General Boot Sequence
Here is how the journey begins: POST (Power On Self Test), BIOS. Then BIOS searches the MBR (Master Boot Record) of the hard disk. Check the A+ hardware book about troubleshooting the first two steps. Long story short, POST might beep some sounds indicating there is something wrong with hardware. BIOS needs some setup from your side, it can also be buggy software and then its common to update it to solve some problem.
The MBR is at the very beginning of the hard disk and it contains information how the disk is partitioned, information to tell BIOS about the partition where the OS is. BIOS need the boot sector of this partition. So far, the story is the same for DOS and every Windows.
As you can see, MBR is important, if the system looses the information how the disk is partitioned you cannot access any partition, any file! A nasty problem! The part of MBR with boot information is not so crucial and can be repaired (we will cover that in error messages). How to recognize that MBR is a problem? Well, read the part about black screen error messages, or boot your system from a boot floppy (or CD) and try to access the data. Boot sector can be repaired easily it Recovery Console with Fixboot command.
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