Windows 7 Won't Boot From Hard Drive

My wife’s 3 year and 1 month old (guess how long the warranty was for?) WD hard drive began having errors last week, so I bought a new Hitachi drive. I connected the new drive to the computer as a second drive, installed Windows to the new drive, and copied important files from the old failing drive to the new one.

So far, so good. Only slightly strange thing is that the computer sees two operating systems (new drive & old drive), so gives me a multi-boot prompt on start-up.

Today, I removed the old drive, but the computer wouldn’t boot. It kept giving me an error of “Reboot and select proper boot device or insert boot media in selected drive.” The BIOS correctly lists the new hard drive (only one connected) as the first boot device. I can boot from the CD-ROM using the Windows 7 install disc, but it won’t let me repair the existing installation. It doesn’t see the new hard drive, so can’t find an existing Windows installation, and keeps asking for hard drive drivers, but I haven’t found any that work.

From what I can gather, the boot information for the whole system is located on the old, failing drive, even though there’s an entire Windows operating system on the new drive. Everything works fine if I reconnect the old drive, but I don’t know how long the old drive will last before failing.

Is there any easy way to transfer the boot information to the new drive, so I can remove the old drive and still boot? Right now, it seems my only choice is to attach the new drive only, and completely reinstall Windows 7. This should solve the boot issue, but I will end up having to reinstall all my wife’s important files from the old drive, and I’d rather not go through that again twice in a week.

Any suggestions?

Yeah, it sounds like it was using the MBR boot loader off of the old drive, and when you did the new Windows install it just kept using that one instead of putting one on the new drive.

You should be able to boot off of a Windows DVD and get it to put the MBR boot loader on the new drive, using these instructions.

A belated thanks for this information; it’s taken longer than I planned to get back to this. Unfortunately, the information at the link you provided didn’t work, and I don’t know enough to know where it’s having problems. A couple thoughts:

  • Step 5: Click the operating system that you want to repair, and then click Next.
    I’m not seeing any operating systems in the window here. Apparently this means I’m supposed to install drivers for my hard disk (Hitachi 1 TB), but I can’t find any drivers, because everything on the Web says they’re included in the default Windows drivers.

Even though it doesn’t see the system at Step 5, I can get a command prompt & switch to the c: drive, which is the Hitachi disk. Here are the results when I try to run the bootrec.exe command with the four command options listed at the link:

  • /fixmbr – This command has executed successfully. Still won’t recognize new hard drive as bootable.
  • /fixboot – Element not found. Aborts the command.
  • /scanos – recognizes the Windows installation directory on the hard drive
  • /rebuildbcd – recognizes Windows installation, prompts Add this installation to BCD store [y]es, [n]o, [a]ll. If I type “y” or “a”, I get the element not found error.

So I seem to be stuck, because I can’t find a hard drive driver to allow me to continue in the graphical Windows installation, but it looks like the hard drive doesn’t contain some file (the element not found), to allow the bootrec command to be executed from old-timey command prompts.

A preemptive thanks for additional suggestions from folks kind enough to have slogged through the post.

A long shot, but is the partition marked as bootable in the partition table? It may not have marked it as such on the new drive, just on the old one.

Edit: Actually I’m not sure if the partitioner in the Windows setup even shows that anymore; you might have to use something like GParted.

I’m sure you’ve already looked at this, so it’s likely a moot point, but have you checked the jumper settings on the Windows 7 drive to make sure it’s set to “master” or preferrably “cable select” and not “secondary/slave”?

Success! Thanks to the discussion here, I eventually found EasyBCD 2.0.2, a freeware bootloader utility. Ran it with both drives installed, followed prompts to make the new drive bootable & install a MBR on it, removed old drive, & now everything works fine.* +1 for EasyBCD, would use again.

Thanks again folks. Reading responses here helped me search for new terms (like MBR) that got me to the right place.

*Minor niggle: The new drive, now the only one on the machine, is still labeled as the D: drive, and it won’t let me rename it as a C: drive. Shouldn’t be a problem, though.

The only way to fix the drive letter issue is to slave the drive to another system, and then edit the registry to replace all instances of D: with C:, then fix the drive letter setting key.

It’s a pain in the ass, even with automated find/replace tools. Honestly, probably not worth fixing.

I’ve got to fix my MBR, too. It won’t boot Windows 7 from my hard drive, either, unless I start the process by pointing it to the DVD drive where the Windows 7 CD resides.

But I’m too bus^H^H^H lazy to mess around with that. Especially since I should first be moving files off of the old drives and nuking my Windows 2000 installation. I’m probably never going to use that again.