Repairing the MBR in XP and Vista Using Recovery Console

So you can’t always get away from all the damage of malware or even human error. Either one of these can cause your Master Boot Record to become corrupt and not allow Windows to even boot enough to get into Safe Mode. Your Master Boot Record is corrupt if you are seeing error messages such as these at boot up:
  • Missing Operating System
  • Boot Error Press F1 To Retry
  • Operating System Not Found
These are only a few examples of the messages you may see, but have no fear, all is not lost, and you don’t have to pay for another program to save your PC. All you need is your Windows XP or Vista CD and follow these steps:
  • Make sure your CD Rom drive is your first bootable device (changeable through your BIOS settings. When you boot your computer on the first screen that you see you should see an option to press F1, F2, F10, etc. to enter setup. A little digging in there and you should find it)
  • Let Windows load the necessary drivers and after a few minutes you should see a screen that allows you to run the Recovery Console.
Press the R key and you will be asked which Windows installation you want to recover. This guide is for if you only have one operating system (not a dual boot such as XP and Vista). Next, you will be asked for the Administrator password. Now, this is where it might get tricky. These are most likely your options:
  • If you installed the operating system yourself, then it will be the password that you entered when it asked you for an Administrator password.
  • If Windows came pre-installed and the manufacturer you bought it from only has a complete system restore option (some Dell, Gateway, etc do this) then you may have to call up the manufacturers customer support line and get the password from them.
  • If it is Windows XP Home then you should just be able to leave it blank.
So, simple recap is if you run from the Administrator account, try that password, if that doesn’t work try to leave it blank, if THAT doesn’t work, call the support line for the manufacturer of your computer and get it from them.
If you got through that part then you are now almost in the clear (hopefully). You should now be in the recovery console. Depending on your flavor of Windows, follow these steps:
  • Windows XP, type “fixmbr”, then “fixboot” (without the quotes)
  • Windows Vista, type “bootrec /fixmbr”, then “bootrec /fixboot” (without the quotes)
Remove the installation CD, then Reboot. If all went correctly, you should now be booting back into your Operating System without any hassles.
Note: If you can get into your computer at all still, including just a missing .SYS file or anything along those lines, then this will not help and could actually harm your PC.

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