“BOOTMGR is missing. Press ctrl+alt+del to restart.”

The situation

I installed Win­dows Vista on a 2 hard-​disk computer:

  • Hard disk 1
  • Hard disk 2 (Install Vista here)

And my BIOS has the boot sequence:

  • Hard disk 2
  • Hard disk 1

That’s all well and good. I went ahead and installed Win­dows Vista and restarted after the progress bar finally fin­ished fill­ing up. Boom! Instead of the eye can­dies I was expect­ing from Vista, I was met with a bunch of black & white text:

BOOTMGR is missing

The problem

After some fud­dling around, I was able to pin point the problem:

  • Hard disk 1 (Boot man­ager is installed here)
  • Hard disk 2 (Win­dows Vista is installed here)

It turns out that Vista installed BOOT­MGR and the System at 2 dif­fer­ent disks!. I real­ized that Vista would always install its BOOT­MGR to the first hard disk, no matter where the System is installed. This is prob­a­bly done assum­ing that most every­day users would leave their fac­tory BIOS set­tings intact, which would usu­ally default to boot the first hard disk.

So to con­firm my assump­tion, I changed my BIOS boot sequence to:

  • Hard disk 1
  • Hard disk 2

I restarted, and bam! Vista booted up! I fixed the prob­lem. But wait, shouldn’t there be a more ele­gant way to solve this prob­lem? In particular,

Can I get the BOOTMGR and the System to reside on the same damn disk?

I tried for sev­eral frus­trat­ing hours and I finally worked out the

Solution

To relo­cate Vista’s BOOT­MGR with­out things break­ing up, run the fol­low­ing com­mand with admin privileges

bcdedit /set {bootmgr} device partition=C:

This will modify the infor­ma­tion in D:\bootmgr and D:\Boot\BCD (assum­ing your “1st hard disk” gets the letter D). Now we’ll need to copy the mod­ifed Boot files to C: So we’ll do this

copy D:\bootmgr C:\ mkdir C:\Boot xcopy D:\Boot C:\Boot

Unfor­tu­nately, D:\Boot seems to be locked even in safe mode, so the last com­mand would prob­a­bly fail. Now boot off your Vista set up disc and load the recov­ery con­sole (neat trick: Press Shift+F10 to open the recov­ery con­sole in the Setup screen, the cool way) and run the last com­mand again. Reset your BIOS boot sequence. Tada! You’ve just got your Vista BOOT­MGR and System all in one disk!

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