Windows won't boot - Probably wiped system reserved partition

  1. Posts : 26
    Windows 10

    Windows won't boot - Probably wiped system reserved partition

    I have windows on a m2 ssd. The computer also contains another ssd and an ancient hdd. I wanted to replace this hdd because it was starting to fail. In fact I couldn't even clone it anymore with macrium due to corrupted MFT error and ckhdsk couldn't fix this. (I have data back-up and copying the data was still possible).

    Since the disk contained somewhat sensitive data at some points (financially, encryption keys...) I wiped it with DBAN (overwrite with 0), So anything on there is gone for certain, as was the intention.
    However after exiting DBAN and then rebooting I can't get into windows anymore. I simply get a black screen telling me to insert proper boot media or restart.

    Note that in general I'm an IT person but never really bothered to deal with Windows booting, boot managers GPT/EFI vs mbr. And so forth. From what I can tell my m2 ssd is not GBT (according to diskpart) but my motherboard certainly is UEFI capable.

    With the WIn10 install media, fixing start issues doesn't do anything. Then I tried all the common fixed like from here:

    Solved - Accidentally Deleted System Reserve partition | Windows 8 Help Forums

    bootrec /fixmbr
    bootrec /fixboot
    bootrec /rebuildbcd

    The /fixboot always leads to "Element not Found" even when setting the windows partition to active.
    /rebuildbcd finds a windows install on d: but then also doesn't work with "Element not Found".

    I think the issue is the reserved partition is not broken, it's wiped. The system reserved partition seems to have been on the wiped disk for no apparent reason.

    Is there anyway to recreate it and save my windows install?
      My Computer

  2. dalchina's Avatar
    Posts : 34,309
    Win 10 Pro (1903) (2nd PC is 21H2)

    Hi, if I understand this correctly, you attempted certain operations on a (failing data) HDD, after which your PC will not boot from your SSD. You did not intend to change anything on your system disk. Is that correct?

    Your starting points would seem to be to
    a. Download an iso file for a live boot disk and create that on a flash drive (e.g. Hiren's, Bob Omb's, Kyhi's...) so you can plug that in and boot your PC from that.

    Failing that you could try to find a way to connect your disk as a USB disk to a working PC

    b. Post a screenshot of the partitions on your system disk using a 3rd party partition manager such as Minitool Partition Wizard (not Disk Management). Some live boot disks include this or similar.

    c. Then run e.g. Crystal Diskinfo (free) to perform a SMART check on the disks. Report the result (briefly).

    If your Windows partition ("C: ") is intact, your O/S can be recovered.

    You could create Macrium Reflect's boot disk, boot your PC from that and see if you can create an image of that partition to an external disk. That would a. demonstrate it's accessible and readable b. give you a backup and a copy you could use for recovery, establishing a safe point to work from.

    I would recommend you disconnect the failing HDD.

    ckhdsk couldn't fix this.
    - MFT - of course it couldn't- it only checks file system consistency on the partition chosen, amongst other things.

    How do you protect yourself from such disasters?
    a. You can have Crystal Diskinfo running in the background to generate an alert if a disk starts to degrade.
    b. Routinely and regularly create disk images - at least of all partitions of which Win 10 is comprised. Then you can restore these to a new disk if necessary- avoiding clean installs in many cases, having a second chance and a full backup - not just a data backup. This gives you a quick way to recover without needed help and struggling for some time with no certain outcome.

    E.g. Macrium Reflect (free). Note: usable restorable images can only be created when the source disk is sound. After that, so-called forensic images are possible- which will include any corruption.

    This advice is given endlessly here. It is ignored, until the pain is felt.
      My Computers

  3. Posts : 26
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    Thanks for your long reply. I do have disk images for the windows partition but it doesn't help if it won't boot. The hdd I also have backups but just a folder/file level backup (it was media files mostly and having them as file backup vs image adds the benefit of also using them on other devices if needed).

    I was able to fix it in a very simple way in hindsight. Note that this assumes an mbr drive.

    1. Step One

    Get a windows 10 install/recovery disk
    (Note: the media creation tool doesn't warn you that it will wipe the entire drive and not just the selected partition!!!)

    2. Boot with the recovery disk

    3. enter the command prompt

    4. run command

    bcdboot D:\Windows /s D:

    and the trick being to select the right drive letter which very likley will differ case by case and is very likley not actually C:

    I suspect for some unknown reason windows 10 installer decided to boot the boot manager on the hdd I wiped and not the same drive as windows was installed?
      My Computer

  4. dalchina's Avatar
    Posts : 34,309
    Win 10 Pro (1903) (2nd PC is 21H2)

    Noted you solved this.

    I do have disk images for the windows partition but it doesn't help if it won't boot
    Actually not true.

    You can
    - clean install Win 10
    - restore the Windows partition over the newly created one
    - run startup repair if automatic repair does not fix booting.

    Naturally better to image ALL partitions comprising the O/S.
      My Computers


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