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.
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68 Responses to “XP: Repair or Fix Master Boot Record Using Recovery Console”

  1. October 09, 2008 at 3:18 am, mbnosera said:

    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.

    Reply

  2. October 17, 2008 at 6:10 am, Anonymous said:

    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

    Reply

  3. October 20, 2008 at 8:24 am, Anonymous said:

    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

    Reply

  4. October 22, 2008 at 11:58 pm, Ryan said:

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

    Reply

  5. October 25, 2008 at 12:07 pm, Chucheria said:

    Thank you so much :_)

    Reply

  6. October 26, 2008 at 12:56 pm, icemanx said:

    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

    Reply

  7. November 26, 2008 at 1:56 pm, Anonymous said:

    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

    Reply

  8. December 02, 2008 at 6:38 am, shaik said:

    dual os winxp and rhel4 how to installation guide me

    Reply

  9. December 09, 2008 at 5:45 pm, STR said:

    This didn´t solve my problem.

    My HDD is still dead

    Reply

    • January 18, 2009 at 11:53 pm, obernhardt said:

      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.

      Reply

    • June 14, 2012 at 4:06 am, jurane said:

      >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

      Reply

  10. December 17, 2008 at 3:26 pm, Appo Apodaca said:

    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.

    Reply

  11. December 17, 2008 at 3:27 pm, Appo Apodaca said:

    Did you get my comments.

    Reply

  12. December 22, 2008 at 8:40 am, narender said:

    what type of risk in fixmbr command

    Reply

  13. December 28, 2008 at 4:50 pm, counsel said:

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

    Reply

    • January 13, 2009 at 7:05 pm, Ludo said:

      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.

      Reply

  14. January 15, 2009 at 12:52 pm, dalam said:

    How to Check the master boot code of hard disk.

    Reply

  15. January 15, 2009 at 3:05 pm, dude said:

    superb solution…thx

    Reply

  16. January 18, 2009 at 11:50 pm, obernhardt said:

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

    Reply

  17. February 20, 2009 at 5:04 am, David McGee said:

    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?

    Reply

  18. May 10, 2009 at 3:25 pm, Michael N. said:

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

    Reply

  19. May 21, 2009 at 8:35 am, Anonymous said:

    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.

    Reply

  20. June 17, 2009 at 8:21 am, softwaregadgets said:

    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

    Reply

  21. June 23, 2009 at 11:08 am, andrew said:

    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?

    Reply

  22. August 02, 2009 at 10:35 pm, Dale L. said:

    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

    Reply

  23. August 10, 2009 at 1:11 pm, rafkid said:

    thanks – worked a treat- quick and simple

    Reply

  24. September 21, 2009 at 12:31 pm, Anonymous said:

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

    Reply

  25. October 07, 2009 at 4:07 pm, Anonymous said:

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

    Reply

  26. October 08, 2009 at 7:41 am, Anonymous said:

    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.

    Reply

    • November 29, 2009 at 8:32 pm, Anonymous said:

      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 !!!!!!

      Reply

  27. October 28, 2009 at 5:42 pm, Luis said:

    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.

    Reply

  28. November 03, 2009 at 4:53 am, Anonymous said:

    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

    Reply

    • March 20, 2011 at 7:31 pm, Scottsimpson0707 said:

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

      Reply

  29. December 22, 2009 at 6:11 am, compscomps......!!! said:

    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.

    Reply

  30. January 09, 2010 at 11:25 pm, eagl27 said:

    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

    Reply

  31. January 19, 2010 at 11:20 am, Anonymous said:

    Great tip!!!

    Reply

  32. February 20, 2010 at 4:27 am, Name said:

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

    Reply

  33. February 23, 2010 at 4:45 pm, Anonymous said:

    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.

    Reply

  34. March 09, 2010 at 3:53 am, Anonymous said:

    Hi…

    Reply

  35. April 06, 2010 at 5:42 pm, Anonymous said:

    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?

    Reply

  36. April 22, 2010 at 2:26 am, Stuart said:

    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.

    Reply

  37. May 05, 2010 at 2:51 pm, Anonymous said:

    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..?

    Reply

  38. May 07, 2010 at 3:59 pm, Guest said:

    Thank you.

    Reply

    • June 30, 2010 at 10:34 am, Ery said:

      rthy

      Reply

  39. June 06, 2010 at 5:58 pm, Smuge said:

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

    Reply

    • January 03, 2011 at 11:35 am, IdI07h473R said:

      Joo are teh dufus!

      Reply

  40. June 06, 2010 at 5:59 pm, Smuge said:

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

    Reply

  41. July 30, 2010 at 6:13 pm, hiff said:

    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 :)

    Reply

  42. August 27, 2010 at 1:36 am, Zblade said:

    will try

    Reply

  43. September 04, 2010 at 10:01 pm, Hector 225 said:

    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?

    Reply

  44. November 05, 2010 at 7:55 pm, seamus151 said:

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

    Reply

  45. November 15, 2010 at 11:26 pm, jsmaniac said:

    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

    Reply

    • November 16, 2010 at 1:28 am, Anonymous said:

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

      Reply

  46. February 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm, knowone said:

    Using fixMBR worked like achamp. Thanks for the article!

    Reply

  47. May 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm, rikesh varsani said:

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

    Reply

    • May 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm, Anonymous said:

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

      Reply

  48. February 22, 2012 at 4:53 am, Fredi (FrePa) said:

    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,

    Reply

  49. March 14, 2012 at 10:21 pm, dksone said:

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

    Reply

  50. June 10, 2012 at 9:13 am, Colin said:

    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.

    Reply

  51. January 30, 2013 at 4:01 pm, Huckster said:

    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!!

    Reply

  52. March 04, 2013 at 1:01 am, gary s said:

    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

    Reply

  53. March 04, 2013 at 1:04 am, gary s said:

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

    Reply

  54. June 11, 2013 at 4:22 pm, joe said:

    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.

    Reply

  55. June 19, 2013 at 11:20 am, gireesh said:

    thanks it worked.

    Reply

  56. June 27, 2013 at 4:35 am, Ken Akins said:

    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

    Reply

  57. November 16, 2013 at 6:58 am, Hossein said:

    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,

    Reply

  58. February 27, 2014 at 3:21 am, raygi said:

    my operating system didn’t come out. why?

    Reply

  59. March 15, 2014 at 5:22 am, Amoo Abeeb said:

    Best visit site so far in terms of computer knowledge

    Reply

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