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Restoring the Windows Boot Loader

Posted By On October 28, 2010 @ 12:48 PM In Computer Terms,Hardware & Peripherals,Uncategorized | No Comments

Tom, from Oklahoma asks:
I installed Ubuntu to try it out, but I had some problems, so I uninstalled it. However, when I boot my machine it still gives Ubuntu as an option. How do I clean this up? I am using XP SP3.


Note: Any procedure involving the MBR (Master Boot Record) is dangerous and can cause your computer to become inaccessible. While the steps presented in this article are safe to use, please backup your computer before attempting them.

Dual booting is the easiest way to try out a new operating system without uninstalling the old one. Through careful planning, even completely different operating systems like Windows and Linux can peacefully reside on the same computer.

Dual booting can be very advantageous, but it can also cause problems if you decide to revert to a single operating system.

Linux based operating systems like Ubuntu have made great strides to maximize hardware compatibility and be as user friendly as possible. Despite this, Linux isn’t for everyone. Occasional driver issues, software incompatibility and unfamiliarity with the interface have made many users return to Windows.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to uninstall Linux operating systems from a dual-boot environment. Usually you have to format or delete the partitions on the hard disk where Linux is installed.

This will free up the disk space occupied by Linux but it will not remove the Linux entry from the computer’s boot options.

When a Linux based operating system is installed on a computer, it also installs a small boot loader program, called GRUB, into the hard disk’s MBR (Master Boot Record).

GRUB completely replaces the Windows boot loader inside the MBR to allow the Linux operating system to boot. It also creates a boot options entry at system startup.

Every time you start the computer, you will be given the option to choose between Windows or the installed Linux operating system.

If you remove the Linux operating system from your computer, this boot options entry will not be removed, it will still give you the option to boot the uninstalled Linux operating system.

To remove GRUB and the boot options entry, we have to restore the original Windows boot loader. All you need is a Windows installation disk and administrator rights for the computer you’re working on.

Note: If you’ve never used the installation disk before, or if you’re not comfortable attempting this procedure, please seek expert advice.

Restoring the Windows boot loader in Windows XP

Start your computer and insert the Windows installation disk into the CD/DVD drive.

Then go into your computer’s BIOS and change your computer’s boot order. Refer to this Worldstart article for more information on how to do this.

When you see the message, Press any key to boot from CD or DVD, press the Enter key and wait for Windows setup to load the necessary files.

On the Welcome to Setup screen, press the R key to access the Recovery Console.

After the Recovery Console loads, you will be presented with a list of all the Windows installations on your computer.

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Locate your current Windows installation, enter the appropriate number and press the Enter key. For example, if you have only one copy of Windows installed on your computer, press the 1 key and confirm by pressing the Enter key.

Then, type in your administrator password twice and press the Enter key. If you do not have an administrator password, leave it blank and press the Enter key.

Once you have successfully logged in, type the command fixmbr, press the Y key and then confirm with the Enter key.

If the command was successful, you should see the message The new master boot record has been successfully written.

Now, type the command exit and press the Enter key to close the Recovery Console and restart your computer.

After rebooting, your computer should boot straight into Windows.

Restoring the Windows boot loader in Windows 7

Start your computer and insert the Windows installation disk into the CD/DVD drive.

Then go into your computer’s BIOS and change your computer’s boot order. Again, refer to this Worldstart article for more information on how to do this.

When you see the message, Press any key to boot from CD or DVD, press the Enter key and wait for Windows setup to load the necessary files.


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In the Install Windows window, click on Next and then click on the Repair your computer button.

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Then, in the System Recovery Options window, select your Windows installation from the list and click on Next.

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You will be prompted to choose a recovery tool. Click on the Command Prompt option.

In the command prompt window, type the command bootrec.exe /FixMbr and press the Enter key.

Now close the command prompt by clicking on the X (close) button.

Then, back in the System Recovery Options window, click on Restart to reboot your computer.

If you still see the Linux entry in the boot options, repeat the steps above until you reach the command prompt again.

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This time type the command bootsect /nt60 ALL and press the Enter key to repair all the system partitions on your hard disk. Close the command prompt and click Restart again.

Note: This command only works if your hard drive is formatted with the NTFS file system. If you have a FAT file system, do not use this command.

After rebooting, your computer should boot straight into Windows.

~Cosmin Ursachi

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