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How to Backup an MBR

MBR stands for Master Boot Record. This is a small part of the hard disk which contains the boot information and the layout of the partitions for the entire disk. The MBR is only 512 bytes (which is a single sector) and is needed to load up the computer and create or maintain partitions. Sometimes the MBR can become corrupted and your computer will not boot up. This is because the MBR cannot be read and effectively tell the computer how to load up. As such, it is necessary to ensure that you have a backup of your MBR. You never know when something might go wrong and having a backup will mean that you can restore your system’s state with relative ease.

You only really need to back up your MBR if the setup of the computer changes. This could be something like installing a new operating system or adding and removing partitions. It is quite rare that you would be making changes to these aspects, so backing up the MBR is not going to be a regular procedure. Just remember to do it when you add a new partition, say, and you’ll get a better peace of mind. Backing up the MBR is a quick and common procedure. Ensure that you back it up to an external drive (something like a USB stick will be fine). Storing it on the default hard drive is no good because if the whole drive gets corrupted then chances are your backup of the MBR will have too.
There are a number of different programs out there that will help you when it comes to backing up your MBR. The first of these is MBRtool. This program will allow you to backup, restore and manipulate the MBR. It is a command line tool that has a basic menu to help guide you through the process. It is not an automatic program, so you will have to perform the backup manually. The program also comes with a boot diskette builder that will let you put the program on a bootable CD/DVD.

Another program you could use is HDHacker. This tool can also backup and restore your MBR. It is quite easy to use since it comes with a graphical user interface, meaning that it doesn’t use the command line like MBRtool. Less confident users may find this more comforting, although both programs get the same job done.

There are more programs available for you to download free online, but these two do what they say on the tin. MBRtool may have the advantage since it comes with a bootable disc version. This will come in very handy should you be unable to load into the operating system. However, if you are not totally confident using the command line then HDHacker might be a better bet due to the user interface it offers. Whatever program you use, always keep a copy of your MBR. It is a quick procedure and one that will save you a lot of potential hassle for the future.


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