The Master Boot Record (MBR) is quite possibly the most important piece of data stored on you hard drives or USB flash drives. For those that aren’t exactly sure what the MBR is, it’s basically a small dedicated section of the drive which holds vital information about the disc including its boot information and the layout of all the partitions stored. The MBR area itself is tiny being only a 512 byte sector and is the very first piece of information held right at the beginning of the disc.
If your Master Boot Record becomes corrupted through drive errors or malware etc, it could stop you booting your operating system and in the worst case, cause all the partitions on the drive to be lost because the drive doesn’t have the correct information to identify them. If your system has a standard disc layout, it’s always possible to write a new standard MBR using the Windows XP Recovery Console and the FixMBR command. Or you can use a Windows 7 install disc and select the “Repair your computer” -> Command Prompt option with the Bootrec /fixmbr command which also works on Vista and Windows 8 from the Windows 7 disc.
As the Master Boot Record is such a vital part of your system, it makes sense to have a backup of it just in case the worst happens. And being only 512 bytes in size means it takes up no room at all and can be stored anywhere. This could save hours of frustration trying to recover your files from damaged partitions. So here are 8 free tools that can help you to easily backup and restore your system’s Master Boot Record (MBR) for some extra piece of mind.
Aomei is a software that makes it simple to back up data, restore software, transfer data, and manage hard drive partitions for home or business use. The Amoei backup software has many variations, including Aomei Backupper, Aomei Centralized Backupper, Aomei Onekey Recovery, iPhone backup tool, and Enterprise Backup Solution.
Aomei Backupper is a Windows backup software that helps secure the operating system, data, and applications using clone, backup, or recovery features. This software can restore your system to its normal state after it crashes.
Aomei Centralized Backupper manages and sets up backup tasks from one central management console. It works better on Windows 11 and Windows Server 2022. This software can help backup Windows, operating system, disk, file, partition, etc.
Aomei OneKey Recovery is a software that protects your laptop and system. This software can create your factory restore partition if you’re using Dell, Hp, Lenovo, or Toshiba computers, etc. With this factory reset partition provided by Onekey, you can back up your operating system, and if your computer fails to boot, you can restore it by pressing ‘F11’ or ‘A.’
Aomei Partition Assistant is a disk partitioning software that allows you to create partitions, clone, erase, split, and merge hard disks. This tool supports multiple languages, so no matter your origin, you can use this tool. With the Aomei partition assistant, you can carry out MBR repair. The following steps can do this;
- Download the Aomei partition assistant
- Select the disk which is unable to boot and right-click to choose ‘Rebuild MBR’
- Set up the MBR type you’d like to rebuild in the ‘Rebuild MBR’ window. The tool will provide a list of MBR for your operating system, but you’ll have to choose the one that suits your OS better
- Click on Apply to proceed
The application is compatible with Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Windows Server 2022, 2019, 2016, 2012, 2011, 2008, 2003, Vista, XP, iPhone.
Partition Wizard is another popular software that maximizes disk performance by creating, resizing, formatting partitions, and converting dynamic disk to basic without data loss. This tool has two software for data recovery: partition recovery wizard and data recovery feature.
The partition recovery wizard helps to find and recover lost partitions. In contrast, the data recovery feature helps to identify and restore deleted or lost files from broken, formatted, inaccessible NTFS, desktops, specific folders, and recycle bins.
This software can be used to rebuild MBR even if Windows can’t boot. This is because of its bootable discs that help boot PCs without Windows. To successfully rebuild MBR using this tool, we have outlined the steps you can follow;
- If your Windows isn’t on, you can use the bootable builder to create a bootable DVD/CD/Flash drive, or you can create an ISO image of a bootable disc
- Once you’re done, you can proceed to rebuild your MBR
- Open your partition wizard software, select the disk that has been damaged, and select Rebuild MBR from the panel
- Click Apply to effect changes
You can also use a command prompt to fix MBR Windows 10, 8.1, 8. Let’s dive right into how this can be achieved;
- Create the installation DVD/CD
- Proceed to boot your computer from the installation media
- Open the command prompt window, click on next, repair computer, and click on troubleshoot > advance > command prompt to continue
- Put the following commands;
- bootrec /fixboot
- bootrec /scan
- bootrec /rebuildbcd
- Once you’re done with every step, you can remove installation media and change the BIOS order. Then check if your system can boot normally by rebooting the system.
This data recovery software is used to recover lost files and formatted corrupted data or partitions. It is available on Windows, Windows Server, Windows XP, and Vista. EaseUS has a partition master that helps you manage, create, clone, and convert hard disk drivers and partitions. Its partition master is available for service providers, home, business, and computer users.
EaseUS MBR repair can help fix MBR issues on hard drives, flash drives, etc, and to successfully achieve this, you’ll have to download EaseUS partition software and create bootable media.
After creating the bootable media, connect the bootable CD/DVD to your PC, and press F2 or Del when you restart your PC to access the BIOS screen. Proceed to boot your PC from ‘removable devices’ or ‘CD-ROM’ and EaseUS partition will do its job. Once you can access the tool, click ‘Toolkit’ and choose ‘Rebuild MBR,’ then select the disk and type of MBR and Rebuild.
Asides from this method, you can also repair the MBR through a command prompt.
MBRwizard is quite a powerful utility and can be helpful in dealing with all sorts of MBR related problems. It was originally designed to repair the damage left on occasion by disk imaging applications such as Symantec Ghost and Acronis True Image, but has matured into a program to repair all sorts of MBR related issues. It also supports GUID Partition Tables, removable media and VMware disks. Backing up and restoring an MBR is easy with the Save and Restore commands with optional use of Vol/Disk.
The odd thing is MBR Wizard’s online documentation doesn’t list the proper commands for saving or restoring the MBR in newer versions of the tool. It was:
but now it’s:
MBRWiz /Save=MBR /Filename=C:\MyMBR.Dat
The same command change is present with MBR restoration. As a result of this change, some of the old MBR Wizard GUI frontend tools (MBRWhisky/Ultimate MBRGUI) won’t work if you update the MBRWiz.exe they come with. The MBRwizard command line version is freeware, and there’s also a shareware version with its own frontend, which might explain the command change, to make the old freeware frontends useless!??
BOOTICE is more of a general boot sector/MBR editing tool because it has a lot more useful options for advanced users and is quite a powerful tool. There are extra features such as a Grub4DOS menu editor, disk and sector wiping tool, visual BCD editor for NT 6.x systems, edit the MBR/boot sector of IMG, IMG, VHD, VHDX and VMDK images, a partition manager and a disk sector editor. The options to backup and restore the Master Boot Record or the Partition Boot Record (PBR) are via the Process buttons on the Physical Disk tab and you can also install a boot loader from a variety of different choices such as Plop, Grub4DOS, NT 5.x/6.x and BOOTMGR or NTLDR. The 1st sector or as many as you wish can simply be backed up to a file ready to restore later on. As well as the portable GUI, BOOTICE has extensive options available from its command line.
MBRtool is a utility that runs in DOS and is designed to backup, restore and verify your hard disk’s Master Boot Record. In addition it can also edit or wipe the partition table and blank or remove the boot code. MBRTool will support the first 4 hard drives present in the system. The program comes with its own bootable media builder where you can write an image to floppy, burn it to a CD or extract the MBRTool executable to be used on the command line or in scripts. Backing up and restoring is menu driven and easy to operate if you enter no arguments or double click the EXE while the more manual commands can be used like any other command line tool.
HDHacker is a much more user friendly tool with the Windows GUI making it very easy to backup and restore the MBR with a few clicks. It’s able to backup and restore the Maser Boot Record to the physical drive, the boot sector from a logical drive or a specified number of sectors up to a maximum of 16. They can be saved to a file or loaded back in and written to just about any type of drive. Although it will probably look like a mixed up mess in the viewing pane to most people, others may be able to trace problems or even possible boot sector viruses from the information.