Windows 7 : Troubleshooting and Repairing Problems - Easy Repair Options at Boot Time, Startup Repair

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1. Easy Repair Options at Boot Time

If you cannot start your Windows 7 system, don’t panic. Windows 7 makes the startup repair process easy and transparent to the user—a big change from repairing startup problems with Windows XP and previous versions of Windows.

If you cannot start your system from the hard disk, insert your Windows 7 installation media and use it as a boot device. After selecting the language, time and currency formats, and the keyboard-input method on the opening screen, click Next. On the following screen, select Repair Your Computer. The system searches for recovery options.

The System Recovery Options screen appears. It should find your Windows installation, which it identifies by partition size and drive letter. You’re presented with these options:

  • Use Recovery Tools that Can Help Fix Problems Starting Windows. Select an Operating System to Repair.

  • Restore Your Computer Using a System Image that You Created Earlier.


You can also click the Load Drivers button in the System Recovery Options screen to load a hardware driver. You’re prompted to insert the installation media for the device and select the driver from the media.

The first option gives you access to the full set of System Recovery tools; the second option enables you to restore your computer from a system image, if you created one before losing the ability to start Windows. You’ll use the first option most of the time when troubleshooting Windows 7 startup problems.

Using System Recovery

Ensure the Use Recovery Tools that Can Help Fix Problems Starting Windows option is selected in the System Recovery Options screen, and that Windows 7 is highlighted in the Operating System column, and click Next. The Choose a Recovery Tool screen appears (see Figure 1) with the System Recovery Options menu displayed.

Figure 1. The Choose a Recovery Tool screen provides you with a variety of repair options if your system cannot start normally.


You can use the system repair disc maker built into Windows 7, which enables you to create a bootable system disc in case of emergencies and run the repair tools discussed in the following sections. Just go to Backup and Restore in Control Panel and click Create a System Repair Disc in the Tasks list.

If you can’t access the system repair disc maker and are using a preinstalled edition of Windows 7, ask your hardware vendor how to access the Repair Your Computer feature. A vendor might include a special boot disc with a system or provide you with instructions on how to make a boot disc that contains the files necessary to repair your installation.

System Recovery tools include these:

  • Startup Repair

  • System Restore

  • System Image Recovery

  • Windows Memory Diagnostic

  • Command Prompt

2. Startup Repair

Typically, the easiest repair to try when you have a system that won’t boot is the Startup Repair option, shown at the top of the System Recovery Options menu in Figure 1. When you select Startup Repair, Windows performs a series of tests to determine the problem and then performs repairs.


Windows 7 can perform several rounds of startup repairs before it gives up. So, if you restart your system after performing a startup repair and you still have problems, rerun the Startup Repair procedure to fix additional problems. Repeat until your system starts properly, or until Windows 7 is unable to perform additional repairs.

The resulting Startup Repair screen displays two links. If you are curious about what Windows did, click the View Diagnostic and Repair Details link to open the Startup Repair dialog box. Scroll through the dialog box to satisfy yourself with the solution. In this example (see Figure 2), OS files were missing and the partition table was repaired. Click Close to return to the main Startup Repair screen. Click the View Advanced Options for System Recovery and Support link to return to the System Recovery Options menu, or click Finish to restart your system. Don’t boot from the DVD; your system should start up normally.

Figure 2. Startup Repair found the problem (missing OS files) and repaired it, enabling the system to start normally.

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