The Bootrec utility is a Windows Recovery Environment (RE) command-line tool used to troubleshoot startup issues and boot failures. It can be used to fix the boot sector, boot configuration data (BCD), and master boot record (MBR). The
bootrec /fixboot command writes a new boot sector to the existing system partition in cases where the existing boot files have been corrupted. But sometimes this command fails to execute, either due to a malfunctioning EFI structure or issues with the BCD file. You can quickly repair the most common issues for the "bootrec /fixboot access is denied" error with the fixes listed in this guide.
Good to know: experiencing an "Inaccessible boot device" error instead? Learn what to do in this particular scenario.
1. Run Startup Repair
The first method to fix the "bootrec /fixboot" error is to run Startup Repair and allow Windows to diagnose and rectify common issues that prevent your PC from booting normally. Many users have reported success using Startup Repair to solve a variety of Windows boot and file corruption issues.
Boot into the Windows Recovery Environment to run Startup Repair. Let the scan finish, and follow the on-screen instructions to restart your computer, then try running the
bootrec /fixboot command again.
2. Run CHKDSK
Disk errors can also cause issues with your boot files that can result in the "bootrec /fixboot access denied" error. If the files necessary for executing the command happen to be located in bad sectors, you'll have no option but to try to repair them before retrying.
Run the CHKDSK tool from the Command Prompt (in Windows RE) to let Windows scan your drive for bad sectors and other fixable issues. If the scan manages to resolve the errors, it'll report the same on screen. Afterward, try running the
bootrec /fixboot command again to see whether it works.
Tip: learn how to check whether a USB drive is bootable in Windows.
3. Rebuild the EFI Bootloader
If the above methods do not work, you'll need to rebuild the EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) bootloader on your system disk. This reconfigures all the boot information on the EFI partition to allow you to run the
bootrec /fixboot command successfully.
There are a few stages to this fix. You need to identify the exact EFI partition to be reconfigured, then copy boot files on that partition.
- Enter the Windows RE using the method described in section 1 above.
- Click "Troubleshoot" on the Automatic Repair screen.
- Click "Advanced options."
- Select "Command Prompt."
- Use the "diskpart" utility to identify the EFI partition. Enter the
diskpartcommand and press Enter.
list diskand press Enter to show all the drives on your computer.
- Find the disk containing your Windows installation. It will have an asterisk under the "Gpt" column, indicating a GPT partition. If your PC has more than one Windows disk with the GPT asterisk, check the "Size" column to identify the target disk.
- To select your drive, type
select disk 0, and press Enter. Make sure to replace "0" with the correct disk name in your case.
list volfollowed by Enter to list all the volumes or partitions on your Windows disk.
- Find the EFI partition in the list. Typically, it's small in size and formatted in "FAT32" format.
select vol 1to select it, and press Enter. Replace "1" with the correct volume number in your own particular case.
- Assign a new letter to the volume. Make sure the letter is not assigned to any other volume by typing
assign letter=L. Replace "L" with the appropriate letter for your case.
- Exit "diskpart" by using the
Tip: if DiskPart has encountered an error in Windows, check out how to restore it to full function.
- Enter the newly assigned drive letter to select the EFI partition by typing
L:and pressing Enter. Remember to replace this with the appropriate letter for your case.
- Copy the required boot files to the EFI partition by using this command:
bcdboot C:\Windows /s L: /f UEFI. Replace "L:" with the letter of the drive you've created.
exitand press Enter to close the Command Prompt.
- Return to the Automatic Repair screen, and select "Continue" to restart your computer. Try running the
4. Use Bootable Media to Run the Command
Another method to bypass the "bootrec /fixboot access is denied" error is to run the command from a bootable USB drive instead. This fix allows you to use a fresh, fully-functional external drive to run the
bootrec /fixboot command and repair the boot files on your Windows disk. Create a bootable drive on another computer if you're unable to boot to the desktop.
Once you have a bootable USB drive, boot into it, and instead of starting the Windows installation process, select "Repair your computer." Enter the Windows RE again, and run the
bootrec /fixboot command from Command Prompt.
FYI: learn how to create a Windows 11 USB installer with Command Prompt.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do my Windows files keep getting corrupted?
A common reason for frequent file corruption in Windows is malware infection. Severe malware can sometimes escape antivirus software and reside on your disk, corrupting important system files. Other reasons for corrupted files can be a power outage while saving files, bad sectors on your disk, underlying faults with your Windows copy, and other hardware issues. Make sure you scan your system for viruses regularly to avoid your files becoming corrupted.
What is in the EFI partition?
The EFI partition (also called ESP) is a storage partition for all UEFI bootloaders, applications, and drivers needed for a UEFI boot. It is an OS-independent partition that's automatically created by Windows whenever you install a new Windows OS on a disk. It's formatted in FAT32 file format and almost always exists as a 100MB partition. The EFI partition is protected by Windows, and you can't delete it using Disk Management.
Is Rufus safe to use?
Rufus is a legitimate bootable media creation tool and is even recommended by Microsoft, in addition to their own Media Creation Tool. There's no bloatware or advertisements as long as you download it from its official website. It is free for personal as well as commercial usage. Rufus is a reliable and safe application and is even known to work faster than Microsoft's Media Creation Tool in most cases.
Image credit: DepositPhotos. All screenshots by Tanveer Singh.
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