Windows 7 Boot.ini Problem?

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I have read most of the posts about Windows 7 and how it no longer has Boot.ini. I am having a problem with my pc and I have tried everything. So... now I am posting for help.

Info: This is originally a Dell Desktop that came with Windows xp home edition. A few years back, we installed and upgraded to Windows Vista. About 2 months ago, we upgraded again and installed a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate. It ran smooth for a month and then one day, I went to start it up and after the Dell Bios appeared, it read:
Invalid Boot.ini file
Booting from c:\windows\
Then goes blank for a second, and appears:
Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
<Windows root>\system32\hal.dll.
Please re-install a copy of the above file.

After this, I noticed that the cd drive is not being identified and therefore not available to use. I have started booting the system from a usb drive, I have installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 onto this usb flash drive and have re-installed windows 7 about 4 times now. Each time that I install it, after the install is complete and once windows is about to start, it restarts and goes back to the original problem... boot.ini is missing.

I have again used the usb drive to let the windows installation load, and went into the windows 7 recovery options list. I went into the command prompt and have tried to load the bootcfg to fix this problem and this has not worked either...

Note: I am trying to avoid formatting the hdd, there are important files on this hdd that cannot be lost or need to be retrieved before I format is necessary.

I have the ability to fix this myself but at this point I am stuck... any thoughts or suggestions are so much appreciated.

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There is no boot.ini for Windows 7 or Vista at all.

Run a repair startup from the DVD by booting to it. You may need up to 3 consecutive tries with that until it works.

When you get back into Windows, use EasyBCD to remove any boot entries for XP if seen.

As I stated before, I know there is no Boot.ini for Windows 7.

However, at this point, the only OS that is showing as installed on this hard drive is Windows 7. The Error that I am recieving is Boot.ini is missing.

I cannot run anything through my CD/DVD drive because the system does not recognise it. The only option that I have been able to come up with is booting from a usb port.

I would love to use EasyBCD to remove any prior entries from xp but I cannot get into Windows. I need a way to get into windows. And the only Disk drive that is in the computer is not being recognised.

You mean bios isn't recognizing the CD/DVD drive? Then there is definitely some hardware issue there, throwing your boot order out of whack and making this problem show...perhaps intermittently.

Easiest way to proceed is to low level format the entire drive so it's as close to factory condition as you can possibly make it. Killdisk is a good app for this.

Then install Windows 7 to it from USB stick. Making the install stick is easy. There's plenty of guides on Google.


You could also run the system repair (up to 3x) I spoke of above, by booting to the USB stick - before you go ahead and clean install.

Correct, the system was initially booting to the hdd and it now recieves the error. I tried to change the boot to the cd/dvd drive and it isn't finding one. So, I installed a copy of the Windows 7 Installation onto a USB Flash Drive and have been booting the system using the USB drive.

I will try running the system repair 3x off of the usb. If this still doesn't solve it, then how would I use killdisk to low level format the entire drive if I do not have an OS or cd/dvd drive to run this program? Or would I use the same method as the usb?

Is this the only alternative way to approach this?

...Ok, I tried running the Repair Startup using the Windows 7 installation disk off of my USB. This didn't do anything as far as correcting the problem. So, now the next step is to...Low Level Format the entire drive? Does this mean that I will loose all of the information saved on this hdd? As I stated previously, I do not want to loose my files on this hdd.

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FWIW, sometimes having a USB key in while booting can make the boot order get messed up.

Simply try booting with all USB memory devices out of the machine, as a test. Even if no good, I have to mention that aspect.


There are other options. Like booting to Knoppix (a Linix Live variant) or gparted and setting the correct partition active that contains the Windows 7 boot folder and bootmgr file.


Anyhow, did you run it 3x in a row?

Ok. I ran the repair 3x in a row, then upon completely the last repair. I went to restart the computer and I took the USB out and this time is booted to windows 7 just fine. So, right now I am in Windows 7. I think it worked.

Awesome. Now see if any XP entries are in the boot menu, with EasyBCD. Delete if there. Save.

You can type msconfig in the start menu then press enter and go to boot tab to do the same thing, without EasyBCD.

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