By Lily / Last update June 15, 2022

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Overview of “Error loading operating system”

Sometimes, when you try to boot your Windows PC, you may come across an error message: “Error loading operating system”. It is found on different brands of computers. Some users encounter Lenovo “Error loading operating system” while some users are troubled by Dell laptop “Error loading operating system”. And there are users who receive the error message when they boot their computer from a Windows recovery USB drive.

The startup issue generally occurs after the fresh installation of the Windows operating system, sudden power failure, system crash, or system restart. Here is a real case:

“I have a problem that I have found in other posts, Error loading operating system in Windows 10! The system updated and restarted overnight and now I am stuck with this. I forced shutdown and restart the computer, and it is still on the error screen. I can access the hard drive files via CMD from the recovery menu! Can anyone help?”

Error Loading Operating System

What situations may lead to this error?

There are five major causes for “Error loading operating system” in Windows 11/10/8/7:

1. The computer’s BIOS does not support the hard drive.

2. Multiple hard drives have been connected to your computer and you have set a wrong drive to boot from.

3. The hard drive’s system partition is damaged due to sudden power cuts, virus infection, or disk write error.

4. The system files used to load the operating system are missing or damaged.

5. Master Boot Record (MBR) is damaged.

How to fix "Error loading operating system" in Windows 10

For cause 1, you may update your computer’s BIOS to fix the boot issue. For other causes, please learn the corresponding solutions below.

Method 1. Set the right boot device

Step 1. Restart your computer and continuously press a specific key to get into BIOS. The key to open BIOS can be listed on the first screen that appears, before the Windows logo shows up. It is likely to be Esc, Del, F2, F8, F10 or F12.

Step 2. Go to the Boot tab and use the keys prompted on the screen to set a right device to boot from. If you are confronted with “Error loading operating system” from a USB drive, make sure “Removable Device” is at the top of the list.

Change Boot Order

Step 3. Press F10 to save changes and restart your computer.

Method 2. Fix hard disk errors via Windows CHKDSK tool

CHKDSK is a Windows built-in tool to gauge the general health of your hard disk. It can check hard drive for errors and fix bad sectors and errors if any.

Step 1. Insert the Windows 10 installation CD/DVD to your computer and boot from it.

Step 2. Choose your keyboard layout.

Step 3. Click Repair your computer in the lower left corner.

Step 4. Select Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Command Prompt.

Step 5. In Command Prompt, type chkdsk C: /r and hit Enter to fix errors on C drive. You may replace C: with the letter of the drive where Windows is installed according to your situation.

CHKDSK

Method 3. Perform Startup Repair

Startup Repair is a useful tool to fix boot issues caused by missing or damaged system files. You can follow the steps below to fix the “error loading operating system” in Windows 10 or other systems.

Step 1. Boot your computer from the Windows 10 installation media and go to Repair your computer as you do in Method 2.

Step 2. Select Troubleshoot ->Advanced options ->Startup Repair in sequence. Startup Repair will scan your computer for problems and fix them automatically. The computer may restart several times during the process.

Startup Repair

Method 4. Restore the MBR information of the hard disk

Step 1. Boot your computer from the Windows 10 installation media and open Command Prompt as mentioned in Method 2.

Step 2. When the Command Prompt loads, type the following four commands and press Enter after each command to fix MBR in Windows 10 and rebuild BCD.

  • bootrec /FixMbr

  • bootrec /FixBoot

  • bootrec /ScanOs

  • bootrec /RebuildBcd

Rebuild MBR

Step 3. Type exit and press Enter. Remove the CD/DVD and restart your computer.

How to prevent data loss from “Error loading operating system” again

Hope you can fix “error loading operating system” with above solutions. But to further prevent data loss from this error or any other system issues, it’s suggested to create a system image backup including OS and all the system files to boot a computer. Then, you can easily bring your computer back without downtime.

Here you have two choices to complete this backup task.

1. Use a backup and restore tool

AOMEI Backupper Standard is an overall backup and restore tool you can try. 

  • It allows you to create system backup, disk/partition backup or file backup as per your need.
  • You are able to schedule automatic backups so as to keep any newly added data or installed programs in the backup image.
  • It runs incremental backups by default, which will backup only changes every time you start the backup task. Thus, the backup disk space and backup time are saved.
  • You can make a bootable media to boot your computer in case of boot failure. Or you can create recovery environment to run backup and restore operations without booting Windows. 
  • It is free and easy to use. Thanks to its clean and tidy interface, all you need to do are a few clicks.

System Backup

2. Use one key recovery software

AOMEI OneKey Recovery is powerful one key recovery software you can rely on.

  • It enables you to create a system image and enable fast recovery key (F11 or A) or boot menu simultaneously.
  • Except for external devices, it allows you to backup system to a hidden recovery partition, so you won't lose your backup image due to mistaken deletion or other risks.

Tip: The recovery key or boot menu is similar to bootable media in the previous backup software, but you don’t need to create it separately. You can use it to quickly access this software for Lenovo desktop factory reset or system restore at the next system startup.

OKR Backup

Summary

This page offers you four effective methods to fix “Error loading operating system” in Windows 10. To better protect your computer system and avoid data loss due to this error, you need to backup your computer with free backup software like AOMEI Backupper Standard. Actually, it is also a free SSD migration tool that can help you upgrade HDD to SSD effortlessly.

AOMEI OneKey Recovery is worth trying if you want a fast way to reset or restore. Once you create a system backup, you can easily restore system without booting into Windows. And it supports all the Windows systems, including Windows 7/8/10/11 and Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019/2022, etc. What are you waiting for? Select one between them and protect your system now!