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winload.exe missing or corrupt

Posted on 2014-04-12
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
My end-user has a Dell Latitude E5510 running Windows 7 Professional, 64-bit. She had a 250 GB HDD that was nearly full so I replaced it with a 750 GB drive and used Clonezilla (twice) and Symantec Ghost (once) to image the old drive to the new one. In each case, a full disk-to-disk image was done with the imaging software resizing the partitions (Dell Utility, System Recovery and OS).

In each case, booting the system from the newly cloned drive results in Windows Startup Repair running and eventually saying it cannot fix the problem. Subsequently, I've tried everything I can find in the Microsoft knowledgebase/community and the various blogs and forums. These include (not necessarily in this order - we tried this in various orders after each of the three reimagings):
Running Startup Repair three times in a row with a restart between each run
bootrec /fixmbr, /fixboot, /rebuildbcd
Backup and remove existing bcd, then recreate it
Replace \windows\system32\winload.exe with \windows\system32\boot\winload.exe
sfc /scannow
System Restore (no restore points available)

In the end, the best we could get is to have Windows black screen on boot with a message about winload.exe being missing or corrupt.

BUT... If you press F8 during boot, Safe Mode works as does "Disable driver signature enforcement." In fact, the latter seemingly allows the computer to boot and act completely normally. (The end-user has the computer back and is testing.) But, having to press F8 and then disable driver signature enforcement for every single boot is, at the minimum, annoying to the end-user and, at worse, disabling one of Windows built-in security features.

Any thoughts, other than a clean install?
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Question by:A-p-u
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Assisted Solution

by:web_tracker
web_tracker earned 125 total points
ID: 39996900
If it can boot up after disabling the drive signature enforcement. I would try to update the drivers on the computer, it may be that the new drivers installed will have the appropriate driver signatures, there by enabling the boot up. Other than that back up users data and do a clean install.
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by:jimmy1223
jimmy1223 earned 125 total points
ID: 39996914
Your boot configuration data files may be a bit corrupt at this point.  What I would suggest is looking to bcdedit and see if the following steps can get you on the right track. I had to follow these steps once with a system swap with new controller, raid, etc.  Hope this helps!

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windows/en-US/1b2045b9-7fef-47f0-aea3-1e185fb7544c/fix-winloadexe-is-missing-or-corrupt-no-its-not
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Author Comment

by:A-p-u
ID: 39996928
@web_tracker - That was our thought too but the question becomes what driver(s) to reinstall? The only "new" device is the hard disk drive itself and Windows provides that driver. All other hardware is the same from the original install.

@jimmy1223 - Tried those steps, no luck.
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LVL 92

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39997013
try imaging the whole disk with paragon's B&R :
http://www.paragon-software.com/free/      

i found it works fine, and it's free- so nothing lost in trying !
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LVL 80

Assisted Solution

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 125 total points
ID: 39997037
all you should need to do is boot from the install media and a
bcdboot x:\windows where x: represents the drive the OS is on. This will fix the problem you are having.
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Accepted Solution

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joinaunion earned 125 total points
ID: 39997778
The boot should point to C drive.
If you want to continue using what you posted above it should look lik this,
C: \windows\system32\winload.exe

In command prompt also try bootsect /nt60 C:
You may have to boot from win7 disc and choose repair computer then choose command prompt.
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Expert Comment

by:LeeTutor
ID: 40056217
I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

Not enough information to confirm an answer.
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Author Closing Comment

by:A-p-u
ID: 40056218
All of the suggested solutions seem to be correct based on the research we did prior to my posting but none of them work in this case. Ultimately, the end-user has decided to live with it for now. The only other option seems to be a clean install of Windows and she does not want to have to find the install media for all of the applications she uses.
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LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:web_tracker
ID: 40058060
thanks for your fairness in awarding the points the way you did.
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