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I have done a very stupid thing. I deleted some folders in the C: drive from Ubuntu. In result, I can't boot into Windows anymore. It starts the boot animation and then keeps rebooting.

I tried checkdisk, sfc/scannow and the automatic repair but it doesn't work. What is strange is that I can boot into safe mode so I think my Windows installation is intact. Also checkdisk and sfc say no errors found. From Ubuntu, I only delete Windows.old folder.

Any suggestions? Is there anyway I can see the exact error. May be a log file or something. I tried EventViewer, and System32/Logs but everything seems normal.

Maybe I could try /fixmbr and /fixboot commands. If I do so do I have to reinstall GRUB afterwords?

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  • If you only deleted windows.old, then something else is wrong. You don't necessarily have to reinstall grub; you can use bcd (or easy bcd)
    – Wyrmwood
    Dec 25, 2013 at 1:13
  • It's impossible that deleting the Windows.old folder would cause OS corruption: when Windows is installed to a partition with an existing install, Setup moves all files & directories in the root of C: to Windows.old prior to applying the install.wim||.esd, so either something else was deleted, moved, or changed (such as ACLs), or deleting Windows.old may have affected the BCD store if a rollback option is offered in WinRE; to correct when dual-booting Linux, you must use a Linux boot fixer for Windows, as BootRec (normal way to resolve BCD issues) will destroy GRUB boot.
    – JW0914
    Jul 2, 2021 at 12:44

5 Answers 5

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Just because Windows can limp its way into safe mode doesn't mean it's "intact", just that it's not completely hosed. Your MBR, boot sector and file system structures are probably fine, but you've deleted some files that Windows needs during a normal (not safe mode) startup.

To fix the problem, I'd recommend refreshing your Windows 8 installation. This should restore the missing files from your Windows installation disc or recovery volume, allowing you to boot normally into Windows again.

(Ps. Just deleting the Windows.old folder shouldn't have broken your system, if that's indeed all you did. However, I suppose it's possible that deleting it from Linux might've removed something like user settings that were still in use, and which Windows would've been smart enough to save elsewhere first if you'd deleted the folder from inside Windows.)

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During a fresh install of windows all the data is deleted and new drivers and softwares are installed. But if any hardware you got with which you got a Driver CD you need to install it again on a fresh install.

This doesn't happen with installing windows on a previous installation and then deleting the Windows.old folder. In this case when you install a windows on a previously installed windows, old windows have the drivers for the current hardware, new windows will always load up from the windows.old folder till you provide a new installation in the current windows (i.e. new windows). And if you deleted that folder(windows.old) without installing the drivers again you would probably have similar problems as you are having. So always try to install drivers for external hardware(hardware having their own drivers CD) before deleting windows.old folder on this type of installation.

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  • if you can boot into the windows on safe mode then you can try to install remaining drivers(if any) or try to remove all drivers and then install them again after cleaning your PC(disk clean your C drive).
    – Hunter
    Dec 25, 2013 at 6:07
  • That sounds plausible, and may be worth trying. Also, speaking from experience, if you can't get online from safe mode without the drivers, you may be able to download the appropriate drivers using Linux and copy them to your Windows partition for installing. Dec 25, 2013 at 13:46
  • This makes sense. last time I tried using repair it complained about some missing or unrecognized device. Anyway, I have reinstalled windows and now everything works fine.
    – brpaz
    Dec 28, 2013 at 10:03
  • This answer is factually inaccurate: when Windows is installed to a partition with an existing install, all files/directories in the root of C: are moved to Windows.old prior to applying the install.wim||.esd; once done, nothing in Windows.old is used for as part of the OS, and can't cause issues (something else would have to have been deleted, moved, or changed, else deleting Windows.old may have affected the BCD Store if a rollback option is offered in WinRE; to correct when dual-booting Linux, a Linux boot fixer for Windows must be used, as BootRec destroys GRUB boot).
    – JW0914
    Jul 2, 2021 at 12:48
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I would wipe everything and start clean, but that's just me. Refresh could kill your dual boot.

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/fixboot and fixmbr are both important to repairing this error. But it would be incomplete without /rebuildbcd.

I've done the same thing as you and running bootrec with the above switches individually resolved my issue in minutes.

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I end up doing with a clean install. now everything works fine.

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