WIndows 7 blackscreen blinking cursor - tried recovery cd, but no os in the list

#1
I have two Dell XPS 8300's - luckily this one still works.

History:
About a week ago, likely had some sort of virus that sprang up bs messages about the harddrive being about to fail. It was pretty nasty and seemed to corrupt the start menu and really mess with things. But I was able to recover the system by restoring to a previously good point via system restore and then running the latest malwarebytes. All seemed stable for a few days w/ no issues.

Present:
Booted the machine and it comes up to a black screen with a blinking white cursor. I only have access to F2 and Dell's F12 diagnostics. After running the diagnostics, all of the hardware is reportedly in good shape. I can not access the F8 boot menu, the system goes to the blank screen w/ cursor before booting windows.

So, I created a windows 7 recovery disk on the working xps 8300. I changed the boot sequence to DVD first and booted the busted machine to the recovery disk. The windows 7 recovery options come up. I picked a language, but on the next window there is no OS in the list.

After reading some other forum post, I downloaded some app named partition wizard and checked the partitions. I don't think the app was able to properly read the partitions. Though I did fiddle with making one of the partitions "active" as the post indicated. I rebooted and the problem was the same. (this was the post: http://www.sevenforums.com/general-...no-os-installed-system-repair-stuck-loop.html)

Any help would be immensely appreciated.

Ty,
Charles
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
The Vista/7 repair disks are terrible at finding the OS if there's more than one HDD connected.
If you have easy access, try disconnecting all the other HDDs while you try repairing the one with W7 on it.
If that's not possible, you can try to disable the other HDDs in the BIOS if Dell will let you (they are notorious at not allowing you full control of your own PC) then try again.
 
#3
I have another identical machine next to it. If I boot it to the windows 7 recovery disc, I am able to see the OS in the list without issue. I think there must be something corrupted with MBR on the ailing machine, no?

The hardware is such that the machine has two physical drives, but iirc I think they're striped, because the OS sees only 1 logical drive. Both machines have this architecture. When I run partition wizard on both machines, the setup looks identical. But, partition wizard can't really seems to digest the partitioning well; on both machines it has the formatting listed as "unknown".

Do I need to fix the MBR?

---

The Vista/7 repair disks are terrible at finding the OS if there's more than one HDD connected.
If you have easy access, try disconnecting all the other HDDs while you try repairing the one with W7 on it.
If that's not possible, you can try to disable the other HDDs in the BIOS if Dell will let you (they are notorious at not allowing you full control of your own PC) then try again.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
Can't help with RAID I afraid, not something I've used. I prefer to keep things simple and manage my own performance and redundancy.
Rebuilding the MBR is something that is managed by the repair disk in one of its "startup repair" passes. (If you can get it to work.)
Sometimes clicking "next" even without an OS selected or listed (don't go on to the "load drivers" screen), will complete the first pass successfully and magic the OS back into existence to be selected for the next two passes.
If not, try the manual steps outlined after the auto repair here
http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Recovering+the+Vista+Bootloader+from+the+DVD
 
#5
Here's where I am now...

I burned the Win7 64bit pro .iso from digital river (http://www.mydigitallife.info/official-windows-7-sp1-iso-from-digital-river/) and attempted a repair from the Win 7 installation disk. The repair fails with a boot sector problem.
I went to the command prompt from the repair GUI after the failure and ran:
chkdsk / r c: which appears to run fine
&
bootrec /fixboot (as well as the other switches) which don't seem to fix anything.

After doing that, I try to boot normally and the system blue screens immediately after the windows logo starts with the error:
unmountable_boot_volume (only able to see that by using the "don't reboot on error" option at F8)

One thing to mention: At the repair menu, it does find a windows 7 installation, but it's on drive e: and not c: ? I'm perplexed by that...

Perhaps I'll try to boot into "mini Windows XP" from Hiren's bootCD and run the disk manager to have a look at what it can see?

Otherwise, any other ideas, I feel close - but for all I know the RAID is just totally hosed. I've fiddled with the active partitions and I've fiddled with fixing mbr's on the partitions, so I could be all messed up now. Drive 0 seems to have 3 partitions, 2 small ones, and then a large one (I haven't altered any of this from the factory). I'm not sure which one should be the active and which one needs the mbr for windows 7.

Ty much!


Can't help with RAID I afraid, not something I've used. I prefer to keep things simple and manage my own performance and redundancy.
Rebuilding the MBR is something that is managed by the repair disk in one of its "startup repair" passes. (If you can get it to work.)
Sometimes clicking "next" even without an OS selected or listed (don't go on to the "load drivers" screen), will complete the first pass successfully and magic the OS back into existence to be selected for the next two passes.
If not, try the manual steps outlined after the auto repair here
http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Recovering+the+Vista+Bootloader+from+the+DVD
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#6
See reply to other thread.