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Beginners Guides: Windows Vista Crash Recovery and Repair Install
Beginners Guides: Windows Vista Crash Recovery and Repair Install - PCSTATS
What you need to know to bring a crashed Vista PC system back to life. When Windows Vista fails and won't boot, separate the hardware from the software and get it fixed with the help of PCSTATS.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Sep 29 2010   Max Page  
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Step 1 - PC Turns On, Does Not Boot Up

First double check all cable connections, re-seat every expansion card and memory stick, then try powering the PC on again. Otherwise, the best thing to do in this circumstance is to unplug everything from the motherboard with the exception of the power button wire, video card, memory and processor, then test it again. Leave the mouse, keyboard and monitor attached.

If the computer successfully starts at this point, power off and reconnect one component at a time until you find the problem. If you cannot get it to boot up successfully, it is likely that you have one or more defective parts.

If you've been overclocking and gone to far, reset the motherboard CMOS. Usually two pins are shorted out with a jumper while the power is off. The motherboard manual will tell you how to do this.

Even if you have not been overclocking, try resetting the CMOS. Don't forget to reset the jumper afterwards.

System turns on, beeps intermittently, does not boot up

Check that your memory (RAM) is installed correctly, remove it and re-install it if necessary. Ensure the memory modules aren't mixed with different speeds/brands, and if the motherboard supports dual channel configuration that each stick is installed in the correct DIMM slot. If you have other compatible memory modules on hand, remove the current modules and try the spare pair.

System turns on, gives a sequence of quick beeps, does not boot up

Check that your video card is correctly seated in its PCI Express/AGP/PCI slot. The videocard slots can be unforgiving of a card that's even a tiny bit out of position.

There are a number of other error codes indicated by patterns of beeps from the motherboard speaker, for more information, see this PCSTATS guide to Computer Error Beep Codes. If you don't find the code you hear, run a Google search on the particular series of beeps you are encountering.

Testing for Bad Hardware: memory & hard drives

If your computer begins to boot up as normal, but fails to load Windows Vista or restarts frequently, it's time to run some tests. Assuming you have access to a working computer with Internet access and a CD burner, visit memtest.org and download the pre-compiled bootable ISO .ZIP file of the latest version of the memtest program.

Open this file with your CD burning program to create a bootable CD which you can use to test your computer's memory. If the program shows any errors in your memory, you have likely found the source of your troubles. Chances are you will need to purchase new memory. For more information on how to detect a faulty memory module and run memory diagnostics, see PCSTATS' extensive guide to diagnosing bad memory here (the guide's oriented towards WinXP, but the principles are applicable to Vista).

There are many, many reasons why data can become corrupted or unusable on your hard disk. Hardware failure in other components (especially memory), poorly written software, viruses and improper shutdown of the system can all result in messed-up data. This is why you should always make backups of your data.

Of all the reasons though, the actual mechanical failure of the hard drive is the most inevitable and catastrophic.

To test your computer's hard disk drive(s), the simplest route to take is to visit the manufacturer's website and download a HDD diagnostic software tool. As with memtest above, these will make a bootable CD which can then be used to diagnose the PC's drives.

Here are some handy links:
Seagate and Maxtor hard drives
Western Digital hard drives
Samsung hard drives
Hitachi hard drives

If want more information on the in's and outs of dead or dying hard disks, see our guide to diagnosing bad hard drives. PCSTATS also has a great guide to Hard Drive Data Recovery here.

If either the memory or hard disk diagnostic program indicates a problem, you now have a good idea of what the problem is and how to proceed. If the memory and hard disk tests come out clean, your problem is not with your computer, but with Windows Vista itself.

The next step you should take once you have determined that your problem is not hardware related is to try to boot Windows Vista in safe mode. The Vista safe mode loads a cut-down version of the operating system, eliminating most of the excess software and drivers that may be causing your problems. For a full walkthrough on loading Vista in safe mode and troubleshooting, see PCSTATS' Guide to Vista's Safe Mode here, and for WindowsXP users encountering the same sort of issues, the Guide to WinXP's Safe Mode is here.

If you cannot load Vista in safe mode, proceed with this guide for some essential steps that can guide your PC towards recovery.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Windows Vista Crash Recovery and Repair Install
 Pg 2.  — Step 1 - PC Turns On, Does Not Boot Up
 Pg 3.  Step 2 - Options for Recovering Windows Vista
 Pg 4.  Windows Vista Recovery Environment
 Pg 5.  Vista Startup Repair Con't
 Pg 6.  Vista's System Restore Utility
 Pg 7.  Windows Vista Memory Diagnostic Tool
 Pg 8.  Vista Bootrec Console Tools
 Pg 9.  Recovering Lost Partitions Con't
 Pg 10.  Preventative Maintenance: Make Vista Easy to Recover

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