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Windows 7: Troubleshooting Windows 7 Failure to Boot

Troubleshooting Windows 7 Failure to Start

Published by gregrocker
15 Mar 2012
Published by

information   Information
These steps will attempt to repair the OS by disinfecting and then using repairs via System Recovery Options. It does not cover hardware problems which might be indicated if these steps fail to run and can be tested using Memtest86+ to Test RAM for 5-6 passes, and HD Maker's HD Diagnostic Extended CD scan followed by Disk Check from System Recovery Options Command Line, after checking that HD is detected in BIOS setup.


warning   Warning
If you have files that need urgent rescue because they are not backed up then you may wish to start with Step 10 because in rare cases (e.g. on a failing hard drive) they may become inaccessible due to the strain of repairs


1. If possible unplug all other HD's while checking all cable connections. Boot into BIOS setup by tapping the key given for this on first boot screen, check that Windows 7 HD is detected and set to boot first (after CD/DVD drive).

2. Try booting into Safe Mode with Networking to install, update and run a full scan with Malwarebytes.

3. If Safe Mode is not working, download, burn to CD or write to flash stick, boot the disk and run a full scan with Windows Defender Offline. If it fails try one of these FREE Bootable AntiVirus Rescue CDs burned to CD using Windows Image Burner or ImgBurn. You can also move the HD to another PC to scan it with Malwarebytes.

4. If infection cleans up enough that Windows 7 will start then run SFC -SCANNOW Command to check for damaged System files.

If not post back the virus scan results in our Security forum for expert help.

5. Once the System is clean if it won't start boot into System Recovery Options via the F8 menu or disk as shown in tutorial, run Startup Repair repeatedly up to 3 separate times with reboots in between each - no matter what it reports.

6. If you need an installer for your licensed version to boot to run Repairs or possible Clean Reinstall, download the latest official Win7 installer w/SP1 ISO, burn to DVD or write to flash stick using Windows 7 USB-DVD Download Tool.

7. If no installation shows up to repair when booting into DVD System Recovery Options or Repair CD, or Startup Repair won't work after several tries, click through to System Recovery Options, open a Command Line to use the Bootrec.exe tool running each one of the commands shown. If ScanOS or RebuildBCD does not find an OS, be sure to do the final steps to export and delete the BCD store which often will find and correct it.

Failure to boot disk is almost always user error. Set disk drive first to boot in BIOS setup, look for prompt to "Press any key to boot disk." Its absence likely means the ISO or disk is bad. Alternatively tap the one-time BIOS Boot Menu key to trigger disk drive.

8. If these fail, try running System Restore from Recovery Options list working chronologically backward to find a bootable configuration. If those fail, from Recovery Options open a Command Line to run SFC -SCANNOW Run in Command Prompt at Boot.

9. As a last resort boot free Partition Wizard bootable CD to Explore C to see if your files are intact and post back a camera snap of drive map for more help. Make sure C or the 100mb System Reserved partition (preferred) is marked Active, then click on HD to highlight it, from Disk tab select Rebuild MBR, Apply. How to Set Active/Inactive partition -Partition Wizard Video Help.
Partition Wizard Rebuild MBR - Video Help.

If Windows 7 doesn't start and you restored Active flag, run Startup Repair 3 Separate Times. If marking 100mb Active fails to Repair x3, then mark Windows 7 partition itself Active and try above steps again. Make sure the Windows 7 HD is set first to boot in BIOS setup.

For a bootable flash stick version of Partition Wizard write it's CD ISO to stick using Universal USB Installer. This is illustrated in How do I boot Partition Wizard bootable cd from my USB?

Without the Partition Wizard CD you would Mark Partition as Active (Method Two) from DVD/Repair CD System Recovery Options then run the 3 Startup Repairs.

Sometimes a deleted/missing partition can be restored by PW Partition Recovery Wizard. A failed partition which cannot be repaired using steps above can sometimes have its table restored using DiskGenius trial. The only bootable version is on Hiren's boot disk which is not supported here.

10. If these all fail you can copy out your data using your Windows 7 installation media or System Repair Disk using this method to Copy & Paste - in Windows Recovery Console, or Paragon rescue disk burned to CD with Windows Image Burner, or a Linux boot disk like Peppermint3 - Create Live CD/DVD/USB To Use For Emergency Backup - Windows 7 Forums.

11. Then run Factory Recovery from its partition following steps you can find by googling, in the Manual on your computer maker's Support Downloads webpage or in this list of Recovery Methods, disks you made or order from computer maker's Tech Support, or follow these steps to Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7 or Clean Install Windows 7.

information   Information

If you can't boot disks most of the time it's due to User failure. Set DVD drive first to boot in BIOS setup, then HDD, Save changes, exit. How to Boot A Computer from CD or DVD - YouTube

Place DVD/CD in drive, reboot. Do you receive the prompt to "Press any key to boot disk?" If not the disk may not be burned correctly. Try ImgBurn at 4x speed. Or try tapping the key given on first boot screen for one-time BIOS boot menu to trigger disk.

Reset the BIOS to defaults after taking note of SATA controller setting: Clear CMOS - 3 Ways to Clear the CMOS - Reset BIOS. Try disk again.

Try booting flash stick installer which should be listed in BIOS Boot order or Boot Menu under USB, Removable or HD's for: OS repairs or reinstall, WD disinfection, Partition Wizard repairs. If these fail try unplugging DVD drive.

As a last resort you can replace the DVD drive, or rescue your files with Paragon Rescue CD which will boot itself, then boot Partition Wizard bootable CD which will also boot itself to wipe the HD, which will in turn force the installer to boot itself for reinstall.




Related Tutorials

15 Mar 2012   #1
Arc

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit SP 1
 
 

Thanks for it, Greg ! Now it will be easy to find out.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2012   #2
gregrocker
Microsoft MVP

 

Hi Archie, and thank you.

I'd kept these in a post I've linked countless times because I thought it more of a compendium of others' tutorials than one of my own. But Shawn gave the go-ahead so here it is.

Please feel free to add your own steps or suggest changes and I will try to work them in.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2012   #3
TE7

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
 
 

Thanks, Greg. I've bookmarked it and printed it for future reference. Well done.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


02 Jul 2012   #4
Falsemajesty

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Thank you, very useful to know, saved for future reference.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jul 2012   #5
froggie

windows 7 professional 32-bit
 
 
No start

My problem is that the OS screen doesn't stay up long enough to F12 or F8. It takes me directly to Welcome then dies.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jul 2012   #6
gregrocker
Microsoft MVP

 

You do not want the OS if trying to access one-time BIOS Boot menu, Recovery or Advanced Boot options on F8. If OS starts it is too late. Start tapping the key vigorously when you see the first BIOS screen.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Jul 2012   #7
DustSailor

Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
 
 

Greg, this is great!

*Edit*

Thanks!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Aug 2012   #8
Capt.Jack Sparrow

Windows 7 Ultimate - 64-bit | Windows 8 Pro - 64-bit
 
 

I didn't see this one till now. Great tutorial Greg!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Aug 2012   #9
Urthboundmisfit

7 HomePrem x64 SP1, XP SP3 VM
 
 

Good stuff, Greg...bookmarked
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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