Fix Your Hard Drive when Windows Won’t Boot


All you have is the Boot DVD...

Hard drives go wonky.  It has happened to the best of us.  You boot your shiny new Windows computer, and you get hard drive errors along with a message that says “Cannot find STUPIDDRIVER.SYS”.   Windows won’t boot, and you’re in a panic.  You cannot even get into Safe Mode to run a disk scan.  You really don’t want to have to reinstall the operating system.  So, what do you do?

Fortunately you can fix your Windows system and run a disk scan with nothing more than the installation disc.

1. First of all, insert the Windows installation DVD.  Every version of Windows since Vista comes with both 32-bit and 64-bit discs, so make sure you insert the right one.

2. Turn on your computer.  You should be prompted to boot from CD or DVD.  If not then you need to go into your BIOS and make sure your optical drive is your first boot device.

3. Once the Windows DVD starts to boot, you will be presented with the first installation screen.  Go ahead and click Next.

4. Click on the Repair your comptuer option.
Select the installation you would like to fix.  There usually is only one listed.  If no operating systems are listed, then some major corruption or failure has occurred.  You’ll either looking at a complete reinstall or even a hard drive replacement.  If you try to reinstall and Windows cannot see or write to the hard drive, then you have your answer.

5. We need to get to a hard drive scan.  Click the System Recovery Options.  Click on Command Prompt.

6. Type CHKDSK c: /f and press Enter (assuming Windows is installed on your C: drive).  The “f” parameter tells CHKDSK to automatically fix any errors.  If  CHKDSK keeps every time you book up, then the drive is dirty: click here to fix it.   If you still get drive errors after this, then you may need to type CHKDSK c: /r.  The “r” parameter locates bad sectors and recovers readable information…. which can take significantly more time to perform.

CHKDSK  will run and print a report when finished.

7. Now that your drive is fixed you can fix the missing file that Windows was bitching about.  Type cd c:\windows

Now that you are in the Windows directory, you need to search for the file.  Type dir STUPIDDRIVER.SYS /s.
(of course replace “stupiddriver” with the file you’re actually missing).  The “s” parameter searches all subdirectories. Vista likes to make multiple copies of system files, which normally just wastes disk space but in this case saves our bacon.

Let’s assume you found a copy of stupiddriver.sys in the File Repository. Your location may be different, so replace my example with your directory.

8. Now type copy c:\windows\system32\driverstore\filerepository\<your directory>\stupiddriver.sys c:\windows\system32\drivers.  If you are prompted to overwrite, then confirm.  This copies one of the backup files to the location that Vista looks at when booting.  Even if you are the 64-bit version of Windows, the drivers are loaded from the “system32” directory.  If no backup file is found, then you may have to browse the Vista DVD or copy the file from another Vista computer.

9. Exit the System Recovery tool and reboot.  Make sure you eject the boot DVD or go back into BIOS and change your boot drive priority back to the hard drive.

Alan is a web architect, stand-up comedian, and your friendly neighborhood Grammar Nazi. You can stalk him on the Interwebs via Google+, Facebook and follow his ass on Twitter @ocmodshop.