See an error message stating “The Boot Configuration Data file is missing” when you boot up your computer? Unfortunately, it is a sign your PC’s boot information is missing essential information and is corrupted. That means you can’t use your PC.

This annoying issue can be caused by plenty of reasons out of your control, including hardware boot failures, power surges damaging your system and even a virus or malware messing with your PC’s data.

It’s a problem no one wants to encounter, as it can be a tricky issue to fix. The good news is there are a few ways to fix the “Boot Configuration Data file is missing” error on Windows.

This guide will show you how to fix the “The Boot Configuration Data file is missing” error and give you the best tools to stop malicious software with the best antivirus software.

‘Boot Configuration Data file is missing’ error: Quick fixes

Boot Configuration Data (BCD) stores information about boot options available on your Windows PC. If it’s corrupted, you’ll need to get this information back. In these steps, you’ll need to have Windows installation media on a USB drive or disk. You can select and download a version of Windows via Microsoft’s Software Download page and follow the instructions.

After completing the steps, we also recommend performing an antivirus scan to make sure this problem doesn’t happen again.

  1. Use Command Prompt to rebuild BCD

    Windows boot configuration file missing command prompt

    Using Windows Command Prompt, you can rebuild the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) to resolve most boot problems. 

    First, you must insert a USB drive or disk with the Windows installation media. From here, turn on your PC.  

    During bootup, press the F2, F8 or F12 key to enter the boot menu. These keys will be different depending on your PC’s manufacturer. You may also see “press any key now to boot from CD, DVD.” If so, press any key to proceed.

    Select your language preference, time and currency format and keyboard input. Then press Next

    Select Repair your computer in the bottom left corner. In the next window, choose Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt.  

    In Command Prompt, type in the following commands and press the enter key after each:
    bootrec /fixmbr 
    bootrec /fixboot
    bootrec /scanos
    bootrec /rebuildbcd

    Type A to add installation to the boot list. Once done, exit Command Prompt and click Continue.

    If this doesn’t work, you can also try entering the following:
    bcdedit /export C.\BCD_Backup
    cd boot
    attrib bcd -s -h -r
    ren c.\boot\bcd bcd.old
    bootrec /RebuildBcd

    This will rebuild BCD and get your system back to normal, meaning you should be able to boot your Windows computer as usual. 

  2. Use Windows Startup Repair

    Windows Boot Configuration File Startup Repair

    Another way to fix the Boot Configuration Data error is to use Windows Startup Repair. This will automatically help solve a corrupted BCD file causing the problem. 

    As explained in the last step, insert the USB drive or disk with the Windows installation media and follow the instructions. 

    In Advanced options, select Automatic Repair. This will fix problems that keep your Windows computer from loading. If the repair is successful, you can continue to your desktop. 

  3. Use antivirus software to detect and stop malware

    Norton 360 Security and Settings

    Once you’ve completed these steps and have restored the BCD files, check if your computer is infected with a virus or malware disguised as an unfamiliar file by using one of the best antivirus software like Norton 360 (from $19.99/year). It will keep you safe from any malicious software, like ransomware, adware, spyware, phishing and more.

    That’s not all; antivirus software can provide extra features like VPNs, cloud storage, PC boosters and more. Norton 360 has all these features and extra security tools that can backup your data, prevent online identity theft and stop malware. 

    What’s more, Norton 360 comes with monitoring features to identify all suspicious activity on your device. It will help detect and notify you about any unusual activity and stop it using it’s protection tools. 

    Check out our Norton 360 review and Norton 360 Platinum review to see which antivirus package suits you best.

What causes Boot Configuration Data file missing on Windows?

Boot Configuration Data (BCD) is an essential file in Windows OS, as it is responsible for storing and managing any boot-related information. It ensures your PC boots up correctly and starts with the right files. If the BCD file is corrupted, it will stop your computer from starting as usual. This is when you’ll see the “The Boot Configuration Data file is missing” error message.

There are several reasons why the BCD file is missing vital information or is corrupted. This includes hardware malfunctions, including a damaged hard drive or faulty RAM, and software issues, such as uninstalling programs or drivers essential for the BCD file.

Power surges or outages can also mess with your PC, as it will abruptly interrupt any functions that damage BCD. That’s when the file will become corrupted.

Problems can occur if you or third-party system optimisation tools modify data in the BCD file. It may encounter errors caused by manual inputs from either source, which disrupts how the BCD operates typically.

These issues can prevent your PC from booting up, but malware can cause further damage. Threat actors will deliberately damage or modify the BCD file to gain control of your computer. They can potentially steal personal data, banking information or use ransomware to hold your data hostage.

If this is the case, it’s best to use a trustworthy antivirus to prevent and keep you safe from malware.

Boot Configuration Data file is missing error on Windows

Can any antivirus software stop viruses and malware?

The best antivirus software will stop malware in its tracks. Not all antivirus software is equal, as some don’t have high malware detection and protection rates or have accredited lab scores to back them up.

However, many high-standard AV protections offer near-perfect scores when detecting and protecting against malware, meaning even complex malicious software can’t go unnoticed. If it’s malware trying to edit or corrupt your computer’s Boot Configuration Data file, an antivirus will help prevent it from causing any damage.

Services, including Norton 360 (from $19.99/year) and Bitdefender (from $19.99/year), include device monitoring features to help uncover suspicious activity early and offer the tools to fight off cyberattacks. Whether its a phishing attack, ransomware, spyware or infostealer malware, these security products have the tools to protect you.

These services have protection features that block malicious activity on your device. To make sure your device is ready to identify and block malware damaging your system, set yourself up with an antivirus.

Best antivirus to prevent viruses and malware

1. Norton 360 🥇From $19.99/year
Best overall antivirus of 2023

Norton 360 on Laptop scaled

“Norton” and “antivirus” are synonymous these days, as the well-established cybersecurity brand has successfully fought against malware, viruses and nasty software threats since 1990. 

Norton 360 offers excellent antivirus protection and extra features that make for a valuable, all-in-one security product. Its Norton 360 Deluxe and Premium package may cost a pretty penny. Still, with security across multiple platforms, a full-blown VPN, Dark Web Monitoring, Parental Controls and more, it will have a household free of cyber threats. 

Norton’s certainty of its antivirus software’s capabilities is clearly defined by the brand’s 100% Virus Protection Promise. If a device protected by Norton 360 can’t get rid of a virus, the user receives their money back. It’s a big claim, but unquestionably, no one should expect to get that refund.

If you have the money for it, you can also check out the premium Norton 360 Platinum package for even more online protection, including from identity theft. Without a doubt one of the best antivirus to get.

Read our full Norton 360 review

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2. Bitdefender 🥈 From $19.99/year
Best security features and tools

Bitdefender Lead Image scaled

Bitdefender takes the spot as best antivirus, and for good reason. It’s not enough that it boasts near-perfect lab test scores across the board, as it goes the extra mile by giving users access to a plethora of advanced security features.

Bitdefender goes above and beyond in the features department, all while keeping known malware, ransomware, and viruses at bay. It will defend your device against new attacks, provide security for online transactions, keep you safe with a reliable VPN, and protect your accounts with a password manager.

It’s a no-brainer when it comes to defending your devices against virtually any form of cyberattack, and its top-notch protection extends to its most affordable package, too. Protecting your PC and smartphone, from Windows and macOS to iOS and Android, is becoming even more necessary, and Bitdefender is the tricked-out shield you need. 

Read our full Bitdefender review

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3. Malwarebytes 🥉 From $44.99/year
Best antivirus for Windows PC

Malwarebytes Logo scaled

Hundreds of malware emerge every minute, and it’s Malwarebytes’ mission to detect and conquer them all. Does the antivirus do this successfully? Yes, but there’s wiggle room for improvements.

Malwarebytes’ no-nonsense approach to protecting your devices from the onslaught of malware and viruses is effective for those who need a reliable antivirus that will detect and remove malicious software, especially with its free version. However, while its premium service provides 24/7 real-time detection, conveniently blocks vicious ransomware and shields users from malicious websites, it doesn’t go beyond on the feature front.

That’s no bad thing, as sometimes a user only needs a powerful antivirus to keep them safe from cyber threats. But considering its competitors add a few more security tools, such as data breach monitoring and a firewall, there’s room for improvement. 

Read our full Malwarebytes review

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4. Avast One 🙌 From $39.99/year
Best antivirus for beginners + free plan available!

Avast One logo on laptop

With Avast One, you can protect your device from viruses, malware and ransomware for free. That’s right, and you don’t have to pay a dime for the extra security features the antivirus throws in, including its VPN, firewall and more.

Avast One will safeguard your device from malware, comes with ransomware protection, blocks harmful websites and downloads from the web, scans your emails for malicious attachments, stops hackers from infiltrating your device through Wi-Fi with a firewall – the list goes on. That’s a lot of tools for software that’s free, and the included VPN and the ability to speed up your PC are a welcome bonus.

It’s the ideal antivirus software for home use, as it takes the hassle out of staying wary of cyber threats lurking around, even if you’re not a tech whizz. What’s more, if you are looking for added precautions, its paid Individual and Family packages still boast great value. Hard to go wrong with this best antivirus.

Read our full Avast One review

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5. AVG👍 From 4.99/month
Best antivirus for + free plan available!

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You can never go wrong with free antivirus protection, but some deliver even better detection and protection rates, along with extra security features, without costing a dime. This is where AVG antivirus shines.

AVG provides reliable protection and only a small impact on performance for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. It safeguards your devices against malware, viruses and zero-day exploits, along with blocking malicious links and attachments in emails. Throw in phishing protection when surfing the internet and extra security features such as its SafePrice browser extension and Network Inspector, and you’ve got yourself a do-it-all antivirus.

Sure, you can find all of these perks with Avast, but if you like a slick, darker user interface that’s easy to navigate, then AVG is for you.

Read our full AVG Antivirus review

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Darragh Murphy
Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from the mischievous world of online security to washing machines designed for earbuds. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for laptops into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. When he's not checking out the latest devices and all things tech, he can be found swimming laps, watching terrible shark movies, and trying to find time to game.  Previous Editor at Laptop Mag and News Editor at Time Out Dubai, specialising in food culture, nightlife events, gaming, tech and entertainment.

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