I'm running out of ideas, please help


Hi all,

My Pc is Packard Bell - running Windows Vista.

I attempted to reset me PC to factory settings due to viruses and other problems. but something went wrong and I received the message "missing operating system"

I downloaded the Vista recovery ISO, followed the instruction for the start up repair (running it multiple times) however each time i received the message Start up repair cannot repair this problem automatically. I then had two options 'Send more info' or 'don't'....when sending more info, the diagnostics tells me that

"Root caused found
Boot sector for system disk partition is corrupt
repair action: Boot sector repair
Result Failed Error Code = 0x57"

so I moved on to the Command Prompt section from this website:

bootsect.exe/fixmbr - worked successfully.

However when trying to run the command boot\bootsect.exe I received the following error. I ran the program from an external hard drive, and im 100% sure the path i was entering instead of x:\boot\blah blah was correct. the returned error was "Unable to execute specified program"

I tried running a CHKDSK on my C:\ it returned the result C:\ is in RAW format and CHKDSK is not able to be preformed on this disk (or something to that affect)

I then tried formatting the C drive, which returned the result. NTFS partition 1 is unwritable and NTFS partition 2 is unwritable. Format Failed.

I now have no idea what to do to solve this issue. Can anyone help me. I have a very basic knowledge of command prompt and of the inner workings of a PC, but at this point im willing to give anything a try.

Please help

Thanks in advance
Unfortunately, not everything is fixable.
I recently had Vista go "RAW" when it wasn't even being used.
I was booting W7 on a different HDD, when I got an auto-chkdsk message that there were problems on my Vista drive and chkdsk then ran and "fixed" Vista into RAWness and oblivion.
Vista hadn't been used for weeks, and was in perfect health when last used.
Examining it from Ubuntu showed it to be NTFS but empty.
From GParted it was unreadable
Testdisk found a healthy NTFS partition, all contents intact, Partition Table correct, and "fixed" an inconsistent boot sector.
Windows still saw my partition as RAW from W7 and XP.
Finally got Easeus Partition Tool, running in XP, which could see Vista as NTFS, and sub-contracted chkdsk to fix it (400,000 errors !!) (chkdsk from native windows still said RAW-nogo, like yours).
I spent a couple of weeks on and off, determined to get my Vista back, because I knew that underneath there somewhere was a perfect undamaged fully functional OS which was probably being prevented from use by some trivial bad pointer.
I thought I'd finally got there, when W7 saw it as NTFS, and apparently all present and correct, but all attempts to boot it failed with some module or other missing.
'Borrowing' the missing modules from W7, moved me on to the next one missing, until finally it came to one which couldn't be faked.

The point of all this, is that eventually I had to admit defeat and reinstall Vista.
That only took 30 minutes, but WUD spent the next 2 days downloading and installing a Gig of updates to bring it back to fully post-SP2 status.

If the hidden recovery partition is no longer working, and you didn't burn back-up portable media when you first commissioned the PC, you'll need to contact the OEM for a copy, or borrow a Vista DVD from a friend and install a Vanilla copy of Vista using the serial number from your PC not from the DVD.
If you don't know anyone with a DVD, you can contact MS for a copy for the price of shipping it.
Thanks for the reply terry.

Unfortunately no back up recovery disks were made on purchase (a lesson learnt) so i will have to contact MS as you suggested and go from scratch. luckily i backed everything up before all the fun started so i still have all my important files.

Will reinstalling vista be guaranteed to work? i was starting to think its a problem with the hard-drive it self, but this is just based on a guess really as, as i said my 'inside PC' knowledge is pretty weak.

thanks again


I have just thought of something. when i downloaded the original ISO image from neosmart i downloaded the 64-bit version...as i think that was what i was running before...could i have made a school boy error here? is it worth my trying the 32-bit download before contacting MS.

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If you got the wrong download, it would have said "not compatible with this OS".
Your problems are deeper-seated than just broken boot-files, but you have protected your user data, so think of it as a chance to get the OS back to 100% efficiency.
"Always look on the bright side of life - de-dum, de-dum de-dum de-dum"
Before you reinstall, get yourself a bootable partition manager (there are loads of free versions out there on the web), and format the entire HDD (full, not "quick"). That will take a long time, but it will examine the complete disk surface, and permanently remove from use any dodgy sectors.
Then partition it in your preferred configuration, and reinstall Vista to the partition you've chosen for it.
Or if you're feeling flush, you could invest £50 in a new larger HDD and upgrade your PC while you're at it.
I'm Brian and so is my Wife!

will a bootable partition manager work when the command prompt FORMAT C:\ didn't?

If so i will do as you say. not feeling that flush, to buy a bigger HD - its more my dad's PC than mine, and im moving out soon, just dont wanna leave him with an expensive box
Yes, you can completely wipe any HDD from a bootable utility.
Delete the individual partitions then format (full) the entire disk as one big partition, delete that one then format (quick) into the configuration you want.
Brilliant! Thanks Terry. I'll get a bootable partition manager today and wipe the sucker and get it ready for the vista disks to arrive.

thanks again. Ill post back on here to let you (and any future strugglers) know how it goes.
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I tried using the product key from the side of my PC but MS website says its
"The Product Key you have entered is invalid. Please try again" - I'm 100% sure this number is correct as ive checked it again and again...any ideas why im getting this message?
This isn't with our recovery discs is it? They can only be used for repairs, and not complete Windows installations.
No I've already tried the neosmart ISO, with no joy, I'm now trying to format the harddrive as terry60 has suggested and get some Vista disc...or a friend may be able to get me xp.

My product key was meant to get me my vista disks from the Microsoft website terry60 linked. But it didn't work...
Your product key won't work with XP, only the version of Vista it was assigned to. If you find a friend who wouldn't mind letting your borrow their disc thats fine as long as you use your product key for the installation. If not and your product key isn't working at the site to order replacement discs you'll need to contact MS or your OEM by phone for the replacement.
I tried using Norton partition magic to format the hard drive. But it was unsuccessful. Im going to try another partition manager tomorrow. Does anyone know of a good partition manager?

If this doesn't work, I will just buy new internal hard drive, and re install my OS.
May you give HDD Regenerator a try?! From my experiences, in 80% of the use, I got damaged HDD's back to work as long as the damaged are nor pure physical!

For testing you can download a Trial version which will recover only a few bad sectors but show which is problem with your HDD is those problem isn't entirely Windows related.

HDD Regenerator is re-degausing the HDD's surface without to damage or delete any data and works with any kind of HDD formats.

It's really worth trying that apps.
GParted is good, no any questions! But sometimes even the best partition manager isn't enough and from my experiences over a lot of years, there is a need for a different approach, like the use of HDD Regenerator which isn't a Partition Manager in any means!

As I wrote before, I had success in app. 80% of the cases nothing else was working anymore, with the use of HDD Regenerator. I doing professional Data Recovery with my company and HDD Regenerator is one of our main tool.

Anyway it's up the user what he chose.
Thanks for the responses ill give g parted a try.

Thanks for the offer on the hdd regenerator, but if I'm going to spend money I might as well replace the hdd with bigger one.

"I tried using Norton partition magic to format the hard drive. But it was unsuccessful"
Were you using a bootable partition manager ?
executing it from Windows will be subject to the same permissions as Disk Management.
If you're running it independently, you should be able to delete all the partitions, then format the whole disk.
yeah It was booted from cd on start up. Doesn't matter now, as I bought a new hdd yesterday, going to install it all tonight, probably should of just done this a week ago...but...live and learn.

Thanks for all the help terry, much appreciated.
It's great that HDDs are so cheap now, only about 10p/Gb.
Only 10 years ago I got back into computing (home rather than work) when my dad offloaded his redundant IBM Aptiva on me. It had an 800Mb HDD !!! (that's M not G) and I'm guessing would have cost £100-200 new.
Thank heavens for Moore's Law.