Imagine this: you get up in the morning, turn on your computer to start working and boom, you get an error that Winload.exe is missing and you cannot boot to Windows. Non-tech savvy users may panic from this and will start thinking about taking their computer to the shop or get a new one. If you are one of those, do not rush with that decision, the solution may be much more straightforward.
Why did you get this error?
Winload.exe is an executable file in charge of booting Windows. This is among the first files that get “started” when you turn on your computer, which is why it must be in the correct location and not be corrupted.
There are two reasons why you may be seeing this problem: software and hardware.
The software reason for a missing or corrupted winload.exe file is nothing to worry about, too much. Data can get deleted or corrupted either from incorrect power down or sometimes viruses. In general, this is where you need to worry too much.
If you are facing some hardware issues, there you can start panicking. Defective HDD or SSD can often cause these kinds of problems. On some rare occasions, a faulty RAM stick may have the same effect.
Solving the software problem
Computers are complicated mix parts and code, and every now and then, the system can start misbehaving. That often results in your computer not booting due to a missing or corrupt WInload.exe file, and there are a couple of solutions that you can try.
Did you try turning off and on again?
Often the simplest solution is the one that works. If you are getting this error, try turning your computer off and then turn it on again.
Repairing your Windows
If you are not so lucky to fix your computer with the previous step, then the next thing you should try is to repair your Windows installation. Note that this will not format or reinstall your Windows, it will just restore it so that you can use it. You will need at least an 8GB USB drive and a computer with working Windows.
Before you begin, you will need a bootable Windows USB drive. Head over to Microsoft’s download page and grab the media creation tool. Run the app as an administrator and follow the procedure to create a bootable USB.
Click “Create installation media for another PC” and go Next.
Select the option in this section. Make sure that the language, edition, and architecture are the same as on the windows you already have installed; otherwise, it will not work.
Select “USB flash drive” and click Next.
Select the USB drive that you want to make bootable and click Next.
The process will start, and depending on your internet speed, it shouldn’t take longer than 10-20 minutes.
When the process is complete, plug the USB in your computer and turn it on. Go into the BIOS or choose a temporary boot drive. Each laptop or motherboard manufacturer has different ways for this, so check your manual to find out how.
When the Windows installation wizard starts, choose the correct options, and click “Next.”
On the bottom left, click on “Repair your computer.”
This option will boot the Windows troubleshooter, where you will need to select “Troubleshoot.”
Click on “Advanced options.”
From the next menu, select “Startup repair” and the process will start.
The duration can be several minutes or half an hour, depending on a lot of things, so make sure not to turn off or restart your computer during it; otherwise, you may cause more significant problems.
Checking for corrupted files
If the repair process does not work, then you can try the disk check option that can also fix corrupted files.
Boot from your Windows USB drive and click on “Repair your computer.”
Go to “Troubleshoot.”
In the troubleshoot menu, select “Advanced options.”
From here, click on “Command Prompt.”
This will open the CMD where you will need to enter the command “chkdsk C: /r /f”.
Let the process run, and once the check is completed and errors are fixes, you can reboot into your installed Windows. During this process, you will also find out if your disk has some damaged parts, which can also cause problems with the boot files. Furthermore, you can learn more ways to repair Windows with command prompt.
Fixing boot files
Since Winload.exe is a boot file, then it is a good idea to try and fix the boot files. For this procedure, you need to use the command prompt, so follow the steps from the previous sections: Repair your computer > Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt”. Here are the commands you’ll need to enter:
- bootrec.exe /fixmbr
- bootrec.exe /fixboot
- bootrec.exe /scanos
- bootrec.exe /rebuildbcd
Solving the hardware problem
If none of the processes above work and you consistently get the same error or a variety of it, you may be looking at a hardware issue. As I said before, the most common culprit is the drive, SSD, or HDD, or little less often the RAM.
The command for checking for corrupted files in the software section can be applied to check the disk, so you already know if your drive is healthy or not.
To test the RAM, you need a software called memtest86. It is a piece of software that you will need to boot from a USB to make the necessary testing. Download the software from the official site. There is a paid option as well, but the free one will do just fine. The ZIP file will contain the application to create the bootable drive and a user manual that will guide you through the entire process.
Getting an error like this isn’t always the end of the world. Sometimes the solution may be simple, while other times, you may need to replace a part or two. To make sure that an error like this does not cause bigger problems, make sure to regularly backup your files and keep your computer clean of viruses to avoid loss in case things go wrong.