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Windows 7: Boot fails after expanding Win7 partition- just a flashing text cursor

20 Aug 2012   #1

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit
Boot fails after expanding Win7 partition- just a flashing text cursor

Win 7 is a decent OS when it's running, but the boot process breaks easily and is proving hard to repair.

Some time ago I upgraded my machine from XP to Win 7, but kept XP on the disk in case I needed to roll back. Disk layout-

Partition 1: (reserved for Grub, not currently used)
Partition 2: XP (no drive letter)
Partition 3: Win7 (C:)
Extended Partition: (data partitions)

Windows 7 (partition 3) was the system and boot partition, i.e. there was no separate "system reserved" partition.

After a year or so i decided I wasn't using XP at all, so I was thinking of deleting it to gain some disk space. Then a couple of days ago we had a power failure and the machine started reporting some errors on C:, although it was still booting, so the decision was made.

I made an image backup of the Win 7 partition using ntfsclone from the GParted live CD. I then deleted partitions 2 and 3 and made a new partition 2 to occupy all the available space. I then restored the image of C: into the new larger partition.

Then the fun starts.

I realise that by moving the C: partition I will have broken the link to the start of the partition for the boot process, but I have been through multiple rounds of attempts to fix it and i'm getting nowhere.

Partition 2 is marked with the boot flag.

I have run "system repair" from the recovery environment (from the install DVD) multiple times. Each time it says it has finished successfully, but the boot still fails.

I have also used the manual recovery process from the command line within the recovery environment, including using bootrec.exe with the /fixboot and /fixmbr flags, and re-creating the BCD store.

c:\Boot is present and appears to be correct, but still all I get when booting from hard disk is a black screen and a flashing text cursor in the top left (but this isn't a working command shell).

A clean reinstall of Win 7 with all my applications and customisations is a LOT of work. Am I really lost here, even though I have a full backup image of my C: partition?

Is there a tool that will trace and debug the boot process from a Live CD?

Any ideas much appreciated.

Regards: coline

My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2012   #2
Microsoft MVP


Don't disparage Win7's perfectly stable boot when you had GRUB on the same HD which notoriously corrupts Win7 often beyond repair, had a Dual Boot with ancient XPired, and flailed around before asking how to fix it as we do every day here successfully.

Boot into the Win7 installer System Recovery Options or System Repair Disk to Mark C Partition Active then run Startup Repair - Run 3 Separate Times.

This will work unless C is a Logical partition in which case first it needs to be converted using Partition Wizard bootable CD to set partition as Primary .

If this fails post back a camera snap screenshot of the Partition Wizard CD drive map and listings. Screenshots and Files - Upload and Post in Seven Forums - Windows 7 Forums
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2012   #3

Windows 10 Pro X64

Have you tried running chkdsk /r from the Recovery Console?
  • Boot your Vista or Windows 7 installation DVD
  • When you see "Press any key to boot from CD or DVD", press Enter
  • At the "Language" screen hold the "Shift" key and press the F10 key to open a Command Window
  • Type chkdsk /r and press Enter.
Let this run to completion undisturbed..

Windows 7 only:
If you don't have a install DVD, you can download a legal copy here: Official Windows 7 SP1 ISO from Digital River

Make sure you get the same version you have installed: 32 or 64 bit; Home Premium, Pro or Ultimate.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

20 Aug 2012   #4

Windows 7 x64

Windows 7 (partition 3) was the system and boot partition, i.e. there was no separate "system reserved" partition.

Partition 2 is marked with the boot flag.
The system partition for Windows 7 is always the active partition. What you are saying is not possible. The system partition for Windows 7 would have to be an active partition, or a boot flag in Ubuntu (Linux).

You deleted the active partition, so of course, a repair will not fix the system. And as gregrocker mentions, a logical partition cannot be set as active.

If you have concerns, take a snipping tool picture of your disk management window and attach using the paperclip. Then we will know for sure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2012   #5
Microsoft MVP


Startup Repair cannot repair the boot until Win7 partition is set Active as given in my last post.

Then run Startup Repair - Run 3 Separate Times until Win7 starts and the System flag is on C signifying it has it's own working boot files.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Aug 2012   #6

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

Ok, I will try to respond to the points made in order-


I was trying to make the information provided sufficient without turning it into War and Peace. For more background-

The machine was initially set up ~18 months ago to triple-boot Win XP, Win 7 64 bit, and Linux. XP wasn't (quite) so ancient then, and this was my first foray into 64 bit. It did actually take a while to get stable drivers for all my peripherals, XP was a fallback, which I no longer feel I need.

GRUB was slightly fiddly to set up, but the machine ran happily for 6+ months. GRUB certainly didn't seem to cause Win7 any problems, in fact quite the reverse.

After 6 months use Win 7 corrupted and wouldn't boot. No partition or other changes had been made. I ran the Win 7 repair process, which overwrote the GRUB boot (presumably in the MBR, i'm not an expert in this low level stuff). I lost access to the other OS's, but at the time that was tolerable so I left it that way. Hence why the unused GRUB partition at the start of the disk.

Hence also for the comments about Windows booting. In my limited experience, if something breaks in a Unix or Linux environment, you typically end up editing some text configuration files. Windows tends to be bad at sharing space with other systems (e.g. nuking the boot record without asking), and when it breaks you are left trying to edit opaque binary data stores (BCD) and running "blind" commands that you have to pray works because you can't see what they are doing.

The C partition is marked active (see below for clarification).

I ran the automated startup repair twice, then followed the process documented elsewhere in these forums to manually repair the MBR etc. and rebuild the BCD store.


Yes I ran chkdsk /r from the console. Initially it reported some bad block errors but it claims to have recovedd these and subsequent runs were clean.


The two statements I made about the active partition are both correct, they just applied at different times.

In the initial configuration, partition 3 (Win 7) was the active partition. After re-partitioning, merging the space vacated by the old partition 2 (XP) and 3 (Win7), the new larger partition is partition number 2, and partition 2 is the active partition.

At the moment I don't have a working system, so sadly I don't have the option of running either disk management or a screenshot. I can try to get a digital camera shot of the screen in GParted and upload that, not sure if there are image size limits here though, so that could be an issue (shrink the image to much and it won't be legible).


As noted above the Win7 partition is active. I think I have done the equivalent of 3 repair runs but strictly speaking I haven't done exactly what you suggest, so i'll go try that now and update the board with the result.

Thanks to everyone who has replied so far.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Aug 2012   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

If you get really stuck, you can use my boot media - d/l from here - the file is called REP.7z - unzip it with 7-zip - burn to cd or usb - I can tell you know how to do all that.!345
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Aug 2012   #8

Windows 7 x64

I think I understand your partition layout, but still not sure if you were using GRUB on the MBR to boot the system. But I will assume you were.

To put the Windows 7 boot system back on the MBR, you would normally use the Bootsect /nt60 command. There are some additional flags, but this is the basic command.

I am not familiar with the imaging utility you used, so not sure about exactly what condition it left your drive. But you say the second (Windows OS) partition is active. If the boot files are there, and I would use a bcdboot c:\windows to make sure, it should boot. But the C: used in the command will depend if it is actually being shown as C: If I am not sure, I will check the directory to make sure the Windows folder is located in that partition, whatever it might be. If you are using the command prompt, in your situation, it might show as D: and the command would have to be modified accordingly.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Boot fails after expanding Win7 partition- just a flashing text cursor

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