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Windows 7: Can't boot win7 (alternating winload, ntoskrnl or bootmgr)

07 May 2013   #1

Windows 7 Professional 64
Can't boot win7 (alternating winload, ntoskrnl or bootmgr)


I can no longer boot into Windows 7 (profession 64bit) and would love some help.

Here is the (sorry, long) description of what I've done.

I have a Dell M4500. The hard drive crashed. Last time this happened I just cloned the dead harddrive onto a new one and put it in and it worked (missing a few files that I was able to clean up). This time, no dice. The sector by sector clone left me with a new drive I couldn't mount at all.

So, I wiped the windows partition, did a clean win 7 install, then did a file by file clone from the dead harddrive into this partition. Got all the files (well, it looks like it). But now it won't boot. It gives me an error in Windows Boot Manager of either "\WINDOWS\system32\winload.exe" status 0xc0000001 The application or operating system couldn't be loaded because a required file is missing or it contains errors or in ntoskrnl.exe (missing or corrupt).

I used the windows repair off the install disk, which tells me everything is fine (it says it can't repair it but then also says there are no error codes or issues and that the OS seemed to boot ok). I checked that these files exist (they do) and copied them over from the x: ramdisk made in windows repair just to make sure they weren't corrupt.

Then it occurred to me that in installing windows 7 it made a new 100MB partition that wasn't there before (there is an 18 Gb "recovery" partition that I think is what Dell uses as the boot drive). So I thought I'd try changing the boot drive -- following [] I moved everything over to the recovery partition and made that active. Same deal. Then I tried moving it to the windows drive. Now something new -- it says bootmgr is missing (press ctr-alt-delete) even though it is there. So I can switch the active partition and either get this error when it is the windows partition or the winload/ntoskrnl (seemingly randomly which) when it is either the recovery or 100MB partition.

Getting desperate I purchased systemdiscs windows 7 recovery disc ($40 down the drain) and then emergency boot CD (EBCD v1.4) (and another $40 down the drain).

I tried to do an upgrade install, but of course you can't do that if you can't boot into windows 7 (any way around that??)

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

PS Some oddities I found, in case it matters:
* If I try bootrec.exe /rebuildbcd it fails (can't find my windows) until I delete the current BCD. Then it finds my windows install no problem
* Looking in EBCD it tells me that the bootloader is version 8 on the recovery and windows volumes, but only version 7 on the 100MB volume. Does this matter?
* Also, I notice that the ntoskrnl and winload files I copied from the install disk are different sizes that the ones from my dead drive (fairly significantly smaller). Could this be part of the problem?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 May 2013   #2

Windows 8 Enterprise 32 bit

Have you tried System Restore?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 May 2013   #3

Windows 7 Professional 64

Unfortunately I have no restore points.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

07 May 2013   #4
Microsoft MVP


Why leave Dell Recovery if you're not going to use it? That's not even a clean install.

Start over to do a Clean Install Windows 7 , with your files properly backed up externally.

During Custom install delete all partitions and create New as you wish, format and install to first partition (ignore boot partition).

Put your network driver in the backup so you can get online quickly to do all your Important and Optional Windows Updates, after enabling Automatically get recommended drivers and updates for your hardware (Step 3).

Any drivers still missing after all rounds of Updates are done can be imported from the Dell Downloads webpage for your tag number.

More tips here to get a perfect Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 May 2013   #5

Windows 7 Professional 64

I could certainly do a clean install, but was hoping to forego the pain of reinstalling all of my software (which I have over years gotten to exactly how I like it and would have to dig through tons of files to find install disks for since I moved recently).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 May 2013   #6
Microsoft MVP


It says in your first post you did a Clean Install, so what's the problem with doing another except this time doing it correctly.

A Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7 is nothing to fear and if you stick with the steps to get it perfect, you can save a backup image after setup so you never have to do one again. Plus you have an install better than 95% of WIndows users out there.

You only need to reinstall the actual programs you use, over time as they're needed to gauge best how they affect performance. Read the tutorial.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Can't boot win7 (alternating winload, ntoskrnl or bootmgr)

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