Cloned hard drive won't boot

My main C drive(Seagate 160 gb SATA was showing signs of failure so I cloned it to a new WD 250gb drive, also SATA. But it won't boot up and when I installed it as a 2nd drive and looked in Disk Management, it's designation was "Active".

But this was originally a Dell Optiplex 960 with Vista installed. I installed WinXP as a dual boot, and when I couldn't find a way to uninstall Vista, I deleted the Vista Windows folder to regain the space. So the 1st drive is C: (Vista) and E: (WinXP.) plus D: and F: (recovery). All of this was cloned to the second drive. Disk Management now shows C: as SYSTEM, E: as BOOT, and G: (2nd drive, 1st partition) as Active.

I assumed the cloning software I used, ACMEI Partition Assistant Standard Edition, would have made the cloned drive at a boot drive since it instructed me to put it in the #1 position alone and start the computer. But for whatever reason that didn'tn work. The cloned drive works as a #2 drive on the computer but when I try to boot from it I just get a black screen.

Can someone show me the way to make this cloned hard drive bootable?

This has nothing to do with a dual boot now. I merely cloned the WinXP partition(that was the boot partition) to a new hard drive. Now the new hard drive isn't bootable (won't boot the computer).
when you cloned the drive did the new drive have C: assigned? don't think xp will boot if it is not c:

please paste a copy to BOOT.INI here so I can see what it says.
It looks like your disk imaging program (ACMEI Partition Assistant) didn't clone the MBR (Master Boot Record) from HD-1 to HD-2. Maybe there was some setting to enable that you have missed.

You need to install a generic XP MBR on that drive. There are lots of utilities that will do that. If you have XP SP3 CD you can enter Recovery Console mode (instead of XP installation mode):

boot to CD - wait for drivers to load - Welcome to Setup comes up - hit R

The following commands will install MBR and Partition Boot Sector (the latter is probably not needed):

fixboot c:

In case you need to also rebuild boot.ini the command is:

bootcfg /rebuild

To get some more information please Google: fixmbr windows xp.
Last edited:
Thanks just what I was looking for. I don't have the installation disk so I'll have to try a generic XP MBR. Do you know the names of any programs that can do that?

Here's the boot.ini that's on both the bootup and the cloned drive. The OS is installed on the E:(original disk) partition but this boot.ini isn't enough to make the cloned drive boot. Is the MBR in a file that I can look at and edit, or is it in a different structure?

[boot loader]

[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

MBR is not a file. It is a small code written directly to the disk, it is not part of any OS, and it can only be edited with a special hex editor.

I would suggest to consider two options.

Option #1

Download the original XP SP3 ISO file from the internet and burn the CD. Some fellow members here might even have it on their Google Drive:


sha1: 1c735b38931bf57fb14ebd9a9ba253ceb443d459

Option #2

Create Puppy Linux CD and then download the zip file with Grub4Dos. Once you are done come back here for further instructions. You will only need Puppy to install Grub4Dos MBR, there is no need to learn anything about Linux.

This is a bit more complicated than Option #1 but you will have a universal MBR which will boot just about any OS (MS-DOS, Windows 3.1, XP, Windows 10, Linux, BSD, etc.). You will also be able to easily hide and unhide partitions, map your disks (to trick Windows to think that Disk-2 is Disk-1 and boot from Disk-2) and much more. And you will be able to achieve all the above just by editing a simple text file (menu.lst).

Look for version 0.4.5c from 2016-01-18. Builds "c" are considered stable releases.
I discovered that my Hiren's Boot CD 15.2 has 2 versions of Grub4Dos on it. Also something called MBRCheck 1.2.3. When I run MBRCheck it shows this drive with a "non-standard or infected MBR". I've uploaded a jpg image of the MBRCheck report.

I also found Grub4Dos Installer 1.1 and ran it and said it installed a good MBR but when I tried to reboot the drive, nothing happened, and I saw the error message "failed to detect one or more drives during POST". Running MBRCheck showed the same result as before. MBRCheck also has the option to fix the problem so I tried that but the result was still the same even though it also claimed to have installed a proper MBR.

I then found BootIce on the Hiren's disk, and it had Grub4Dos 0.4.5c in it. But I couldn't get it (Grub4Dos) to work, there were too many conflicting buttons and choices. That may be why you said to come back for further instructions. Can you point me in the right direction, there were no logical choices that I could understand.


  • MBRCheck 250gb WD 2-10-19 1-30am.jpg
    MBRCheck 250gb WD 2-10-19 1-30am.jpg
    63.8 KB · Views: 319
Looking at BootIce again, I'm not sure it can create a new MBR. It installs, backs up, and restores MBRs. But I don't see the word "create". It does give you the choice of Grub4Dos 0.4.5c, but when you click on the Install/config button, the next and only choices are Read from Disk and Save to Disk.

Also, it lists my current MBR type as GRUB4DOS. I don't know if that reflects the type I chose or the actual type I have, in which case I did manage to create a GRUB4DOS MBR and the problem I have is something else.

Looking at the PBR with BootIce, the current PBR is listed as NTLDR Boot Record. There is a GRUB4DOS PBR choice. Should the MBR and PBR be the same types?

I hope I'm not confusing things by bringing up BootIce. I'm just feeling my way through this and learning as I go.
MBR and PBR can be created by different boot programs as long as you know how to configure everything so that MBR can interact with PBR properly. My standard setup, for instance, is MBR created by Boot-US and PBR by Grub4Dos.

If you have Hiren's Boot CD then try to find their user forums. Grub4Dos forums are here:

You can also have a look at the home page of that site:

In case you get any Linux live CD then you can download Grub4Dos zip file as suggested before. You only need three files from that zip archive:


grldr and menu.lst must be placed in the root of any primary partition, which in your case would be:


menu.lst is a text file to create the boot menu. So it's like boot.ini in XP but much more powerful. is needed to install Grub4Dos MBR on the disk. I only know how to do it from Linux, but there might be a way to do it from Hiren's Boot CD as well. Linux command is:

sudo ./ /dev/sda

where /dev/sda is Disk #1. Disk #2 would be:

I have downloaded BootIce v1.3.3 from MajorGeeks. It seems to have everything needed to fix your problem. First try to fix MBR only:

- Physical Disk tab
- select Destination Disk
- Process MBR
- Windows NT 5.x (it refers to the kernel version)
- Install
- remove Hiren's Boot CD and boot the computer

If the above doesn't work then try to restore both MBR and PBR:

- Physical Disk tab
- select Destination Disk
- Process MBR
- Windows NT 5.x
- Install

- go back to Physical Disk tab
- Process PBR
- select Destination Partition (it should be #0, unless you have a multiboot setup)
- Install
- remove Hiren's Boot CD and boot the computer

If this doesn't work either then it would probably indicate some problem with the disk itself. You could still try to Process MBR again but this time selecting Grub4Dos 0.4.5c instead of Windows NT. File menu.lst would also have to get edited to get this working.
Last edited:
I ran BootIce again following your instructions. After Process MBR only it showed that the current MBR was Windws NT. I rebooted but still got the message of undetected during POST. I checked in the Bios setup, and it shows the correct hard drive...I rebooted again and let it try to start up but just got the black screen with nothing happening. I ran BootIce again and did the Process PBR, but after that the problem was still the same. I ran MBRCheck and instead of showing an unknown MBR it now shows Windows XP MBR code detected. So at least that's progress.

I also have Ultimate BootDisk CD and it has Dos versions of WD Data Lifeguard Diagnostics, so I ran the Extended Test, but it passed that with no problems just like it passed the Windows version of the same test.

I can try Process MBR again with Grub4Dos 0.4.5c again, but when I did that the first time I never could find GRLDR,or menu.lst anywhere on the hard drive. But I'll try it again.

Is there anything else involved, in detecting the hard drive, that could be checked out?
Let's try Grub4Dos MBR first. When I installed "Windows NT 5.x" MBR on my machine I just got black screen with some unusual error message, maybe it just doesn't work properly.

If Grub4Dos has been installed properly, after boot-up you should get the black screen with the following message:

GRLDR missing
Another option is to ditch ACMEI Partition Assistant and try Clonezilla. It's free, open source, very popular among Linux users and has very good documentation with lots of screenshots. You run it from the bootable CD:

Here is the section about diks-to-disk cloning:

The only limitation is that the target (disk or partition) must be the same size or larger than the source.

Here are a few useful parameters when cloning Windows:

# exclude page file and hybernation file when cloning

# clone hidden data between MBR and first partition (the code for special commands to access recovery partition is stored there)

# do not restore MBR (it is restored by default)

# do not create/overwrite partition table
I just ran BootIce again and installed Grub4Dos. After it told me that Grub4Dos was successfully installed, it said to "copy GRLDR (and optional menu.lst to the root of any partition of this disk)"
That's as far as I've gone since I don't know if I have a copy of GRLDR or menu.lst.
(I just searched and found a grldr size 267,531 in the profiles directory of EasyBCD. Is that a version I can use?)

Also, since I have another new WD RE4 500gb disk, I tried cloning to it using Macrium 7 and that worked. In fact, that's the disk I'm booting up from now. So if Grub4Dos doesn't take, the next step is to use Macrium 7 to clone to the WD RE4 250gb disk that's been causing all these booting problems.
What BootIce tells you about Grub4Dos is irrelevant. As mentioned before, it didn't install MBR properly on my system when I tried it. If Grub4Dos has been really installed properly, after boot-up you should get the black screen with the following message:

GRLDR missing

You will find the proper version of grldr and also menu.lst in Grub4Dos zip archive mentioned before:

Look for version 0.4.5c from 2016-01-18. The size of this version of grldr is 284,351 bytes. Both files must be be placed in the root of drive C:\

In your case menu.lst should look as follows, just two lines is enough, you can add the line with colours later to make the boot screen look nicer. It is a text file and can be edited with Notepad:

title Windows XP
chainloader (hd0,0)/ntldr
You guys are knowledgable for going after the MBR, that should be the problem, but it's not. I bet your cloning software remembered to copy the MBR just fine.

The problem is that every storage device you plug into XP (and probably every Windows after) gets its serial number+partition info(etc) recorded into the Registry with a drive letter. (in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices)

If, at any time, you have both your old drive and new drive plugged in while Windows is running (before cloning, after cloning, anytime) Windows will make sure your old drive stays as C and the new drive is a different letter. The new boot fails.

The easiest way to avoid this is to make sure your old drive is disconnected before you boot the new drive.

Another method is to edit MountedDevices and change the drive letters yourself: Any Windows (including Mini Windows PE from Hiren's Boot CD) can remote edit a Registry file even if you didn't boot it. You open Regedit, click HKEY_Local_Machine, click File menu Load Hive, and enter "C:\WINDOWS\system32\config\SYSTEM", enter a random name, edit MountedDevices, then you need to save the file by clicking on your random name again and clicking Unload Hive.

Technically you can just delete everything in MountedDevices either before or after the clone, and probably be fine, but it's a small gamble.