MBR stands for Master Boot Record, which is the first sector of your computer’s hard drive. When you start your system, MBR tells BIOS (Basic Input Output System) where to look for the operating system on the hard drive. Without this information your system cannot start.
A damaged or corrupt MBR prevents your system from loading as BIOS is not able to locate the operating system. When this happen, error messages, like the ones given below may appear on your screen:
- “Error loading system”
- “Missing operating system”
- “Invalid Partition table”
Although such errors may look menacing, it is not actually hard to fix a damaged or corrupt MBR. When a damaged MBR issue occurs, the data on the hard drive remains intact and after you fix MBR issues, your computer will boot and function as before.
How to fix MBR in Windows XP
You can fix a damaged or corrupt MBR in Windows XP using your Windows XP setup CD. The Windows XP setup CD includes a tool, called the Recover Console, which allows you to fix a damaged MBR.
To repair a damaged MBR in Windows XP, perform the following steps:
- Insert your Windows XP setup CD in the CD-ROM and restart your computer.
- When prompted, press any key to boot from CD.
- On the Windows XP “Welcome to Setup” screen, press R to access the Recovery Console.
- If you have multiple operating systems on your computer, select the installation you want to fix.
- Next, enter your Administrator password.
- In the Recovery Console command prompt, type fixmbr and press Enter to replace your damaged MBR with a new one.
- Next, type Exit to come out of the Recovery Console.
- Finally, take out your Windows XP Setup CD from the drive and restart your computer.
How to fix Windows Vista MBR
To fix a damaged MBR in Windows Vista you need to load Vista in the Recovery Environment. To achieve this, perform the following steps:
- Insert your Windows Vista Setup Disc in the CD/DVD-ROM and restart your computer.
- Press any key to boot the system from the setup disc.
- In the Install Windows screen, fill the language and location options and then click Next.
- Next, click the Repair your computer option.
- Here, select your Windows Vista operating system and then click Next.
- Now, in the System Recovery Options, select Command Prompt.
- In the Command Prompt window, type bootrec.exe and press Enter to fix your MBR.
- Next, close the Command Prompt window and remove your Vista installation disc.
- Finally, click the Restart button in the System Recovery Options window.
Now that you have seen how to fix the Master Boot Record in Windows, it will be worthwhile to note the causes of a damaged MBR. There are plenty of reasons due to which an MBR may become corrupt. However, the biggest cause of a damaged MBR is malware infection.
Malware programs, such as viruses often corrupt the boot sector that stores the Master Boot Record and make your computer unbootable. To prevent malicious programs from inflecting damage to MBR, install a reliable malware tool, such as STOPzilla Antivirus and Spyware Cease and use these tools to regularly check the MBR for probable infections.