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How do I recover with my backup when a virus took out my boot sector?


I use Windows XP media center edition and Acronis True Image Home for
backup. A while back, I contracted a severe virus. When the smoke had cleared, I
plugged in my backup drive, booted from the Acronis Recovery CD, and loaded back
my last complete backup. When all was complete, I thought I was home free, but
much to my surprise, I was not able to boot the system normally.

Apparently, the virus had taken out part of the boot record and this was
not restored by Acronis. I had to get a professional house call to come out and
use a magic CD to rebuild my boot sector. I don’t know that anything can be
done, but it should be known that even a complete backup will not solve every

In this excerpt from
“Answercast #12
, I walk through the options for including the boot sector in a
full backup and ways to get that “magic CD” that will reconfigure your
computer with its master boot record.

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Recovering a Boot Sector

Well, it is true that not every problem can be solved by a complete backup
(there certainly are cases); this typically shouldn’t be one of them.

So two things I want to talk about here:

  • Make complete backups

One is you do need to make sure that when you set up a backup, that it is in
fact a complete backup; that it includes the master boot record.

Many backup programs are, unfortunately, overly complex (it’s the gentle way
to put it). I honestly wish that there were a simpler one for PCs, but in
(and in my current recommendation, Macrium
), the master boot record can be backed up if you tell it to do

I believe that it’s very easy, at least in Acronis, not to.

The reason that I know this is because I’ve been exactly where you are. I
had a drive fail and I restored from the Acronis backup that I had at the time.
On reboot, I couldn’t. Of course, with the replacement drive, there was no boot
record at all.

  • Boot from a repair CD

The solution in my case is once again (what did you call it?) “a magic CD
used by a professional.”

The magic CD I used was Windows 7. Windows 7’s installation disc has a very
nice troubleshooter for boot problems and it will go through and repair many of
the common issues that prevent PCs from booting.

Now, I realize that doesn’t help in your situation using Windows XP.
However, for everyone else, Windows 7 does make this scenario significantly
easier to recover from.

In all cases, like I said, make sure that when you’re configuring a backup,
that you’re configuring a truly complete backup; a system image, not just of
your partition, but of all the partitions on that particular hard drive and
master boot record.

Do this

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2 comments on “How do I recover with my backup when a virus took out my boot sector?”

  1. Thank you Leo, I finally took your advice and downloaded Macrium Reflect, the free version and am evaluating it. Looks good so far.


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