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Windows 7 failed to start - understanding the why's

Posted on 2014-12-04
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Last Modified: 2016-10-27
Hi,

A friend's HP desktop computer recently got infected with a virus, and we had to restore from Acronis Backup. The restore process went well, but when we tried to boot up, we got this error message (see attached picture).

So we started the computer with the Windows install disc and did the startup repair. It worked, but I'd like to get a real understanding of what was wrong with the bootup process. Was it missing a file of some sort?

Thanks in advance.
Darnell-0122.jpg
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Question by:Go-Bruins
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Expert Comment

by:brendanmeyer
ID: 40482239
its possible that the acronis restore didn't correctly backup the drivers for one of the devices in the computer, most likely a Hard Drive

This in turn wouldn't let the computer boot, and using the repair feature reinstalled the drivers
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 40482271
I agree with the above. Also it is possible that the original backup had a flaw. There is a one in two chance that recovery DVD's purchased from Lenovo will not work. Bad manufacture in their case. So it could have been the equivalent of bad manufacture in the case above.
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Assisted Solution

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 50 total points
ID: 40482294
the restore changed the disk id that the bcd store uses tp reference partitions. The startup repair will fix this, also a bcdboot x:\windows from the recovery command prompt will do the same.
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Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 100 total points
ID: 40482360
since it started the boot manager, that means :
1-it sees the drive, and boots from it
2-a component in the boot procedure is corrupt - so it stops with this message

possible causes :
1-a dying harddisk
2-a corrupt OS on the drive (unlikely after a restore)
3-other hardware problems - like bad ram

what i do in such a case is FIRST TEST RAM and disk - i use the UBCD for this:
Hardware diagnostic CD    UBCD

go to the download page, scroll down to the mirror section, and  click on a mirror to start the download
Download the UBCD and make the cd   <<==on a WORKING PC, and boot the problem PC from it
Here 2 links, one to the general site, and a direct link to the download

since the downloaded file is an ISO file, eg ubcd527.iso - so you need to use an ISO burning tool
if you don't have that software, install cdburnerXP : http://cdburnerxp.se/

If you want also the Ram tested - run memtest86+ at least 1 full pass,  - you should have NO errors!
 
For disk Diagnostics run the disk diag for your disk brand (eg seagate diag for seagate drive)  from the HDD section -  long or advanced diag !  (runs at least for30 minutes)

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/                        ultimate boot cd
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/download.html             download page

**  you can make a bootable cd - or bootable usb stick
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40482404
Since when was the backup created?
The causes are two:
1)The backup was taken when the drive was configured as Compatible or SATA in BIOS and after taking backup it was configured as AHCI
2)Acronis did set the incorrect partition active which is usual for Acronis. With Recovery options you copied the boot data to correct active partition and made it boot.
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 40482437
@nobus @nocho the disk id changed ergo it couldn't find the o/s to boot ergo the boot error.  Some backup/restore software has the option to keep the older disk GUID
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by:noxcho
ID: 40482528
Acronis does not keep it. If some new or unknown backup tool was used - I would agree with you. But Acronis is developing backup software not the first year. And thousands of users who use this software do not claim the same problem.
Plus the way Windows start works - after Post screen - search for HDD, when HDD found - search for active partition, when active partition found - search for boot files on it. If not boot files found give an error - no system drive was found.
I noticed that with Acronis this problem occurred when the BootMgr was located on non active partition or was not imaged at all.
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40482819
Wow - lots of great suggestions. I'm going to start ruling out suspects like RAM by downloading UBCD. I will post back.

The backup was created in 2011, and I doubt that the user has enough knowledge to switch disk mode. It was set at RAID from the factory, and not AHCI.

I noticed that the Windows Startup Repair function only needed one pass to correct the error. In the past, I've had instances where it too 3 passes.

Thank you.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40482888
Does Windows see only one HDD in system?
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40482897
Yes, there is only one physical HD. it's partitioned into C: and F: (backup of data is kept here). Strangely, it also shows System Reserved (D:). I believe this is the 100MB partition that Windows creates when it installs.

And I'm pretty certain that when I did the restore, I set the target partition as Primary and Active.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40482998
You did set the one which is MSR active, right? Why does it have the drive letter? Usually it is not mounted.
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by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40483030
Hi, I'm assuming MSR stands for Microsoft Reserved partition. When I restored from Acronis Backup, I told it to restore to the OS partition (correct). I also told it to make it "Primary" (correct, I think), and also set it to "Active (incorrect?)"

Should I NOT have made the OS partition "Active"?. Is this where I went wrong? So the MSR 100MB partition is the partition that is "Active"?

To complicate things, I did at some point restore the "MBR something" in Acronis as well, but that didn't seem to help.
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Accepted Solution

by:
noxcho earned 350 total points
ID: 40483069
Ok, this is the reason you got the problem. As I stated in my post earlier:
2)Acronis did set the incorrect partition active which is usual for Acronis. With Recovery options you copied the boot data to correct active partition and made it boot.
This did not Acronis but you.
The MSR (MS Reserved) contains Windows Boot Manager (BootMgr) and the boot files in Boot folder. And yes, this must be active always. It loads the welcome screen and then gives the command to load UI to System partition where Windows folder is.
Usually one takes backup of these two partitions together (MSR plus the partition where Windows folder is). And restores them also together.
So your repair action either set the correct partition active or simply copied the BootMgr and Boot to C: partition as it was already active.
Should I NOT have made the OS partition "Active"?. Is this where I went wrong? So the MSR 100MB partition is the partition that is "Active"?
Yes, exactly.
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40483098
I see. I think I'm beginning to understand. So that I can understand further..

1. During the Acronis backup procedure, if I choose to backup the MBR, it's basically backing the MSR 100MB partition, correct?

2. How do I hide the MSR partition in Windows so that someone can't accidentally write to it? Right now, it's showing up in Windows Explorer. I've unchecked the "Show hidden filed and folders".

3. If I encounter the same problem in the future, is there a quick way to fix the problem w/o having the Windows 7 install disc?
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Assisted Solution

by:noxcho
noxcho earned 350 total points
ID: 40483123
1. During the Acronis backup procedure, if I choose to backup the MBR, it's basically backing the MSR 100MB partition, correct?
No. MBR (Master Boot Record) is the first sector of the HDD. Usually sector #0. The MSR is a partition. Protected via special partition ID. So if you select to backup the system you need to backup MBR, MSR and C: partition.

2. How do I hide the MSR partition in Windows so that someone can't accidentally write to it? Right now, it's showing up in Windows Explorer. I've unchecked the "Show hidden filed and folders".
Right click on My Computer - Manage - Disk Management. Right click on MSR partition - Change\Remove Drive Letter. Remove the drive letter.

3. If I encounter the same problem in the future, is there a quick way to fix the problem w/o having the Windows 7 install disc?
Actually not. You have to use the Windows 7 disk or the Acronis Boot CD to set the correct partition active. You can set partition active either via DiskPart of Windows 7 DVD or from Acronis Boot CD.
Just remember that partition having BootMgr file and Boot folder must be active.
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40483143
So please help me understand what the MBR does as part of the following process:

Plus the way Windows start works - after Post screen - search for HDD, when HDD found - search for active partition, when active partition found - search for boot files on it.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 40483152
it looks strange to me that acronis removes the active tag
i use the free paragon soft, and never had that problem
http://www.paragon-software.com/home/br-free/download.html
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40483158
MBR contains the information about location of partitions on the HDD and their seizes, file system type. It also contains record of Windows Boot Manager, a loader which starts Windows at all. The files of this Boot Manager are usually on Active partition (MSR in your case) such as BootMgr.
Detailed information about MBR can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_boot_record
Frankly speaking you do not need to know much about MBR. If you forget to backup it then nothing serious occurs. UpdateMBR command (FIXMBR) writes the default Windows MBR to the HDD if the HDD is brand new and had no partition yet.
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40483186
I've learned quite a bit from this exchange, and I thank everyone involved.

As a general question, do you like Acronis? I don't mind paying for a program that's reliable and has a simple interface.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 40483362
if only for making personal images - you can use many free alternatives, like paragon, easus etc
they do work as well, and i'm using paragon for about 2 years now - before i used Acronis (but had to pay for it)
works easy and fast
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40483378
For a home use and maintenance I would suggest Hard Disk Manager 15 Suite from Paragon. The boot cd has a range of tools to investigate and maintain problems with PC. Although the Backup and Recovery 14 Free for imaging and recovery is also enough.
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40483384
OK - thanks again to all. I generally don't like installing stuff on my OS. Can Paragon Suite be booted and used from a CD?
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 40483403
sure you can  - with all of them
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40483879
You need first to install it to create the vootable cd or usb stick. Then you can uninstall it. But personally I would use it to run a scheduled backups per week or at least per month. CD is for the cases when system wont boot.
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 40484142
to hide the MSR load diskmgmt.msc and remove the drive letter.
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