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.