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Windows Vista Won't Boot - Can't Use Safe Mode, Startup Repair or Restore Point


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#1 sgseidel

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 02:47 PM

As the title says,Windows Vista SP 2 will not boot on a Dell Inspiron desktop computer.  As Vista is going out of service in a few days, a friend asked me to upgrade the system to Windows 10.  Stupidly and regretfully I did NOT perform a system backup.  (BTW however, I have installed a minimal Windows 10 on another hard drive on this same computer and it works fine, which should prove that the hardware is OK.)

 

Specs are:Pentium CPU, 3GB RAM, 500 GB hard drive of which about 300 GB are reported to be free.  

 

I have tried every possible technique I could find to attempt to repair it, including running Startup Repair and attemping to roll back to a previous Restore Point,attempting to boot into SAFE mode, and from the Windows Vista Repair Disc running bootrec.exe /FIXMBR, bootrec.exe /FIXBOOT, as well as  CHKDSK /F /X C: from the command line.

 

After the computer is turned on, the green and black Microsoft Corporation logo comes up and runs for some time, before giving up and going to Startup Repair.  (This has been tried numerous times).

 

By the way, I am a retired computer support professional with experience with various versions of UNIX, as well as experience with Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows XP, Mac OS X, mainframes, etc.  I am comfortable working from the command line and with scripting etc.

 

I would appreciate help in getting the system to boot.  Thanks.



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#2 JohnC_21

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 03:28 PM

If upgrading to Windows 10 why not pull the personal data with a live linux disk to a USB external drive then do a clean install of Windows 10? A Vista computer cannot be upgraded to Windows 10 as far as I know, only from Windows 7 and 8.


Edited by JohnC_21, 19 March 2017 - 03:28 PM.


#3 sgseidel

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 03:37 PM

Regarding copying personal data from the Vista hard drive, I have done this already by attaching the Windows 10 hard drive and a portable 1TB USB drive to the computer, booting from Win 10 and copying as much of the original Vista drive as I could to the the portable drive.  So the data is safe.

 

However I would really like to be able to boot Vista, and to use an app like LInklap's PCmover, which claims to be able to transfer apps and data from Vista to Windows 10.  However, most importantly I would like to give my friend's computer back with Vista in a working state.



#4 JohnC_21

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 03:48 PM

When doing a System Restore did it successfully complete? If not were you able to access the Advanced Boot Options and select Last Know Good Configuration?



#5 sgseidel

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 04:04 PM

Yes, I have been able to access the Advanced Boot Options.  And yes, I did select and run the Last Known Good Configuration as well as attempted Safe Boot and Safe Boot (Command Line).  Each choice resulted in the computer rebooting but not being able to boot Windows Vista.  And I'm back where I started.



#6 sgseidel

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 04:06 PM

Regarding the System Restore, do you mean rolling back to a restore point?  (To me, System Restore means restoring from a system backup, which as I said above, I regretfully did not do.)



#7 JohnC_21

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 04:10 PM

Yes, by System Restore, I meant rolling back to a previous Restore Point. 



#8 sgseidel

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 04:58 PM

Unfortunately when I selected to roll back to a previous restore point, it didn't find anything.  This has been tried numerous times.



#9 sgseidel

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 05:04 PM

I neglected to mention in the introduction that this is a Windows Vista SP 2 Home Premium 32-bit system.  As far as I can tell, all the files on the hard disk appear to be accessible and appear to be fine when Vista is booted from the System Repair disc.  But the system just won't boot.



#10 JohnC_21

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 05:20 PM

I'm not sure this will work on Vista but boot to a command prompt hopefully by using F8 at boot. If that does not work then use the Repair disk.

 

Type the following commands

 

diskpart

list volume    Look for the volume letter associated with your Windows partition

exit

At the command prompt type

 

bcdboot X:\Windows     Were X is the letter you found for the Windows partition. This will copy the required boot files from the \Windows partition

 

If that does not work then see if copying the registry hives from \Windows\system32\config\regback   to \Windows\system32\config. I would rename the hive files in config before doing the copy. Make a note of the hive dates in regback. If the date is after the problem then there is no point in doing the copy.



#11 sgseidel

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 08:31 PM

Using F8 at boot, for reference here is the output from diskpart list volume ("nul" means blank):

 

Volume ###  Ltr      FS          Type                         Size                 Status                  Info

=====================================================================

              0      H      nul           Removable               0B                   No Media            nul

              1      D      UDF         DVD-ROM            120MB                Healthy               nul

              2      E      nul            Removable              0B                   No Media            nul

              3      F      nul            Removable              0B                   No Media            nul

              4      X      NTFS        Partition                 10GB                Healthy              Boot

              5      C      NTFS        Partition               456GB               Healthy               nul

              6      G      nul            Removable             0B                   No Media            nul

              7    nul      FAT          Partition                 47MB                Healthy              Hidden

 

According to this web page:

 

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh824874.aspx

 

bcdboot is supposed to be available on Vista:

 

      For more information about repairing a computer that includes multiple hard drives or partitions, including both Windows XP and

      another operating system that BCDBoot supports (such as Windows® 8, Windows® 7, Windows Vista®, Windows Server® 2012,

      Windows Server® 2008 R2 or Windows Server® 2008), see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2277998.

 

Unfortunately, tho' I snooped high and low I wasn't able to locate the bcdboot command on the Windows Vista's hard drive, the Recovery Partition or the Vista Repair disk (altho' I see that bcdboot is located in C:\Windows\System32 in Windows 10).

 

Question that popped in to my mind:  is bcdboot.exe a generic executable, meaning that any version of this file will work on any of the Windows OS listed above (Win 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, etc.), or is each version of bcdboot.exe specific to a particular OS?

 

I will investigate the registry hives next, per JohnC_21's posting above.



#12 sgseidel

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 08:42 PM

The registry hives in C:\Windows\System32\Config\RegBack are not likely the culprit.  The maximum difference between the *.OLD registry files and the most current registry files is only two hours, and I believe that the *.OLD registry files are probably more recent than when the problem originally occurred.



#13 JohnC_21

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 09:21 PM

I don't have much experience with vista but bcdboot is available on Windows 7 and I thought on Vista also as you pointed out. 

 

If you have a Vista Install disk it may be on it. When you get to the screen that lists language press Shift + F10 to open a command prompt.

 

I can't say for sure but maybe it would be available on a Windows 7 System Repair Disk. 

 

http://techlogon.com/2011/03/23/use-a-windows-7-recovery-disc-to-repair-vista/

 

Other than that I am out of ideas, sorry.



#14 sgseidel

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 11:47 PM

I do have a Vista install disk, but bcdboot.exe isn't on it as far as I can tell.  However, I did copy C:\WIndows\System32\bcdboot.exe from a running Windows 7 installation to the Vista hard disk in C:\WIndows\System32, rebooted and used the F8 key to bring up a command prompt.  I ran:

 

  C:\Windows\System32\bcdboot.exe C:\Windows

 

and the output said that the operation completed successfully.  I rebooted and the green and black Microsoft logo came up, ran for 5 minutes or so, and then surprisingly, spontaneously started CHKDSK on first the D: drive (i.e., the Recovery partition, followed by a CHKDSK on C: drive.  I was surprised because I had run CHKDSK a number of times previously and thought that the file systems had not been corrupted.

 

However, after CHKDSK, completed, the system spontaneously restarted and went to the black and white "Windows Error Recovery" (Safe Boot/Safe Boot with Networking/Safe Boot with Command line/Last Known Good Configuration, etc.).  I attempted (again) each option, and each time the system rebooted and returned to the "Windows Error Recovery" screen.

 

I'm thinking now it probably wasn't a good idea to use a Win 7 bcdboot.exe on a Vista system. 



#15 JohnC_21

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 08:27 AM

Did you also use the rebuildbcd command when trying to repair Vista?

 

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/927392/use-bootrec.exe-in-the-windows-re-to-troubleshoot-startup-issues






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