A master boot record (MBR), or partition sector, is the 512-byte boot sector that is the first sector ("LBA Sector 0") of a partitioned data storage device such as a hard disk. (The boot sector of a non-partitioned device is a Volume Boot Record. These are usually different, although it is possible to create a record that acts as both; it is called a multi boot record.)
Short for Master Boot Record, a small program that is executed when a computer boots up. Typically, the MBR resides on the first sector of the hard disk. The program begins the boot process by looking up the partition table to determine which partition to use for booting. It then transfers program control to the boot sector of that partition, which continues the boot process. In DOS and Windows systems, you can create the MBR with the FDISK /MBR command.
An MBR virus is a common type of virus that replaces the MBR with its own code. Since the MBR executes every time a computer is started, this type of virus is extremely dangerous. MBR viruses normally enter a system through a floppy disk that is installed in the floppy drive when the computer is started up. Even if the floppy disk is not bootable, it can infect the MBR.
At the completion of your system's Power On Self Test (POST), INT 19 is called. Usually INT 19 tries to read a boot sector from the first floppy drive. If a boot sector is found on the floppy disk, the that boot sector is read into memory at location 0000:7C00 and INT 19 jumps to memory location 0000:7C00. However, if no boot sector is found on the first floppy drive, INT 19 tries to read the MBR from the first hard drive. If an MBR is found it is read into memory at location 0000:7c00 and INT 19 jumps to memory location 0000:7c00. The small program in the MBR will attempt to locate an active (bootable) partition in its partition table. If such a partition is found, the boot sector of that partition is read into memory at location 0000:7C00 and the MBR program jumps to memory location 0000:7C00. Each operating system has its own boot sector format. The small program in the boot sector must locate the first part of the operating system's kernel loader program (or perhaps the kernel itself or perhaps a "boot manager program") and read that into memory.
INT 19 is also called when the CTRL-ALT-DEL keys are used. On most systems, CTRL-ALT-DEL causes an short version of the POST to be executed before INT 19 is called.
If an active partition is found, that partition's boot record is read into 0000:7c00 and the MBR code jumps to 0000:7c00 with SI pointing to the partition table entry that describes the partition being booted. The boot record program uses this data to determine the drive being booted from and the location of the partition on the disk.
If no active partition table entry is found, ROM BASIC is entered via INT 18. All other errors cause a system hang.
OFFSET 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F *0123456789ABCDEF*
000000 fa33c08e d0bc007c 8bf45007 501ffbfc *.3.....|..P.P...*
000010 bf0006b9 0001f2a5 ea1d0600 00bebe07 *................*
000020 b304803c 80740e80 3c00751c 83c610fe *.....t....u.....*
000030 cb75efcd 188b148b 4c028bee 83c610fe *.u......L.......*
000040 cb741a80 3c0074f4 be8b06ac 3c00740b *.t....t.......t.*
000050 56bb0700 b40ecd10 5eebf0eb febf0500 *V.......^.......*
000060 bb007cb8 010257cd 135f730c 33c0cd13 *..|...W.._s.3...*
000070 4f75edbe a306ebd3 bec206bf fe7d813d *Ou...........}.=*
000080 55aa75c7 8bf5ea00 7c000049 6e76616c *U.u.....|..Inval*
000090 69642070 61727469 74696f6e 20746162 *id partition tab*
0000a0 6c650045 72726f72 206c6f61 64696e67 *le.Error loading*
0000b0 206f7065 72617469 6e672073 79737465 * operating syste*
0000c0 6d004d69 7373696e 67206f70 65726174 *m.Missing operat*
0000d0 696e6720 73797374 656d0000 00000000 *ing system......*
0000e0 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 *................*
0000f0 0O000000 00000000 00000000 00000000
0001b0 00000000 00000000 00000000 00008001 *................*
0001c0 0100060d fef83e00 00000678 0d000000 *...........x....*
0001d0 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 *................*
0001e0 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 *................*
0001f0 00000000 00000000 00000000 000055aa *..............U.*
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