1. What is the Bootrec.exe tool?
a. Bootrec.exe is a tool provided with Windows 7 as part of the “Windows Recovery
Environment (Windows RE).
b. It is used to troubleshoot and repair problems that are preventing Windows from
starting, that are related to the “Master Boot Record (MBR)”, “Boot Sector”, or the
“Boot Configuration Data (BCD) Store”.
c. The Bootrec.exe tool is also provided as part of Windows Vista.
2. For the purpose of this tutorial I will be using VirtualBox to run a Windows 7 virtual
machine so that I can record the process.
3. To be able to follow along with this tutorial you will need a copy of the Windows
a. Many times new computers will come with Windows recovery disks.
b. If your computer didn’t come with it, or you don’t have it anymore, your best bet is
to download a copy of it using a torrent program.
c. I will place a link on screen to another tutorial showing how to download, install,
and use uTorrent to download a torrent.
d. You can then burn the ISO file of Windows you downloaded directly to a
CD/DVD. You also have the option to create a bootable USB thumb drive with
the Windows installation media on it. I will place a link on screen to another
tutorial showing how to create a bootable USB thumb drive from the Windows
ISO you downloaded.
4. Let’s boot to our Windows installation disk and repair our start-up problems.
a. Place the Windows CD/DVD or USB drive into the system that you want to
b. If your system is set to boot to your CD/DVD/USB drive with the Windows
installation files on it, you will see a message as soon as you start the computer
that says “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD...”.
c. Let’s turn on the computer and if we see this message, we’ll press any key to
boot to the device.
d. If when you turned on the computer you didn’t see the message to press any
key, then you need to set your boot device order.
i.You will need to select the CD/DVD or USB drive, as the default boot device
for your system to boot to it.
ii.This is done through the computer’s BIOS.
iii.When you first turn the computer on, if you look at the bottom of the screen, it
will tell you what button to push. This is the black screen that you see
before Windows loads, the first 10 seconds or so after you push the
power button. You typically enter the BIOS by pressing “F1”, “F2”, or “Del”
as soon as the computers turned on.
iv.You then need to find the boot order and change it so that the Windows
installation disc or device is the first boot device.
5. We now need to open the “System Recovery Options” to run Bootrec.exe or other
recovery tools from the Windows installation media.
a. On the “Install Windows” screen, select the appropriate “Language”,
“Time/Currency Format”, and “Keyboard Type”, and then click the “Next” button.
b. Instead of pressing the “Install now” button to install a new copy of Windows, we
will repair our existing installation of Windows using the “Recovery Console”, by
clicking the “Repair your computer” link.
c. It will automatically search for existing Windows installations, and then display
them in the “System Recovery Options” window. If you have more than one
listed, make sure that you select the Windows 7 installation you currently use, or
wish to repair.
i.You may get a message stating that “Windows found problems with your
computer’s startup options”, and asking “Do you want to apply repairs and
restart your computer”.
ii.If you see this message it is best to click the “Repair and restart” button, and
then come back to this point.
d. Leave the top option selected to “Use recovery tools...”, and then click the “Next”
e. On the “Choose a recovery tool” screen, we would select “Command Prompt” to
use the Bootrec.exe tool. In many cases Windows can automatically repair most
common errors preventing Windows from starting using the “Start-up Repair”
option at the top.
i.Let’s let Windows try to fix the problem automatically for us.
ii.Click the “Start-up Repair” link.
iii.“Start-up Repair” will attempt to correct whatever issue is preventing the
system from starting, In this case as we can see it says it did not detect a
iv.If it did correct any issues you would be prompted to restart the computer.
v.Click the “Finish” button.
6. If it did find a problem that it said it fixed, you could remove the CD/DVD or USB from the
system and attempt to start the computer normally.
7. If the computer still does not start correctly, place the CD/DVD/USB back in your
computer and start the system again back to this point.
a. If the automated startup repair option did not fix the computer problem we’re
going to now need to use the BOOTREC.EXE utility from the command prompt.
b. Click the “Command Prompt” link.
8. If your Master Boot Record (MBR) is corrupted or missing, you may be getting an error
at startup stating that “BOOTMGR is missing”. The MBR is first sector of your drive that
tells your computer where to find the operating system start-up files, which in this case is
a. If you are having MBR corruption issues we will need to use the Bootrec
command, with the “FixMbr” switch.
b. At the command prompt, type in “bootrec /FixMbr”, and press enter. It doesn’t
matter if you use all uppercase or all lowercase letters.
c. You will get a message stating that “The operation completed successfully”, if
everything went well.
d. You can try to boot the computer normally now if you wish, but I usually run it
together with the next command.
9. If the boot sector becomes damaged on your system you will want to write a new boot
sector compatible with Windows 7. In many cases you can end up with a corrupted boot
sector by installing another Operating System(OS) after Windows 7, such as installing a
dual boot with Linux.
a. If you have boot sector issues we will need to use the Bootrec command, with
the “Fixboot” switch.
b. At the command prompt, type in “bootrec /fixboot”, and press enter.
c. Again we’ll get another message stating that “The operation completed
successfully”, if everything went well.
d. We can now shutdown the computer again, remove the CD/DVD/USB, and try to
start the computer normally and see if it boots.
e. If this does not resolve the boot problems, continue on to rebuilding the BCD.
10. If you start Windows 7 to the error message stating "The Windows Boot Configuration
Data file is missing required information", or you have other issues with the Windows
Boot Configuration Data (BCD), or just the system will continually not boot, the best
option is to manually rebuild the BCD.
a. The BCD contains detailed information about what Windows is supposed to load
when the computer starts up.
b. According to Microsoft many boot errors can be caused by missing or damaged
files in the BCD, which could be the result of viruses or spyware causing issues.
c. We will now attempt to repair issues with the BCD by completely rebuilding it
i.We need to enter the following commands. After each command is entered,
make sure that it says “The operation completed successfully”.
ii.We need to first backup our existing BCD, just in case we need it later.
1. Type in “bcdedit /export C:\BCD_Backup”, and then press enter.
iii.Let’s change to the drive with our Windows installation on it, which is usually
the “C:” drive.
1. Type in “C:”, and then press enter.
2. We can now see that we’ve changed to the “C:” drive from the “X:”
drive we were on previously.
iv.We now need to change into the “boot” directory.
1. Type in “cd boot”, and press enter.
v.Currently the attributes of the BCD file are set so that we cannot change it. To
be able to rebuild the BCD we need to remove the “System file”, “Hidden
file”, and “Read-only file” attributes.
1. Type in “attrib bcd -s -h -r”, and press enter.
vi.With the attributes successfully changed, we’re going to rename the file to
back it up.
1. Type in “ren c:\boot\bcd bcd_backup.old”, and press enter.
vii.We are now going to rebuild the BCD from scratch with the “RebuildBCD”
switch on our BOOTREC command.
1. Type in “bootrec /RebuildBcd”, and press enter.
viii.It will then scan for Windows installations, and display any that it finds.
ix.We can see that it found one Windows installation here, and ask if you’d like
to “Add installation to boot list?”.
x.Type in a “Y”, at the prompt, and press enter.
xi.If all went well you should see the message stating “The operation completed
d. Now click the “X” to close out the command prompt window.
e. Remove the CD/DVD/USB from your computer, and click the “Restart” button.
11. Hopefully now this should have fixed any start-up problems that you had with your
12. You should now have a Windows 7 computer that starts up properly if the issue is
related to problems that the Bootrec command was intended to address.