on, barely flickers every once and a while, but the computer never boots after about an hour of this.

History: This hard drive lives in a computer with another 6 Gig hard drive. The 6 Gig hard drive has Windows Home. The 6 Gig hard drive is what has been booting the computer for years and then I select Windows XP Prof on the 30 Gig hard drive and launch into windows without a problem. About 4 years ago, I installed Windows XP Prof on the 30 Gig while the 6 Gig was still in the computer; I probably did this while booted from the 6 Gig. Now, I need to take the 6 Gig hard drive out of service.

Without the 6 Gig, the 30 Gig won't boot the computer even though there is a perfectly good Windows OS on this hard drive. I suspect it has something to do with the boot sector.

Things I've tried:
* Using the Windows Recovery Console to issue fixmbr and fixboot - Nothing changed on boot.
* Check the master/slave drive jumpers - I don't think this is where the problem is.
* Booted from GParted Live CD and wrote TestDisk MBR code to first sector - Nothing changed.
* Booted from GParted Live CD and wrote the Partition Table with TestDisk - Got "ntlrd is missing"
* Using the Windows Recovery Console, I copied ntlrd and ntdetect.com - Back to the flashing cursor on boot.
* Booted from GParted Live CD and rewrote the Partition Table with TestDisk - Nothing changed.
* Booted from GParted Live CD and analysed the partition extensively, rewrote the Partition Table - Got an "Invalid boot.ini file" error message on boot; computer just restarts over and over again
* Using the Windows Recovery Console to run bootcfg /rebuild - "Error: 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 chkdisk to detect any disk errors."
* Ran chkdisk /r - Minor problem
* Ran chkdisk /r again - No problems
* Run bootcfg /rebuild - Same error as before - "Error: 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 chkdisk to detect any disk errors."
* Run "bootcfg /add" - Same error as above
* Run "attrib -h -r -s C:\boot.ini del C:\boot.ini" - parameter is not valid

Most of the posts I see from here says to clean install Windows. This is not something I want to do. (Although I've probably spent more time trying to figure this out than if I had done a clean install.)

Anyone have any other suggestions about how I can get this hard drive to boot?

I have plenty of external HDs I can copy the partition back and forth with. Is there a way to install a good MBR and partition and then copy my partition back into place? For example, another application on the GParted Live CD will allow me to copy a partition/disk to an ISO file. I thought I'd copy both the 6 Gig hard drive and the the 30 Gig hard drive. I then restore the 6 Gig hard drive with MBR and then over write that partition with the 30 Gig partition. Would something like this work?

If anyone has any guidance, please speak up.

Rob
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#2
The Skeptic

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I think that the problem is that boot.ini exists only on your 6 gig disk and when you take it out the computer is blind to the larger disk. Try to disconnect the small disk entirely and set the large disk as Master. Now follow the instructions here to try to build a new boot.ini on the larger disk.
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#3
zzz1527

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Try to disconnect the small disk entirely and set the large disk as Master. Now follow the instructions here to try to build a new boot.ini on the larger disk.


The bigger disk is set to master.
Your link says to issue the "bootcfg /rebuild" command from the Windows Recovery Console. All I get is "Error: 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 chkdisk to detect any disk errors."

Though, you did make me think... If I pull the boot.ini file from the original 6 Gig boot drive, can I transplant it over on the 30 Gig hard drive and expect it to work?

Rob
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#4
zzz1527

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Follow up:
This problem was never solved. I took a whole different approach to the problem.
Rob
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