Vista System Repair
WARNING : Please note that when a system is corrupted ANY automated efforts to repair the system can potentially lead to the loss of data/files. KVK Consultancy does not give any guarentees or make any warranties that a system repair will resolve all your issues. However, having said that the following advice gives the best chances of a safe system recovery short of having an expert manually manage the recovery process.
I have been told many times by customers that their machine is no longer booting and that they have tried a number of activities themselves in an attempt to fix it. It is almost invariably at this stage I really dispair because in most cases their well meant attempts at fixing their own PC's has resulted in the ultimate need for me to completely reinstall their operating system.
The first thing I want to stress to anyone having serious problems with their PC is that their first action must always be to perform as ordily a shutdown of the effected system (as much as is possible in the circumstances) and then immidiately run a disk check from their Windows Vista Install DVD.
How to access System Recovery for Vista
What to do when you susspect your system has a problem
Do not under any circumstances try rebooting in the ordinary manor a PC which has lost power during a defragmentation operation or during any other heavy disk activity (such as a direct to disk recording); Whilst you might be lucky 80% of the time in doing this, by following my advice laid out here you will not need to rely on luck and will have the best chance of recovery 100% of the tfime (and whats better, this particular advice is provided free of charge).
NOTICE: These instructions assume the has not been any hardware failure! If you susspect hardware failure, then contact a consultant as to how to best proceed.
Running a Check Disk from the Windows Vista Install DVD
Step 1: Ensure your computer is setup to boot first from the DVD drive. This is the default configuatrion for most modern computers. You may however need to enter the BIOS and set the configure the boot order to have the DVD drive boot before the Hard Disk (HDD). If you are running a Phoenix BIOS look for the "Boot" menu and follow the instructions in the right hand pane.
Step 2: Insert the Windows Vista Install DVD that came with your computer (or you used to Install the Operating System).
Step 3: Turn on the computer and as the system boots from the DVD you should be presented with the message "Press any key to boot from CD / DVD...". Press a key before this message times out (if you let this message time out your PC will boot in the ordinary fashion so really try not to miss it).
Step 4: The Vista Boot Menu
Windows will inform you it I "loading files":
After this process is completed a progress bar will appear with below and in a few seconds you will reach a screen resembling the following:
This screen is very confusing for everyone. All the options appear to not be what we are looking for.
However, clicking "Next" will take us to a more useful screen (shown below; Don't worry, just by clicking next alone it won't try to re-install Visa on your PC and I completely understand why everyone thinks it would).
Now we can see the option we need. The "Repair your computer" option. You should be taken to the following dialog:
If you see your installation of Windows Vista appear in the list (as shown above) then click that instance and click "Next". However, if you don't see your instance shown then either it is too badly corrupted for simple recovery (and you will have to have your PC inspected by a system expert for recovery) or the hard disk on which Vista was installed uses specialised or customised hardward drivers (hence the "Load Drivers" button. For this guide I assume you can see your installation in the list).
Now, unfortunately Windows Vista took a step backward here in order to try to take a leap forward. When you click "Next" for the first time it might automatically run the "Startup Repair" wizard. This wizard does a number of checks on the system and trys to automatically and recover a failing system (checking several known bootup issues). Unfortunately, because this wizard is a black box affair, it is not possible for me to confirm that it will actually perform the correct steps in the correct order for the best chance of system recovery! One would hope it might, but an automated wizard cannot account for conditions like a human operator can and since it is a non-interactive process its not good. Microsoft having automated the running of this wizard might actually reduce the chances of our recovery
However, in theory at least, the first thing it should logically do is to run the "chkdisk" function which is what we in fact desire to do.
If the "Startup Repair" does not automatically engadge all the better (if it does cancel the wizard and wait till you arrive at the following screen):
From this screen click the "Command Prompt" link. This will open up a command window on top of the dialog. From the command prompt (C:\>) type:
chkdsk C: /f
Then press enter. The check disk command will run a diagnostic appraisal of your hard disk and the /f parameter instructs check disk to fix any repairable errors it encounters.
This should yeild a process which looks like the following:
Once this process finishes, observe the output and see if any error where corrected (it will have a massage stating if it fixed any issues).
If the check disk cannot repair the disk issue you will need to have your PC repaired by a consultant. If the check disk sucessfully fixes any issues then you can attempt to reboot your PC in the ordinary fashion.
Following this process give you control over the recovery process and reduces the chances of incidental and extended damage that are associated with booting from a damaged / corrupted system's boot disk.