How To Write a New Partition Boot Sector

A computer's hard disk is divided into partitions and sectors. Each partition is seen by the operating system as a drive. For example if you open the My Computer folder and see two drives: C: and D: but you know that the computer only has one physical hard disk then that hard disk has been divided into two partitions. The one labeled C: most likely contains the operating system installation. On this partition is a boot sector which is a further division of the area that contains all the data necessary for the computer to successfully accomplish the boot process. Sometimes this partition boot sector can be damaged perhaps by a virus attack or by a critically erroneous reconfiguration of the system. To remedy this issue in a Windows XP based system, you will need to write a new partition boot sector. This can be done in the Recovery Console using the fixboot command.

  1. Boot the computer with the Windows XP installation CD. Recovery Console is a troubleshooting utility program that can only be accessed from the Windows XP installation CD. Put the CD in the optical drive and restart your computer. You will be prompted to press a key to boot from the CD. Press the designated key and allow Windows to continue the set up process.
  2. Access Recovery Console. When Windows XP has finished loading files for the set up process, the main Setup page will then appear on screen. Press R on the keyboard to run Recovery Console. This won't immediately open. You'll still need to input some information. The first thing you'll be asked is what Windows installation you would like to log in to. So choose one (most users only have once instance of Windows installed). Then you'll be asked to enter your administrator's password. This is the password you use to log in to your Windows XP system. If you don't use one, just press Enter.
  3. Use fixboot. At this point Recovery Console will be fully loaded. Take note that this program has no graphical user interface. All you'll see is a command prompt and the cursor flashing beside it. Type the word fixboot at the command prompt and press Enter. This will run the fixboot utility program which will essentially create a new partition boot sector in the hard disk partition where your Windows XP operating system is currently installed. Any past configurations or errors in the previous boot sector will be wiped out. When the process completes, take out the Windows XP installation CD and restart your computer by typing exit and pressing Enter.

The Recovery Console is a very effective tool for finding and fixing problems in your PC. Fixboot is a particular command in Recovery Console that helps when your computer has trouble booting up and this is just one of several other commands that can address other possible issues in your computer.


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