Jan 02 2009


bsod_ntIf you mess with Microsoft based operating systems for any length of time, you’re bound to get a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD). They happen for various reasons but the end result is usually the same – a bright blue screen full of hex-code gibberish. Plain text explanations got better with Windows XP but it can still be confusing for non-tech oriented users. Not all BSoDs result in catastrophic failures – if you’re lucky, a reboot gets you out of the halt and you go on operating normally. On occasion though you’ll get one that keeps you in a perpetual cycle of reboots – unmountable_boot_device (or volume) is a typical BSoD error that happens when something corrupts the Master Boot Record (MBR) on the hard drive preventing the BIOS from loading the OS. You’re basically stuck until you fix the MBR or reinstall/repair the OS from scratch.

Before committing to a complete reinstall or format, try the following:

  1. Boot directly off your recovery CD – Windows XP, 2K or NT
  2. Log into into the Repair console (Option R after it loads all the system drivers, etc.)
  3. From the command prompt, type:
    c:chkdsk /r (hit enter – this could take a long time depending on your hard drive size and damage state)
    c:chkdsk /p (hit enter – this might also take a bit)
    c:fixmbr c: (replace “c” with the drive letter where the bootable OS is installed)

Of the dozen or so times I’ve encountered this type of BSoD, the former repair console commands fixed the error and I didn’t have to waste time on reinstalling my OS. The only time it didn’t work – the hard drive was failing and chkdsk couldn’t repair the sector damage so I had to scrap the entire drive (after pulling off the data using recovery software).

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