Can't boot without external HDD attached

Guys, I REALLY need some help here!

I attempted to install Ubuntu onto a separate external HDD so whenever I could want to use it I’ll just plug it in and manually boot from it and when I don’t use it I’ll just boot from my laptop’s SSD as normal.

However I have no idea what has happened here but it seems to me the Windows will not boot unless this external HDD is in and ‘Windows boot manager is selected’ (see image here:http://postimg.org/image/lynvbz7yf/ ). When the external HDD is not plugged in a ‘Minimal bash like line’ message appears.

I really need to get my laptop back to shape; I’m not bothered by installing Linux onto my external HDD at present. How do I do this guys?

Thanks in advance!

You managed to install the first stage of the Linux bootloader (GRUB) to the master boot record of the Windows drive, but stage 2 is on the external HDD … so now neither will be bootable unless both are plugged in

The solution is to

a) Without the external HDD attached, reinstall the Windows bootloader
then
b) With the external HDD attached, boot to an Ubuntu LiveCD/LiveUSB and reinstall GRUB stage one to the external HDD

Do you have a Windows installation disk ?

Do you have an Ubuntu installation disk ?

Which version of Windows are we talking about ?

Do you know how to reinstall the Windows bootloader ?

Do you know how to reinstall the GRUB bootloader to the external HDD ?

Querys below:

1.The main query of all: will I lose any files on my Windows OS? Should I take action before proceeding>
2. I do not have a Windows installation disk nor do I know what steps to take to reinstall the Windows boot loader (My OS is Windows 8.1). Can you advise please?
3. I have the Ubuntu LiveCD which I used for installation but I have no idea of what I need to do. Can you advise please?

Unless you do something incorrectly you shouldn’t loose any data … but if there’s anything on there that you cannot afford to loose, it can’t hurt to back it up first.

OK, let’s do this one stage at a time

Reinstalling the Windows bootloader to the internal HDD’s MBR

Boot to Windows … once booted disconnect the external HDD (so you cannot damage it)
Download and install EasyBCD in Windows … here’s a link to EasyBCD:

now try the “Type 1” instructions here:

(be careful to ONLY use the “MBR Configuration Options” section, NOT the “Create Bootable External Media” section)

Thank you for your reply.

The instructions unfortunately didn’t fix the issue :frowning:

Also if it helps here is the list of entries in my boot loader (taken from EasyBCD):

There are a total of 6 entries listed in the bootloader.

Default: Windows 8.1
Timeout: 0 seconds
EasyBCD Boot Device: C:\

Entry #1
Name: ubuntu
BCD ID: {a0cfc6a3-9e63-11e4-bd4f-806e6f6e6963}
Device: \Device\HarddiskVolume2
Bootloader Path: \EFI\ubuntu\shimx64.efi

Entry #2
Name: Windows Boot Manager
BCD ID: {57a33c18-ec03-11e3-8252-806e6f6e6963}
Device: \Device\HarddiskVolume2
Bootloader Path: \EFI\Microsoft\Boot\bootmgfw.efi

Entry #3
Name: EFI Network
BCD ID: {57a33c15-ec03-11e3-8252-806e6f6e6963}
Device: Unknown
Bootloader Path:

Entry #4
Name: EFI USB Device
BCD ID: {57a33c13-ec03-11e3-8252-806e6f6e6963}
Device: Unknown
Bootloader Path:

Entry #5
Name: EFI DVD/CDROM
BCD ID: {57a33c14-ec03-11e3-8252-806e6f6e6963}
Device: Unknown
Bootloader Path:

Entry #6
Name: Windows 8.1
BCD ID: {current}
Drive: C:
Bootloader Path: \Windows\system32\winload.efi

Something has gone wrong:

http://postimg.org/image/ediyheidz/

I went onto step two (I know I shouldn’t but followed the link’s instructions) and now Windows won’t boot at all! Currently in the process of copying all my files onto another external HDD after booting onto Ubuntu (I can still access the files that I know are on my Windows machine) and preparing for the worst.

I apologise now for being impatient :frowning: where do I go from here? I don’t have a Windows 81 disk (Toshiba didn’t supply it) but I am hoping something can be done as I can access everything I need when booted to Ubuntu.

Have you got access to another Windows PC ?

If so check you have a valid Windows 8 or 8.1 key (probably on a sticker somewhere) … if you have one you’re going to want to create a Win8/.1 installation media

First you need to know that the keys are different for Windows 8 and 8.1 so you need to read the sticker and only get the version that the sticker says … if the sticker says “Windows 8” DO NOT get Windows 8.1, instead get Windows 8 and then updates will upgrade it to 8.1

First read this:

Then go here:

to download Windows 8/8.1

If you want to go directly for Windows 8.1 but only have a Windows 8 key … see here:

In either case BE SURE to tell it to “Install by creating media”, then either create a bootable USB stick or an ISO image that can be burned to a DVD.

I have access to another PC however I haven’t been provided with any keys at all. No sticker, nothing.

The only thing I am able to do is to reset Widnows to factory settings and copy my files over. Is there something I can try with a bootable disk/USB drive? I found this here: Fix Boot Error 0xC0000098 (Windows Boot Configuration Data file does not contain a valid OS entry)

Yes that would probably work, but if I were you I’d give Neosmart EasyRE a go first…

See here:
http://bindhunaath.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/windows-xp-7-8-and-81-recovery-disc.html
(the links there are to copies of the neosmart EasyRE Pro ISO images)

You can use either ImgBurn in Windows to burn the Windows 8 recovery disk ISO image to a CD/DVD:
http://download.imgburn.com/SetupImgBurn_2.5.8.0.exe

or you can use Unetbootin in either Windows or Linux to burn the Windows 8 recovery disk ISO image to a FAT32 formatted USB stick:
http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

Then boot from the CD/DVD or USB stick and choose the “Automated Repair” option.

I think the ISO image is corrupt. Tried with two CDs and my USB and neither work… Any other ISO images I could try?

Boot to Ubuntu, open a terminal and check the output from:

ls /sys/firmware/acpi/tables

if MSDM is in the list, run

sudo hd /sys/firmware/acpi/tables/MSDM

and hopefully your windows 8/8.1 key should be displayed in the right hand column of the output.

You should then be able to use that key to create a Win8/8.1 installation media as in my previous posting.

Once you have that, we can boot to it and hopefully use it to fix the Windows bootloader … as instructed here:


Original Source:

Theres Os and 0s which I don’t believe to be valid characters in a Windows key…

However, after looking at the links you have previously posted I have come across this: How to create a Windows 8.1 installation media to recover your system - Pureinfotech

Would this be worth a try or do you advise I proceed and try with the key generated?

EDIT: On second thoughts looking again this looks like a product key:

I shall give it a shot and report my results :slight_smile:

Yep, that looks like it … may be worth removing that key from your last posting.

Jumping in here, I learned a little bit first-hand about Windows 8 products keys & UEFI over the summer…

From what I can gather, OEMs don’t give out product keys anymore, ever. It is written into the UEFI BIOS, and matched against their “master disc” (think about the production of Windows machines at the OEM). They buy a bunch of keys from M$, then write one to each machine’s UEFI BIOS as they prep them for dispatch. This means, that you can’t reinstall Windows like you used to be able to. Your ONLY choice is to use their recovery partition, which is basically an ISO with the key pre-inserted. If you lose your recovery partition, the official line from M$ is to buy a new licence >:(

That said, this particular issue still seems like a bootloader issue. I say just install GRUB and have it chainload Windows by default (unless I’m missing the way it works under UEFI). Selecting Ubuntu will cause it to crash without the external HDD connected, but just don’t do that.

Edit: Can’t check those links at work, but they hint at getting round the problem I had. Maybe it’s a non-issue now!

I’m pretty sure Microsith who claim to only sell you (even via an OEM) a licence to “use” their software would get into some serious legal battles in the US if after buying and agreeing to said “licence” they then deny you a way to “use” it.

Microsith have always had a way to reinstall as long as you have a valid key … that’s what the digitalriver ISO’s were for.

They’re doing it slightly differently this time, but they’re still having to provide a way to access a copy on Win8 for people with a legit key.

The new method (no sticker, key in the BIOS) means a lot of peole won’t know how to get at their key though (I know I didn’t until I found that link) … so will probably just end up buying a retail license even though they already own a perfectly valid license.
I doubt if Microsith will be in any hurry to explain this … Joe Average didn’t know about the digitalriver ISO’s, and the teeny-tiny sith didn’t exactly go out of their way to inform people.

I have successfully got my laptop to boot as normal to Windows 8.1 :slight_smile:

After this experience I do not wish to continue to have Ubuntu on my external HDD.

How do I go about getting rid of anything Ubuntu on my laptop? Also how do I format my HDD (now not detecting on Windows)

Format it in Windows disk manager.

I sussed it earlier, just didn’t have time to reply :slight_smile:

Thanks for all of your help :slight_smile: One more qustion (off topic) what are your thoughts on Raspberry Pi?

RasPi’s are great little machines, particularly for hobby/projects, but it depends what you want to use them for ?

They’re also not necessarily as cheap as you might at first think … by the time you add the cost of an SD card/USB keyboard/powered USB hub/power supply/wireless adapter/mouse/cables/etc. it may be cheaper to just buy a second hand laptop … there are quite a few XP laptops going cheap at the moment :wink:

Might be worth bidding on some cheap XP laptops on ebay (preferably dual core CPU and at least 1GB RAM) :slight_smile: