Windows 7 - Operating System Not Found Message
One of the scariest messages to see on your computer is the dreaded Operating System Not Found message. It appears on boot up and instead of booting into Windows 7 the message Operating System Not Found appears in white letters against a black screen.
Is it time to panic? Maybe… Probably.
The Operating System Not Found message always is an indication of a serious problem. I have provided below some of the most common reasons that the message is displayed. Note that trying these solutions can cause permanent damage to your system if not executed properly.
1. The computer's Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) does not detect the hard disk drive.
The computer’s BIOS is the built in software that your computer uses to initialize the
computer’s system devices. After the BIOS initializes the system devices it locates and loads the boot loader software which for our purpose is located on the hard drive.
Power on the computer and enter BIOS Set Up mode when prompted. Usually this means tapping the F2 or F12 key depending on the manufacturer. Normally on the first screen there will be a listing for the hard drive. If there is not anything listed in the hard disk information then the BIOS does not see your drive and there is probably an issue with the drive. You will have to consult your manual to see what the auto-detect settings are supposed to be. If the auto-detect settings do not work then you will need to manually enter the hard drive settings. If neither of these processes work then the drive is probably damaged.
2. Master Boot Record (MBR) on hard drive is broken.
If the BIOS correctly identifies your hard drive then you will need to examine the Master Boot record (MBR). In Windows 7, to repair the MBR, you will need to insert the Windows 7 installation disk into the DVD drive and boot from the DVD drive. Enter the information on the first screen click next and select Repair Computer to enter the System recovery Window. Choose command prompt and run the BootSect program. Assuming that Windows 7 was installed on the C partition you run the command:
bootsect /nt60 c:\
Reboot the computer and if it worked, fingers crossed, then you will happily boot into Windows 7.
3. An incompatible partition is marked as active.
For the users that have more than one partition, usually users that are using a dual boot system, if you have an emergency repair disk or if you used a 3rd party tool to create your partitions double check that the partition that contains the MBR is the active partition.
4. I did all of that and nothing seemed to work.
At this point we can safely assume that your hard drive is dying or more likely dead. You will need to acquire a compatible hard drive, and hopefully you are still under warranty. Carefully open your computer and remove the old hard drive, put it aside in case you need it later, and install the new hard drive. If you don’t have the original Windows 7 media that came with the machine you will need to buy that when you get the new hard drive. There is normally a small charge for the media.
Remember that all software that you have purchased in the past will need to be reinstalled, so you will need to get the product keys or registration information that was used when you installed the software on the old hard drive.
After you have reinstalled the operating system and other software you can restore your data from your most current backup. You do have a current backup, don’t you? If not, don’t panic, there may be ways to retrieve the data from the old drive.