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I have to start, restart, shut down and restart my computer to get it to boot properly and Windows Vista/Windows 7 reports corrupt hard disk segments and Registry files

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Problem

I am using the 64-bit version of Vista Home Premium [it could just as well be Windows 7 Home Premium or any other version of Vista or Win7] on my desktop PC and Vista Home Basic on my laptop PC. The laptop works well, but the desktop is giving me headaches. To get the desktop PC to boot properly, I have to shut down immediately and restart it. Sometimes the BIOS can't read the hard disk drive, so I have to keep the installation disc in the DVD drive all the time. This attempts to repair Windows Vista, but never does. During its second attempt, it offers to run System Restore. I have lost saved files or have had files changed to earlier versions after choosing to run it.

This is what happened the last time I went through the involved start-up routine. The system locked on being restarted at the point where the Windows progress bar appears. I pressed the reset button and the next restart caused Chkdsk to kick in after the progress bar appeared. This then claimed to delete a number of corrupt segments. After another restart Windows failed to load, but the Recovery Manager appeared. I chose to restart Windows normally and this failed. Another restart presented the same screen, so I chose to use the previous good configuration option. This also failed to work. Windows Vista produced a message saying that Registry files are missing or corrupt. How can that be the case, because sometimes the system does start properly and then it runs as it should?

Answer

If Windows Vista says that Registry files are missing or corrupt then that is probably the case. (The Registry is the database that Windows uses (since Windows 95) to keep its settings and to keep track of installed software.)

The corrupt segments that Chkdsk, Vista's hard-drive diagnostic and repair utility, discovered were probably brought about because you have repeatedly pressed the reset button while the computer was writing to the hard disk drive. The most common causes of missing or corrupt Registry files are hardware-related.

The files could be corrupted by faulty RAM memory that is not writing the data back to the disk with 100% accuracy, a faulty hard disk drive, or several other faults such as a bad hard-drive cable, or even a faulty motherboard.

If have a brand-name PC that came with hardware diagnostics software, you should run it. Its user manual should provide information on how to use such software. If you don't have that kind of software, you should run RAM memory and hard-disk diagnostics.

There is some information on the Windows Memory Diagnostic in the table below. You can download free hard drive diagnostic software from the sites of the major hard drive manufacturers. The Belarc Advisor creates an analysis of the hardware and software on a personal computer. Look under FREE DOWNLOAD - http://www.belarc.com/. It can tell you the make/model of the hard drive installed on the PC (if it is not identified in the Device Manager) so that you use a search engine to locate its manufacturer's website.

The Windows Memory Diagnostic installed as a startup option by Windows Vista or run from the Vista installation DVD

Windows Vista installs the Windows Memory Diagnostic as a startup option that is available as an option on the Windows Boot Manager screen that presents itself automatically on a multi-boot system in which more than one version of Windows or another operating system, such as Linux, is installed.

If a system only has Windows Vista installed, you can bring the Windows Boot Manager up by following these instructions:

1. - With the computer switched off (not in Standby), press and hold the F9 key.

2. - Switch the computer on while continuing to press the F9 key. Only release the F9 key when the Windows Boot Manager menu appears. If Windows Vista starts, or comes out of Standby, select Shut Down from the Start menu, and repeat steps 1 and 2.

3. - You press the Tab key to highlight the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool, and then press Enter. The Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool should start checking the computer's RAM memory. You can press the F1 key to review or change memory test options, and press the ESC key to interrupt the memory test. After the memory test has been completed, Windows Vista will start automatically. An error report appears in the System Tray/Notification Area. Click on it to read the results of the memory test.

It is possible to run Windows Memory Diagnostic without installing Windows Vista. To run the memory diagnostic, insert the Vista installation DVD into the computer's DVD drive and reboot. When you get the prompt "Press any key to boot from CD or DVD..." press and hold the space key or tap it multiple times. This should bring up the Windows Boot Manager screen that lists Windows Memory Diagnostic as an advanced tool. Press the Tab key to select Windows Memory Diagnostic and then press the Enter key to run it. After the Windows Memory Diagnostic has finished running, the computer continues booting the Vista installation DVD, which you can abort.

Alternatively, you can use Memtest86 - latest version - http://www.memtest.org/ and http://www.memtest86.com/.

With older versions of Windows, such as Windows 98 and Windows 2000, Registry files could be corrupted because the computer is turned off before it has finished writing the Registry files to the hard disk. With those versions of Windows, the Registry is written to the hard disk last during the shutdown process, so is most likely to be corrupted by this occurrence.

However, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 have a different shutdown procedure and are therefore not usually affected in that way. The cause could be a faulty device driver or a hard disk drive that is unusually slow. It could even be caused by system tweaks that were intended to speed up shutdowns. They usually reduce the time in which the running services can shut down.

Note that System Restore can only restore system files, not a user's documents. So, if one of the documents you were working on turns up as an older version after running System Restore, the latest version was probably not saved to disk, in the same way as the Registry files are not getting written properly. You can try running Windows Update. Include checking for optional updates, which may include updated software device drivers. You can also check with your computer's manufacturer's website for driver updates.

Anti-virus software can cause file corruption by slowing down disk writes by scanning the data being written to the hard disk. Disable or uninstall any anti-virus software to find out if it is responsible. Remember not to go online without active anti-virus protection. The 64-bit version of Windows XP Professional Edition was unreliable, due mainly to buggy 64-bit device drivers. [Note that there is no 64-bit version of Windows XP Home Edition.]

Microsoft promised that the 64-bit version of Windows Vista would be much improved with regard to 64-bit drivers, but there still seems to be lots of driver-related issues with it (September 2008). Therefore, if none of the hardware components is faulty, try installing the 32-bit version of Vista on a different partition to find out if that works better. Alternatively, you could try using a version of Linux that works from its CD/DVD without being installed on the hard drive, such as the free Ubuntu Linux. If it works, then you know that Vista 64-bit is responsible.

Windows XP a Goner? First Aid for your Windows PC -

Deals with the Windows XP Recovery Console and using a bootable Knoppix Linux CD to recover Windows XP. You could use the CD to test your system. -

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/windows-xp-a-goner,review-1174.html


Computer diagnostics: How to solve or fix common desktop and laptop PC problems

Click a link below to visit the described category of computer problems and solutions addressed on this website:

1. - Recovering and repairing Windows XP when a computer crashes or fails to boot

2. - Recovering and repairing Windows Vista when a computer crashes or fails to boot

3. - Windows Vista problems: How to fix problems with Windows Vista

4. - Recover, restore and repair Windows 7 (Win7) when a computer crashes or fails to boot

5. - Windows 7 problems: How to diagnose and fix problems with Windows 7

6. - Windows XP: How to troubleshoot and fix shutdown, restart (reboot), and startup problems

7. - Typical DLL (Dynamic Link Library) device driver problems

8. - Software problems: How to fix problems with Windows, programs, and utilities

Also visit the Software pages on this site for more information on specific software-related information and problems.

9. - Motherboard and power supply problems: How to fix common problems with faulty motherboards (mainboards) and power supplies (PSUs)

10. - RAM memory problems: How to fix problems with the Random Access Memory

11. - Hard disk drive problems: How to fix computer hard disk drive (HDD) problems

12. - CD/DVD drive problems: How to fix problems with CD and DVD drives and discs

13. - Processor problems: How fix common processor (CPU) problems

14. - Video/graphics card problems: How fix common computer video and graphics problems

15. - USB and FireWire problems: - How to fix common USB and FireWire problems

16. - Network problems: How to fix common wired and wireless networking and internet problems

17. - Laptop/notebook problems: How to address or fix the most common laptop/notebook problems


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