Advent 4211 boot bcd problem

So I got given a sickly Advent 4211c which was failing to boot, with the following error message :

windows failed to start …
File: \Boot\BCD
Status: 0xc000000f
Info: An error occurred while attempting to read the boot configuration data.

What followed was a weekend of googling, and general hair-pulling to get this little beast up and running ..

The normal resolution to this problem would seem to be simply to boot up off the Windows CD and have it repair the problem. Of course these netbooks don’t have any disc drives, and so I spent quite some time faffing around with BartPE and PeToUSB to create a bootable usb containing xp. Of course, when I’d finally cracked this I realised that I was going down the wrong path.

I found this comment on a set of forums somewhere ..

The Advent 4211 has a hidden recovery partition containing Win PE V2 (Vista based) and a wim archive file containing the recovery files for the XP partition.  It also uses the Vista based boot manager to start XP !! if this is corrupted I am not surprised XP will not start

Whoa! So despite this being a completely XP based machine, its actually setup using a vista based boot manager. Hmmmm. And of course the nessecary tools required to fixup the bcd aren’t on the XP disc at all.

So next step for me was to use the instructions here to create a bootable vista key. ( I actually used a Win7 image to equal effect).  Booting off this key allowed me to get into a command prompt wherein lots of shiny vista tools where available (most notably bcdedit).

Borrowing from this page I was able to work out what the required commands where to rebuild the store.

BCDEDIT -CREATESTORE \BOOT\BCD
BCDEDIT -STORE \BOOT\BCD -create {BOOTMGR} /d “Boot Manager”
BCDEDIT -STORE \BOOT\BCD -SET {BOOTMGR} DEVICE BOOT
BCDEDIT -STORE \BOOT\BCD -CREATE {NTLDR} /D “Windows XP”
BCDEDIT -STORE \BOOT\BCD -SET {NTLDR} DEVICE PARTITION=%WINXP%
BCDEDIT -STORE \BOOT\BCD -SET {NTLDR} PATH \ntldr

And lo, a quick reboot and the machine was up and running again.

Out of curiosity I repeated the last action done on the machine prior to the failure, which was to run the Tech Guys Backup Recovery Tool, and sure enough, it rebooted the machine giving rise to the same error. I think the moral of this story is to give that tool a wide berth.

Rather than repeating the previous fix, I tried something a little different in an attempt to see if I could restore the BCD to its full glory (ie including access to the restore partition). I booted again off the Vista key, entered the command prompt, but this time used diskpart to get access to the hidden recovery partition. Once it had been assigned a letter, I simply navigated to the HDD\Boot directory and copied its BCD to C:\Boot. And sure enough this restored the once sickly Advent to its full fettle.

For reference the diskpart commands were

Diskpart

List volume

select volume 3

assign

quit

F:

Links

Full recovery media for 4211 available here

USB Bootable XP Setup via BartPE instructions here

Take bootsect from here if having trouble making usb key bootable.

I was using a Win7 PC to prep the key. If you’re using XP the diskpart step may give you problems, in which case check this out

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