November 25, 2007 9:18 AM   Subscribe

My wife's WinXP laptop is now showing this error: UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME I've poked around the net to find a cure , but nothing works. Safe Mode just shows a string of entries and locks up, Normal Mode returns to the blue screen. I tried to re-install the OS , but although I can hear the disc spinning, it does not show up on the screen. What to do? ...and for bonus points, can I save the data on the HD? Thanks in advance.
posted by lobstah to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Can you get into a recovery console on the install CD? It sounds like the MBR or the partitions are FUBAR. Try chkdsk /f and fixboot and fixmbr from the CD's recovery console. I think you can use diskpart from there as well.

Alternately, you can get a USB adapter for the drive and plug it into a working computer. This may not work if there are partition errors.

Good luck!
posted by kellyblah at 9:24 AM on November 25, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks kellyblah, but I can't seem to get beyond selecting which start-up mode to use. Once I select a mode. I see a screen full of entries (most of which have partition in the title) before it returns to the bluescreen. Admittedly, I'm not much of a techie, but I have a distraught artist wife who has files scattered all over the place, and i was hoping to be a hero :)
posted by lobstah at 9:44 AM on November 25, 2007

Best answer: So, you need to get the laptop to boot off the CD? When you tried to reinstall, did you get a message "Press any key to boot from cd" or somesuch similar? You mentioned the disc spinning, but nothing showing on the screen, maybe it didn't boot off the cd as you wanted?
posted by kellyblah at 9:58 AM on November 25, 2007

Response by poster: I only get 4 options
Safe Mode
Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Last known good Config
posted by lobstah at 10:06 AM on November 25, 2007

Best answer: Ok, so it isn't booting off of the CD, I am thinking. What kind of laptop is this? You may need to change the boot order in the BIOS. Feel free to email me... addy is in profile.
posted by kellyblah at 10:27 AM on November 25, 2007

Best answer: You still are booting from the hard drive, not the cd. Go into your laptops BIOS and change the boot order so that the cdrom is listed first. Usually you get into bios by pressing del, F2, or esc during startup. If you can't get it, post your laptop model number and I'll see if I can google it for you.
posted by tracert at 10:28 AM on November 25, 2007

Response by poster: OK tracert...I changed it and it appears to starting up...I hope I haven't bitten off more that I can chew !
posted by lobstah at 10:35 AM on November 25, 2007

Response by poster: Do I want to install or repair?
posted by lobstah at 10:36 AM on November 25, 2007

Best answer: You want to repair.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 10:37 AM on November 25, 2007

Best answer: But don't do a Repair Install, that's different. You may have to do that later, but not now. Now, you want to use the Recovery Console, like kellyblah says. Here is complete documentation from Microsoft.

The two commands you want to run after logging into your install are "Fixboot" and "Fixmbr". Your administrator password might just be blank, if you don't remember setting one. You only get 3 guesses, then you have to restart and try again. When you are done, remember to remove the cd so you will boot from the hard drive.

Re: biting and chewing. Take it easy, but be careful. Google everything first, you'll be fine.
posted by tracert at 10:51 AM on November 25, 2007

Response by poster: well. I bit early and did the CHKDSK /R prompt... 60% so far should I stop it and do the fixboot ?
posted by lobstah at 10:59 AM on November 25, 2007

Best answer: Also, just in case.

Fixboot requries an argument, as in "Fixboot [this drive]". So, on a laptop with one drive, it's probably going to be "fixboot c:".

If fixboot doesn't work, then restart, get back into recovery console and do "chkdsk /r", which will repair your file system. It that doesn't work, then Windows is boned, so get a bootable linux cd, like Ubuntu, then rescue the files you want onto another computer or an external hard drive.
posted by tracert at 10:59 AM on November 25, 2007

Best answer: oh, haha. No, chkdsk is good, don't stop it.
posted by tracert at 11:00 AM on November 25, 2007

Response by poster: It Lives !!!!!

Thank you all ! There is a big smile on my sweetheart's face. She had tons of info/ data/ images on a large mural project on this thing...I am Super lobstah.
posted by lobstah at 12:02 PM on November 25, 2007

Great news! Now, go buy an external USB hard drive to back everything up on.
posted by kellyblah at 12:19 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well played, everyone. This is a great example of what I love about AskMe
posted by Lynsey at 1:20 PM on November 25, 2007

That very problem on my Dell drive = new hard drive.
posted by santojulieta at 7:27 PM on November 25, 2007

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