I restored my Windows 7 computer from a DriveImage XML Disk Image, why doesn’t it boot up?

Q:I restored my Windows 7 computer from a DriveImage XML Disk Image, why doesn't it boot up?

So you’ve been a conscientious user and have religiously backed up your computer using some form of imaging software. Over the years I have used many imaging software solutions, all have their own unique capabilities and all do basically the same thing. Currently in the shop I use “DriveImage XML” because of its light user interface, limited memory footprint and simple drive-to-drive cloning capabilities. However, recently one of my clients was trying to restore a backup to a larger drive which they were able to do without our help but the machine wouldn’t boot up following the restoration completing. They simply saw a flashing cursor in the upper left corner and weren’t able to go further than that.

Those of you that purchased a retail box copy of Windows Vista or 7 will have a disc that you can use for this process, for those that don’t have a disc, you will have a more difficult time with this and you might want to get a professional to help you.

Here is our process.

  1. Create the image of your C: drive using whatever tool you prefer and store it wherever it is convenient for you (for ease of use, I recommend using an NTFS formatted external USB drive).
  2. Remove the old hard drive.
  3. Install the new hard drive per the instructions of the computer and hard disk manufacturers
  4. Restore your data using the techniques required by your imaging software of choice.

Its that last statement that is the gotcha for most do-it-yourselfers.

Once you get the data back onto the drive, you may need to do a couple of little fixes to make sure the hard drive knows what its supposed to be doing when it gets powered on. If you power on your machine and you get an error stating “Bootmgr is missing” or a black screen with a flashing white question mark, you are dealing with a fairly common problem when a disk image gets created that doesn’t include the “Boot Sector”. In simple terms, the Boot Sector is the part of your hard drive that tells the machine what its supposed to do before Windows takes control. Among other things, it tells the computer where to find Windows. Thankfully Microsoft has provided a few tools for your use which are easily accessible from the installation DVD or CD.

  1. Pop that disk in and boot to it.
  2. Select the “Startup Repair” option.
  3. Select the partition to which you restored your data (it should list an appropriate version of Windows).
  4. Perform the startup repair

Oftentimes, this is enough. Try to reboot your machine and it should now successfully boot. If it still is giving you problems:

  1. Boot to the same installation DVD/CD media.
  2. Select “Command Prompt” instead of “Startup Repair”.
  3. At the command prompt to “c:” and press the enter or return key on your keyboard.
  4. Enter these commands in this order and press the return key after each:
    • bootrec /FixMbr
    • bootrec /FixBoot
    • bootrec /RebuildBcd

    After each, you should see a message stating “Command Completed Successfully”.

  5. Reboot your machine, that should take care of the problem.