Sunday 24 October 2010

Reinstall Windows 7 bootloader/Repair Windows Installation without Windows DVD

Recently, I installed Ubuntu on a computer in a dual boot set-up. However, unfortunately, I had to remove Ubuntu because I needed some more space for my Windows 7 install to run a few more applications. Unfortunately this computer (it's a netbook) did not have a DVD drive. But turns out... you don't need a DVD drive to reinstall the Windows bootloader if you plan things right.

First, what you need to do is reinstall the windows boot loader, and only then remove the GRUB bootloader and the GNU/Linux partition along with it.

How do you replace/remove GRUB with Windows' bootloader (or load Window's repair feature without having to search for your repair disks, or remember a bunch of keys to press) ? It's quite simple actually, although it does take a long while:

  1. Make sure you back up your computer. I've tried this procedure with Windows 7 Professional, but I'm not sure if it'll work on your version of Windows 7.
  2. Start your computer and boot into Windows 7 (has to be Windows 7! This won't work with any previous versions as far as I know, may work with Vista, but I've never tried it.)
  3. While Windows is booting, turn off your computer! That's right... hold down your power button for a few seconds and abruptly turn off your computer
  4. Turn on your computer again, and boot into Windows
  5. Windows should give you a message telling you that it did not start up properly... it should give you two options: "Launch startup repair" or Start windows normally... Select Launch Startup Repair
  6. Now let Windows try to find problems. It most likely won't realize that what you're trying to do is restore the windows bootloader. Once it's done, it'll ask you if you want to restore your system using System Restore. You probably don't want this, so hit cancel on the Window and let windows "attempt repairs" (this doesn't do anything really... just tries to find things that are wrong with your copies of windows and nothing more). 
  7. Windows should then give you a message that start up repair cannot repair the computer automatically. Simply close the window, and click "View advanced options for system recovery"  on the window behind the one you just closed. It should ask you for the keyboard layout, and your admin password.
  8. Then follow the instructions on this page (essentially use the (type in) Bootrec.exe /FixMbr command), and use the command prompt window
Once you restart your computer, it should now boot up in Windows directly without showing you the grub screen. By using the method above, you've used the default rescue files that are installed with every Windows 7 instead of booting into a Windows DVD and choosing the "Repair your computer option".

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  1. Truely the most awesome and simple answer to a problem I have been chasing for 2 months. Thank you very much!! My Touchpad (Hanvon B10c) is back to normal :) DaveN

  2. You're a genius! Essential if you have an EEE-PC without CD-ROM ;)

  3. press F8 when boot up the win 7. then you can directly choose the options.

  4. Excellent stuff, worked just as described on my Toshiba Netbook. Thanks

  5. I don't know the password tho =(