In-depth

Bootmgr is missing – what does this mean and how do you fix it?

This seemingly nightmarish error is actually not as bad as it seems

Windows 10 logo

The natural expectation with technology is that it works every single time you use it. As such, when something goes wrong people tend to panic. This is often the case when you press the power button on your PC or laptop and instead of the Windows loading page, you're met with "bootmgr is missing". But, worry not, there's a simple fix.

"Bootmgr" is the Windows Boot Manager, a preloaded piece of software that takes your device through its initial startup. It's an important part of Windows as it won't be able to automatically load the OS without it, leaving you to manually do so with its BIOS (basic input/out system). That means executing winload.exe which is usually handled by the boot manager.  

Although it's troubling to see an error screen on your PC, a missing boot manager message is actually very common. Sorting it out can be a bit frustrating and take a little time, but it is a fairly straightforward fix. The main problem is that your machine is unable to locate the boot manager and as a result, can't run it. This can be caused by a few problems, ranging from a failed update to a serious virus, but all you need to get your computer up and running again is another computer, a bit of effort and some spare time.

Troubleshooting

The first, perhaps rather obvious step to take if your machine is showing the "bootmgr is missing" message is to switch your computer off and then on again. Although it seems very simple, and is often joked about, it actually is sometimes the most effective remedy to an intermittent problem.

But if that still doesn't rectify the message, you should remove all externally connected devices, whether you have a USB key connected, a NAS drive or CD/DVD. Any of these could be feeding your machine with corrupt data that is preventing its normal startup. Try rebooting again.

If the computer still doesn't restart, it's time to get into the core of your machine and access your PC's BIOS settings. You can do this by pressing the F2, F12 or Del keys immediately powering it back up.

Now, take a careful look at the system's boot order and make sure it's set to start up from the first installed Windows drive.

Repairing the boot

If this doesn't fix the issue, you'll need to take more drastic action and attempt to manually repair the boot process yourself. The first step here is to set up your machine to boot from an external source - either the original Windows 10 startup disc or a USB.

This involves getting into your PC's BIOS settings, which can usually be done by pressing the F2 or Del key when the machine is first turned on. In the boot options choose a disc drive or USB to boot from, exit from BIOS settings and save changes. 

Startup repair in Windows 10 and Windows 8 

Startup Repair's role is to repair any files on Windows that may be missing or corrupt, making it a pretty powerful tool. Even something as vital to the core operating system such as Bootmgr can be fixed, as long as you have a Windows System installation media (a USB, CD or DVD with the disk image available for booting).

If you don't have a hard copy of Windows 10 or Windows 8, you'll need to create one before you start the process. You can do this by visiting the Microsoft download page and clicking on the link to download the MediaCreationTool.

Once you have the USB, CD or DVD created, restart your machine and when the "press any key to boot from CD or DVD" message appears, press Enter, then choose language, time and keyboard configuration. After clicking Next, choose the "repair your computer" option on the bottom left of the screen, choose Troubleshoot, Advanced options and Startup repair.

Once the computer has finished doing its thing, you can try and re-boot your Windows 10 or Windows 8 machine. If the computer starts up without the "bootmgr is missing" message, you have just fixed the issue! If not, you may have to seek professional help.

Startup repair in Windows 7

Repairing Windows 7 is broadly similar to repairing Windows 10 and Windows 8, except that its no-longer supported by Microsoft, so if the quick fix doesn't work, then you are are on your own. In Windows 7, you will need to boot from the Windows 7 disc. You should wait for the setup process to load up files. Select the Language to install, Time and currency format, and Keyboard or input method that you'd like to use, then click Next. On the bottom-left of the Install Windows window, click on the "repair your computer" link.

This will start the Windows 7 System Recovery Options which features several suitable diagnostic and repair tools, one of which is Startup Repair.

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