Intro: Basic Paths You Can Take to Approach Troubleshooting
Always check for damaged hardware first of an overheating computer. Wipe down the vents, check that there is airflow coming out of your computer etc. Else, check for software issues such as an incompatible installation, bad drivers, or bootpaths etc. We will give general ways to solve these issues in this tutorial.
If you have a saved image of your computer, you could try to restore your computer from a saved image or use startup repair. Starting up from a saved image means you have a saved instance of your computer settings/configurations from a previous time and you revert all your changes back to those settings/configuration. Startup repair will automatically repair your computer but it runs very basic scans/commands and if that doesn’t work, you will have to fix your computer manually.
In this case, we will do a manual instruction for our boot problem and give a brief guide for other boot related problems
Step 1: Troubleshooting
If you have no system image and startup repair does not work, we will enter the windows recovery environment by booting from a flash drive by pressing the f8 key and choosing windows recovery options. Or, if you can boot to the desktop, you can press the shift key while holding restart.
In the advanced options menu there is:
- troubleshoot: allows you to reset or refresh your PC which erases your files but changes your computer back to the factory setting
- system restore: allows you to restore your computer to a point where the files still worked--but you have to create a restore point that is healthy in order for this to happen. you can also try to restore your computer with a saved system image with system imaging which will do something similar to restore but restore points are usually automatically recorded by windows.
- startup repair: automatically detects issues that prevent windows from booting properly and fixes them for you
- command prompt: allows the user to manually troubleshoot and change files within the computer through the command prompt.
- startup settings: allows you to start the computer through safe mode and other startup options
Step 2: Certain Startup Settings
Safe modes disables certain functionalities of the computer that could help you look for the problem in your computer. If you can enter the desktop, definitely try to work with your computer from there. You could use tools such as msconfig, task manager, or CPU-Z to gather more information regarding startup. There are many different safe modes you can enter and some brief explanations:
- Safe Mode: will start windows with only basic drivers and services and will prevent scripts from running
- Safe Mode with Networking: Starts same thing as safe mode but this allows you to connect to the internet
- Safe Mode with Command Prompt: same thing as safe mode but adds in a command prompt at the end of booting
- Enable Boot Logging: will create a file that lists the history of all the boot attempts and help you identify the source of startup failure
- Enable Low-Resolution Video: when you start up, the resolution and refresh rates are pretty bad but it could help your computer run faster
- Last Known Good Configuration (advanced): starts up from the last known good point-when the drivers were functioning properly
- Directory Services Restore Mode: Gives you the power to change the directories actively
- Debugging Mode: allows you to troubleshoot in a super advanced mode and give you debugging functionalities
- Disable Automatic Restart on System Failure: prevents the automatic restart when you fail to startup. essentially, this breaks the infinite loop of restarting when the BSOD shows up.
- Disable Driver Signature Enforcement: will load all of the software that is missing or corrupted
- Start Windows Normally: your computer boots normally.
Step 3: BSOD (blue Screen of Death)
Let’s say we have a BSOD. A Blue Screen of Death is usually hardware or driver related. Most BSODs show a STOP code that can be used to help figure out the root cause of the Blue Screen of Death.
often, you can google the STOP code and solve the situation according to what the internet tells you. (small lettering at the bottom) There is a list of blue screen error codes that could lead you in the right direction
Also, you can use the chkdsk command in the command prompt to scan for bad sectors in your hard drive.
Step 4: Command Prompt
- you can fix the master boot record by typing in "bootrec /fixmbr" (the master boot record is the information in the first sector on your hard disk and identifies how the OS can be loaded into the RAM of a computer)
- Another command is "bootrec /rebuildbcd" and essentially, what this does is it scans windows for compatible windows os’ and then adds installations to the BCD store. Use this command if your computer notifies you saying your boot manager is missing.
- If you think that your computer has a damaged boot sector, incompatible (usually early) windows os, or your boot sector is non standard, you could use the command, "bootrec /fixboot" to partition a new sector that is compatible with windows.
- "bootrec /scanOs" will scan for all the compatible OS’s that can be used to boot with. If this is missing, make sure you have a healthy windows installation on your computer and then use rebuild your BCD to boot using that OS. You can also check for operating systems by listing the directories in the volumes you find with the command “dir”
- If you suspect a bad boot path, you can run the command "bcdedit" to list the locations and names of the boot path, system, and recovery sequence etc. This could help you identify an incorrect setting. Use /? after bcdedit for additional options
- Diskpart helps you look into the volumes as well as the active and primary partitions in your computer. you can use this to switch to different partitions (using the sel command) in your computer and make sure you use and find the healthy files/OS
Step 5: Restart Your Computer
restart your computer and see if your problem is fixed :)