I wrote this down here as a reminder / “note to self”, and hopefully as a guide for people with similar problems.
My PC has 6 drives in it, two 1TB drives as a mirrored RAID (raid1) which hold two separate installations of Windows 7 and 4 500 GB drives running as striped RAID (raid0). I somehow lost the ability to boot into my second installation of Windows 7 which I use for gaming. In an effort to fix this I planned on removing the 200 MB system reserved partition, converting this partition to a Linux ext2 filesystem to install the GRUB bootloader. I assumed this partition was used only for the Recovery Environment. Boy was I wrong…
After converting this partition, on the next boot I was greeted with the infamous “BOOTMGR is missing, Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart” message
Thinking this could easily be solved with the Windows Recovery Disc, I booted the original Windows 7 DVD, selected “Repair your computer” and was surprised to see the error:
“This version of System Recovery Options is not compatible with the version of Windows you are trying to repair. Try using a recovery disc that is compatible with this version of Windows”
If you see this error, chances are you try to use the 32 bit version of Vista / Windows 7 Recovery Options on a 64 bit Windows installation, or the other way around. This wasn’t the case with my setup. I knew I had Windows 7 x64 and I was sure I had the right Recovery DVD. After wasting many hours I finally found the reason of this misleading error. As mentioned earlier, the Windows installation that needed recovery was located on a RAID1 (mirror). Temporary disabling RAID1 in the BIOS allowed me to get past this error and continue the path to recovery. In my case this was done by setting the “SATA RAID / AHCI mode” from RAID to AHCI.
The recovery environment scanned my drives and welcomed me with the message that problems where found and could be fixed, needing a reboot after the fix.
“Failed to save startup options“
Unfortunately this fix failed with “Failed to save startup options“. This can happen if the filesystem is corrupted so I dropped into the recovery command prompt and performed a disk scan using “chkdsk c: /f” no problems where found. Finally after much trial and error, and searching online I was able to boot my system. I do unfortunately not remember the exact sequence of the below commands, so you might have to play with this a bit.
Still in the recovery command prompt go to the boot directory with the command: “cd boot”.
- Restore the bootloader with: “bcdboot c:\windows /s c:”
- Repair the mbr with: “bootrec /mbr”
- Repair the bootsector with: “bootrec /fixboot”
- Repopulate the bootloader with : “bootrec /RebuildBcd”
- Update master boot code on all partitions with BOOTMGR code: “bootsect.exe /nt60 ALL /force /mbr”
The next reboot no longer gave me the “Missing BOOTMGR” but halfway down the boot sequence a blue screen flashed shortly and the pc rebooted. This I solved by reactivating the RAID mirror by switching back from AHCI to RAID in the BIOS.
Finally the system booted, unfortunately yet another problem surfaced: The striped RAID setup of 4 drives failed due to one of the drives had dropped out of the array, now being labeled “non-RAID member”. Even though the 4 drives where disconnected during the above endeavor. I will describe my solution to this problem in my next post.