Monday, January 12, 2009

Computer boot-up problems and solutions

After the episode with my computer in the last few days I decided to document the entire trouble-shooting process so that it may benefit others too.

1. First and foremost do not tamper with the registry. One of the main reasons why you may have a booting problem (PC not booting, PC incessantly booting several times on start-up) could be due to a screwed-up Registry, mostly due to overuse, tweaking and running .reg files to update the registry.

Earlier I have had problems with some software while installing. Surprisingly one of them happened to be the latest Adobe Reader from Adobe. I have documented the problem in an earlier post ( The other buggy software that can be problematic is Dragon's Naturally Speaking 7. When people are complaining about the version 10 of this program there's no need for you to use version 7. The other problem I had was when my Digital Camera's software wouldn't recognize the camera when connected via USB. This happened on the previous day of my Kerala trip and I ended up uninstalling and reinstalling the program three times and with no success. I will detail how to solve this in another smaller post. But in the process somehow I found my recycle bin missing. Neither Microsoft's solution nor solutions from forums online could bring the recycle bin back on my system. I will indicated how to get around this too in another post.

I then frantically searched all over the internet and got some .reg (registry files) and ran them to update my registry hoping to get my recycle bin back. I think that did considerable damage. I do store back-ups of my registry but what's the use when the system won't boot.

Finally on Thursday evening the system refused to boot up in any mode (safe, or normal). I would see the Blue screen of death for a fraction of a second and my PC would go back to the screen asking me to boot again. My only choice was to re-install the OS but then what about the data. Luckily all my data resides on the E: and F: drives. But doing an install without a backup was risky. Moreover I had some valuable files on the system drive too.

Once again I searched on the internet and YouTube had the solution. The video was unimpressive but it had my answer. I needed a live Windows CD, one that boots from the CD Drive from where I could check and salvage my system. By the way I highly recommend you to visit this site that gives you complete instructions on how to create one. It is, ubcd4win standing for Ultimate Boot CD for Windows. In fact the site was a Godsend. Everyone MUST have this CD. It is free and completely legal. It took me almost 5 hours to make the CD though it can be accomplished much faster.

Once you have the CD, boot from the CD and it will load Windows from the CD. It will report your system and with a huge arsenal of diagnostic tools you can retrieve your system. As I had predicted my data was intact. So instead of simply copying my data I decided to set the registry right. The Registry Wizard restores old registries using the system restore point (it pays to have that running in Win XP) and UBCD4Win restored my registry to the day when I first installed Windows, back on August, 2007. Most of my installed programs were gone but my PC came back to life.

I then purchased a USB hard drive (they sell very cheap these days) and backed up the data. Though I could have continued with the restored system I did a fresh install of the OS. I still need to install all my programs but I am happy I got my PC back.

What you must do - Create your own bootable live Windows CD from the site I mentioned, whether you PC is in shape or not.

1 comment:

Biju said...

In windows xp, the restore point has come in pretty handy to me, atleast a couple of times. But I guess, setting up restore points will take up considerable amount of resources.
The problem is that you will think about the options only after getting the problems, and then you may realize that the entire feature is disabled!