Laptop troubles

Let me start by telling you this isn’t really renovation related. It did take out best part of a Sunday afternoon to get it solved, and maybe it may be of use when you least expect it.

It all started on Saturday morning, when Chrisje turned on my laptop, only to be greeted by the following screen:

laptop troubles 1

Yay, my machine’s Boot Configuration Data file has somehow got corrupt! Wtf?

A quick Google and I knew it was going to be a pain in the ass to get it fixed. All fixes spoke of recovery media and what not, but alas, my laptop has none… But wait, I have a DVD of Windows 8 lying around! Maybe I can fix it with that?

I threw it in the reader, rebooted to get in the BIOS (press F2 during boot) to make sure it will boot from DVD first. No luck though, it didn’t recognize the DVD. Boo!

Next possibility: create a recovery USB drive from another Win8 device we have lying around. With the drive ready, I could go back into the BIOS, this time to make sure my laptop would boot from the USB drive. All done, and… Still a blue screen, no luck. Boo twice!

Back to the DVD solution it is. I knew it should be possible to boot from it, as I had done it in the past on different machines. So why wouldn’t this one just behave? Google to the rescue!

It turns out that recent Asus laptops (I have a N550 series) require some extra fiddling in (you guessed it) the BIOS to make this work. I found that you need to make the following changes:

  • Go to the Boot tab
  • Disable Fast Boot
  • Enable Launch CSM
  • Go to the Security tab
  • Disable Secure Boot Control

Save and reboot once more, and… Success! It boots from the DVD!

Now we could work on actually solving the BCD problem. Once booted into the DVD, I found the command prompt under the advanced options, which is what I needed according to all the tech stuff I read. In the command prompt you’re supposed to enter

bootrec /rebuildbcd

and everything should be well again. Not with my “exotic” (not!) machine though…

The requested system device cannot be found.

Thank God Google knows its way around error messages, as it directed me to yet another solution:

In some cases you need to copy the files to the hidden system partition, which does not have a drive letter by default.

So, find that partition and assign it a drive letter using:

list disk
select disk # (select the Windows drive)
list volume
selection volume # (select the System volume)
assign letter=z

Now you can run bcdboot against the system volume:

bcdboot c:\windows /s z: /f ALL

I typed the commands, and lo and behold, no errors! Could it have worked? I exited everything, ejected the DVD and rebooted.

Victory was mine! Windows was available again!

All that was left now was to go back into the BIOS and roll back any changes I made and presto, in exchange for a couple of hours of my life, my laptop was working again!