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How do I fix Windows 7 boot problems?


Windows 7 won’t boot – something about the boot loader. How do I fix it
without formatting the hard disk? I have important data in it.

Occasionally, the information on the hard disk that tells your computer how
to boot into Windows can become damaged or even deleted.

In the past, that required some fairly arcane tools and incantations to
handle the situation.

The good news is that Windows 7 includes a repair facility that may very
well clear it right up.


Repair Windows 7 boot

Boot from your Windows 7 installation DVD. (If you don’t have one, it’s possible [although not guaranteed] that you can download Windows 7 legally, burn that to DVD, and use it for this purpose.)

Introductory screen to the Windows 7 setup program

Don’t worry that it says “Install Windows.” We’re not going to do that.

Verify your Language and Keyboard and click Next.

Windows 7 setup program, Install Now page

Do not click Install now.

Instead, click the Repair your computer link near the lower left.

Windows 7 repair searching for Windows installations

The program will now examine your machine for installations of Windows.

Windows 7 repair selecting which install

Chances are that you only have one installation, so simply make sure that it’s selected and click Next.

Windows 7 repair, choosing a tool

Click the Startup Repair link.

Windows 7 repair, checking for startup errors

This tool actually checks for several different types of errors that can prevent Windows from starting. After it’s completed, it checks and performs any repairs. You’ll be instructed to reboot your machine.

This time, the boot should just work.

Repair your computer

The repair option on the installation DVD is a good utility to know about.

If your machine boots (or boots far enough), in many cases, you can also just press F8 before Windows itself starts loading at boot time to access the System Recovery tools.

Windows 7 Advanced Boot Options

In this case, you don’t need your installation media.

Obviously, certain boot-related issues may prevent you from reaching this utility from the hard disk; in which case, you’ll need that install DVD anyway.

Do this

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6 comments on “How do I fix Windows 7 boot problems?”

  1. You may have to do the “Startup Repair” three times because the utility repairs one item at a time (out of 3 possible).
    Keep running it until you get the pc to boot.

  2. I have the windows 7 media disk for one of my computers, but we also have some laptops that use the same version but came without disks; can the one I have be used in one of the other computers if necessary?

    For the repair console: almost certainly – for a re-install or other update of Windows itself: maybe, it depends on if the editions and versions are the same.

  3. Hi Leo:

    Excellent piece of information.

    Thank you and I enjoy reading your e-mails.

    Wonderful job.

    Navin Patel

  4. Another common is when you have added a backup disk and Windows tries to boot from it. You will get a message about NTLDR being missing. Just keep hitting ESC when booting and then select your hard drive to boot. You can then fix your boot order.

  5. My nephew had a problem booting up his new Windows 7 computer that he had gotten for Christmas. Can’t remember the exact error message. I first thought it was a corrupted MBR and tried to fix it accordingly but in the end it turned out to be where he had plugged in his USB external hard drive. The computer was trying to boot of it. I went into the BIOS to change the boot up sequence so it wouldn’t happen again.


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