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Windows Boot Level Troubleshooting Options

A Library of tips, tricks, and informative articles - Fixes are for use under your own supervision and at your own risk.

Re: Troubleshooting Options (work in progress)

Unread postby Gary R » September 8th, 2015, 4:24 am

Start Windows Normally

As you would expect, selecting this option boots your computer back into Normal Mode.

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Re: Troubleshooting Options (work in progress)

Unread postby Gary R » September 8th, 2015, 4:48 am

Troubleshoot

The Advanced Startup Options, are external to Windows, and as such are independent of any corruption to the main Operating System, which allows you to troubleshoot the main Operating System when it is unable to function properly.

Clicking on Troubleshoot will bring up the following menu options ...



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Re: Troubleshooting Options (work in progress)

Unread postby Gary R » September 8th, 2015, 4:51 am

Startup Repair

This tool will allow you to fix certain System problems that may prevent Windows from booting.

It is only designed to resolve certain types of problems like ...

  • Missing or damaged System files
  • Disabled or damaged System Services
  • Invalid boot file

... it is not meant to resolve things such as ...

  • Hardware failures
  • Malware attacks

To Run it, click on the appropriate link in the Repair your computer (Vista/W7) or Advanced Startup (W8,W8.1,W10) menu.

  • Startup Repair will search for the problems that are within its remit, and if it finds any it will attempt to repair them.
    • If it does not find any it will tell you.
    • If it can't resolve any it finds, it will tell you, and suggest alternative tools to try.


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Re: Troubleshooting Options (work in progress)

Unread postby Gary R » September 8th, 2015, 4:54 am

System Restore

One of the more useful of the Restore options, and one that most people will try running from Normal Mode. However, if the computer won't boot, then being able to access it from Recovery Environment is very handy indeed.

  • System Restore uses restore points to return a computer's system files and settings to an earlier point in time, without affecting the current state of any personal files.
  • Restore points are created automatically every week, and before any significant system event, such as the installation of updates, the installation of a program, or the installation of a device driver.
  • Restore points can also be created manually.
  • System Restore does not back up personal files, so it can't help you recover a personal file that has been deleted or damaged.

To Run it, click on the appropriate link in the Repair your computer (Vista/W7) or Advanced Startup (W8,W8.1,W10) menu.

  • Choose a Restore Point from the ones listed, that was created prior to the problems you're trying to resolve.
  • If the problems are not resolved ...
    • You can undo the restore.
    • You can try another Restore Point.

Please note ... System Restore is switched off by default on many Windows 10 machines, so if you have a computer with Windows 10 installed it will be necessary for you to switch it on.

To switch on System Restore ...

  • Open a search for System Protection
  • Click on the Create a restore point option in the search results.
  • This will open a System Properties window ...
    • Click on the Windows (C:) (System) option (or whichever drive your System boots from) in Available Drives to highlight it .
    • Click on Configure ...
      • Ensure Turn on system protection is selected
      • Click OK

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Re: Troubleshooting Options (work in progress)

Unread postby Gary R » September 8th, 2015, 8:34 am

System Image Recovery

Choosing the System Image Recovery option allows you to recover your hard drive from a System Image that you made earlier.

So what is a System Image ...

A System Image is a complete copy of your System (hard drive) exactly as it was at the time the image was made, usually stored on an external drive, and will contain ...

  • Your Operating System
  • Your files
  • Your programs
  • Your address books
  • Your bookmarks

... in fact everything you need to restore your computer back to the way it was when you made the image.

Any downsides ...

  • Restoring to a System Image is an all-or-nothing option, you can not select which bits you want to restore.
  • If the System Image is old, you will lose all the changes to your computer that you have made since the image was made.

So how do I create a System Image ...

The method for creating a System Image will depend on which version of Windows you are using ...

For Vista/Windows 7 ...

  • Plug in an external drive of sufficient size to contain the System Image.
  • Click Start, and type Backup in the Search programs and files box.
  • Click on Backup and Restore from the results list
  • This will open a Control Panel\System and Security\Backup and Restore Window
    • Click on Create a system image in the top left corner of the Window
    • This will open a Create a System Image Window.
      • Windows will search for a suitable drive to save the image to. Check that it has selected the one you want to backup to. If not select the correct drive.
      • Click Next.
      • Check the selected drives are correct, then click on Start Backup

For Windows 8/Windows 8.1/Windows 10 ...

  • Plug in an external drive of sufficient size to contain the System Image.
  • Open a Search, and type File History into the search field
  • Click on File History from the results list
  • This will open a Control Panel\System and Security\File History Window
    • Click on System Image Backup in the bottom left corner of the Window
    • This will open a Create a System Image Window.
      • Windows will search for a suitable drive to save the image to. Check that it has selected the one you want to backup to. If not select the correct drive.
      • Click Next.
      • Select the drives you wish to backup. For most people the default selection is OK. If not, change them.
      • Click Next
      • Check the selected drives are correct, then click on Start Backup


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Re: Troubleshooting Options (work in progress)

Unread postby Gary R » September 8th, 2015, 12:04 pm

Windows Memory Diagnostic

If you believe you have problems with your computer's memory, you can run a Windows Memory Diagnostic check.

When you click on the Windows Memory Diagnostic option, you will be presented with 2 choices ...

  • Restart now and check for problems (recommended)
  • Check for problems the next time I start my computer

... clicking on either will schedule a scan when the computer reboots.

If necessary and you know what you're doing, you can change the default tests by pressing F1 when the computer reboots.

This will allow you the following options ...

  • Test Mix
    • Basic
    • Standard
    • Extended
  • Cache
    • Default
    • On
    • Off
  • Pass Count
    • 0-99 (0 = infinite)

... most people will not need to access these, and can just run the default test. In which case ...

  • Windows Memory Diagnostic will run a check on your computer's memory.
  • When finished it will boot your computer into Normal Mode and display the test results once you've logged on.

Please note ... this option is not available from the "boot" menu in Windows 8/8.1/10, however you can schedule a Memory Diagnostic by doing the following ...

  • Open a Search, and type Memory into the search field
  • Click on Diagnose your computer's memory problems from the results list
  • You will now be presented with the same choices as those described above.


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Re: Troubleshooting Options (work in progress)

Unread postby Gary R » September 8th, 2015, 5:36 pm

Command Prompt

  • The Command Prompt option allows you access to a Command Window (Cmd.exe) from which various Command Line Instructions can be executed.

  • Cmd.exe is a powerful tool, and for those skilled in its use, it can perform a great many actions.
  • A number of other useful utilities can be launched from the Command Window, some of which I've listed below ...

    • Notepad.exe ... launches Notepad
    • Regedit.exe ... launches Windows Registry Editor
    • Rstrui.exe ... launches System Restore
    • Bmrui.exe ... launches System Image Recovery

      ... however because you are not booted in Normal Mode, not all utilities can be launched in this way.
  • To exit Command Prompt, type exit and hit Enter, which will return you to ...
    • Repair your computer options (Vista/W7)
    • Advanced Startup options (W8/W8.1/W10)

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Re: Troubleshooting Options (work in progress)

Unread postby Gary R » September 9th, 2015, 3:50 am

Refresh your PC

If you select the Refresh your PC option ...

  • Your files and personalised settings will not be changed
  • Apps from the Windows Store will be kept
  • Your PC settings will revert to their defaults
  • Apps and programs that you've installed from discs or websites will be removed
  • A list of the removed apps will be saved to your Desktop

What will happen is ...

  • Windows scans your computer and makes a cache of your files, personalised settings and apps
  • Your computer will boot into Windows Recovery Environment (RE)
  • Windows RE erases and formats your Windows partition before installing a new copy of Windows 8, 8.1, or 10, taken from the Recovery partition on your drive.
  • Windows re-installs your apps and replaces your files and settings where it found them.
  • Windows boots back into Normal Mode.

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Re: Troubleshooting Options (work in progress)

Unread postby Gary R » September 9th, 2015, 3:58 am

Reset your PC

If you select the Reset your PC option ...

  • Your files and personalised settings will be lost
  • Apps from the Windows Store will be lost
  • Apps and programs that you've installed from discs or websites will be lost
  • Your PC settings will revert to their defaults

What will happen is ...

  • Your computer will boot into Windows Recovery Environment (RE)
  • You'll be asked to choose whether you want to erase data quickly or thoroughly. If you choose to erase data quickly, some data might be recoverable using special software. If you choose to erase data thoroughly, this will take longer but it makes recovering data less likely.
  • Windows RE erases and formats your Windows partition before installing a new copy of Windows 8, 8.1, or 10, taken from the Recovery partition on your drive.
  • Windows boots back into Normal Mode.

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Re: Troubleshooting Options (work in progress)

Unread postby Gary R » September 9th, 2015, 4:06 am

Advanced Startup

Clicking on Advanced Startup will bring up the following menu options ...


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Re: Troubleshooting Options (work in progress)

Unread postby Gary R » September 9th, 2015, 8:45 am

UEFI Firmware Settings

Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is the method of booting that was introduced with Windows 8, and which replaced Basic Input Output System (BIOS) booting, which was used by all previous versions of Windows.

UEFI has a number of advantages over BIOS with regard to security, the most noticeable being ...

  • The introduction of Safeboot ... which only allows "recognised" Operating Systems to boot.
  • The introduction of Early Launch Anti-Malware (ELAM) ... which loads your Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware drivers before any others.

For the most part, UEFI settings can and should be left alone, since if you don't know what you're doing you can easily do damage, however, there may be times when some people may need to access and change their UEFI settings, in which case the UEFI Firmware Settings option is the one to use.

Below I've named a few occasions on which you might want to access or change settings ...

  • To change the boot order of your computer, so that it boots first from detachable media ... useful if you're troubleshooting boot problems.
  • To switch off Safeboot ... necessary if you wish to dual-boot, and use a secondary OS that is not recognised by UEFI.
  • To access hardware information ... such as processor temperatures.
  • To change hardware settings ... such as to allow overclocking.

Once you have clicked on UEFI Firmware Settings you will be prompted to restart your computer, so click on Restart to boot into the UEFI menu.

Please note ... there is no common interface for UEFI, and the one you are faced with will depend on the manufacturer and model of your computer. For this reason it is not possible for me to give further details, though many will be very similar in structure to earlier BIOS interfaces (for those of you who are familiar with them).

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Re: Troubleshooting Options (work in progress)

Unread postby Gary R » September 9th, 2015, 5:22 pm

Disable Early Launch Anti-Malware Protection

In Windows 8, Microsoft introduced Early Launch Anti-Malware (ELAM) as a means to prevent computer's being infected by rootkits which loaded their drivers early in the boot process. By loading Anti-Malware and Anti-Virus drivers first, it becomes easier to block and remove these types of infection.

However, a driver which is necessary for Windows to boot, may be classified as malware, either because of a mis-diagnosis, or because the driver has been compromised, and because it is being blocked, Windows will fail to boot.

For situations like this, Disable Early Launch Anti-Malware Protection can be used to switch of ELAM and allow Windows to boot, so that you can take remedial action, such as updating your Anti-Malware and Anti-Virus software, or replacing the compromised driver and cleaning the computer of infection.

ELAM will remain disabled only until you shut down. The next time you start the computer it will be reinstated.

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