How to Perform a Startup Repair in Windows Vista

1
Boot From the Windows Vista DVD

A screenshot of the Press any key to boot from CD or DVD screen
Windows Vista Startup Repair - Step 1.

The Startup Repair tool in Windows Vista replaces important operating system files that might be missing or damaged. Startup Repair is an easy diagnostic and repair tool to use when Windows Vista doesn't start properly.

To begin the Windows Vista Startup Repair process, you will need to boot from the Windows Vista DVD.

  1. Watch for a Press any key to boot from CD or DVD message similar to the one shown in the screenshot above.
     
  2. Press a key to force the computer to boot from the Windows Vista DVD. If you do not press a key, your PC will try to boot to the operating system that's currently installed on your hard drive. If this happens, just restart your computer and try to boot to the Windows Vista DVD again.

Note: Not using Windows Vista? Every modern Windows operating system has a similar operating system file repair process.

2
Wait for Windows Vista to Load Files

A screenshot of Windows Vista loading files
Windows Vista Startup Repair - Step 2.

No user intervention is required here. Just wait for the Windows Vista setup process to load files in preparation for whatever task you might want to complete. In our case it's a Startup Repair but there are a lot of tasks that could be completed with the Windows Vista DVD.

Note: No changes are being made to your computer during this step.

3
Choose Windows Vista Setup Language and Other Settings

A screenshot of Windows Vista startup repair asking for the language and other settings
Windows Vista Startup Repair - Step 3.

Choose the Language to install, Time and currency format, and Keyboard or input method that you'd like to use in Windows Vista.

Click Next.

4
Click on the Repair Your Computer Link

A screenshot of the Windows Vista Startup Repair Your Computer Link
Windows Vista Startup Repair - Step 4.

Click on the Repair your computer link on the bottom-left of the Install Windows window.

This link will begin the Windows Vista System Recovery Options.

Note: Do not click on Install now. If you already have Windows Vista installed, this option is used to perform a Clean Install of Windows Vista or a Parallel Install of Windows Vista.

5
Wait for System Recovery Options to Locate Windows Vista on Your Computer

A screenshot of Windows Vista Startup Repair locating your computer
Windows Vista Startup Repair - Step 5.

System Recovery Options will now search your hard drive(s) for any Windows Vista installations.

You don't need to do anything here but wait. This Windows installation search shouldn't take more than a few minutes at most.

6
Choose Your Windows Vista Installation

A screenshot of Windows Vista startup repair asking for Your Windows Vista Installation
Windows Vista Startup Repair - Step 6.

Choose the Windows Vista installation that you'd like to perform the Startup Repair on.

Click the Next button.

Note: Don't worry if the drive letter in the Location column does not match the drive letter that you know Windows Vista is installed on in your PC. Drive letters are somewhat dynamic, especially when using diagnostic tools like System Recovery Options.

7
Wait While Startup Repair Searches for Problems With Windows Vista Files

A screenshot of Windows Vista startup repair searching for problems
Windows Vista Startup Repair - Step 7.

The Startup Repair tool will now search for problems with important Windows Vista files.

If Startup Repair finds a problem with an important operating system file, the tool may suggest a solution of some kind that you have to confirm or may solve the problem automatically.

Whatever happens, follow the prompts as necessary and accept any changes suggested by Startup Repair.

8
Wait While Startup Repair Attempts to Repair Windows Vista Files

A screenshot of Windows Vista startup repair fixing problems
Windows Vista Startup Repair - Step 8.

Startup Repair will now attempt to repair whatever problems it found with Windows Vista files. No user intervention is required during this step.

Important: Your computer may or may not restart several times during this repair process. Do not boot from the Windows Vista DVD on any restart. If you do, you'll need to restart immediately so the Startup Repair process can continue normally.

Note: If Startup Repair did not find any problem with Windows Vista, you won't see this screen.

9
Click Finish to Restart to Windows Vista

A screenshot of Windows Vista startup repair finishing up
Windows Vista Startup Repair - Step 9.

Click the Finish button once you see the Restart your computer to complete the repairs window to restart your PC and start Windows Vista normally.

Important: It's possible that Startup Repair didn't fix whatever problem you were having. If the Startup Repair tool determines this itself, it may automatically run again after your computer restarts. If it does not automatically run but you're still seeing problems with Windows Vista, repeat these steps to run Startup Repair again manually.

If it becomes apparent that Startup Repair is not going to solve your Windows Vista problem, you do have some additional recovery options, including a System Restore.

You could also try a Parallel Install of Windows Vista or a Clean Install of Windows Vista.

However, if you've tried a Startup Repair of Windows Vista as part of another troubleshooting guide, you're probably best served by continuing with whatever specific advice that guide is giving as your next step.