Windows 7

Windows 8 Startup Troubleshooting

How to fix a problem involving Windows startup. Obviously, your computer isn't much use to you if you can't start it up and get to the logon screen. The startup system for Windows changed significantly in Windows Vista, and it has changed again with Windows 8. It provides a new Start screen and supports new features such as the Trusted boot.

Using Windows Startup Repair

The easiest way to repair a faulty Windows 8 startup is by using the automated Startup Repair. This will run automatically if the computer fails to start after three attempts, but you can also run it manually in one of the following four ways:

  • Press F8 on your keyboard upon Windows startup, select Troubleshoot, and then on the boot menu screen that opens, select Advanced options.
  • Press Shift+F8 upon startup and select Repair Your Computer.
  • Hold down the Shift key while restarting your computer.
  • In the PC Settings dialog box, click the General tab and then click the Advanced Startup Restart Now button.

In the Advanced options on the new Windows 8 boot menu, you can use System Restore to roll back your system if you suspect that a recent update, hardware, or software installation has caused your computer to become unstable.

Windows 8 now starts so quickly that there simply isn't enough time to press a key at startup to display the boot menu, especially on computers with UEFI firmware. If you can't start Windows to activate the boot menu there, start your computer from a system rescue disc, restore drive, or your Windows 8 installation media. At the Install screen, click Repair Your Computer.

You can restore from a system image if you have made one, or you can run the Automatic Repair tool.

The Automatic Repair option resets the Windows boot system to its default configuration. Thus, it's useful in many circumstances, but not all. For example, if you have a corrupt boot partition, Automatic Repair cannot provide a fix. As a general tool though, it is worth trying.

Should the Automatic Repair be unable to fix the problem, however, it will create a log file that you can read (perhaps on another computer), containing information about the error.

Manually Repairing Corrupt Boot Files

Occasionally, you will need to manually repair the boot files on your computer. To do this, boot into the Windows 8 boot menu, as described previously, and click Troubleshoot → Advanced Options → Command Prompt.

To manually repair the boot menu for a BIOS-based computer (for UEFI firmware computers, there are additional notes below) in Windows 8, perform the following procedure:

  1. Type BcdEdit /export C:\BCD_Backup (where BCD_Backup is the location at which you want the backup to reside) and press Enter.
    This creates a backup of the current boot options menu so that it can be restored if needed.
  2. Type C: and press Enter.
  3. Type cd Boot and press Enter.
    This navigates to the Windows 8 boot options.
  4. Type attrib bcd -s -h -r and press Enter.
    This allows you to modify and overwrite the boot options.
  5. Type ren C:\Boot\bcd C:\Boot\bcd.old and press Enter.
    This renames the current boot file.
  6. Type Bootrec /RebuildBCD and press Enter to force Windows 8 to rebuild the boot menu from scratch.
If you have a dual-boot system, this command might only restore Windows 8 to the boot menu. To restore other operating systems afterward, see the instructions later in this tutorial.

If you are using a computer with UEFI firmware, the BCD registry file is located instead in the EFI system partition. This doesn't have a drive letter associated with it. You can still use the BootRec command, but you should skip steps 2 through 5.

If you need to reimport the backed up BCD file, use step 1 with the /import switch. The following are other switches you can use with the Bootrec command to perform other actions on the Windows 8 boot menu:

  • /FixMbr This creates a new Master Boot Record file for the disk and can be used if the MBR is corrupt.
  • /FixBoot This switch writes a new boot sector to the disk. Use this if the boot sector has been replaced with a non-Windows 8 sector or if it is corrupt.
  • /ScanOS This scans your hard disk(s) for compatible operating systems and reports back the relevant details so that you can manually add them to the boot menu.
Sometimes Windows 8 won't start even after repairing the boot system. There is little else you can do at this point but reinstall the operating system. I always recommend, therefore, that you keep a System Image Backup copy of Windows that can be restored in the event of this type of disaster.

Windows 8 and Dual/Multi-Boot Systems

Some of the most complex startup problems associated with Microsoft Windows are when you have dual or multiple-boot systems on your computer. You might, for example run a copy of GNU/Linux or an earlier version of Windows (perhaps Windows 7) on your computer.

Due to modifications that Microsoft has made to its boot system in recent years, if you install a multi-boot system, ensure that you install operating systems on your computer in the following order:

  1. GNU/Linux, Windows XP or earlier versions of Windows
  2. Windows 7
  3. Windows 8
Trusted Boot

Windows 8 introduced a new feature called Trusted Boot. This is a UEFI feature by which the firmware can validate the authenticity of software at startup. It is intended to prevent the execution of malware and other malicious code such as rootkits when the computer starts up.

Trusted Boot, which is sometimes referred to as Secure Boot, isn't restricted to Windows 8 computers, either; you can also find it on Windows RT computers and Windows Phone 8 handsets.

BitLocker and Dual-Boot Systems

It should be noted that if you use Microsoft BitLocker encryption on your computer and want to create a dual-boot system, you will run into all manner of problems with Windows 8 locking you out of your computer on almost every startup.

BitLocker doesn't support dual-boot systems, and although some people on the Internet claim to have workarounds, even they will admit that those workarounds are not guaranteed.

So, if you do need (or simply want) to create a dual-boot system, you will need to turn BitLocker off on your computer.

Trusted Boot is only a feature of computers equipped with UEFI firmware; it is not functional on BIOS firmware computers. However, Microsoft has mandated to all OEM (original equipment manufacturers) partners that all of the Windows 8 computers they sell must have UEFI firmware and must have Trusted Boot switched on.

Trusted Boot is a system intended to prevent malware and, in particular, rootkits from infecting your computer, but it can also prevent some operating systems from booting, including GNU/Linux .

You will find that in many UEFI systems, especially on more expensive computers and laptops, Trusted Boot (Secure Boot) can be switched off completely. If you are buying a new computer on which you plan to run multi-boot operating systems, it is a good idea to check the UEFI system first to see if this feature can be switched off. You can normally access the UEFI menus on a computer by pressing the Esc key at startup.

[Next....Editing the Windows 8 Boot Menu by Using BCDEdit]