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Windows 7: Windows failed to start and can't find operating system

21 Nov 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 
Windows failed to start and can't find operating system

I have a two-year-old Dell Inspiron 1545 that originally came with Vista, but was upgraded to Windows 7. I got a new hard drive for the computer several months ago. After installing a Windows Update today, the system rebooted to this message:

"Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause.

If Windows files have been damaged or configured incorrectly, Startup Repair can help diagnose and fix the problem. If power was interrupted during startup, choose Start Windows Normally."

Start Windows Normally just reloaded the original error message. Safe Mode does not load (a blue screen flashes before taking me back to the error message again). Last Known Good Configuration didn't work. Startup Repair doesn't seem to work, either - I could not use a system restore point or a system image because the recovery tool couldn't find an operating system. The System Recovery Options screen shows "Operating system: Unknown on (Unknown) Local Disk." Also, after running the Startup Repair tool for about 30 minutes, nothing had changed on the screen, and I cancelled it. Is it supposed to take hours or something? Should I let it run to completion?

Using another computer, I downloaded the Neowin Windows 7 Recovery Disc and attempted to boot with it, but it just offered me the same System Recovery options: Startup Repair, System Restore, System Image, Memory Diagnostic (which gave me an error), and Command Prompt. I tried running chkdsk /r using the Command Prompt (as I saw suggested in similar posts), but got this message: "The type of file system is NTFS. Cannot lock current drive. Windows cannot run disk checking on this volume because it is write protected." I'm guessing it's because it can't find any other drives except for X.

I don't have an installation CD for Windows 7 because I installed it using a download I purchased from Microsoft.

Any ideas on what else I can do, or insight into why my operating system has suddenly gone missing? I feel like I've tried everything at this point and would be extremely grateful for any help.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Nov 2011   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

ME/XP/Vista/Win7
 
 

I would Check the hard drive with the manufacturer's diagnostic tools.
Hard Drive Diagnostics Tools and Utilities (Storage) - TACKtech Corp.
HD Diagnostic

Quote:
I don't have an installation CD for Windows 7 because I installed it using a download I purchased from Microsoft.
You can make a installation DVD from the download.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Nov 2011   #3

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

In recovery environment->command prompt:
DISKPART
LIST DISK
SEL DIS 0
LIST PART
EXIT
===
Please explain what it displays
The System Recovery Options screen shows "Operating system: Unknown on (Unknown) Local Disk." => It finds something "unknown" ... diskpart will tell you more
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


21 Nov 2011   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 

theog, I did have a DVD I created from that download and inserted that to try running it, but nothing happened after I selected Run DVD/CD from the BIOS options. Mine was a Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade (from Vista), not the full version - would that make a difference?

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kaktussoft View Post
In recovery environment->command prompt:
DISKPART
LIST DISK
SEL DIS 0
LIST PART
EXIT
===
Please explain what it displays
LIST DISK showed:

Disk # / Status / Size / Free / Dyn / Gpt
Disk 0 / Online / 232 GB / 0 GB
Disk 1 / No Media / 0 B / 0 B

LIST PART showed:

Partition # / Type / Size / Offset
Partition 1 / Primary / 232 GB / 1024 KB

Sorry, I don't know how to interpret this...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2011   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

you have got a 232GB disk with 1 partition with size 232GB (this means 232*1024*1024*1024 bytes=250*1000*1000*1000 bytes). Disk manafacturer will call this a 250GB disk. Disk 1 is .... ??? Is disk 1 external disk? If external disk or usb stick .... unplug it
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2011   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

diskpart
sel disk 0
detail disk
sel part 1
detail part
sel disk 1
detail disk
exit

post output to forum
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2011   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

diskpart
list vol
exit

post output
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2011   #8

Windows 7 Professional SP1 32-bit
 
 

This isn't really going anywhere. Whatever the true issue is, it's not the harddisk as we have no reason yet to assume it's going bad.
(BTW, Disk 1 is most likely a CD/DVD drive or a card reader. Don't worry about it.)

To the OP: since you have a rescue disc to boot with and can access System Restore, do you have a restore point from before the Windows update you mentioned was installed? If yes, go back to it and then see if Windows boots normally again.
If it does, make a new restore point immediately just to be on the safe side.

Do you remember exactly which update was installed?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2011   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

dvd drive isn't listed in diskpart (list disk). At least on my system
"list vol" does display dvd. Disk 1 is probably cardreader, I assume you're right

But I think he's running "recovery environment" from F8 option so from C-drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2011   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 

SEL DISK 0 -> DETAIL DISK:

Disk ID: 2BFC2BFB
Type: SATA
Status: Online
Path: 0
Target: 0
LUN ID: 0
Location Path: PCIROOT<0>#PCI<1F02>#ATA<C00T00L00>
Current Read-only State: No
Read-only: No
Boot Disk: No
Pagefile Disk: No
Hibernation File Disk: No
Crashdump Disk: No
Clustered Disk: No

Volume # / Ltr / Label / FS / Type / Size / Status / Info
Volume 1 / C / RAW / Partition / 232 GB / Healthy

****

SEL PART 1 -> DETAIL PART:

Partition 1
Type: 07
Hidden: No
Active: Yes
Offset in Bytes: 1048576

Volume # / Ltr / Label / FS / Type / Size / Status / Info
* Volume 1 / C / RAW / Partition / 232 GB / Healthy

****

SEL DISK 1 -> DETAIL DISK

Disk ID: 000000000
Type: USB
Status: No Media
Path: 0
Target: 0
LUN ID: 0
Location Path: UNAVAILABLE
Current Read-only State: No
Read-only: No
Boot Disk: No
Pagefile Disk: No
Hibernation File Disk: No
Crashdump Disk: No
Clustered Disk: No

There are no volumes.

****

LIST VOL:

Volume # / Ltr / Label / FS / Type / Size / Status / Info
Volume 0 / D / DVD-ROM / 0 B / No Media
Volume 1 / C / RAW / Partition / 232 GB / Healthy
Volume 2 / E / Removable / 0 B / No Media

-------------------

The only device I had plugged in at the time I listed my disks was a USB mouse. Not sure if that would explain Disk 1...just throwing that out there.

As I stated in my original post, neither System Restore nor System Image work (although I'm positive I had System Restore turned on and running when my computer was functioning). When I tried those options, my system couldn't find anything. Ugh.

A friend I asked for help suggested there might a problem with the Windows Boot Manager, so I tried going through the steps listed here using the Command Prompt option listed in the System Recovery Options menu. But typing C: into the command prompt gave me this message: "This request could not be performed because of an I/O device error." Does anyone know what this means?

And no, I can't pinpoint what the exact update was...I just know that I had gotten the standard "please restart your computer to finish installing updates" message for a few days and decided to run it on Sunday. I'd assume it was whatever batch of updates Windows put out since their last automatic update.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Windows failed to start and can't find operating system





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