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How to to troubleshoot and repair startup issues in Windows Vista

When you are troubleshooting startup issues by using the Windows Vista, you should first try the Startup Repair option in the System Recovery Options dialog box. If the Startup Repair option does not resolve the issue, then you must troubleshoot more steps manually, use the Bootrec.exe tool.

How do you use the Sytem Recovery Option for Startup Repair?

  • Boot your computer off of the Windows Vista DVD
  • Windows splash screen will eventually appear prompting for Language, Time, Keyboard Input
  • Fill in fields appropriately and select Next
  • Select Repair Your Computer link
  • Select you Operating System or OS and select Next
  • After a while a Startup Repair window will appear with two button Repair or Cancel > Select Cancel as there is a better restore Restore Option that can be used later in the Advanced Tools List
  • Select the Cancel button
  • The repair process will now continue to scan your installation for errors to fix. Once the repair process has completed, if it could not find any problems, you will be given an option to send your information to Microsoft or Don't Send, this is entirely up to you.
  • Another window will appear with positive or negative results. It is recommended regardless to select View advanced options ... from here is you don't get the results you are looking for

Advanced Options Overview

The Advanced Options window can be accessed at any time during the System Recovery process and is gives us some great tools to repair problems such as:

Startup Repair

Startup Repair is an automated repair process that scans your Vista installation for problems and attempts to automatically fix them. When you select to repair Vista from the Vista setup screen, and Vista detects problems, this process will be started automatically. You can cancel this process at any time to access the other repair tools described below. The Startup Repair process has already been introduced above when we discussed performing an automated repair.

System Restore

System Restore allows you to restore your computer's configuration, driver information, and programs to a previous state while leaving your existing data intact. Using this option can typically fix a installation's problem if it is not associated with faulty hardware. In order to use this option, you must have had System Restore enabled in Vista so that there are restore points available to restore to. To learn how to use this feature you should read this tutorial: Using System Restore from the Vista Windows Recovery Environment.

Windows Complete PC Restore

Complete PC Restore is a feature that allows you to restore your entire computing environment from a backup image that you created previously. The ability to create backup images for Complete PC Restore is only available in Windows Vista Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise. If you have tried all possible steps to repair your computer, and have a Complete PC Restore backup image available from when your computer was operating properly, then you can use this repair option to restore that image. To learn how to use this feature you should read this tutorial: Using Windows Complete PC Restore to restore your computer.

Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool

Windows Vista comes with a diagnostic tool that allows you to check the memory installed in your computer for errors. This will allow you to determine if the actual memory (RAM) hardware installed in your computer is creating errors. To learn how to use this feature you should read this tutorial: How to use the Vista Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool.

Command Prompt

The Command Prompt repair tool allows you to open a command prompt that you can use to access the files and registry information on your computer. This is an invaluable tool for removing security threats such as worms, rootkits, and other malware from your computer and to be able to access files when Vista fails to boot up.To learn how to use this feature you should read this tutorial: How to use the Command Prompt in the Vista Windows Recovery Environment.

Cut to the Chase!

If you know the MBR is corrupted and don't have any luck with Startup Repair outlined from the onset, then the easiest way is to repair the Boot Configuration Data which includes the MBR the Boot Sector and all files associated with the boot process using Bootrec.exe from the command prompt

  • Put the Windows Vista installation disc in the disc drive, and then start the computer.
  • Press a key when you are prompted.
  • Select a language, a time, a currency, a keyboard or an input method, and then click Next.
  • Click Repair your computer.
  • Click the operating system that you want to repair, and then click Next.
  • In the System Recovery Options dialog box, click Command Prompt.
  • Type Bootrec.exe, and then press ENTER

Type the following commands at the Windows command prompt:

   bcdedit /export C:\BCD_Backup
cd boot
attrib bcd -s -h -r
ren c:\boot\bcd bcd.old
bootrec /RebuildBcd\\


The /FixMbr option writes a Windows Vista-compatible MBR to the system partition. This option does not overwrite the existing partition table. Use this option when you must resolve MBR corruption issues, or when you have to remove non-standard code from the MBR.


The /FixBoot option writes a new boot sector to the system partition by using a boot sector that is compatible with Windows Vista. Use this option if one of the following conditions is true:

  • The boot sector has been replaced with a non-standard Windows Vista boot sector.
  • The boot sector is damaged.
  • An earlier Windows operating system has been installed after Windows Vista was installed. In this scenario, the computer starts by using Windows NT Loader (NTLDR) instead of Windows Boot Manager (Bootmgr.exe).


The /ScanOs option scans all disks for installations that are compatible with Windows Vista. Additionally, this option displays the entries that are currently not in the BCD store. Use this option when there are Windows Vista installations that the Boot Manager menu does not list.


The /RebuildBcd option scans all disks for installations that are compatible with Windows Vista. Additionally, this option lets you select the installations that you want to add to the BCD store. Use this option when you must completely rebuild the BCD.


1. ^ - Retrieved on 6 August 2009
2. ^ Microsoft Help and Support - Retrieved on 6 August 2009

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Page last modified on 2009-08-06 03:23