XP: Repair or Fix Master Boot Record Using Recovery Console

Problems with the master boot record (MBR) of a system may prevent the system from booting. The MBR may be affected by malicious code, become corrupted by disk errors, or be overwritten by other boot loaders when experimenting with multiple operating systems on a host. This tech-recipe describes one method of repairing the MBR for an XP host using the recovery console.


Boot with the XP installation CD.

When prompted, press R to repair a Windows XP installation.

If repairing a host with multiple operating systems, select the appropriate one (XP) from the menu. If you have only one operating system, enter 1 to select it.

Enter the administrator password if prompted.

To fix the MBR, use the following command:

fixmbr

This assumes that your installation is on the C:\ drive. You will be presented with several scary warning lines, the reading of which will make you want to say no. Microsoft is exceptionally vague regarding the conditions under which fixmbr can cause problems although they are clear about the consequences (losing all data on the hard drive), so use this at your own risk.

Type y and ENTER to fix the MBR.

Type exit to leave the recovery console and reboot.

 

About Quinn McHenry

Quinn was one of the original co-founders of Tech-Recipes. He is currently crafting iOS applications as a senior developer at Small Planet Digital in Brooklyn, New York.
View more articles by Quinn McHenry

The Conversation

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  • mbnosera

    Doesn’t work. Neither does the fixboot command using the same procedure. Receive only a flashing cursor, with no other functions. Actually, whenever I press a key I get a “beep.” My XP boot discs, made as soon as I had the OS operational, are as useless as anything the brain dead programmers at M$ have ever thought of. Don’t know what to do about any of it now.

  • Anonymous

    I tried the procedure outlined, however,I have no administrative pass word, I never bothered with it as it becomes a nuisance , so I could not proceed, is there any way to get around it?
    Thanking you

  • Anonymous

    its a good presentation can you add more stuff on this tutorial.
    infact it has helped me to fix computers with this related problem.

    from malawi city of mzuzu

  • Ryan

    so this deletes all of the filees off the computer?
    and also does it delete windows xp itself?

  • Chucheria

    Thank you so much :_)

  • icemanx

    what about when its a spare drive no Operating system and you just want to retrieve the contents of a drive
    and NO I dont want to FORMAT IT

  • Anonymous

    i need help!!! i have a compaq pent.4 and a blue screen appeared on my screen with this message: “Bootblock Emergency recovery mode.
    The system flash rom image may be corrupted or the escape key was pressed during power on. If the ESC key was accidentally pressed please reboot the system

    Enter the Administrator password now.” Please help as I don’t have administrator password and i can’t reboot as there is only an on/off button. Looking forward to your assistance. paulgmw@bigpond.com

  • shaik

    dual os winxp and rhel4 how to installation guide me

  • STR

    This didn´t solve my problem.

    My HDD is still dead

    • obernhardt

      I recovered all my data from an inaccessible disk to chkdsk, fixmbr or fixboot with the free testdisk from sourceforge, win version, PC option. Booted from a second hard disk.

    • jurane

      >some least option… u may take out your HDD and make it slave to other PC and you can copy all your important files there (simply copy those important files to you) and thats the first step.. (you might need some hardware to connect your HHD to other PC depending on your HDD type)…then after you copy those files.. you take it back (your HDD) and return it to your PC or laptop..then you reformat it with new operating system and you need to install all your previous application..its a kind of harsh and hasle though.. then you copy your files back to your PC/Laptop.. it may takes a day or two

  • Appo Apodaca

    Using Windows XP, I used your suggestion but it did not work. I tried the fixboot command and it did take. And I did receive a message that it had been fix, Then I typed in Exit and it rebooted.
    But Now it is just sitting there with the white tracks at the bottom of the screen and has only advanced about twenty bars, so now it is just forzen at those bars.

  • Appo Apodaca

    Did you get my comments.

  • narender

    what type of risk in fixmbr command

  • counsel

    what if you can’t remember the administrative password since it is so old…..

    • Ludo

      Use “ERD Wincommander” to set a new admin password. Download the program, burn it as a bootable disc on a CD (.iso) and start your PC with it. After starting, you have an option to change your admin password.

  • dalam

    How to Check the master boot code of hard disk.

  • dude

    superb solution…thx

  • obernhardt

    I booted from a second HD with recovery console, enter his recovery console and used fixmbr from here

  • David McGee

    I had to do a low level format of my hard drive to remove partions so that I could copy an image from one identical PC to the other (ie original PC no longer had partitions).

    I have made the new image with Driveimage XML and with Ghost, but the new hard drive still will not boot. All of the files appear to be intact on the copies including system files.

    I have tried both fixmbr and fixboot with no luck. I see format/s or sys dos commands are no longer available under XP.

    What else can I do?

  • Michael N.

    Great… if you have an XP disc. Nobody provides those with PCs anymore.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve used the recovery console lot’s of time, it’s an excellent in-built tool. If you don’t know any commands just type in HELP and a list of them will pop up.

  • softwaregadgets

    what should i do if i don’t even have any bootable window xp cd ? is there any recommended tools which can fix it [ mbr,boot file ] properly ?
    thanks in advance

  • andrew

    THanks.
    Your method applies to the assumption that installation is on Drive C:

    What if the failed drive is another drive, or second or third hard drive attached to the computer through USB hub. Will there be an option to select the damaged drive?

  • Dale L.

    Automatic logon

    You can enable automatic logon to the Recovery Console. Run regedit from the Run command and go to this registry key: by default, the level is set to “0″ – simply change it to “1″ and you will never be prompted for the administrator password…

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWARE
    MicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersion
    SetupRecoveryConsole
    SecurityLevel
    DWORD = 1

  • rafkid

    thanks – worked a treat- quick and simple

  • Anonymous

    can fixmbr make one lose ALL data on a hard drive??

  • Anonymous

    What if it doesn’t recognize the CD ROM drive as a boot drive even though thte BIOs is set to read it first????

  • Anonymous

    Hi. i have a secondary sata hard disk, which don’t have xp on it, with huge of important files on it but it doesn’t appear on my computer. when i look in device manager i found it an dit says that the device is working properly. when i go to “volumes’ and i click on populate, the device ‘type’ has been change from “basic” to “dynamic” and its “status” has also been change from “online” to “foreign”. its “capacity” , “unallocated space” and ” reserved space” are 0mb. could someone help me to resolve this problem.

    • Anonymous

      Hi,
      Please help !!! Here what I have done:
      1.Download Windows 7 iso file,which I put it in isoBuster and extracted.
      2.Coz I have listen it is better to make clean instalation,I bought new WD external HDD-Passport Studio 500 Gb and put it all information from my PC to HDD (around 90Gb very important data + windows 7 of course)!
      3.I run “cmd” and get in DOS
      - “diskpart”
      - “list disk”
      (coz there were nothing,not disk 1,2,3-i just select disk 1-don`t ask me why,coz i don`t know for myself,coz i am stupid!!!)
      - select disk 1
      - clean…
      After i wrote “clean”,I discconect usb cable,coz I afraid-what does “clean” means!!??
      For god sake-i have all informations from last 6 years on my external hard disk…

      Now,my WD doesn`t work,everything is ok in “drive manager”,when i conecct usb cable there is the external usb hard drive showed up on the Safely Remove Hardware list right down,but I can not enter into the disk-inside and I am so affraid and desperate and don`t know what to do…
      How you can see,I am bigginer,but please tell me what is the best solution for me to do now and to don`t lose my data on WD (if i already didn`t lost :(
      Please,please help-with days I don`t know what to do….
      My e-mail is via_makedonia yahoo dot com please write me there.
      What I have tried:
      coneccting my WD with 3 dieferent cables-usb and firewire in dieferent ports.
      installing drivers from wd site

      When I check Device Manager it shows that the device is installed and working properly but it will not show in “my computer” and I can’t access it.
      before the problem,my HDD appeard as drive H:
      I wouldn’t be half as frustrated if it hadn’t been working properly before this.Plus-ALL data is on my HDD,and I don`t even know if it is still there :(

      I do it this:
      2 Step Solution for XP users:
      Part 1:
      Go to
      Control panel -> Performance and Maintenance (cannot be in classic view to see this link) -> Administrator Tools -> Services -> Universal Plug and Play
      If Universal Plug and Play is set to manual switch to automatic.
      Part 2
      Double Click Safely Remove icon on the bottom right-> Select device->click Properties -> click Volumes -> click Populate -> hit OK -> if nothing shows it may need to be formatted

      Also i was in DISK MANAGEMENT,but except formating disk,I don`t see solution :(
      And formating will erase all data on the disk,isn`t it?! (if i have it,of course).
      again nothing :( :(

      It will be everything ok if I re-install Windows xp ?!
      Thanks in advance !!!!!!

  • Luis

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Your instructions worked like a charm. Flawlessly.

    I installed Ubuntu 9.04 on a flash drive because I didn’t want it to mess up my hard drives and it never occurred to me that it would change the MBR anyway. Live and learn.

  • Anonymous

    you do know that format basicly means erase.so you erased your whole drive and everything on it.you lost it all.only thing to do now is re install windows.sorry for the bad news

    • Scottsimpson0707

      HI idelete (D) dive the whole thing by formating to get more space Ieven lost the icon

  • compscomps……!!!

    Thank you.. your instructions worked wonderfully. i was up and running in a few mins.. messed up my mbr doing a linux install on an external hard drive.. didnt think it would mess up XP.

  • eagl27

    For those of you who do not have a bootable XP Disk, just follow this link to manually install the Windows Recovery Console:

    http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/combofix/how-to-use-combofix#manual_recovery

  • Anonymous

    Great tip!!!

  • Name

    core antivirus 2009 locked me out my computer how do i fix this

  • Anonymous

    My pc was running very slowly and I bought a bootable rescue cd online thinking it will solve the problem. After booting the rescue cd, my pc can’t start up. It writes that it can’t read the master boot record. What can I do to solve this problem.

  • Anonymous

    Hi…

  • Anonymous

    What do I do if after pressing R and it scan the system then shuts down with out ever giving me the option to type fixmbr?

  • Stuart

    I was trying to fix a friends computer. Their password seemed to be locked out due to a virus. After scanning and removing the virus using my laptop, I used a program to reset the administrator password but then xp wouldn’t boot. I think it was giving an NTLDR not found error. I went into recovery console to see if I could start it up. I can’t remember if I looked up the ‘Fixboot’ command before I tried it, but after I tried it things were worse. I’m not sure if it was before or after this that the MBR seemed to be corrupted. All of the directories were symbols instead of words. If I had known a little more then I would have tried FXMBR. Anyways, after trying ‘FIXBOOT’ it had created 1 new fat partition of 10MB or something like that. Using EASEUS partition master I was able to recover data from the hard drive. I know I can reinstall windows but there was software installed that my friend no longer has the disks for so I am trying very hard to restore the partition. Does anyone know how I can restore the partition? It seems all the data is still there. Your help would be much appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    I acidentally executed the bios update in LG R41, due to which the OS went into the continous loop of restarting. Since i had jst installed Xp sp3, i tried formatting and install Win 7, but the installation stopped in the middle showing some kinda error. Then after rebooting, i lost all the data in the drive, but tht was not the problem. THe problem is i couldnt install wind 7 and it show bootmgr missing error. and i tried installing every OS i could find and the result is the same blue screen error…so can anyone suggest how to solve this problem..?

  • Guest

    Thank you.

    • Ery

      rthy

  • Smuge

    This is bogus……….This does not nor will this work……….

    • IdI07h473R

      Joo are teh dufus!

  • Smuge

    This does not nor will this ever work……………………

  • hiff

    great! the fixmbr worked on my laptop!
    whew!, im almost about to reformat my machine. good thing i learn how to do the fixmbr. my files are saved :)

  • Zblade

    will try

  • Hector 225

    I have a problem with my PC.
    1. I got a virus on my pc.
    2. I had to reboot pc and start it in safe mode
    3. cleaned up the virus with Norton found 5 trojan type virus
    4. Used Malware and found 85 files
    5. cleaned PC with Norton and Malware
    6. rebooted pc and i am now no longer can log in to pc
    7. try to recover with re-installation cd but once I log in as administrator it takes me to C:winnt32 (command prompt)
    8. Why the recovery CD did not continue fixing the OS?

  • seamus151

    i just wanted to replay because the last one was SIX YEARS AGO! LOL.

  • jsmaniac

    Even though this was written 6 years ago… it worked, I was able to recover my xp pro workstation for a user at work.

    Thanks mate

    @Hector225 -C:winnt32 is windows 2000 pro/server… this recipe is for xp

    • Anonymous

      Glad it worked. Thanks for your additional input for Hector as well.

  • knowone

    Using fixMBR worked like achamp. Thanks for the article!

  • rikesh varsani

    Does this make you lose all the data on the hard drive, thus rendering it unrecoverable.
    (I am a beginner so be kind!)

    • Anonymous

      It shouldn’t, but adjusting the MBR is always dangerous.  Cloning the drive first is the safest plan.

  • Fredi (FrePa)

    The “fixmbr” from recovery console does not work, I have try more then teen times without result. I see somebody writting that it works!? Could someone describe how it is possible? Why it works to somebody and do not work to somebody else?!
    Regards,

  • dksone

    If you have not set and admin password it might still be “admin”

  • Colin

    It doesn’t work if automatic updates have updated the OS to SP2 or SP3! Because the cd version is older. There is not option of repairing the MBR with Recovery Console and it won’t even load the drivers, it will hang for evermore with none moving bars. Sorry it’s a complete reinstall only.

  • Huckster

    This really worked! And when I rebooted, It automatically told me that I have been upgraded to Windows 7!
    then I logged into my bank account and there was an extra $2000 in it!!

  • gary s

    im trying to fix my master boot record thruogh the recover console
    and it ask me for administrator password where do i get password from
    i am the one taht reinstalled my xp program and i know i never crated
    a admin password so i hope you can helpme with p/w the reason i am
    doing this is my hd went to bsod and now it wont boot past windows screen
    thank you

  • gary s

    inregaurds to my last comment i for got to click on how to send
    an anwser

  • joe

    This Repair option,Is a crap shoot,roll of the dice,iv worked on computers for over 20 years,certified A+,my advice is just to have a image and UPDATE your image regularly.Preferably on a different drive.

  • gireesh

    thanks it worked.

  • Ken Akins

    I seem to have a start up problem with my PC. I have an Emachine3256 with
    Windows XP service pack3. About 5 days ago I had updates from Microsoft
    that I downloaded and my PC started to not start up correctly after that.
    I thought it might be a error in one of the updates, so I restored my
    system to an earlier time. But that didn’t seem to help the situation
    any. The problem I’m have is that when I turn on my PC the monitor
    screen will go black and not turn back on. I have a fairly new monitor
    so I know it’s not the problem. Have you ever heard of this kind of a
    problem before??? I’m afraid that real soon I won’t be able to access
    my PC at all if I can’t get this fixed real quick and in a hurry!!
    What I end up doing is pushing the power button and shutting the Pc down
    and start it up again. sometimes I have to do this a few times before
    it will start up correctly. Any help you can give me will be fantastic
    as I can’t afford a new PC at this time.
    Thanks! Ken Akins

  • Hossein

    I have a Buffalo MiniStation HD-PEU2 and it was working properly on my PC until yesterday. Yesterday, I tried to make a recoverable disk from my new macbook on the Buffalo HD. I used OS X Recovery Disk Assistant to do so.
    After that the Buffalo’s icon from my mac’s desktop disappeared and I unplugged the HD without safely removing it. Now, I cannot find the HD’s icon neither on the macbook nor on my old PCs.
    The disk manager shows the device like this: 620 MB healthy. 596GB unallocated.
    What should I do to recover my data? The data on the Buffalo HD is very important to me.
    Thank You,

  • raygi

    my operating system didn’t come out. why?

  • Amoo Abeeb

    Best visit site so far in terms of computer knowledge