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How to repair a corrupted Master Boot Record in Windows

It is nice when a computer works however sometimes computers don’t like to play nice. Recently I was at a client who had a problem with a fairly new computer. The issue was that Windows would not boot up but instead a black screen with a blinking cursor would appear. When I looked and saw the issue for myself, I knew exactly what was happening, the Master Boot Record on the computer was corrupted.

The Master Boot Record (MBR) is a record on a hard drive that tells the computer where to find the Windows operating system. Sometimes the MBR can be corrupted due to many reasons, for example a virus can sometimes corrupt the MBR. This client was panicking because they thought they would lose all their data as they thought it may be a faulty hard drive.

It is actually quite a simple process to repair your MBR, all you need is your Windows installation disc. Simply insert the disc and then boot the computer from the disc. In this case I had to use a Windows 7 disc. When the computer has booted and you are at the Install Now section, you will see at the bottom left hand corner of the window Repair Your Computer. Click on this option.

It will then load System Recovery Options, which has a lot of tools that you can use to repair Windows such as System Restore. However in this case for repairing the MBR we simply have to go to the fifth option which is to open Command Prompt.

Once Command Prompt is open, simply type in the following command:

X:\Sources> Bootrec.exe /fixmbr

This command will find your MBR file and fix your Master Boot Record.

Once upon entering this command you should hopefully see a message saying Completed Successfully. Once this has happened you can simply restart your computer and it should now successfully boot to Windows.

If you find your Windows is not booting, I strongly recommend doing the above action before reformatting your hard drive and potentially losing your data.

I would also recommend that once you boot your computer you run an antivirus to make sure that there are no serious viruses on your computer that could have been responsible for corrupting your MBR. Furthermore, I suugest you use a disk utility to make sure your hard drive is not starting to fail, sometimes MBR corruption could be indicative of a hard drive not being able to write data properly.

In this case I ran both anti-virus and a disk checking utility. Upon getting rid of viruses on the computer and confirming the hard drive was not faulty, I returned it to the client. If you find that your disk is failing it may be a good idea to back up your data and replace your hard drive in order to avoid unexpectedly losing data.

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