How is the starting process carried out

PC emergencies: fix Windows startup errors

Roland Freest

Starting a Windows PC is a complex process and a lot can go wrong. Fortunately, the operating system comes with a whole range of repair and security mechanisms.

It usually hits you when you don't need it at all: Especially when you want to restart your PC to send a forgotten e-mail, reserve cinema tickets or make a transfer, the screen stays black or an error message just appears like "BOOTMGR is missing". Then, as a rule, troubleshooting and repairs are due, which can sometimes take a little longer. Because the causes of such problems when starting Windows are diverse and must be ruled out one after the other. With the help of this systematic approach, you will usually reach your goal in a few minutes. We'll show you how to do it.

Tip:How to speed up Windows startup - startup in 3 seconds

Boot analysis: If Windows and the PC start too slowly

But before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let's start with the simpler tasks, such as speeding up Windows startup. Thanks to fast SSDs, the operating system usually shows the log-in screen and desktop after a few seconds. If, on the other hand, Windows allows itself more time or even a circle on the mouse pointer signals for minutes that programs are being loaded in the background, get to the bottom of the matter. The tool of choice in this case is Bootracer, after which you have to reboot your PC twice. The software stops the time until all automatically starting applications have been loaded. Bootracer then provides an evaluation of how long the individual programs need. You can use this list to block the autostart of these programs and thus accelerate the boot process. In particular, the search for updates, which some applications routinely run every time they start, often takes a lot of time and can also be done manually at regular intervals.

The Windows quick start accelerates, but shows pitfalls

EnlargeThe free Bootracer tool analyzes the individual processes at startup.

Another reason for Windows booting slowly is a disabled quick start. Since version 8, the Microsoft operating system no longer starts from "point 0", where it has to gradually load and initialize drivers, services and components. Instead, it simply accesses the "hiberfil.sys" system file, in which important settings are saved when Windows is shut down and then reloaded. The often time-consuming initialization is no longer necessary and the boot process is much faster. The corresponding setting can be found in the Control Panel under "Power Options". There, please click on “Select what should happen when you press the power button -› Some settings are currently not available ”. In the next window, check whether there is a tick in front of "Activate quick start (recommended)" or do so if necessary.

But the quick start also has its pitfalls. If you have set up a dual boot system with Windows 7 or Linux, you should switch it off. Because with Windows 7 there are otherwise regular disk checks with the program chkdsk, a Linux or BSD partition can only be integrated as read-only with activated quick start.

There is another situation where the quick start is a hindrance. In some constellations there are problems with drivers, especially with graphics drivers. This manifests itself in such a way that Windows does not make it to the login screen, but aborts the boot process beforehand. The screen stays black, the monitor has no signal, and the only way to revive the computer is to press and hold the power button. In this case, too, deactivating the quick start will often help you. In the case of less dramatic driver problems, you can try booting Windows without a quick start: To do this, simply trigger a restart from the start menu. With this start option, Windows then performs a full start with all drivers and services.

Enter Safe Mode

In earlier Windows versions, a boot menu could be called up by pressing the F8 key several times when starting up the computer. The selection that was then displayed contained a safe mode that started a Windows variant with a minimal set of drivers. This mode still exists today, you can find it via the "Start Settings". It is particularly useful if a driver that has just been installed causes problems and prevents Windows from starting. In safe mode, you can still start the operating system and then remove the driver again.

When the hardware cannot find the operating system

EnlargeThe Windows quick start shortens the boot times.

Especially after tinkering with the computer, shortly after switching on the computer, the message “Operating System not found” appears in white letters on a black background. This comes from the BIOS / Uefi and says that no bootable system was found on the data carriers. In most cases, the cause is harmless. Either you forgot to connect the hard drive or SSD to the mainboard with a cable or something is wrong with the boot sequence in the BIOS / Uefi. So first check the cable connection and then take a close look at the startup sequence in the BIOS. The USB port is often set there as the primary boot drive. If no USB medium is connected, the BIOS / Uefi simply jumps to the hard drive and uses the installed Windows system to start. Problems often arise when a non-bootable USB drive is inserted in the computer, for example a normal stick with a few files. In this case the computer tries in vain to boot with it and displays the above message if this attempt fails. So pull out all USB storage devices before starting. The same error also occurs if a stick was not configured correctly for the Windows installation. We explain how to do this in the box. It becomes critical if Windows fails to start due to defective or missing system files. This is because either a black screen with a blinking cursor appears or you see the error message “BOOTMGR is missing”. But even this problem can be easily solved with the repair functions of the operating system.

System Restore: Preparing for a Disaster

EnlargeRemember to turn on System Restore at least for the system drive.

As long as everything works, however, you should take precautions and activate System Restore, because Microsoft switched it off in Windows 10. To do this, open the control panel and click on “Recovery -› Configure system recovery ”. Highlight your system drive, press the “Configure” button, click “Activate computer protection” and close all windows with “OK”. Windows now creates images of its system files at regular intervals and after system updates, which you can retrieve if necessary. You should also prepare a USB stick for booting the PC in an emergency. Windows has an assistant available for this. You can access this via the same window as the System Restore or by simply typing Restore in the input field on the taskbar and then clicking on “Create a restore drive”. Deactivate the option "Backs up the system files on the recovery drive" - ​​restoring the files usually does not work anyway! After clicking on “Next”, the wizard analyzes the system and then requests a USB stick, usually with a size of at least 512 MB. All files on the stick are deleted, Windows recognizes the new stick and shows you its drive letter. Click on “Next -› Create - ›Finish”.

Tip:Fix wrong boot order in BIOS

If nothing works: use Windows repair functions

EnlargeUsing a wizard, you can create a bootable USB stick for repairing the operating system.

In the event that Windows does not want to start again, you can boot the PC from this stick. However, it does not start immediately with the desktop, but rather it leads you to the built-in repair options of Windows. For an emergency exercise, you can now try these functions from a running Windows: To do this, click on "Restart" in the start menu and hold down the Shift key. It becomes even more realistic if you simulate an aborted boot process: To do this, press and hold the off switch when the computer is booting as soon as the Windows logo appears. After the second time, the operating system reports "Preparing Windows repair" and starts troubleshooting. Note: In rare cases such a hardware reset can damage files.

The Windows recovery console contains three or four menu items (depending on whether Windows has found another bootable medium). Underneath there is also the entry "Troubleshooting". After clicking on it, you have the choice between “Reset this PC”, which resets the PC to the delivery state, and “Advanced options”, which lead you to the recovery functions.

You can use "Restore system" to return to an earlier restore point. However, this only works if System Restore has been activated as before and such an image is available. But then it's usually the safest way to get Windows back on its feet.

You can use the additional function "System image recovery" in the selection menu for the repair. To do this, you need an image file of your installation. You can create this in the control panel via "Backup and restore (Windows 7) -› Create system image ". Unfortunately, the function does not always work reliably, which is why it is better to use System Restore or an external image tool such as Aomei Backupper.

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