Everything you ever wanted to know about how your PC boots up

PC LoadingHave you ever wondered just what is it, exactly, that happens when you press that simple “power” button on your PC? How does your computer go from electricity reaching the power supply to the BIOS power-up sequence on your screen, how the computer checks attached disks and devices, and how it decides which to load from?

Or perhaps you’ve wondered what happens next, after your computer’s BIOS has chosen a drive and wants to pass control of your PC on to the target disk? What role does the MBR play in this process, and how does the core bootloader – a simple, single file sitting, forlorn, all on its lonesome in a plain-jane directory on your PC – wind up being executed and put in control of the madness that is the boot process?

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Bootsect.exe Modifies the Bootsector Not the MBR!!

We’ve noticed a lot of people posting questions both in our support forums and in the Windows Vista newsgroups having issues getting bootsect.exe to do their bidding. Bootsect.exe is a command-line utility that ships on the Windows Vista DVD intended to repair a non-booting Windows Vista install – except it doesn’t always seem to work.

The problem that most people seem to be having can be traced back to single, simple fact: bootsect.exe does not modify the MBR: it only fixes/repairs the bootsector of your Windows Vista partition. The MBR is like a “global bootsector” that tells the BIOS where in the hard-drive it should look for a bootloader. The bootsector, on the other hand, is like a partition-dependant MBR – each operating system can have its own bootsector to tell your system how to boot it.

The source of all this confusion is that during the Longhorn/Vista beta program, quite a number of builds were shipped with a version of bootsect.exe (originally dubbed `fixntfs.exe`) that modified both the MBR and the bootsector.

However, in the Windows Vista RTM build and Longhorn Server builds following that, bootsect.exe is a command-line utility used to repair the bootsector and only the bootsector – it won’t get your MBR to use the Vista BCD/Bootmgr. In order to do that, you’ll have to boot from the Vista DVD | Repair Options | Command Prompt.

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EasyBCD 1.5: Multi/Dual-Boot Vista, Linux, Mac OS X, & BSD!

Important! Upgrade immediately and read the docs to make it work!!!

We’ve done it! NeoSmart Technologies has built a better mousetrap, and it’s a beauty. EasyBCD 1.5 is the first and only application to allow users of Microsoft’s new OS complete compatibility with any other OS they might be using! It doesn’t make a difference if it’s Mac OS X or Linux, BSD or Unix; EasyBCD 1.5 means you can boot into it! For too long have Vista’s beta testers been locked-in to Windows simply because nothing else can be easily booted into, but not anymore!

Windows Vista’s new bootmanager is a double-edged sword. It’s one of the most powerful booting scripts in existence, and a far cry from the very limiting boot.ini of legacy Windows operating systems. But at the same time, Microsoft shows its disregard for other simultaneously installed operating systems. It overwrites the MBR without a second thought, and doesn’t provide any means for users of alternate operating systems and boot managers to use their old system. That’s where EasyBCD 1.5 comes in!

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