Fix “Bootmgr is missing” in Windows Vista

Recently, I installed a fresh copy of Windows Vista on a new PC at our office and everything went fine. I had no errors or problems during the install. So I pulled out the CD and restarted the computer, only to be shown this error message:

Bootmgr is missing. Press ctrl-alt-del to restart.

Fabulous! A brand new install of Windows Vista and it doesn’t work. So after doing some research online, I was able to figure out what was causing the problem on my machine. In this article, I will also list out several other ways to fix the problem because it can happen under different circumstances.

Firstly, I’ll start with the easier solutions just in case one of those happens to work. If not, we’ll go to the more complicated solutions.

Method 1 – Unplug secondary hard drives

One reason you might get the Bootmrg is missing error is because multiple hard drives of different types are installed. For example, if you have one SATA drive and a secondary SCSI drive, you might end up having this problem.

One simple solution is to unplug the second drive and then reboot. If Vista starts up fine, then reconnect the secondary hard drive and reboot again. Hopefully the problem will go away.

If the message comes back when you connect the secondary HDD, then you will have to disconnect it again, reinstall Vista with just the one drive, take out the CD and reboot. Windows will load up fine. Then plug the secondary drive back in and reboot.

Method 2 – Change hard disk boot priority

Another simple setting you can check that might fix the problem is the boot sequence and boot priority in the BIOS. First, make sure that the HDD is number 1 in the boot sequence, not Floppy drive or CDROM, etc.

boot priority

As you can see from the picture above, CDROM is set as the first boot device. We want to change that to Hard Disk. Secondly, if you have an option for Hard Disk Boot Priority, like in the screen above, you want to pick the hard drive (if you have more than one physical disk) that has Windows Vista installed on it.

If you change both of these settings to the correct boot device and hard disk, you should not get the Bootmrg is missing error anymore!

Method 3 – Unplug any USB devices

I’ve read in several places that people left the USB flash drives attached to their computers for a long period of time and if you happen to install a Windows update patch when the USB drive is connected and then reboot, you will end up getting this message in Vista.

Go ahead and unplug any USB flash drives you may have connected to the computer and then restart. If this didn’t work either, continue reading for more advanced ways to fix the problem!

Method 4 – Rebuild the BCD Store

The fourth method is a bit more complicated, but may be required if nothing else worked for you. Firstly, make sure you only have one active partition and that it is set to the partition that has Windows Vista installed. If you have more than one active partition, you will have problems.

Next rebuild the BCD store by using the bootrec tool in the Windows Vista Repair environment. You can do this by popping in the Vista DVD and choosing Repair your computer.

Next choose the operating system and and then click Command Prompt in the System Recovery Options dialog.

Now type the following command at the prompt and press Enter:

Bootrec /RebuildBcd

If it finds the Windows installation, it will ask you to add the entry, so type Yes. If it cannot locate any Windows Installation, then you have to remove the BCD store and re-create it. Type in the following commands if this is the case:

Bcdedit /export C:\BCD_Backup

ren c:\boot\bcd bcd.old

Bootrec /rebuildbcd

Note that you should change C: to the partition you installed Windows Vista to. Now restart the computer with the Vista DVD still inside. Choose the repair option and let it repair the Vista installation. Restart again and your problem should now be fixed.

Method 5 – Copy bootmrg file from another computer

Finally, you can try to actually copy the file from a working Windows Vista machine and put it in the appropriate directory on the computer that is not booting up correctly. Bootmrg is located at the root of the C drive (or whichever drive you installed Vista), but is only visible if you unhide protected operating system files.

Basically, open My Computer, click on Organize, click on Folder and Search options, click on the View tab and then choose the Show hidden files and folders radio button and uncheck the Hide operating system files box.

Now go to your C drive and copy the bootmrg file onto a USB stick or CD. Then go to the other computer and either boot up with the Vista DVD inserted or boot using using some kind of Vista start up disc. Copy the file to the same location and restart the computer without the Vista DVD and hopefully you should not get this message anymore!

If you are still having problems with bootmgr is missing, please post your problem in the comments section and I’ll try to help! Enjoy!