Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What Could Delete Windows from a Hard Drive?

  1. Dec 28, 2004 #1


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    This happened to my dad. When he turns his computer on, it now says "there is no operating system on this hard drive." What could have caused this? If he reinstalls windows, what can he do to ensure that this doesn't happen again?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 28, 2004 #2
    What operating system does he use?
    I imagine file corruption could be causing this problem and there are a number of ways this might have happened. In XP you can use the fixmbr command to repair the master boot record. It has been some time since I did this so my memory isn't clear on the procedure.

    Good luck

    If you haven't used some other bootable media to investigate the contents of that hard drive and confirm Windows is gone I would expect to find the overwhelming majority of it still on the drive.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2004
  4. Dec 28, 2004 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    He uses XP. As far as I can tell, all he can do is install XP again and start from scratch. So when he does this, you are saying that he should use the fixmbr command to keep XP from being deleted again? Will any of his files still be there? Can they be retained even in the absence of an OS?
  5. Dec 28, 2004 #4
    Well, I don’t believe in giving a computer any chance to do me dirty so my recommendation would be to investigate the drive and save whatever valuable files may still be on it (yes, it is possible to rescue any existing files). Following that I’d consider the options to use either repair commands (provided the drive is not blank) or reinstalling. I believe XP will save all the existing ‘goodies’ if you select the proper install options. If he’s receiving an error about the ntloader then it’s an easy enough cure (google should bring up plenty of help). As for keeping it from happening again I couldn’t say because what caused the problem is unknown to me.
  6. Dec 28, 2004 #5
    Here is a link to the Microsoft KB article on the problem. Method 2 (Use Recovery Console) has some links that explain the fixmbr procedure. It's not designed to prevent a future problem, but possibly fix an existing one without requiring a reinstall.

    If you do need to reinstall XP again, all of the data should be on the hard drive still. You'll still have to reinstall all of the programs, but things like documents will be ok.

    As for prevention, I would say a good Anti-Virus program that gets updated once a week and a good quality surge suppressor are the 2 biggest things you can do to protect the system.
  7. Dec 28, 2004 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Thanks guys. Looks like one of the solutions mentioned on the Microsoft site should do it.
  8. Dec 28, 2004 #7
    The problem could be something as simple as one of the important files necessary for booting got accidentally deleted or something. This could be done in the first place by a virus or some other malicious program, so in the future you might want to ensure that you have some antivirus installed (i recommend AVG).
  9. Dec 28, 2004 #8
    Also, reinstalling need not necessarily require formatting of hard drive. So u can reinstall by simply overwriting the existing system. This maintains the old registry and also fixes mbr. This is only an alternate way if the fixmbr procedure does not work. i usually prefer overwriting my systems. It doesnt cause much of a problem even if u have multiple OSes.

    -- AI
  10. Dec 29, 2004 #9
    If you have data that you need off that computer, make sure you don't fdisk or do anything to the partition, it should still be intact, and just either some part of the MBR or part of the windows boot program was damaged, if you need to recover data, you hopefully will be able to load XP onto another Hard drive and attach it to the computer, or take the hard drive out and attach it to another computer, and pull the data off the hard drive that way, it will be another logical drive like D:\ or E:\ If that doesn't work, I highly recommend the program "Get Data Back" http://www.runtime.org/gdb.htm It's pricey, but if you have data you really need, definately worth it. I used it to pull data off a drive that got reformated, and then had a new operating system written over it. Saved quite a bit of time and effort.

    Good luck.

  11. Dec 29, 2004 #10
    Download and use a knoppix cd to move data from your PC to another pc.... You will need to setup a small network to do this


    Ohh and dont foget to read and petition against the EU's bloody software paitent threats!!
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook