Process of fixing boot sector of Windows® XP®

What are the various ways to repair boot sector in Windows XP?

A boot sector is a sector of a hard disk, or any other similar storage device that contains a code for booting applications, stored in other parts of the disk. This is a sector which is on the first sector on the first track of the hard drive that consists of special data used to start the computer. Some major kinds of boot sectors are MBR or Master Boot Record. This is the first sector of a data storage device that has been partitioned and which may contain codes to locate the active partition and call up its Volume Boot Record (VBR). VBR is the first sector of a data storage device that has not been partitioned, or the first sector of an individual partition on a data storage device that has been partitioned that contains the code to load and invoke an operating system installed on that device or within that partition.

Issues related to boot sector in Windows XP and tips to fix them:

  • Issues with boot sector

  • Causes of issues

  • Repair boot sector

Issues with boot sector

The Master Boot Record or MBR is a small program normally situated on the first sector of the hard disk. It inspects the partition table to find out which partition has to boot first and then executes the correct commands to run the operating system installed on that partition. If the boot sector has become corrupt or if it is overwritten by any other operating system, Windows XP will not be able to load. Fortunately, the installation CD of Windows XP contains an application that can repair a damaged boot sector.

Causes of issues

If Windows XP is not starting then it may be due to a damaged boot sector or a missing or corrupt ntldr or files. Since codes in the boot sector are executed without human intervention, boot sectors have previously been a common attack vector for computer viruses. To fight with this behavior, BIOS often includes an alternative to avoid writing to the boot sectors of attached hard disks.

Repair boot sector

Place the Windows XP CD and restart the computer. Enter the BIOS (by pressing F1, F2, or the 'Delete' key) and set the system to boot from Windows XP CD. Save the BIOS settings and allow the system to start again. You should then press any key to boot. Keep in mind that if you do not press a key at the prompt, the computer will attempt to boot from the hard drive instead of the CD. Now press 'Enter' and then 'F8' to accept the Windows XP license agreement after that press 'R' to enter the recovery console after the Windows XP setup screen appears. Now you should choose the drive that contains Windows XP, when the system displays "Which Installation Would You Like to Log Onto?" (Usually "1: C:WINDOWS"), and then enter your administrator password. If you do not have one, leave it blank and with the available space in the command prompt, type 'fixmbr' and press 'Enter'.

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