Tricky boot manager issue.

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Installation' started by Jong, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. Jong

    Jong Active Member

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    I've spent several hours now researching the problem I have with my new build and haven't found anyone with quite the same issue. I think I know a solution but find it hard to believe it is the only way.

    Basically, I have just built a new Ivy Bridge PC with OCZ Vertex 4 SSD. I did a clean install of Windows 7 x64 and it works great. However, this is an HTPC and one of my media drives used to have my old W7 32-bit system partition on it. To make it more complicated that system was an upgrade from XP, that was originally dual boot W7/XP.

    The Issue is this. All is great if the above media drive is not connected at boot time, but that isn't really practical! If I have the media drive with the old system partition on it connected at boot the boot will fail, regardless of any boot order I set in my GA-Z77-DH BIOS. The spurious boot record on the old system drive seems to take over and crashes attempting to boot.

    When I realised this was the issue I deleted the system partition. With that space "unallocated" all is good. However, last night I decided to try to reuse the 100gb of space for a backup partition. Now I find if that space is allocated in anyway it will prevent my system booting. Provided it is unallocated all is good, but if allocated the PC will crash, regardless of boot priority and despite the fact there are no longer any remnants of a Windows7 system in the partition.

    At the moment the only options I seem to have are

    A) accept I just have to lose that 100GB of space and leave it unallocated
    B) copy1.8TB off the drive to another so I can use Diskpart to "clean" the drive.

    Are those really the only options or is there another safe way to clear the boot record without risking 1.8TB of data loss! Thanks!
     
  2. Adamsappleone

    Adamsappleone U.S.Navy D.A.V.

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    Hello Jong, [​IMG] to Windows 7 Forums,

    Have to admit, I've never heard of that one either.

    Did you use the Windows 7 Disk Management tool to format the problem partition or a 3rd party tool?

    Try using this tool; Ultimate Boot CD - Download the UBCD

    It has a plethora of free PC tools.
    I believe under HDD, one of the tools will only delete the MBR on a disk.
    It's worth a try anyway, I've used these tools before and they do a great job

    Sorry I couldn't be more helpful;
    Don
     
  3. Jong

    Jong Active Member

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    Thanks Don, I'll take a look and let you know. My concern is that many of these tools seem to risk data loss and, frankly, I'd prefer to lose 100GB of space than 1.8TB of data! Would you be happy to use this tool in that way (realising it would always be safer to backup first!)?

    To answer your question I used Windows Disc Mangement to delete and format the partition, but it does not seem to help. I'm not sure why this is so odd. It might be because, from memory, I think it was an Acronis Boot Management tool I used when I was dual booting W7/XP. It might also be a bug in the UEFI BIOS on my new motherboard. I don't see how a secondary drive should be able to override the BIOS boot priority! The BIOS is odd, there are separate priority lists for HDDs and removable media. Then, in theory, you chose which of the lists you wish to have priority. But it isn't quite as simple as that, there are things on the second list that aren't in the others, like one of them is "Windows Boot Manager"!!! No drive details, just Windows Boot Manager. How can you have a boot priority list that has that on it rather than just a list of devices? It beats me!

    Anyway, I will definitely take a look at that tool, thanks.
     
  4. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    Could you use the snipping tool to take a picture of your Disk Management window? You could attach it using the paperclip on the Advanced replies page. We need to see the graphical representation of the drives and partitions. Make sure and expand the window to see most of the info.

    Did you install the new system to the SSD using the UEFI install? The Windows Boot Manager is the boot system in the bios that controls UEFI boots.

    Other than that, a system will only try to boot to an active partition. Diskpart can make a partition inactive. But UEFI systems do not use active partitions at all.
     
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  5. Adamsappleone

    Adamsappleone U.S.Navy D.A.V.

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    Hello Jong,

    If I remember correctly, some motherboards in the BIOS settings have an option to be controlled by the OS, at least I'm pretty sure that's what I saw on mine, I'll have to re-check it.
    Yes, I'd be satisfied using that tool in that way, as I said, I've used many tools from that and if there is any program, diagnostic tool or security app that does not do what it claims, I will not use it and definitely not recommend it to others.

    Keep us posted on your current issue.

    Regards
    Don
     
  6. Jong

    Jong Active Member

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    Hi ya, Saltgrass, thanks for taking the time to help!

    Attached is the screen shot you asked for. As you can see, I currently have the troublesome partition set to "unallocated" and all is good. But the system will refuse to boot if I allocate it, even if it is formatted, empty, or full of other stuff! The other odd thing is my new 3TB drive seems to appear twice in the list. It was originally set up to appears as 2 drives, presumably to get around the 2TB limit on older systems. I have managed to consolidate it into one drive but it has left this remnant. I am ignoring it, it is not causing any problems!

    I have checked the troublesome drive and none of its partitions are "Active". But, as you say, that may not mean anything with UEFI.

    I admit this is my first venture into UEFI:redface: so I'd appreciate any understanding you can give, but this Gigabyte boot priority thing seems mighty odd. First you choose the priority for your HDDs and a separate priority list for any removable media. Then the top entry from each of these is supposed to appear in a consolidate list where you choose if you want to boot from HDD or removable media. At least that is how it is described in the manual!! In fact, not only the top entries in the list appear. there are two entries for my SSD - P1:OCZ Vertex 4 and UEFI:OCZ Vertex 4. I have no idea really which should be picked! Then there is this other entry "Windows Boot Manager", with no indication of what device it resides on. I really do not get what that is doing in a boot priority list!! I am going to post in the Gigabyte forum @TweakTown to see if anyone can explain it to me, but I have tried them all as the No1 boot device and if I have that troublesome 100GB partition allocated in Windows the system will not boot. I get the black and white "Windows is Loading Files" display with the white progress bar you will be familiar with and then I am told that Windows has failed to start. But if i unallocate that partition or disconnect the drive altogether all is perfect.

    I must admit, I have looked at the product Adamsappleone linked to, which I am very grateful for, but at the moment I am leaning on just leaving the 100GB as wasted space or maybe copying it all off one day and doing a full Diskpart clean. It doesn't seem worth the risk of data loss to me.
     

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  7. Jong

    Jong Active Member

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    Oh, the answer to your other question is I do not know the answer, unfortunately!!

    The MB has a UEFI BIOS, of course, but all I did was insert the installation disc in the Blu-ray drive and boot. I did not do anything in the BIOS and I do not remember if I even set the boot priority at this stage as I was confident there was nothing else it could boot off!
     
  8. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    Any drive larger that 2.2 TB needs set to the GPT system and not MRB. Your SSD is set that way. To convert the other drive, you can use Disk Management and right click in the area where The Disk number and info are given. You could also use Diskpart, but any info on the drive will be removed, so move anything you want to keep.

    Other informational items that might be relevant later are a UEFI system can only boot to a GPT drive. But other formats can be used for non-booting drives.

    You do have a UEFI system, so you would set the Windows Boot Manager to the first item in the boot priority in the bios. If that does not work, try doing a Startup Repair to get it back. In UEFI, you do not set a drive as a boot device in the bios, unless you were trying to boot to a MBR install.

    Different bioses seem to handle UEFI systems differently. I have an ASUS board with an AMI bios. For me to boot to the UEFI version of the Install DVD, I have to use the F8 key and select that version of the DVD. To repair your system, yours might boot directly into the UEFI version, but that is where you would have to be to repair anything. My Recovery CDs have never worked with the UEFI system.

    Edit: If you wanted to check your drive configuration, Diskpart is an easy way to to that. Just open an Administrative command prompt and follow the commands shown in the attachment. You can see the * designating the GPT configuration.
     

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    #8 Saltgrass, Jul 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
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  9. Jong

    Jong Active Member

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    I'm a bit confused by what you are sating about the 3TB drive. As you can see it is already being recognised as 3TB. It is already GPT. It was just pre-formatted on arrival to appear as 2 separate drives, each under 2TB, and now appears to have a spurious second unallocated drive. It is causing no problems though.

    I'm also confused by the rest of your post, sorry! My system will boot whether I set Windows Boot Manager or UEFI:OCZ or P1:OCZ as the first entry, provided that 100GB partition is unallocated. However, if if the 100GB partition is allocated none work.
     
  10. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    My bios does not give me the option of setting a UEFI version of a drive as a boot device, just Windows Boot Manager with an associated drive. Do you have the problem with the 100 GB partition the same whether booting to the Windows Boot Manager, or the UEFI:OCZ?

    You still might try a Startup Repair and see how the Repair sets up your system.


    If the drive was formatted especially to work in a Non-UEFI system, it may have been altered in a way that is showing the strange results. You have 3 hard drives on your system? I am going to say the formatting of the 3 TB drive is part of the problem.

    What happens if you leave the old drive and disconnect the new drive?
     
  11. Jong

    Jong Active Member

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    I have an SSD and 3 HDDs connected.

    The 3TB drive was, it appears, pre-configured by Seagate to appear as 2 physical drives, presumably to minimise issues for old systems. They provide a tool to turn it back to a 3Tb drive. it just seems to leave a spurious entry in disk manager. I merely mentioned it because i knew you would spot it. It is not the problem. If I disconnect that drive (which is not the one with the 100GB partition) I still have problems if I allocated the troublesome partition and I do not have problems if I don't.

    I seem to have problems using my Windows 7 install disc for repair. I did attempt it a couple of times. It appears to work the first time but afterwards says something about the installed system not being right for the repair tools on the disc. I do not know if this is similar to the problem you mentioned using your Recovery CD.

    I am currently researching BCDEdit to see if it can help. I have 2 entries in there ATM. One is clearly my c: partition, the other has a device reference I do not recognise. Not sure if will be any use.
     
    #11 Jong, Jul 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  12. Jong

    Jong Active Member

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    Actually, I'm not sure if I have 2 entries. One is "Windows Boot Manager" and one is "Windows 7". It seems it might be normal to have both of these.
     
  13. Jong

    Jong Active Member

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    OK. It seems my Windows Boot Manager entries are spot on. Only 2 entries. One specifying the Windows Boot Manager, which resides on my 100MB EFI partition on my SSD (not the troublesome 100GB partition), the other is a reference to the Windows Boot Loader on c:/, which Windows Boot Manager links to.

    Also, I found this article, which appears to be the clearest description of the EFI boot process: Initial Startup Phase for EFI Computers - Windows 7 Tutorial

    It appears that the boot priority list I mention in my BIOS is in fact the EFI Boot Manager, which runs before the Windows Boot Manager and should allow, for example, the PC to boot into Linux, or whatever, rather than Windows.

    So, it seems, there is nothing at all wrong with what is on my SSD. I guess this should be clear as with no other discs attached all works fine. I am now tending to think there is a problem with the Gigabyte BIOS. I think there is still an MBR-based Windows Boot Manager on my troublesome disc. It seems it may be getting confused with 2 Windows Boot Managers available and be trying to boot from the broken one whatever is chosen in the EFi Boot Manager!
     
  14. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    Your SSD looks fine, so I would not think it was involved. But on some systems, the SSD can be used as a "starter" device in combination with a normal hard drive. I believe the Intel Smart technology is involved in that. I will assume you have that set to disabled in the bios.

    But Disk Management shows 5 hard drives on your system. So it is obviously confused. If it is confused, your system probably is also.

    I am attaching my BCD store entries used to boot the system. Maybe you could compare it to yours. I have an SSD and one other hard drive, and Disk Management shows them as such.

    I see no reason why the 100 GB partition would be causing a problem, unless something out of the ordinary was going on.
     

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  15. Jong

    Jong Active Member

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    Yeah, my BCDStore looks just like that, except i have long GUID style numbers instead of the friendly identifiers you have.

    Honestly the extra pseudo drive is not the issue. The 3TB drive is easily removed (it is USB3 connected), both the real drive and pseudo drive disappear but and the problems remain. It now seems clear to me I have 2 Windows Boot Managers on this system - one EFI-style on my SSD, which works, and one MBR-style on my troublesome drive which does not. It looks like this confuses the Gigabyte BIOS. It seems the answer is to rewrite the MBR on the troublesome drive to remove the boot manager, but to do it without losing all my data!! I still wonder if it might be safer just to say goodbye to that 100GB. But I am still digging!
     
  16. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    Just to make things more interesting, I have added another internal drive and an External USB 3 drive and rebooted. The 320 G drive has a fully functional install of Windows 8, and no problems encountered during boot.

    The only other thing I might consider on your 100 GB partition is, when formatting it, might it be too large for the drive and overwriting part of the MBR. Have you tried using a smaller partition instead of the full 100.1 GB?

    Edit: But that drive does show it has 3 spaces on it that total around 4 TB? The partitioned space is almost that much. Is there any way you could move your data to another drive, then clean and repartition and reformat that drive?
     

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    #16 Saltgrass, Jul 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  17. Jong

    Jong Active Member

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    Chances are if the MBR was overwritten I'd lose my partition info too. Anyway, I'd doubt formatting in Windows Disk Manager could overwrite the MBR. But you are right, I do, just about have enough space to copy all the data off and clean the disk. But, at the moment I don't need the extra 100GB and I like the challenge of finding the true cause and elegantly fixing it! :)
     
  18. whs

    whs Extraordinary Member

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    As far as I can see on your Disk Management, you have no 'active' partition - thus no bootmgr. Your best course of action is probably to reinstall the OS on the SSD with all other disks disconnected. That way you avoid that the bootmgr lands somewhere in the prarie - which I think was your initial problem before you started deleting things.

    Unfortunately the windows installer has the habit to install the bootmgr on the disk that is attached to the lowest number mobo port (e.g. port0) - and that may not be your SSD. When you disconnect all the HDDs during the OS installation, you avoid this problem.

    There is a way to fix your current installation - if you prefer. You have to mark the C partition on the SSD active (with cmd or the bootable CD of Partition Wizard) and then run startup/repair 3 times. That may fix it by creating a bootmgr on the SSD C partition.
     
    #18 whs, Jul 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  19. Jong

    Jong Active Member

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    Thanks, but there is no way I am messing with my SSD. All is fine if that is the only drive, or if 2 of my other drives are connected. The issue only occurs if the third drive is connected and the 100GB partition is allocated. Is the active flag even relevant in an EFI/GPT setup. Saltgrasses screen grab also shows no active partition and I know I have a valid BCD Store.
     
  20. Jong

    Jong Active Member

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    Hi everyone. Well this is my conclusion!

    This is my problem I think.

    The Gigabyte BIOS does not show "Windows boot manager" AND associated drive, just "Windows Boot Manager". So how do we/does it know which Windows Boot Manager it means if there is more than one? Even when I have 2 drives installed, one with an EFI boot partition and one with an MBR only one "Windows Boot Manager" appears in my BIOS and it seems, in that situation, it defaults to trying to boot from the MBR.

    Having done a good deal more reading, principally here:
    Windows 7 Master Boot Record (MBR)
    Windows 7 Volume Boot Record (VBR)

    In an MBR environment at least part of the Windows Boot Manager is outside of the file system, in sectors following the VBR. It seems it is these that are running and then failing, because that version of the Boot Manager does not know of the SSD. Interestingly, I found this post from someone else who may, just may, have the same problem, also with a Gigabyte motherboard: MBR Error 1 on startup - Windows 7 Forums. His initial symptoms seem the same. Of course he followed his own path to a fix and then his troubles diverge. But it looks possible he originally had the same issue.

    I am not sure there is any answer to this but to copy off all the data (which I just about have the space to do) and completely clean the troublesome drive. I will make it a GPT drive, just to be sure!
     

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