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Windows 7: CRITICAL: Bootldr missing, need to restore using only USB.

18 Jul 2013   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 
CRITICAL: Bootldr missing, need to restore using only USB.

Hi all,
Mission-critical problem here that has my netbook unbootable (the machine I need when I travel on business).

There's a long and irrelevant reason for this happening, but the upshot is I had two Windows 7 partitions. Using the disk management control panel on the new Windows 7 partition I changed the Active/boot partition from the old partition, that I was about to delete, to the new partition that was running as I wanted. I rebooted and then got stuck with no bootldr. I thought I'd marked the new partition active/boot, but I guess it didn't take so I'm left with an ASUS paperweight until I can solve it.

Things went from bad to worse when I attempted a repair installation from the USB stick that my disk image was mounted on. This is a Netbook with no optical drive, so the only option was a USB installation. The only problem is that there's no repair option on this installer. It's install or nothing.

I've looked for hours online for a viable solution but everything is boiling down to "create a rescue CD"...SEE ABOVE...there is no optical drive in this machine; I *can* boot to a USB stick easily enough so that's the ONLY I can take.

What should be my next steps in getting this system bootable? My Windows 7 tech knowledge level on a scale of 1-10 is about a 5 or 6, tops.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

18 Jul 2013   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

ME/XP/Vista/Win7
 
 

information   Information
Boot up using the Startup Repair CD or Windows 7 DVD. (not the OEM manufacturer's Recovery Disk) If you have a Netbook, you will need a CD/DVD drive.
NOTE: Make sure no USB drives are plugged in.
Do not use a USB Pendrive for Startup Repair.
startup repair disc-create


Windows Vista or Windows 7 no longer starts, and the Startup Repair tool does not fix the problem


Press the F8 key repeatedly at boot up or use the Startup disk.

Startup Repair
Note: You may need to do startup repair 3 to 4 times.
Startup Repair - Run 3 Separate Times
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Jul 2013   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by theog View Post
information   Information
Boot up using the Startup Repair CD or Windows 7 DVD. (not the OEM manufacturer's Recovery Disk) If you have a Netbook, you will need a CD/DVD drive.
NOTE: Make sure no USB drives are plugged in.
Do not use a USB Pendrive for Startup Repair.
startup repair disc-create


Windows Vista or Windows 7 no longer starts, and the Startup Repair tool does not fix the problem


Press the F8 key repeatedly at boot up or use the Startup disk.

Startup Repair
Note: You may need to do startup repair 3 to 4 times.
Startup Repair - Run 3 Separate Times
Unfortunately THE MACHINE HAS NO CD OR DVD DRIVE nor do I have a separate USB drive anywhere. The only way to get anything on that hard drive is via USB or the Network. I've got a few hours to get this back up before I need to leave with this up and running.

There is no sense pressing F8 since the machine goes right to the error prompt that the bootloader is missing immediately after going through POST.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


18 Jul 2013   #4
Microsoft MVP

 

Windows 7 will not boot by merely moving the Active flag, or running Startup Repair 3 separate times. These two operations must both be done in sequence.

When you moved the Active flag you then needed to run Startup Repair - Run up to 3 Separate Times to also write the boot files to the new Windows 7 partition so that it would boot from itself and not the old one.

The Active flag points the bootloader to where the boot files are to be found to boot the OS. There are not boot files yet on the new Windows 7 partition, hence it will not boot.

So if you want to merely go back to where you were and bootable, then I'd move the Active flag back to where it was: Partition - Mark as Active (Method Two). Are you sure it wasn't on the 100mb System Reserved boot partition? If you have it then it should be the boot partition, and marked Active.

If you want to make the new Windows 7 partition bootable then go ahead and run up to 3 Startup Repairs so the repair utility will write the System boot files to the Active partition and start it. We can then show you how to delete the old partition and recover its space as shown in Partition Recover Space Used by an Older OS.

If you'd like additional help then post back a screenshot of Disk Management - Post a Screen Capture Image - Windows 7 Help Forums
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Jul 2013   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

OK, I think I'm missing something here. The machine is a paperweight at the moment. I cannot boot it into anything at all. Power it up and it gives the dreaded BOOTLDR IS MISSING PRESS CTRL+ALT+DELETE. That's it. That's all she wrote. The machine CAN be booted via a USB stick by changing the boot drive priority in the BIOS, but that's it. I do not own an external CD/DVD drive or else I'd have used that.

In other words, I need to insert a USB thumb drive into the system that contains 32-bit recovery files, tell it which partition has the new Windows 7 files on it and to boot from there. The partition order in that machine was: IIRC, OLD Windows 7, 20GB unknown partition, NEW Windows 7, Something else, I think the linux fast-boot partition that came on the machine. There is no 100MB partition anywhere that I could see.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Jul 2013   #6

Windows 8 Core X64
 
 

You can download a legal copy of Windows 7 with SP1 integrated from here:

Windows 7 Direct Download Links

Make sure you get the same version you have, Home Premium, Pro or Ultimate and 32 or 64 bit. Note that Basic or Starter is not available.

You can create a bootable USB Flash drive (4GB or larger) to install Windows 7 from.
  1. Download and run Universal USB Installer Easy as 1 2 3
  2. Select Windows 7 from the first drop down list, all the way to the bottom
  3. Select the downloaded Windows 7 iso file
  4. Select your USB flash drive
  5. Click Create

For techies or folks who work on computers: Create Windows 7 Universal ISO With All Editions Selection On Install with ei.cfg Removal Utility.
This will fit on a 6GB flash drive or can be burned to a DVD.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Jul 2013   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Before I go ahead and try this, just one important question: Do these bootable images have a means of repairing a failed installation? I used an ISO file I had before to load the second instance of Windows 7 and until I messed the system up, it *had* worked--except it did not have a REPAIR option. When I booted from the USB stick the only thing I could do was load a clean OS. Period.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jul 2013   #8
Microsoft MVP

 

I don't know how I could explain it any more thoroughly. I repeated each critical step several times and in several different ways so you couldn't possibly miss the point.

When you moved the Active flag, you didn't also move the boot files by running Startup Repair - Run up to 3 Separate Times, so Windows 7 will not start. THIS could be expected when the Active flag points to a partition with no boot files written to it yet.

So your choices are to Mark Partition Active the old Windows 7 partition, using the Command Line on the Windows 7 installer, System Repair Disk, or Partition Wizard bootable CD to Set Active/Inactive partition -Partition Wizard Video Help.

The other choice is to complete moving the boot files to the new Windows 7 partition if you want to get rid of the old one. To do that you'd keep the Active flag on it, then run Startup Repair - Run up to 3 Separate Times until Windows 7 starts and new Windows 7 holds the System Active flags. You can then delete and recover the old Windows 7 partition's space.

Now why exactly did I have to repeat that twice?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jul 2013   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
I don't know how I could explain it any more thoroughly. I repeated each critical step several times and in several different ways so you couldn't possibly miss the point.

When you moved the Active flag, you didn't also move the boot files by running Startup Repair - Run up to 3 Separate Times, so Windows 7 will not start. THIS could be expected when the Active flag points to a partition with no boot files written to it yet.

Now why exactly did I have to repeat that twice?
Since I have no access to a CD/DVD player or burner of any kind where I am, the Startup Repair disk, which appears to only work if an image is originally burned to a CD/DVD then transferred to a USB stick afterwards, wouldn't work for me.

In the end I just gave up, blew the whole drive away and clean-installed. Yes, I lost an awful lot of hard work configuring things just as I like them, but this seemed to be a situation that would take far longer to resolve than to just redo. I'm just surprised how difficult it is to do what I asked initially--recover a machine when you have zero access to anything but a USB stick and a second PC without an optical burner/player. I'm sure I wasn't the only person to ever have such an emergency. In 2013 the whole concept of optical disks and drives seems "quaint". Why not just boot off 1.44 floppies while we're at it!

Thank the heavens for Dropbox and Google Drive, though!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jul 2013   #10
Microsoft MVP

 

It would have taken no time at all to do the repairs. You only needed to ask for flash stick installer. The ISO and tool to write to a bootable flash stick are the first steps in Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7. I hope you stick with the same steps in that tutorial to get and keep a perfect install, even for retail.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 CRITICAL: Bootldr missing, need to restore using only USB.




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