Sometimes when you re-install Windows in a multi-boot system, the Windows setup overwrites the boot sector and MBR and you have to boot from the Windows DVD/CD and fix the MBR. You can save yourself from this trouble by backing up your hard disk’s MBR and then restoring it when needed using HDHacker. HDHacker is a stand-alone micro-utility that saves, visualizes, and restores the MBR (from a physical drive), the BootSector (from a logical drive) or any specified sector from any disk (even removable disks).
You can download HDHacker from the web site of its author, Dimitrios Coutsoumbas (Dimio). HDHacker works on Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista and 7. The download is available in form of a ZIP file. The file name is in the form hdhacker.zip. You have to extract the HDHacker.exe from this ZIP file. The ZIP file name can be different for you. You can use a free tool like 7-Zip to extract the file from the ZIP archive.
HDHacker is fully standalone application. After extracting from the ZIP archive, you can run HDHacker.exe. HDHacker must be run with administrator level access. If you are using Windows Vista, 7 or 8, then just right-click on HDHacker.exe and choose Run as administrator. If you are using Windows XP, then you must login with an administrator level account.
In the main HDHacker window, you can choose Physical Drive (MBR) from the Drive to operate section. Then choose 0 from the drop-down listbox. In the Select Sector, select First Sector (MBR). The drive numbr 0 is the first hard drive connected in your system. Then click on the Read sector from Disk button as shown.
You will find some undecipherable information displayed in the text box on top. This is the MBR data from the selected hard disk. To save this MBR data to a file, click on the button labeled Save sector to File as shown. You will be prompted with a file save dialog. Choose an easy to access location on your hard disk to save the file.
Later when you have to restore the MBR, run the HDHacker again and choose Physical Drive (MBR) from the Drive to operate section. Then choose 0 from the drop-down listbox. In the Select Sector, select First Sector (MBR). Then click on the Load sector from File as shown. Browse to the MBR backup file you had earlier saved.
Then click on the Write sector on Disk button as shown. You will be shown a final confirmation dialog to confirm if you really want to write to the MBR of the selected hard disk. Choose Yes to proceed. This will write the MBR data from the backup file onto to the selected hard disk.
You can perform the same steps for saving and restoring the Bootsector instead of the MBR. Just choose the Logical Drive instead of the Physical Drive in the Drive to Operate section.
If you are going to install an operating system like Windows or Linux in the multi-boot configuration, then it is always a good idea to keep a backup of the MBR and the bootsector. HDHacker is a useful, portable and easy to use tool to backup and restore the MBR and the bootsector.
You can download HDHacker from http://dimiodati.altervista.org/hdhacker.html.