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I'm working on an HP laptop that experienced a crash of some kind. The user was unable to give me details about the crash. If I turn the Hard Drive into an external (USB) drive, I can read all of the partitions and files on a different computer. However, when the Hard Drive is installed in the original computer, and I boot into a Windows 7 Pro (64-bit) installation (via USB), Windows recovery does not detect an OS.

Here's a list of what I've tried so far:

  • Ran HP Hardware diagnostics quick tests. No issues were found. It is probably not a hardware problem.
  • Ran the Boot Repair Disc. No issues were found.
  • Ran "check" on the Windows partition using G Parted. Inconsistencies in some of the NTFS volume sectors were found but not fixed. The message recommended that I run "chkdsk /f".
  • Ran "chkdsk /f" on all partitions. No issues were listed, but it did say that some repairs were made.
  • Ran an "sfc /scannow" command pointing to the external drive. No integrity violations were found.
  • Marked the Windows partition as active using DiskPart.
  • Marked the System partition as active using DiskPart.
  • Marked the boot flag on the Windows partition in GParted.
  • Marked the boot flag on the System partition in GParted.

None of the above fixes have worked. I would like to try using bootrec to rebuild the MBR, but I can only use that utility in Windows System Recovery, which does not detect an OS. I have not figured out a way to run bootrec commands on an external Hard Drive.

Why doesn't Windows 7 System Recovery detect an OS?

  • "Why doesn't Windows 7 System Recovery detect an OS?" Because the part(s) that identify the data on the harddisk as being a bootable/usable Windows install have been corrupted/destroyed. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 May 1 '17 at 19:08
  • What parts are you referring to? Can you be more specific or point me in the right direction? – Sherlock Bytes May 1 '17 at 19:10
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    There's too many possible reasons for it, and may parts that could be the cause. Is Windows SEEING the drive, but not the OS? If it's not seeing the drive at all, you may have to provide hard drive controller drivers. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 May 1 '17 at 19:12
  • The drive is readable because I can mount it externally and read all partitions and files. I can also mount (and read) it while it is internally installed in the laptop using Lubuntu. I also updated my post to include that I ran an sfc scan from a different computer, but I pointed it to the Windows installation on the external drive. No integrity violations were found. – Sherlock Bytes May 1 '17 at 19:19
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The Windows 7 installation I was using did not have the drivers necessary to detect the hard drive. I found the Windows 7 installer provided by HP. When I boot from HP's disc, the Windows installer detects the drive. In this case, there were no messages indicating that additional drivers were needed.

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