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I'm trying to fix a Windows installation that won't boot, but I think part of the problem fixing it is that it was hibernated, and thus is still sort of locked to access.

Is there a way to unlock it? Any caveats to it?

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If you can get into the drive, try deleting hiberfil.sys. – user3463 Sep 17 '10 at 21:25
@Randolph You got ninja'd. – Nathaniel Sep 17 '10 at 21:32
It's not a safe solution, which is why I didn't make it a formal answer :-) – user3463 Sep 17 '10 at 21:44

You can use a Linux live disk that allows hard drive access and delete the file called hiberfil.sys on the main system disk.

The main downside is that this is the equivalent to forcefully shutting down the machine, anything open will be unsaved, and possibility of breaking things that were in the process of being updated.

As for unlocking it, I really need to know more - how far you get and what the specific errors are.

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Hmmm. More... I don't know. It only mounts as read-only in Linux because it is hibernated. Unless there's a way to mount it read-write, maybe some flag? – Nathaniel Sep 17 '10 at 21:30
It shouldn't make a difference about it being in Hibernate, Hibernate doesn't suddenly make the disk read only - sounds like the live disk you use only allows read only... try a different one! When I said more, describe as best you can the process from turning on - does it go "Windows is resuming" or what? There is also an option when you start to press space (I think) and delete the hibernate file and do a fresh boot... try pressing quick and often like you would for the F8 menu. – William Hilsum Sep 17 '10 at 21:36
Ahhh. I see. Kind of hijacks the question, but... it's a 0xc000014c error regarding \boot\bcd on a Vista system. It doesn't mention anything about hibernate, I think. Regarding mounting in Linux, it is a fairly old disk, but it specifically tells me it's mounting read-only because the disk is hibernated. – Nathaniel Sep 17 '10 at 21:41
@Nathaniel - this is a serious error and not directly related to hibernate. Get your original Windows disk and you should be able to do a startup repair to fix without having to reinstall the operating system. – William Hilsum Sep 17 '10 at 21:58
@Wil What do you mean, serious error (haha, that reminds me of the cryptic Windows message)? Re: Windows disc, unfortunately do not have one. Only a recovery partition and the Vista Recovery Disk. – Nathaniel Sep 17 '10 at 22:04

Some suggestions here.

Most of the time this is file system corruption that can be fixed by doing a:

chkdsk /r C:

from the recovery environment command prompt.

If chkdsk fails to get it booting do a "FixBoot" as described in this article.

If it is a OEM PC, Dell, HP ect, do not use the FixMBR command.

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