As you may guess, the Windows operating system is a complex set of code that enables you to use your computer as you do. That complex coding starts right after your computer’s BIOS asks for specific files from your drive and all of a sudden you get an error “The Boot Configuration Data file doesn’t contain valid information for an operating system.” It’s not a pretty sight.
BCD or Boot Configuration Data is the part of the OS that is in charge of booting it and making sure that everything is running smoothly from the initial boot, till the time you shut your PC down.
Reasons for getting a BCD error
Even though this error comes with a variety of messages, all of them means that the data is corrupted or missing, and you cannot boot your Windows. Most of the reasons leading to this type of error are software related, like improper shutdown, BSOD, viruses, etc. there is also the hardware reason, meaning that failing hardware can lead to corrupted data in the boot configuration. As you may have guessed, the hardware part is the drive. Furthermore, you can know more startup problems.
Fixing the software side of the problem
Getting an error like this doesn’t always mean that you need to replace your computer, the solution is often much more straightforward. To be able to repair your Windows, you will need access to a bootable Windows USB.
Creating the USB
A few years ago, creating a bootable Windows USB was slightly problematic, but today it’s very easy. Go to Microsoft’s website, download the Media Creation Tool, and run it as administrator. For this part, you will need a USB with at least 8 GB and a working Windows computer.
Once the tool starts, select “Create installation media for another PC” and click “Next.”
On the next screen, make sure to have the language, edition, and architecture the same as on your computer.
Select the “USB flash drive” option and continue to the next section.
You will see a list of plugged USB drives where you will need to select the USB that you want to make bootable. Click “Next” and wait for the installation process to finish. The process should take no longer than 20 minutes, depending on the speed of the internet connection and the transfer speed of the USB.
Fixing the Boot Configuration Data
Once your bootable USB is done, you can proceed with fixing your boot configuration data. Even though the first few steps will be identical to installing a fresh set of Windows, I assure you that none of your data will be lost, you will only be fixing what is “broken.”
Plug your USB and power on your computer. During the POST, you will need to go to the BIOS and change the boot order priority, or you can choose a temporary boot drive. For the exact procedure, you will need to look in your motherboard or laptop user manual, since most have a different way of doing that.
In a few minutes, the Windows wizard will start where you will need to choose the language, time and currency format, and keyboard layout. In most cases, you will leave these by default.
On the next screen, click on “Repair your computer.”
From the next menu, select “Troubleshoot.”
In the troubleshooting options, click on “Advanced options.”
From the advanced options, choose “Command Prompt.”
Bootrec.exe is an efficient tool to fix boot error. You will have three commands that you will need to enter to fix the problem with BCD:
- bootrec.exe /fixmbr
- bootrec.exe /fixboot
- bootrec.exe /scanos
- bootrec.exe /rebuildbcd
For the last command, you will be asked if you want to add the found installation to boot, where you will need to enter “Y” and hit enter.
An inactive partition on your drive can also lead to a similar BCD error, so it is a good idea to check if the right one is active.
Follow the same steps as above to get to the Command Prompt, where you will need to enter a series of commands:
- list disk
- select disk X (replace X with the number of the drive where Windows is installed)
- list volume
- select volume X (replace X with the number of the volume that contains the system files)
You can reboot your computer after this.
Checking your hardware
If you get the Boot Configuration Data error once, fix it, and never get it again, then you have nothing to worry about. Getting the error continually means that you have more significant problems to worry about.
If some of the solutions from above work for you, but the error keeps coming back to haunt you, then you are likely looking at a failing drive, something you should check out.
If you manage to boot your Windows, you will need to open Command Prompt, or you can use the same procedure as the other two procedures in this article. Type in the command “chkdsk C: /f /r” and the process complete. If Windows is installed on a different partition, labeled D or E, make sure to change the letter accordingly. It will scan the disk and try to fix any errors that it can. Once it finishes, you will see a report outlining the details.
Apart from the HDD or SSD, a faulty RAM stick may also be the source of the problem, and you may want to have your power supply checked out, but before you go down that road, check the disk first.
As I’ve said in the beginning, the BCD error is not something that you should instantly be alarmed about. In a lot of cases, you are looking at a software reason for getting it, and with my recommended fix solutions, you should have no problem eliminating that headache.
My recommendation for situations like these is to make regular backups to avoid loss of data.