This section of this website provides information on all of the available methods of repairing, recovering and restoring Windows Vista. Note that Vista no longer provides the Recovery Console that Windows XP provides. It begins with the Introduction, which provides some very useful recovery information, some of which has not been made widely available. Next, how to perform a repair (upgrade), no-reformat, non-destructive, in-place installation or reinstallation is dealt with, followed by how to use System Restore and the System File Checker (SFC), both of which date back to Windows XP. After System Restore and restoring a system backup or system image, the next easiest way to restore Vista is to use its Startup Repair feature, which began in Vista and was carried forward to Windows 7. The other categories of recovery information deal with are: installing the Windows Recovery Environment, password recovery and how to create a slipstreamed disc from the original release installation disc so that it contains the two Vista Service Packs - SP1 and SP2 - that reinstalls Vista up to SP2. When Vista is reinstalled from a slipsteamed disc, only the updates released after SP2 have to be downloaded and installed from the Windows Update page on Microsoft's website. Diagnose and Fix Problems with Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business and Ultimate Editions is a separate section of this website, as is: Using Windows Vista: How it Differs from Windows XP.
The index of the contents on this page appears after the useful information on Windows Vista in the table below.
Click the relevant link to go to that information
3. - How to use System Restore [Separate page on this site]
8. - Startup Repair: How to use the Windows Vista installation DVD to run Startup Repair [The easiest method to recover/repair and installation of Windows Vista.]
11. - Windows Vista Microsoft Knowledge Base articles [Separate page]
Click here! to go to the full list of hardware and software problems dealt with on this website
Note that if you had created a backup of the system or a master image of the system, you could just restore it if you were to run into a seemingly irrecoverable software problem (backups and images can't solve problems caused by failed hardware). Visit the Backup section of this website for the various methods of creating backups and system images.
Previous versions of files: frequently asked questions - http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/...
The following problem is very common. The computer starts up but Windows Vista won't boot. If your desktop or laptop computer produces the following message: Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause take the following action depending on whether or not you have an original Vista installation disc (not a system Recovery Disk).
To fix the problem 1. - Insert your Windows [Vista] installation disc and restart your computer. 2. - Choose your language settings and click "Next" 3. - Click repair your computer File: \Boot\BCD Status 0xc000000f Info: An error occurred while attempting to read the boot configuration data.
However, if you don't have an installation disc, turn the PC/laptop computer on and press the F8 key repeatedly and quickly before Windows Vista starts to load until the boot options menu shown in the image below appears.
Using the arrow keys on the keyboard, you begin by selecting the Repair your Computer option then press the Enter key. Before doing that, if necessary, read this article by making use of the Safe Mode with Networking option that allows web access, or access it from another computer logged on to the web - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927391 - and start at Method 1, step 4. If that doesn't fix the problem, try the next suggestion.
Click Windows Vista Boot Manager startup recovery options to go to more information on the boot menu options on this page.
This computer-forum thread deals with this problem that produces difficulties: http://www.talktalk.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=182349.
This is how the person who posted that thread who had no Vista installation disc sorted his not-booting problem:
"If anyone else has this problem - which seems to be a common problem the solution that worked for us is:
"1. - Use you Vista disc to reboot the computer. If you don't have a disk then go to here http://neosmart.net/blog/2008/window...disc-download/ and download a disc. Make sure you choose 32 or 64 bit option - and if you are not sure then just download both. 2. - Use the repair option to get to the command-line prompt. 3. - Enter the command bootrec.exe and it will say there are 4 options you can choose. 4. - Enter all 4 options one after the other. 5. - Reboot."
Safe Mode is the diagnostic mode that Windows can boot into when the F8 key is repeatedly pressed just before Windows starts to load. It is one of several options provided by the boot menu that comes up. Safe Mode with networking support, another option, can be used to access the Internet to run an online malware scanner if, say, normal mode can't be accessed. The Command Prompt is also provided. Only the basic device drivers and software are used, so viruses that function in normal mode can't function in Safe Mode. Files or software that fails to be removed in normal mode can often be removed in Safe Mode or system scanners and tools can be run from it. However, sometimes the F8 method fails to work, especially when there are two or more versions of Windows (or another operating system such as Linux) installed in a dual-boot or multi-boot system because the system boot menu comes up instead to give the choice of which operating system to use.
Fortunately, Windows XP/Vista/7 can be forced to start up in Safe Mode from within Windows instead of restarting and pressing the F8 key repeatedly just before Windows starts to load. To do that in Vista/Win7 just type msconfig in the Start => Search... box (the Run box in XP), click on the msconfig.exe link that is presented. The System Configuration window comes up. Open its Boot tab and enable Safe Boot. (In XP it's the BOOT.INI tab.) When the computer is restarted, it boots into Safe Mode.
Windows XP provides a feature called Error Reporting - Microsoft's first attempt at automatic crash analysis and repair. Using it could be useful if the problem is not serious enough to prevent you from booting your computer and you have web access. This feature has developed into the Windows Error Reporting and the Problem Reports and Solutions feature in Windows Vista. Your computer has to be able to boot and access the web in order to be able to use it. The following TechNet article provides information on how to use the feature.
Windows Error Reporting and the Problem Reports and Solutions Feature in Windows Vista -
"In Windows Vista, Windows Error Reporting and the Problem Reports and Solutions feature work together to make it easy to find solutions to computer problems online." -
If you have to reinstall Windows XP/Vista on a brand-name desktop or laptop PC due to its corruption, and the Product Key has been lost (probably along with the PC's Recovery CD/DVD) and you have a valid OEM Windows XP/Vista installation CD/DVD (borrowed from a friend, etc.), you have to recover the Product Key from the PC in order to perform the reinstallation with that disc. Alternatively, you may have a valid Windows XP/Vista installation CD/DVD, but you have lost the Product Key. (Remember that the Product Key is printed on the Windows validation sticker that must, under the Windows user licence, be fixed to the computer, so look for it before you try an alternative recovery procedure.) The major PC manufacturers (Dell, HP, Acer, etc.) use OEM copies of Windows that are usually recovered by means of using a Recovery CD/DVD, which is not a valid Windows installation CD/DVD. They are the only copies that can be reinstalled to those computers unless you buy a new OEM or retail copy of Windows XP/Vista which has a new licence and hence a new Product Key. This is an example of an OEM Windows XP Product Key: 75486-OEM-0012904-02826. If necessary, read this relevant thread:
Using any OEM XP CD to reinstall Windows XP, on a system that has a valid OEM Product key -
Note that the Product Key is tied to the product. If a PC came with an OEM copy of Windows XP Home SP1 or Windows XP Home SP2 or Windows XP Home SP3, they are all different products. So, if the Product Key came with a Windows XP Home SP1 disc, it will only work with another OEM Windows XP Home SP1 disc, etc. (SP stands for Service Pack, which is a major update to a particular version of Windows.) The same applies for Windows XP Professional, for which you also require a Windows XP Professional disc of the correct type. A disc for Windows XP Home cannot be used. The same applies to the versions of Windows Vista and to Vista SP1.
Windows XP and Vista Product Key Recovery - "There are many programs available for extracting the product key from a Windows XP or Vista installation. The only problem is that they generally require the computer to be functional to run. These programs are useless if the operating system is corrupt and the computer will not boot into Windows. Fortunately, there are other options. This article explains how you can retrieve the product key with just the ntuser.dat file from the machine. You can also download a stand-alone version of my decrypter tool." -
If a desktop or laptop PC that is running a version Of Windows Vista fails due to a software failure, you should be able to recover it by making use of the information provided on this page. A hardware failure requires the diagnosis of which hardware component is responsible so that it can be put right, repaired or replaced. Read METHODS OF RECOVERING WINDOWS XP for information on recovering a system from a hardware failure.
System recovery in Windows Vista should be a simple matter, because the process has been automated.
The Windows Vista installation DVD provides a comprehensive automated recovery suite called the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE).
Windows XP users have to fix a corrupt MBR and hard-drive boot sector manually by making use of the relevant commands used by the Recovery Console, which no longer exists in Windows Vista. The hard drive also has to be scanned for errors manually by making use of the chkdsk utility in Windows XP. However, the Windows Recovery Environment provided with Windows Vista corrects a corrupt MBR and boot sector, and performs a hard-disk checkup automatically.
How to use the Startup Repair feature that uses the Windows Recovery Environment is discussed further down this page.
Note that you can only recover an installation of Windows Vista if the cause of its failure is software-related. If the failure to boot, etc., is cause by a hardware failure, such as a faulty motherboard, faulty RAM memory, etc., the defective hardware has to be identified and then repaired or replaced.
If you have an Windows Vista computer (desktop or laptop) made by one of the major manufacturers (Dell, Acer, HP, Toshiba, Lenovo, etc.), it will have come with its manufacturer's recovery disc that resets the system to the state it was in when it left the factory, not a Windows Vista installation DVD. You need a real Windows Vista installation disc in order to be able to access the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) that Vista's Startup Repair uses, so you won't be able to use it. However, the following website provides a valid boot disc that runs WinRE.
Windows Vista Recovery Disc Download -
Download: Windows Vista x64 Recovery Disc -
The second link provides a download for the 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and provides information on how to download and use .torrent files.
The files are ISO files that have to be burned as disc images not as data files. Most disc-burning software provides an option to burn a file as an image.
It is a safe website. The comments provided by readers may prove to be useful. After downloading the image to your a folder on your Vista computer, create a CD in ISO format. You can use a recordable CD disc; a recordable DVD disc is not required as the ISO file is only 120MB. On the CD/DVD, there are two folders Boot (3.27MB), Sources (116MB) and one file Bootmgr (325KB). It works in the same way as a Vista installation DVD. Just boot from the disc, (your computer's BIOS will have to be entered at system startup prior to Windows startup by pressing its entry key in order to set with the CD/DVD drive as the first boot device if it doesn't boot from the disc automatically), choose Press any key to boot from CD/DVD and Vista will start to load the Windows files. Select your language, time, currency and keyboard then click Repair in the bottom left corner. Within the Repair option there are five choices: Startup Repair, System Restore, Backup Restore, Memory Test and Command Prompt.
If you have made a backup using any ofthe backup options in the Windows [Vista] Backup and Restore Center, you can use the Backup Restore feature on the dsic to restore the backup. Making a backup of the whole system is the best way of protecting your computer from irrecoverable software failures.
Windows Backup and Restore Center -
It is a good idea to create a bootable rescue disc in case you can't recover a Windows Vista system by using the methods provided on this page. The following webpages provide information on such boot discs.
Bootable rescue CDs can fix your damaged Windows -
"When your system is so corrupt with malware that it becomes unstable or won't even boot, a bootable rescue CD can give it the scrubbing it needs. The free anti-malware rescue CDs I describe today have all the tools you need to remove viruses and restore Windows' health." -
6 downloadable boot discs that could save your PC [the article states which versions of Windows (Windows XP/2000/Vista) a boot disc can be used with] -
Free download - Paragon Rescue Kit 9.0 Express - Non-commercial use only -
"Don't wait for a disaster to strike - get an instant data and system recovery kit today to ensure your protection! Rescue Kit professionally fixes boot problems as well as retrieves your data when your system fails to boot. It even rescues deleted partitions. All, you need to do to achieve complete control over any situation is burn the software on your CD/DVD!" -
"VistaPE is a system based on the kernel of the newest operating system Microsoft Windows Vista....VistaPE can be loaded on regular or crashed systems and allows the user to get full access to all disks in order restoring data, checking for viruses, fixing system boot problems, transferring data onto a network or through the Internet." - http://www.vistape.net/
This repair installation amounts to performing an upgrade installation, which retains all of your personal user account files, settings and installed programs - is a non-destructive, in-place installation, therefore no reformatting of the hard disk drive is required. The process involves performing an upgrade installation from within Windows Vista (it is not launched by booting from the installation disc). The reason for not being able to boot from the Vista installation disc is that it contains all of the versions of Vista so that the user could use it with Windows Vista Anytime Upgrade (no longer available) to upgrade from, say, Vista Home Premium to Vista Ultimate. Anytime Upgrade for Vista has been dropped, but it is available for Windows 7. The details are here:
Windows Anytime Upgrade -
You must possess a retail Full or Upgrade Windows Vista installation DVD to perform a repair installation of Vista from within Vista. Note well that an Upgrade DVD is best, because some users have had problems performing an upgrade when using a Full version installation DVD.
The Windows Vista installation DVD that you use to do the repair (upgrade) installation must be the same version or a newer version of Vista. For example, if the PC has Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 (SP2) installed, you must use an installation disc that incorporates SP2, or you have to use a slipsteamed disc that has been created from the original version of Vista or Vista SP1 to incorporate SP2. If the DVD is an older version than the version installed on the system, it cannot be used to perform a repair (upgrade) installation.
Old and new versions of system files cannot be mixed. At the time of writing this, Windows Vista had two service packs released - SP1 and SP2. If you have SP2 installed, you have to have an installation disc that provides the SP2 files, you can't use the original pre-service-pack installation disc. However, you can create an up-to-date disc by "slipstreaming" the original disc to create a new disc with that contains the service pack(s). Click here! to go to information on this website on how to create a slipstreamed Windows installation disc.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 do not provide the boot option for a repair install because the installation DVD contains all of the versions of Vista/Windows 7. Your Product Key is your licence and it can only install the version that you purchased.
Note that because an installation disc contains all of the different versions of Vista, you can use any Vista installation disc to perform a repair installation. You are not restricted to the disc you own. But you do need your copy's Product Key, which has to be entered during the repair (or clean reinstallation) process.
The Product Key is provided with the installation disc of a retail copy and is usually attached to the bottom of a laptop or somewhere on the case of a desktop PC. If you have lost the key and Windows is able to boot, you can find out what it is by using a tool such as the Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder.
There is an alternative to slipsteaming an installation disc. You can uninstall the latest Service Pack. The following Microsoft article provides information on the various ways of uninstalling the latest service pack that has been installed. If you have installed Vista SP2, you can remove it, but you won't be able to remove SP1 if that was also installed. If you only had SP1 installed, uninstalling it reverts the system to the files it has when the original release of Vista was installed and you can use the original Vista installation disc to perform an in-place, non-destructive repair installation. Windows 7 SP1 has been available since February 2011. The same situation will apply when Windows 7 SP2 has become available and has been installed.
How to uninstall Windows Vista service packs as a troubleshooting step - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/948537
Here is how to perform a repair installation: From within Windows Vista insert your installation DVD in the PC's DVD drive and click on Setup when it appears. Work through the location/time, etc., screen and click OK. Two options are provided: Upgrade Install and Custom Install. Choose Upgrade Install , which could also be called Repair Install, but for some reason isn't. Windows will then reinstall itself without disturbing your installed programs and data. The process is relatively simple and shouldn't provide you with any difficulties. But if you can't proceed for some reason, you can use another computer connected to the web to read through the following article that provides screenshots of the installation process.
The following link provides all of the information and screenshots required to perform a repair (upgrade) installation. -
Note that the readers' comments after the article might prove useful to you. There are several other useful articles provided from that website.
To perform a clean reinstallation Windows Vista from within Windows, insert the installation DVD and reboot. This time choose Custom [Clean] Install. A clean installation requires you to reinstall all your programs and data files. However, during the clean install, a folder will be created called windows.old, which contains the previous installation's files, including data files, which, if you don't have a backup of them are recoverable from it. (You should always have backups or copies of your data files because of Sod's Law: If it can go wrong, it will go wrong.) When you have everything back up and running, you can delete this folder to save on the large amount of space that it occupies. If you perform more than one clean install there will be a windows.old file for each one. I would also run the defragmentation tool because removing such a large file will leave a gap that is best defragmented. To find the tool just enter defrag in the Start => Search programs and files box to be provided with a clickable link to it.
If you have one, you can use the Windows Vista installation DVD to reinstall Windows Vista if none of the recovery options provided on this page work, but it generates a huge Windows.old folder that you should remove.
I was unable to load up Windows Vista. I tried System Restore, Safe Mode and Startup Repair, etc. Nothing worked. I phoned up Medion, the PC's manufacturer's help line, and they suggested that I reinstall Vista. I would then have the new Windows and one called Windows Old. Everything seemed to be all right. I used my support disc to put drivers etc. back on and it all worked. Last night I used my Clickfree Automatic Backup external hard disk drive backup system to reinstall my Favourites, photos, etc. This also worked. However, when Clickfree made a new backup, I noticed that it was making a copy of both Windows folders. I opened Computer, clicked the boot drive's icon and found both Windows there - Windows and Windows.old. Windows is only 13GB and Windows.old is a huge 334GB. Needless to say, I need to get rid of the old one. But I have a sneaking feeling that it won't involve just clicking onto the folder and deleting it.
The Windows.old folder is so large because it not only contains all the Windows files from your previous installation, but also all of the personal documents for all users. If you have more than one user set up to use the computer, before you get rid of the old folder, you may want to have a look in it to see if there's anything valuable in the sub-folders under the Users folder (it may be called Documents & Settings). With Windows 2000 and Windows XP, you can just delete the folder. Afterwards, you just have to modify one of the boot files so that it no longer gives you the option to start the old unwanted version of Windows. With Windows Vista, Disk Cleanup will do it all for you. The information on how to do that is provided in this MS Knowledge Base article:
How to remove the Windows.old folder that is generated when you perform a custom installation of Windows Vista -
"This article describes how to remove the Windows.old folder that is generated when you perform a custom installation [or reinstallation] of Windows Vista. The Windows.old folder contains folders and files that were used in the earlier version of Microsoft Windows that was installed." -
The System File Checker (SFC) utility (executable file: sfc.exe), first introduced in Windows 98, is still available in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. It can detect and replace corrupted system files with sound copies. The utility requires access to original system files on a Windows setup CD/DVD or from some other accessible location. You should read articles on how to use it before doing so, because it is possible to hose a system by replacing files with ones that don't work or by doing so incorrectly.
How to use the System File Checker tool to troubleshoot missing or corrupted system files on Windows Vista or on Windows 7 -
"This article describes how to use the System File Checker tool (SFC.exe) to troubleshoot missing or corrupted system files on Windows Vista or on Windows 7." - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929833/en-uk
Scannow SFC - http://www.updatexp.com/scannow-sfc.html
You should always make copies of important files and backups so that you can restore them if Windows XP or Windows Vista have to be reinstalled after an unrecoverable system crash.
Windows XP and Windows Vista provide backup software and file-copying software that can be run from a graphical user interface (GUI) or from the Command Prompt. Click here! to go to the information on backups and backup strategies on this site. The command-line xcopy and robocopy commands are dealt with here.
Many users of Windows Vista have made complains about slow file-copying, particularly across a network, but also to external hard drives. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) has improved matters. However, note that in both Windows XP and Windows Vista, copying files using the xcopy command from the Command Prompt will always be much faster than copying files using Windows Explorer.
To open a Command Prompt in Windows XP enter cmd in the Start => Run box. Then just enter xcopy /? beside the flashing underscore to find out what the full range of switches are that can be used with that command. You can then enter xcopy followed by the switch of your choice to run that command. In Windows Vista enter that cmd command in the Start => Start Search box. To find out how to use the xcopy command in Windows XP, enter xcopy + xp, as is, in the Google search box at the top of this page (enable the Web Search option on the first search page). Note that Windows Vista has replaced xcopy with the superior robocopy, which has powerful backup options in addition to its copy options. To find out how to use the robocopy command in Windows Vista, enter robocopy + vista, as is, in the Google search box at the top of this page (enable the Web Search option on the first search page).
Note also that you can add robocopy to Windows XP. It is part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools that are free to download from:
When you have it installed in Windows XP (it is part of Windows Vista), you can copy the long help file to a text file by entering the command robocopy /? > robocopy.txt. I take it that the file is saved to the root directory C:\. You can use the Start => Search in Windows XP and the Start => Start Search box in Windows Vista to locate it.
You can also run it with a graphical user interface (GUI) instead of from the command line.
Utility Spotlight: Robocopy GUI - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc160891.aspx
The Advanced Boot Options menu allows you to start Windows Vista in advanced troubleshooting modes. You can access the menu by switching the computer on and pressing the F8 key repeatedly before Windows Vista starts.
The following information appears on this page:
Advanced startup options (including Safe Mode) -
"Some options, such as safe mode, start Windows in a limited state, where only the bare essentials are started. If a problem does not reappear when you start in safe mode, you can eliminate the default settings and basic device drivers as possible causes. Other options start Windows with advanced features intended for use by system administrators and IT professionals. For more information, go to the Microsoft website for IT professionals."
Repair your computer
"Shows a list of system recovery tools you can use to repair startup problems, run diagnostics, or restore your system. This option is available only if the tools are installed on your computer's hard drive. If you have a Windows installation disc, the system recovery tools are located on the installation disc. For more information, see Startup Repair: frequently asked questions."
More information on these recovery tools is provided further down this page.
Starts Windows with a minimal set of drivers and services.
Safe mode with networking
"Starts Windows in safe mode and includes the network drivers and services needed to access the Internet or other computers on your network."
Safe mode with command prompt
"Starts Windows in safe mode with a command prompt window instead of the usual Windows interface. This option is intended for IT professionals and administrators."
Enable boot logging
"Creates a file, ntbtlog.txt, that lists all the drivers that are installed during startup and that might be useful for advanced troubleshooting."
Enable low resolution video (640 × 480)
"Starts Windows using your current video driver and using low resolution and refresh rate settings. You can use this mode to reset your display settings."
Last Known Good Configuration (advanced)
"Starts Windows with the last registry and driver configuration that worked successfully."
Directory services restore mode
"Starts Windows domain controller running Active Directory so that the directory service can be restored. This option is intended for IT professionals and administrators."
"Starts Windows in an advanced troubleshooting mode intended for IT professionals and system administrators."
Disable automatic restart on system failure
"Prevents Windows from automatically restarting if an error causes Windows to fail. Choose this option only if Windows is stuck in a loop where Windows fails, attempts to restart, and fails again repeatedly."
Disable Driver Signature Enforcement
"Allows drivers containing improper signatures to be installed."
Start Windows normally
"Starts Windows in its normal mode."
Using Startup Repair on the Windows Vista DVD is the easiest method to recover/repair and installation of Windows Vista.
Here is the Startup Repair FAQ page on Microsoft's website:
Note that if you have a USB flash drive inserted, the Startup Repair process sometimes examines it instead of the active partition of the boot hard disk drive. If it does that, it won't be able to locate the Master Boot Record (MBR) that it requires to boot, and so gives an error message. In order to avoid that, remove all USB and other peripheral devices (printers, etc.), before you run the startup recovery tool.
If you have bought your own copy of Windows Vista, which comes on a DVD, or you have a Vista DVD that came with your desktop or laptop PC, you can use into boot a damaged system.
However, note that you won't be able to do that if your PC came with a Recovery CD/DVD, which runs its own recovery system that usually restores the PC to the state it was in when it left the factory, usually minus all of the programs you've installed yourself and minus the data files that you have created.
If the BIOS setup program is set to boot first from the computer's CD/DVD drive, having the Vista DVD in the CD/DVD drive launches the Windows Vista installation.
Note that if the computer is not configured to start from a CD or DVD, check the information that came with your computer. You may need to change the computer's BIOS settings.
If you can't boot into Vista in order to be able to insert the Vista DVD into the CD/DVD drive and then reboot in order to boot the system from the DVD, switch the computer on, insert the disc quickly, close the drive door and then reboot the system by making use of the Reset button. If your computer doesn't have a Reset button, switch the computer off and then restart it.
When the computer starts the BIOS runs and lists the computer's hardware and other information on the screen. When that information has cleared, the computer will see that a bootable DVD is inserted and present a prompt that says: Press any key to boot from the CD or DVD...
The boot process then launches the Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE), which is a basic version of Windows that runs in memory only.
A screen presents itself asking for three requirements:
1. - Language to install
2. - Time and currency format
3. - Keyboard or input method
Making a selection for each option, or keeping the default options and clicking Next, will bring you to the Install now screen. You don't want to install Vista, so don't choose that option.
These two options appear in the lower left corner of the screen:
What to know before installing Windows
Repair your computer
Clicking Repair your computer will bring up another screen. The repair process looks for all of Windows Vista installations on the computer. When that has been done, the System Recovery Options dialog window comes up.
The information that appears in the System Recovery Options window is as follows:
"Select an operating system to repair and click Next. Only Windows Vista operating systems are listed and can be repaired.
If you do not see an operating system listed, click Load Drivers [button] to load drivers for your hard disks"
There are two buttons at the bottom right-hand side of the window called Load Divers and Next.
If only one version of Vista is listed, click the Next button.
This option launches Windows RE, of which more information is provided in the next item on this page.
If the repair process doesn't detect any problems starting Vista, it brings up the System Recovery Options window that provides access to the following recovery tools:
Windows Complete Restore
Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool
You'll want to perform an automated repair, so you should click on the Startup Repair option under the list of utilities.
Note that if the repair process detects that the computer has had problems starting Vista, instead of displaying the list of recovery utilities, it runs the Startup Repair tool automatically. When the Startup Repair tool runs, it scans the Vista installation for problems. If it finds problems, it attempts to fix them automatically. This is the information that appears in the Startup Repair window:
"Your computer was unable to start... Startup Repair is checking your system for problems..."
"If problems are found, Startup Repair will fix them automatically. Your computer might restart several times during the process. No changes will be made to your personal files, or information. This might take several minutes."
The window displays an animated box that has shows that actions are taking place. It has the words "Searching for problems..." under it.
During this process the Startup Repair dialog box might present itself asking if you would like to restore your computer using System Restore.
It says: "Do you want to restore your computer using System Restore?... Startup Repair can try to restore your computer to an earlier point when it worked correctly... This repair will not change personal data, but it might remove some programs that were installed recently [that were installed before the restore point it restores was created]. You cannot undo this restoration."
The window has a Restore and a Cancel button.
Click on the Cancel button because there is a superior System Restore option that can be used from the System Recovery Options, which are detailed further down in this article. The repair process will continue to scan the installation of Vista for errors to fix. After the repair process has finished running, if no problems were found, an option to send information to Microsoft will present itself. You can elect to send the information or instruct the process not to send it. Note that you won't receive a reply from Microsoft with a solution. Microsoft just uses the information to determine if it needs to create a patch to rectify the problem.
After you've made your choice, the Startup Repair window now says:
"Windows cannot repair this computer automatically. If you have recently attached a device to this computer, such as a camera or a portable music player, remove it and restart your computer. If you continue to see this message, contact your system administrator or computer manufacturer for assistance."
The window provides the following two options:
View diagnostic and repair details
View advanced options for system recovery and support
The window also provides Finish and Cancel buttons.
Clicking on the Finish button exits the repair process by rebooting the computer.
Clicking on the View advanced options for system recovery and support option is the advisable action to take.
Note that you can bring up the advanced repair options at any time during the Startup Repair process by clicking on the Cancel button. The advanced repair options are:
This feature has been dealt with above.
System Restore allows the restoration of a computer's configuration, driver information, and programs to a previous state that leaves the existing data folders and files intact. To use this option, System Restore must have been enabled in Windows Vista so that restore points are available to restore from. System Restore in Vista works in the same way as it does in Windows XP. Click here! to go to the information on it on this site. If you are familiar with using computer software, using System Restore would be a simple matter of following the its wizard's instructions.
Windows Complete Restore
Complete PC Restore is a feature of Vista's Complete PC Backup and Restore utility that can restore a whole system from a backup image that it created. It is only available in Windows Vista Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise, not in Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium. If you used the utility to create backup image of the whole system when the computer was operating properly, you can use this repair option to restore that image.
Windows [Vista] Backup and Restore Center - http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/features/details/backup.mspx
Error message when you try to repair or recover Windows Vista Home Basic or Windows Vista Home Premium by using Windows Complete PC Backup and Restore: "You do not have a valid backup image to restore from" - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/930436
Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool
Windows Vista comes with the Microsoft Windows Memory Diagnostic utility that can check the memory installed in a computer for errors. It allows you to find out if the RAM memory installed in the computer is responsible for errors. It can be run at system startup or from the Vista installation DVD. Click here! to go to the information on it on this site.
The Command Prompt repair tool allows a command prompt to be opened that can be used to access the files and Registry information on your computer. It can remove security threats such as worms, rootkits, and other malware from a computer and allows access to files when Vista fails to boot. The Recovery Console in Windows XP has been diminished in Windows Vista so that most of the commands are available via the Command Prompt in Windows RE. Here is a list of Recovery Console commands that are different or unavailable in Windows RE:
|Recovery Console command||Windows RE equivalent|
|BootCfg||BootRec / ScanOS BootRec / RebuildBcd bcdedit|
|FixBoot||BootRec / FixBoot|
|FixMBR||BootRec / FixMbr|
All the remaining commands have the same name in Windows RE. The services related commands (listsvc, enable and disable) that are not available, can be worked around by loading the registry hive manually using regedit.
Click here! to go to information on the Recovery Console that provides information on the remaining commands and what they are used to accomplish.
When you are finished using the Command Prompt it is exited by typing exit and then pressing the Enter key on the keyboard. The Command Prompt closes and you are brought back at the list of the available repair tools.
With Windows XP it is a simple matter to fix a corrupt bootloader. All you have to do is boot with the Windows XP installation disc in the CD/DVD drive, click R to run the Recovery Console, and then use the fixmbr (fix master boot record) command. However, Windows Vista has a new much more complex bootloader. Many files have to be restored, a great deal of data has to be recreated. Moreover, complicated configuration has to be set up just in order to get Windows Vista to boot. If you have a dual-boot system that provides the choice to boot into more than one version of Windows or an alternative operating system, such as Linux, the process is all the more difficult. Here are some useful webpages that provide the information you need to use Vista's Bootrec.exe tool and how to recover Vista's bootloader.
How to use the Bootrec.exe tool in the Windows Recovery Environment to troubleshoot and repair startup issues in Windows Vista -
"You can use the Bootrec.exe tool in the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) to troubleshoot and repair the following items in Windows Vista: • A master boot record (MBR) • A boot sector • A Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store." - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927392
Recovering the Windows Vista Bootloader from the Installation DVD -
Repairing the Windows Vista Bootloader -
What is EasyBCD® - "It all depends on who you ask or what you want to get done, but EasyBCD is NeoSmart Technologies 100% free Vista bootloader modification tool. A way to get your Vista working with Linux, BSD, Mac OS X, and dozens more operating systems without a headache! An IT Guy's number 1 Vista-troubleshooting tool. A multiple award-winning application, used and recommended by people at PC World, Microsoft, and more! The best way to do just about anything with Windows Vista before it even turns on!" -
Startup Repair: frequently asked questions -
Advanced startup options (including Safe Mode) -
"The Advanced Boot Options menu lets you start Windows in advanced troubleshooting modes. You can access the menu by turning on your computer and pressing the F8 key before Windows starts." -
Windows Vista no longer starts, and Startup Repair does not fix problem -
"CAUSE: When a USB flash drive is inserted in a computer, the computer hardware sometimes reports that the USB flash drive is the system partition. The Startup Repair tool examines the USB flash drive instead of the actual system partition on the hard disk. Because Startup Repair cannot locate the corrupted MBR, it does not detect a problem. RESOLUTION To avoid this behavior, remove the USB flash drive before you run the Startup Repair tool." -
A disadvantage of using the Windows Vista installation DVD is that you might not always have it on hand. If you don't want to be dependent on the installation media, then you can make use of the Windows RE console by installing it on your computer when you install Windows Vista.
The Windows RE console is new to Windows Vista and is designed to support its recovery or repair.
Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) is a recovery platform based on Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE). It provides two main functions:
1. - Automatic diagnosis and repair of boot problems using a tool called Startup Repair.
2. - A centralised platform for other advanced recovery tools: System Restore - Windows Complete Restore - Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool - Command Prompt. Information on these recovery tools is provided in the first article on this page on Startup Repair.
Windows RE replaces the Recovery Console in Windows XP. However, you should be able to perform most of the tasks of the Recovery Console from Windows RE.
You can even use Windows RE to reinstall Windows without damaging your data, since the image-based setup Windows Vista uses protects data during an upgrade process.
The ideal way to install Windows RE is to create two disk partitions as you install Vista on your system: one for Vista and one for Windows RE.
This way, Windows RE will be accessible if you run into system disk problems and Vista won't start. The Windows RE partition only requires 1GB of space, since Windows RE is a very small system. Both partitions must be primary and active. To install Windows RE, you have to create a system image that you can install on your system. For this, you'll need the Windows Automated Installation Kit, which kit gives you the tools you need to customise a Windows PE image and turn it into a Windows RE image. Once the image is ready, you simply apply it to your Windows RE partition.
Full instructions on how to achieve that can be found in this step-by-step guide:
Walkthrough: Build a Windows Recovery Solution -
"This walkthrough describes how to build a recovery solution by using Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE), a solution based on Windows PE 2.0. In this example, you will first create a custom Windows RE image. You will then build a master computer that contains two partitions, one for Windows Vista and one for Windows RE. Once installed, you will configure Windows Vista Boot Manager to automatically fallover to Windows RE when Windows Vista is unable to boot." -
How to install Windows RE on the hard disk -
Microsoft Windows Preinstallation Environment -
Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) -
"The Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) helps you to install, customize, and deploy the Microsoft Windows Vista family of operating systems." -
In Windows Vista and Window7, the first account that you create is the administrator account, so if you lose its password you won't be able to enter the system unless you take a simple precaution beforehand.
Password recovery in Vista makes use of a USB flash drive/memory stick. However, it has to be set up before it can be used. To do that, log into the administrator's account, click the Start button, which no longer has the word "Start" on it, and then enter control userpasswords in the Start Search box. In the window that comes up, click on Create A Password Reset Disk. This activates the forgotten password wizard. Click Next and insert a USB flash drive in a USB port. Enter the current administrator's password. The wizard writes it to the USB flash drive/memory stick. You should remove the drive, give it a suitable label and place it somewhere safe that you can remember easily. Some people hide things so well that they forget how to find them. When you forget the password, plug the flash drive into the computer and click on Reset Password. Click Next on the Reset Password Wizard and select the drive that contains the USB reset disk. Enter a new password when prompted and confirm it. Now you must update the flash drive with the new password so that you can use it should the same thing happen at some other time.
You can use a password-recovery program or service if you didn't set up the Reset Disk. However, note that the data must not encrypted, because you will not be able to gain access to encrypted files by changing the administrator password.
Backtrack-linux.org's Linux-based security tools package, BackTrack 4, is available free on its download page provided below. Despite being a Linux tool, I have found that BackTrack 4 is the most Windows-compatible (works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7) password-cracking utility and is also the easiest to use.
Backtrack 4 Final Release - http://www.backtrack-linux.org/downloads/
I assume you know how to download, burn, and boot a BackTrack CD. Just remember that the PC's BIOS must have the CD/DVD drive set as the first boot device if you want to boot the system from a CD/DVD boot disc. To use BackTrack fully, you need to know a bit about Linux. If you're not familiar with Linux, the two YouTube videos linked to below provide step-by-step instructions on how to reset the password and recover the original password.
Reset Passwords on Windows XP and Vista using Backtrack 4 - Captions and Voice Included - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIeJkjB3okE
Cracking Windows 7 password using Backtrack 4 Live CD - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTqV8oTzK4M
BackTrack 4 has many other tools. Several tutorials on how to use them are provided on the BackTrack website. For example, almost any file on a failed PC can be accessed, making it possible to recover and back up data files before formatting the boot hard disk drive completely to reinstall Windows.
Petter Nordahl-Hagen's Offline NT Password & Registry Editor - An excellent free tool that can reset the administrator password and gain access to the system. It modifies the encrypted password in the Registry's SAM file, thereby allowing access to the account in Windows NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista systems. An image file is used to create a bootable floppy disk or bootable CD that is used to modify the administrator password and access NTFS partitions. It is not necessary to know the old password to set a new one. You can also use it to unlock disabled or locked user accounts . The program now includes Windows Vista support. - http://home.eunet.no/pnordahl/ntpasswd/
Forgot your Windows NT/2k/XP/Vista admin password? -
"This is a utility to (re)set the password of any user that has a valid (local) account on your Windows NT/2k/XP/Vista etc system. You do not need to know the old password to set a new one. It works offline, that is, you have to shutdown your computer and boot off a floppydisk or CD or another system. Will detect and offer to unlock locked or disabled out user accounts! There is also a registry editor and other registry utilities that works under linux/unix, and can be used for other things than password editing." - http://home.eunet.no/pnordahl/ntpasswd/
These are usually expensive but the Login Recovery service from http://www.loginrecovery.com/ is free unless you use its instant-access service. "Login Recovery is a service to reveal user names and recover passwords for Windows NT, 2000, XP, 2003 and Vista. As long as you have physical access to the computer, your passwords can be recovered."
On startup, the Security Accounts Manager (SAM) file that contains the passwords is locked, encrypted, and is therefore unreadable. You download the software to create a bootable floppy disk or CD. (Remember that to boot from a floppy disk the BIOS Setup Program must be set so that the first boot device is a floppy drive/CD/DVD drive. You then boot the system with it and it makes a copy of the SAM file. Then you make use of another PC that is connected to the web to upload the file that is extracted to the Login Recovery site. You should have the password back within 48 hours.
Here are some other webpages that can educate you about Windows Vista passwords and help you recover a system if it cannot be entered due to a forgotten password.
What to do if you forget your Windows password -
Reset your Windows [Vista] password -
How to create and use a password reset disk in Windows Vista -
Back Up and Recover Windows Vista Passwords -
Top 4 Free Windows Password Recovery Tools -
"Many password recovery tools cost hundreds of dollars. Here are some free password recovery tools that will help recover forgotten Windows passwords fast!" -
Click here! to go to the full list of hardware and software problems dealt with on this website