Windows 8 will not boot – error 0xc000000e missing windows\system32\winload.exe

So I just upgraded to Windows 8 and here is an unusual problem I ran into.

I installed Windows 8 on a new hard drive. I had no problems installing and used the new OS for 24 hours without issue. The next day I installed my old drive as drive G: and I wanted to delete the old Windows installation. No matter what I tried I could not change the permissions to allow me to delete the old Windows install. I found a tip to boot to a command prompt using a Windows CD and I should be able to delete it from there. I used a Windows XP disk and booted to the repair console (pressing R at the first menu) from there I was able to navigate to the G: drive, confirm I was on the old hard drive and tried the command rd /s /q “G:Windows” to remove the old directory. It did not work and I was given “Access Denied” message. Maybe I had done something in my many attempts to gain permissions over the folder inside Windows… anyway, I gave up and reset the PC to boot back into Windows 8. That’s when the trouble started…..

I quickly received a blue screen telling me there was a problem booting and I needed to run repair using the original Windows DVD.  I received the error 0xc000000e and I was informed that an important file was missing: windows/system32/winload.exe

Any attempt to repair the problem using the Windows DVD failed instantly with just a message that the system could not be repaired. I even tried the refresh and reset options (to delete all files and updates) but all failed instantly. The only option that worked was the command prompt where I noticed something interesting…. the C: drive was empty! My Windows installation and files were all on the D: drive. That isn’t good. It’s very important that the Windows installation is in the C: drive!

I booted the PC using Acronis Disk Director software to see that my drive had 2 partitions. Both partitions were set as active and primary and the C: partition was only about 350MB. I deleted the partition and rebooted the PC. Again it complained that there was a problem but it was able to Auto Repair without the need of the original DVD. After a couple of re-boots the PC booted correctly. All of my files and settings were just as they were before the problem.

My victory was short lived because I then installed a new raid hybrid card to run a SSD and HD as a hybrid drive. On my next reboot I ran into the same issue! error 0xc000000e and again the partition I deleted was back and set as primary. This time I tried more drastic measures to delete the partition and ended up damaging my windows installation too. Luckily I had made a disk image of the installation and I was able to restore from my backup.

I read that the mysterious partition called “System Reserved” is something that windows 7 creates when installing a fresh copy on a new drive. Apparently Windows 8 does this as well. It is not required to use windows but I read that it is used for BitLocker. I’m still not sure exactly what is causing this partition to become active primary. At first I thought it was the old Windows XP CD that I used to get to the command prompt but I did not use this CD the second time. I believe now that the problem may be related to the old drive being put back in as a secondary drive and when a Windows repair action is performed it sets the System Reserved partition as active.

If anyone encounters the same or similar issue… please post a comment letting me know what you found.

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Posted in Fixit Troubleshooting & Repair
11 comments on “Windows 8 will not boot – error 0xc000000e missing windows\system32\winload.exe
  1. F.G. says:

    When you install windows 8 with dual boot and have 2 operating systems installed on separate drives, you need to uncheck (disable) ‘Turn on fast startup’ in the power options.
    If you leave it turned on when you power off/on the machine it will not do a cold and that can cause all sort of problems after you do a shutdown of windows 8.

    IE: If you have windows 7 on one disk and windows 8 on a second disk you will see that everything works fine after a restart or if you do a shutdown from windows 7, but when you do a shutdown from windows 8 you will get the error that you reported and other type of errors like 0xc000000e when you power back up.
    Turning off ‘Fast startup’ in the power options should solve your problem.
    This option is turned on by default so you need to go to control panel, power options, choose what the power button do, change setting currently unavailable, uncheck ‘Turn on fast startup’ in the shutdown setting at the bottom of the page.

  2. Bill Hamlin says:

    I’m having the same problem. Upgraded from 7, keeping programs. I was having problems with windows update, so I did a clean install of 8. Still have the boot issue. Next computer is likely to be a Mac.

  3. Michael Virata says:

    I have found that I have the exact same problem on a Lenovo Thinkpad T530. I went from Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro (with an upgrade license due to an error by CDW) and it was working fine.

    Shortly, I ended up in a automatic repair loop which seems common on Google searches. Soon, after trying bootrec /fixmbr /fixboot /rebuild BCD and trying to refresh, and reset the PC… Nothing worked.

    I can’t even restore the Windows 8 because it can’t find a system image. I’m basically hosed and will probably end up calling Lenovo since this thing is only a few days old.

  4. Charles says:

    I have been having the same problem. Initially I was running windows 7 installed on an ssd. Then I tried to change the default install directory to my larger non-SSD drive. However, later my computer started having this same problem. When I installed Windows 8 on the SSD, this time I decided to keep everything normal except for my default documents folders, which I again moved over to my other drive. Somehow, the same error 0xc000000e kept arriving on reboot which frustrated me greatly. If you ever find out what went wrong please tell me, I could really use the help!

  5. aray says:

    i ran itnto the same probelm. investigating it

  6. aray says:

    so, i had to just:
    1) unplug all the HDDs (except win8)
    2) reboot in windows 8
    3) power off
    4) plug HDDs
    :)

  7. Walter says:

    I have Windows 8 that was installed clean, not an upgrade. Now after a year or more I get this message. There was no new hardware installed, no new software. It just ended in the middle of the day in the middle of writing in MSWord.

    Anyone have a suggestion on this? I can’t find the disks.

  8. Mi Cam says:

    I had the same issue yesterday with my machine.

    1. SSD – Win8
    2. HDD – Win7

    Seems the bootrecord is on the HDD not in SSD. I didn’t try the ‘Fast startup’ option yet, but i’ll certainly give it a try.

    I get it fixed by turning off the PC and unplug the SSD briefly turned the system on and off and plugged the SSD in again.

    It Seems the problem is in the bootrecord on my HDD.
    I hope the ‘Fast startup’ setting will get this fixed.

  9. soda says:

    guys I need help on how to fix the error ” 0xc000000f” winload.exe missing or corrupt.My laptop is a toshiba 64 bit which I upgraded from win7 to 8. I tried refreshing but the machine does not respond even after inserting a disk with an operating system (win8 64bit)but rather maintains the blue screen with the above error. upon pressing F8 key it simply flushes and nothing happens after that.

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