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So 3 months ago I built a PC, but had the opportunity to borrow an SSD from my place of employment. I originally installed windows 7 trial mode on that SSD, and then after a few weeks upgraded to windows 8, but installed it on a second hard drive. I then wiped the SSD (at least I thought i did the whole drive), and used it as a data drive in windows 8.

Today I took the SSD out of my system to take back to work, and immediately formatted the whole thing to put ubuntu server on it for work. Now I'm back home and the windows 8 drive can't boot anymore. Apparently when windows 8 was installed, it just replaced windows 7's boot loader with its own, but on the ssd.

So For the past 2.5 months I've been booting to the ssd, which has then been forwarding to the hard drive's OS sector. Now that the SSD is gone (and completely wiped), the chain is broken and I don't have a boot sector. How do I create one without re-installing windows entirely?

I have a windows 8 installation USB key that I can get into recovery mode with. Here's some stuff from diskpart that i've transposed from photos:

DISKPART> LIST VOL

  Volume ###  Ltr  Label        Fs     Type        Size     Status     Info
  ----------  ---  -----------  -----  ----------  -------  ---------  --------
  Volume 0                      NTFS   Partition    465 GB  Healthy
  Volume 1     C   ESD-USB      FAT32  Removable     14 GB  Healthy

DISKPART> LIST DISK

  Disk ###  Status         Size     Free     Dyn  Gpt
  --------  -------------  -------  -------  ---  ---
* Disk 0    Online          465 GB      0 B        *
  Disk 1    Online           14 GB      0 B

DISKPART> LIST PARTITION

  Partition ###  Type              Size     Offset
  -------------  ----------------  -------  -------
* Partition 1    Reserved           128 MB  1024 KB
  Partition 2    Primary            465 GB   128 MB

DISKPART> ACTIVE

The selected disk is not a fixed MBR disk.
The ACTIVE command can only be used on fixed MBR disks.

It looks like there's space for a boot sector there, but I can't assign that reserved partition a drive letter, which is as far as I could get with http://superuser.com/a/504360

I can't set that partition as active either, cus the drive table isn't mbt.

Thanks.

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5 Answers 5

Try this:

Boot windows 8 CD, select language, and on the screen where says "Install now", select "Repair my computer" at the bottom left corner. Open "Troubleshoot", and "Advanced options". In advanced options menu select "Command prompt", and there type:

BOOTREC /FIXBOOT

BOOTREC /FIXMBR

BOOTREC /REBUILDBCD

One of those should work.

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You could try running the repair thing in the Windows install disc. I'm not sure if Windows 8 has one of those, but previous versions of Windows did. (This might be obvious, but don't use a non-Windows 8 disc for repairing Windows 8)

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"Automatic Repair couldn't repair your PC" –  wizpig64 Feb 8 '13 at 1:46
    
I don't have any idea what to do at that point. In my opinion, it's time to nuke it from orbit and start over. But, you may find a better answer than that (because that is a terrible answer) so don't do that right away. –  danielcg Feb 8 '13 at 1:51
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Sounds like what is needed is to recreate the boot area on the new drive. I'm sure if you did a little research (via google) you could find the magic command, if it is not on the repair CD.

You should not have to reinstall windows, just its boot information.

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Yeah that's what I'm asking. I googled plenty, posted here after two hours of dead ends. Still looking though. –  wizpig64 Feb 8 '13 at 3:14
    
or look through the microsoft site. What I think is that if you run the Win 8 repair disk through its paces it has the ability to fix your situation. –  mdpc Feb 8 '13 at 3:18
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You do not need to have a separate boot partition. While Linux has always had the concept of a separate /boot/ partition, on Windows it was only with Windows 7 that Microsoft started creating a separate 100 MiB partition at the start of your physical disk to hold the boot files.

The only benefit to a separate boot partition (apart from your actual Windows partition, that is) is that if you have multiple Windows installations on multiple partitions and you need to format/delete one or more of them, your boot will continue to work.

So your options are to either

  1. Use a bootable partition editor to first move the start of your current Windows partition back around 100 MiB
  2. Create a new 100 MiB FAT32 or NTFS partition in that space.
  3. Make that partition active (set the "bootable" flag in the MBR)
  4. Set up the 100 MiB partition to contain the needed boot info to load up Windows from your other partition, either manually or automatically from the Windows CD.

Or bypass all this kerfuffle about creating a separate boot partition and just do this:

  1. Mark your Windows partition active/bootable (if it isn't already) using a bootable partition editor.
  2. Install the correct boot settings to your Windows partition, again either manually or automatically from the Windows CD.

If you do not have a Windows setup CD, or if Startup Repair on the Windows setup CD failed to get your PC booting, you can still recreate the proper Windows boot settings on that partition with an automated boot recovery utility such as Easy Recovery Essentials. If you're using EasyRE to rebuild the boot partition, you can skip all partition-related steps as it'll automatically take care of setting the bootable flag on the correct partition for you.

You can use a free tool like GParted burned to a bootable CD for the needed partition changes, or use diskpart from the command line on the Windows setup CD, though I really don't recommend doing that.

In all cases you will need to ensure that your BIOS has the correct physical drive selected as the first boot device.

Disclosure: I worked on the development of EasyRE. (On the bright side, it means I can help you if you have any questions with it!)

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To succesfully boot Windows 8 you need to have an EFI system partition, which contains the boot loader.

if you have a windows 8 install media, you can use dism or imagex to extract the boot.wim from the media to the first partition of your system. then use the repair options to add your installation to the boot menu.

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