Originally Posted by mdecker
And if I misplaced my XP cd? Is there any other way to go about doing this or does the only answer lie in finding a disk? Thank you for your help, though. I appreciate it.
There are ways to get around it, but third party tools to repair the MBR are outside my ken (I've got a bunch of full-fledged Windows install disks laying around so you're in territory unfamiliar to me).
There are third-party tools that exist for repairing the boot record but I don't have any experience with them. Maybe some others here could help. Most of the fixes proposed by Microsoft for this very situation involve having another Windows box available (like making a bootable diskette with the Windows Recovery console).
I have some other ideas, but your first step might be to ask a friend, coworker, or colleague if you can borrow his/her Windows XP install disk for 5 minutes (okay, more like 15 considering the 10 minute boot process for the Windows bootable CD). As far as I know any XP install disk with the recovery console can be used to repair the XP MBR of any XP machine.
(Another option is to have a small Linux partition - and by small I mean maybe 10MB at the absolute over-the-top maximum - that just contains the boot loader files for GRUB, leave the GRUB boot loader in the MBR, and use GRUB to chain-load Windows. Not sure if it would work and it would take a bit of finagling, but it's probably doable. Hell, even a floppy disk would be enough to hold GRUB or another boot loader that could be used to chain-load the XP boot loader - then you could set your BIOS to boot from floppy and leave the floppy in all the time. On power up, the BIOS will load the boot record on the floppy and the floppy will chainload the Windows NTLDR. There are instructions out there for putting GRUB on a floppy disk. Might be something to try...)
I'm just concerned about repairing the MBR without a good "last resort" for reinstalling available. I never repair the MBR without a good backup - and reinstall disks handy. And if you somehow manage to find some tool that purports to repair the MBR but ends up hosing your Windows install, you'd be out a working Windows install with no install disk to rebuild.
I'd probably go the back up and phone a friend route myself and then cross your fingers that the XP recovery console doesn't FUBAR the MBR (I've never had it happen personally but I've heard horror stories).