John Pyost

It's the little things that make life worth living.

Unmountable boot volume

with one comment

As some of you might know, I run a dual-boot configuration with Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.04, with Ubuntu being my primary operating system. The latter works just fine – all the problems are solved in a few minutes – but Windows? I spend days trying to repair it.

A few days ago I decided to log into Windows, because I needed to use Lightroom. When I chose “Microsoft 7” in my boot menu (I accidentally renamed it like this, instead of “Windows 7”, and never got round to changing it), it asked me whether I want to start normally or run Startup Repair. I realised that this was due to an improper shutdown a day or two ago, and ignored it.

Usually, this wouldn’t be an issue, but this time, after the loading screen and before the login one, I got the Blue Screen of Death with the following error message: UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME. The same would happen each time I tried to start Windows, so it wasn’t a temporary glitch.

After some reasearch (in Ubuntu, of course), I found out that there can be two reasons for this, according to Microsoft’s website:

  1. A faulty hard drive, in terms of hardware
  2. A damaged file system

However, I was able to mount the hard drive in Ubuntu and manipulate all the files, so I narrowed it down to a damaged file system.

If the same goes for you, the solution is rather simple – you just need to run chkdsk /r for that hard drive, and it should work.

Unfortunately, since I could not run Windows, I also could not use its command prompt, and had to find another way to run chkdsk. For this, you need the Windows installation/startup disk. If you don’t have it, don’t worry, I’ll get to that.

The following instructions are for Windows XP, but it’s similar for Windows Vista and Windows 7.

  1. Start your computer by inserting the Windows startup disks or the Windows installation disk if your computer can start from the CD drive.
  2. When the Welcome to Setup screen appears, press R to select the repair option.
  3. If you have a dual-boot or multiple-boot computer, select the Windows installation that you want to access from the Recovery Console.
  4. Type the administrator password when you are prompted to do this. (If no administrator password exists, press ENTER.)
  5. At the command prompt, on the drive where Windows is installed, type chkdsk /r, and then press ENTER.
  6. At the command prompt, type exit, and then press ENTER to restart your computer.
  7. After you repair the volume, check your hardware to isolate the cause of the file system damage.

Now, I did have the disc, but I also had another problem which made the disk redundant – I could not boot from it.

Just like all the options when starting Windows “normally”, the disk would also bring up just a black screen with the mouse cursor, after which the computer would have to be restarted. So I was practically without a disk.

What helped? Hiren’s Boot CD. There site seems to be a mess, so you’ll have to download from someplace else. Basically, Hiren’s Boot CD is a bootable disk which contains numerous tools which you might need when an operating system is not available. The one I used is NTFS Pro. It’s completely straight-forward – when you start it, it will ask you whether you want to run chkdsk, and you will say yes. It will take some time, but you will end up with another working OS, without the BSOD.

I had some more issues during this process which I will not cover, but the point is that the installation disk and Hiren’s boot CD are all you need.


Written by pyost

June 29, 2010 at 13:26

One Response

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  1. BartPE works as well


    August 25, 2012 at 22:30

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