Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I started out with Windows XP and then I installed Zorin (a sub distro of Ubuntu) and then I installed Ubuntu. This was working great. Then I installed Windows 8 on yet another partition and couldn't get into my other OSs.

I asked my tech teacher at school how to fix it and she said just clear the partition that I installed Windows 8 on, so I booted onto a live version of Ubuntu and cleared the Windows 8 partition. Okay then I rebooted and it still went into Windows 8 for some reason.

So I got back onto live Ubuntu and it turns out Windows 8 partition didn't clear for some reason so I did it again (and I'm positive it was the Windows 8 partition). I still couldn't fix grub but I needed something out of my XP partition so I mounted it on the live Ubuntu and now all the XP partition have are the folders 'Boot', 'Recovery', 'System Volume Information', 'temp' and the files 'bootmgr', 'BOOTNXT', 'BOOTSECT.BAK' and 'Recovery.txt'.

Anybody know how to fix this or what I did wrong? Also, if I try booting from my hard drive it shows the Windows and says 'preparing automatic repair' then 'Diagnosing your PC' then restarts. Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

share|improve this question

The problem is, as others have noted, the MBR holds the bootloader that is used to load the OS or list of OS, and it is usually overwritten ( unless you choose otherwise ) by the last OS you install. In this case that is Windows 8, and from experience, wiping out the partition does not remove the bootloader.

To fix this problem, before you go the nuke everything and rebuild phase maybe you can try EasyBCD and create a custom bootloader. It should work fine and should be able to read all the OSes you have currently. I have no personal experience with it however.

Now to your second problem.. it looks like you might have wiped out your XP partition by mistake when you tried to wipe the Win8 one. You can try a software like TestDisk or any other similar data recovery softwares to try and Undelete the files you need from your XP partition

share|improve this answer

the problem with windows is it overrides MBR (master boot record) and hence when you installed W8 it just wipes out everything in there. so you are not able to view your any other installations. as suggested above you have to install all windows first .. and older version foremost then go on with ubuntu. if you have some data to recover use live-CD / USB to take backup. hope that helps.

share|improve this answer

What you need to do is to restore Grub which the Windows 8 installation removed.

You'll need an Ubuntu liveCD or liveUSB.

Boot from your liveCD/USB.

Identify your disk by typing in a terminal: ls -l /dev/disk/by-label/ (for example sda, or sdb)

Then run sudo grub-install /dev/XXX where XXX is the drive name.


share|improve this answer


Just format your entire hard disk and install the set of OSs again. The installation order should be:

  1. Windows XP (Leave some unallocated hdd space for Win7 & Ubuntu)
  2. Windows 7 or 8 (Leave some unallocated hdd space for Ubuntu)
  3. Ubuntu

Make sure you manually do the partitioning while installing Ubuntu. You have to make two partitions for Ubuntu;

  • Ext4 root partition ("/")
  • 4GB SWAP partition
share|improve this answer
Well if at all possible I want to try and restore the files from windows xp – Bob Tahog Oct 8 '12 at 5:53

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.