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A+: Common Error Messages and Codes, Windows Vista Boot Errors

Windows Vista uses the bootmgr and BCD files during the startup process. If these files are corrupted or missing, you will see corresponding error messages.
BOOTMGR is missing— This message is displayed if the bootmgr file is missing or corrupt. This black screen will probably also say “Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart,” however doing so will probably have the same results. Since a hard drive’s lifespan is not infinite, it may not be possible to repair this file, so the hard drive will need to be replaced.
There are two ways to repair this error.
1. Boot to the System Recovery Options and select the Startup Repair option. This should automatically repair the system and require you to reboot.
2. Boot to the System Recovery Options and select the Command Prompt option, then type the command bootrec /fixboot

The Windows Boot Configuration Data file is missing required information— This message means that either the Windows Boot Manager (Bootmgr) entry is not present in the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store or that the Boot\BCD file on the active partition is damaged or missing. Additional information you might see on the screen includes: File: \Boot\BCD, and Status: 0xc0000034
The BCD store needs to be repaired or rebuilt. Hold on to your hats, there are three methods for repairing this error:
1. Boot to the System Recovery Options and select the Startup Repair option. This should automatically repair the system and require you to reboot. If not, move on to the second method.
2. Boot to the System Recovery Options and select the Command Prompt option. Type bootrec /rebuildbcd. At this point the bootrec.exe tool will either succeed or fail.
• If the Bootrec.exe tool runs successfully, it presents you with an installation path of a Windows directory. To add the entry to the BCD store, type Yes. A confirmation message appears that indicates the entry was added successfully.
• If the Bootrec.exe tool can’t locate any missing Windows installations, you’ll have to remove the BCD store, and then re-create it. To do this, type the following commands in the order in which they are presented. Press Enter after each command.
Bcdedit /export C:\BCD_Backup
ren c:\boot\bcd bcd.old
Bootrec /rebuildbcd
Methods one and two will usually work, but if they don’t there is a third method that is more in depth and requires rebuilding the BCD store manually. More information on this step by step process can be found at the following link: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927391.

Various issues can happen if you attempt to dual boot an older operating system with an existing Windows Vista OS. For example, Vista may cease to boot after the second operating system is installed. This could mean that the master boot record was overwritten, along with other issues. Several steps are involved to repair this problem. The initial command in this process, which will restore the MBR and the boot code that transfers control to the Windows Boot Manager program, is X:\boot\Bootsect.exe /NT60 All. X is the drive where the installation media exists. See the following MSKB link for more information on how to manually create an entry into the BCD store for the new operating system and how to troubleshoot this further: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/919529.



A+: Incorrect/Incompatible Printer Driver

Gibberish printing can have several causes, but one of the most common is a corrupt or incompatible printer driver.

To install a new printer driver for an existing printer, you can use the New Printer Driver wizard (start it with the New Driver button on the printer properties sheet’s Advanced tab). This wizard displays Windows XP printer drivers for a wide variety of printers, and includes the option to load a driver from a driver disk or folder.
The Device Manager cannot be used to install or update printer drivers; this must be done within the printer’s Properties page.
This method might not work for printers that use a setup program to install the driver, as is common with many inkjet printers. To install a new driver in these cases, download an updated driver from the vendor’s website, uncompress it as directed by the vendor, and run the setup program. You might need to turn off the printer before running setup, as most printers that use a setup program require that the driver be installed before turning on (or connecting) the printer.

If a printer continues to produce gibberish printing after updating the driver, check for cable or port damage.



A+: Print Spooler Stalled

Windows Vista/XP/2000 run the print spooler as a service. To restart it from the list of local services, use this procedure with Windows Vista/XP/2000:
Step 1. Open Computer Management
Step 2. Expand Services and Applications and click on Services.
Step 3. Scroll to the Print Spooler entry.
Step 4. Right click it and select Restart from the menu.
Alternatively you can open the Command Prompt and type net stop spooler to stop the print spooler service, and then net start spooler to start it again. This is a common question in job interviews.



A+: More Application Start Resolutions

You might be able to enable troublesome programs to run by using the Program Compatibility Wizard, located in the Accessories menu, to select an older version of Windows to emulate for a particular program or to customize display settings. 

If the program is not listed as being compatible with your version of Windows, contact the vendor for patches, updates, or workarounds to make it work correctly.

If a program worked previously but has stopped working, its software components might be damaged or erased. Reload the program if possible. If the program stopped working after another program was installed or removed, some .dll program components might have been replaced or disabled. You can use the Microsoft command-line tool Regsvr32 to re-register .dll files used by applications. 
To learn more about Regsvr32, see Microsoft Knowledge Base articles 249873 and 207132 (available at http://support.microsoft.com). TechRepublic has a very helpful article on using Regsvr32: http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-6270-1054872.html.



A+: Application Start or Load Failure

Applications might not start or load for several reasons, including an invalid working directory, missing or damaged shortcut, system hardware, system configuration, or operating system version not compatible with program, and program components not properly listed in system registry.

If a program is configured to use a folder that isn’t available, the Invalid Working Directory error might be displayed. Use the appropriate solution from this list:
• Adjust the program’s operation to use a folder that is available using the program’s properties sheet.
• If the working folder is on a network drive, make sure the user is logged on the network.
• If the working folder is a removable-media drive, the user must insert the correct disk or CD-ROM before starting the program. Or, if the drive is present but has been assigned a different drive letter than it was originally assigned by Windows, use Disk Management to assign the correct drive letter.
If a program isn’t listed on the Start menu or the Windows desktop, it usually indicates that a shortcut was deleted or was never created. To add a desktop shortcut, follow these steps:
Step 1. Make sure desktop icons are visible. If they are not visible, right-click an empty part of the Windows desktop, select Arrange Icons By, and select Show Desktop Icons.
Step 2. Right-click an empty part of the Windows desktop and select New, Shortcut.
Step 3. You can enter the path to the program (such as C:\Windows\System32\mspaint.exe) or click the Browse button to locate the program for which you are making a shortcut. Click Next. The shortcut name created by Windows is displayed. To keep the name created by Windows, click Finish. You can also change the name as desired and click Finish



A+: Application Troubleshooting

Application troubleshooting involves dealing with applications that cannot be installed or cannot start.

If you can’t install an application, here are some reasons why—and some solutions:
Not enough disk space on C: drive— Use the Custom Installation option, if available, to choose another drive, delete old files in the default Temp folder, or free up space by deleting .chk files created by ScanDisk or Chkdsk in the root folder. Even if you choose another drive rather than the default system drive (usually C:) for the application, a severe shortage of space on the system drive can still prevent a successful installation. That’s because shared files are often installed on various areas of the default system drive. 
Computer doesn’t meet minimum requirements for RAM or CPU speed— Check for installation program switches to turn off speed and RAM checks, or, better still, upgrade the system to meet or exceed minimums.
No more space available in root folder— A FAT16 drive with 256 entries in the root folder cannot create any more folders or files in the root. Install to another folder, or convert the drive to FAT32 or NTFS to eliminate this limitation. Keep in mind that a long file name (LFN) can use up multiple entries in the root folder.
Application incompatible with version of Windows in use— Although most recent commercial applications are designed to be installed on several different Windows versions, some older commercial applications and some custom applications might not support a particular Windows version. If an update to a compatible version is available, update the application and try the installation again with an updated version. If no updated version is available, you can either use a different program or install a virtualization environment such as Microsoft’s Virtual PC, install an operating system supported by the application, and install the application itself. The virtualized operating system and application run in a window on the host PC.
To learn more about virtualization and Virtual PC, visit the Virtual PC website at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/default.aspx. Newer versions of Virtual PC are in the process of coming out, and the latest version is available as a free download from www.microsoft.com



A+: Driver Signing

Windows device driver files are digitally signed by Microsoft to ensure quality, using an encrypted file segment which can be checked by Windows. The digital signature ensures that the file has met a certain level of testing, and that the file has not been altered. 

In Windows Vista, driver signing is configured automatically, and in Windows Vista and XP, only administrators can install unsigned drivers. In Windows XP, driver signing can be configured to either ignore device drivers that are not digitally signed, display a warning when Windows detects device drivers that are not digitally signed (the default behavior), or prevent installing device drivers without digital signatures. To configure driver signing in Windows XP, open the System Properties window, click the Hardware tab, and select Driver Signing.



A+: I/O Devices

Problems with I/O devices can be caused by Windows configuration issues, BIOS configuration issues (for ports built into the motherboard), cabling problems, and damage to the port itself.  Windows’s primary method of displaying I/O device configurations and problems is Windows Device Manager; to launch it, right-click on Computer or My Computer, select Manage then pick Device Manager

Device Manager displays information about disabled I/O devices, I/O devices that cannot start or run, and other information (such as USB device and hub power, hardware resource usage such as IRQ, DMA, I/O port address, and memory address, power management and technical information such as PnP identification and others).

Windows cannot display information for ports and devices that have been disabled in the system BIOS. If a port that is physically present in the system is not visible in Device Manager, or if the port has reduced functionality (for example, a system with USB 2.0 ports lists only the USB 1.1-compatible standard USB host controller instead of listing both the standard and enhanced USB host controllers), you must adjust the system’s BIOS configuration. 



A+: DxDiag

When it comes to making sure your devices are working properly, one of the most important is the video card, and a utility you can use to analyze and diagnose the video card is DxDiag. To run the DxDiag program, open the Run prompt and type dxdiag. 

First, the utility asks if you want it to check whether the corresponding drivers are digitally signed. A digitally signed driver means it is one that has been verified by Microsoft as compatible with the operating system. After the utility opens, you can find out what version of DirectX you are running. 

DirectX is a group of multimedia programs that enhance video and audio, including Direct3D, DirectDraw, DirectSound, and so on. With the DxDiag tool, you can view all the DirectX files that have been loaded, check their date, and discern whether any problems were found with the files. You can also find out information about your video and sound card, what level of acceleration they are set to, and test DirectX components such as DirectDraw and Direct3D. Windows 7 ships with DirectX 11, Windows Vista ships with DirectX version 10, and Windows XP currently can use up to DirectX 9.0c.

The latest DirectX features are important to video gamers and other multimedia professionals.



A+: Using Graphics Acceleration Settings to Troubleshoot

To determine the best setting to use for display problems, try this procedure:

Step 1. Start the computer.

Step 2. Open the Troubleshooting or Performance dialog box as described in the previous section.
Step 3. Slide the acceleration pointer one notch to the left from its current position.
Step 4. Click Apply, OK, and then OK again to close the Display Properties dialog box.
Step 5. Use your normal software and perform typical tasks.

If the computer now performs acceptably (no more crashes), continue to use this setting until you can obtain and install updated drivers. If the computer continues to have problems, repeat Steps 2–5 and move the pointer one step to the left each time until the problems go away or until you can install updated drivers.

Setting: All the way right
Effect: Full acceleration
Long-term solution: None needed

Disable write combiing, a display speedup method, for stability when using any setting but all the way right. Re-enable write combining after installing update drives, then retry.

Setting: Three clicks to the right
Effect: Disable cursor, drawing acceleration
Long-term solution: Update display drivers

Setting: Two clicks to the right
Effect: Disable DirectX, DirectDraw, Direct 3D acceleration (mostly for 3D games)
Long-term solution:  Update DirectX drivers.

Setting: One click to the right
Effect: Disabled all but basic acceleration
Long-term solution:  Update display, DirectX and Mouse drivers.

Setting: Leftmost
Effect: No acceleration, use when system won't start except in Safe or VGA Mode
Long-term solution: Update display, DirectX and Mouse drivers.



A+: System lockups

System lockups can occur for a variety of reasons, including:
• Corrupted or outdated display, mouse, or DirectX drivers
• Overheating
• Memory configuration problems in the BIOS
A computer that won’t start except in VGA or Safe Mode or has frequent lockups or screen corruption when you move your mouse needs upgraded display, mouse, or DirectX drivers. However, as a workaround, you can reduce the video acceleration settings.

To do this in Windows Vista, access the Display Adapter Troubleshooter:
Step 1. Right-click the desktop and select Personalize.
Step 2. Click the Display Settings link at the bottom of the window.
Step 3. Click the Advanced Settings button.
Step 4. Select the Troubleshoot tab and click the Change settings button.
To access the Windows XP dialog:
Step 1. Open the Display Properties window.
Step 2. Click the Settings tab.
Step 3. Click the Advanced button.
Step 4. Click the Troubleshoot tab, which adjusts hardware acceleration settings, and can be used to determine whether display, mouse, or DirectX drivers need to be updated. 



A+: Auto Restart Errors

An Auto Restart error is a STOP/BSOD error that immediately reboots the computer. There is no difference between an Auto Restart error and a STOP/BSOD error itself. The difference is that a STOP/BSOD error triggers auto restart on systems that are configured to restart the computer when a STOP error occurs.

If a system needs to be available at all times and STOP/BSOD errors are rare, it might be preferable to configure the system to restart automatically (the default is to leave the system stopped until it is manually restarted). To change this option, follow these steps:
Step 1. Open the System Properties window.
Step 2. Click the Advanced tab.
Step 3. Click Settings under the Startup and Recovery section.
Step 4. To enable auto restart, click the empty checkbox for Automatically Restart under the System Failure section. To disable auto restart if it is already enabled, clear this checkbox.
To enable diagnosis of a STOP/BSOD error when auto restart is enabled, make sure the Write an Event to the System Log option is enabled. When a STOP error is saved to the System Log, it is listed with the type set as Information (not as Error, as you might expect). To find the event, search for events with the source listed as Save Dump. The STOP error will be listed thus:
The system has rebooted from a bugcheck. The bugcheck was (error number).
Look up the error number to find the solution.

When a stop error occurs, Windows will write debugging information to the hard drive for later analysis with programs like Dumpchk.exe; this debugging information is essentially the contents of RAM. The default setting in Windows XP is to only write a portion of the contents of RAM, known as a “Small memory dump”; this is written to %systemroot%\Minidump . Or you could configure Windows to do a Kernel memory dump, which is the default in Windows Vista. The Kernel memory dump is saved as the file %systemroot\MEMORY.DMP which is larger than the minidump file. This is where the phrase “My computer just took a dump...” comes from! For more information on how to analyze the debugging information resulting from these stop errors, see the following link: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315263.



A+: STOP (Blue Screen) Errors

STOP errors (also known as blue screen of death or BSOD errors) can occur either during start up or after the system is running. The BSOD nickname is used because the background is normally blue (or sometimes black) with the error message in white text.

Regardless of when a STOP/BSOD error occurs, your system is halted by default. To restart the computer, you must turn off the system and turn it back on. But, before you do that, record the error message text and other information so you can research the problem if it recurs. It is possible for the system to restart on its own.

 BSOD errors can be caused by any of the following:
Incompatible or defective hardware or software— Start the system in Safe Mode and uninstall the last hardware or software installed. Acquire updates before you reinstall the hardware or software. Exchange or test memory.
Registry problems— Select Last Known Good Configuration as described earlier in this chapter and see if the system will start.
Viruses— Scan for viruses and remove them if discovered.
Miscellaneous causes— Check the Windows Event Viewer and check the System log. Research the BSOD with the Microsoft Knowledge Base.
To determine the exact cause of the error, you must
Step 1. Record the exact error message before restarting the computer.
Step 2. Research the error at Microsoft’s Knowledge Base (http://support.microsoft.com) if the BSOD keeps happening.
Unfortunately, you can’t take a screen capture of a BSOD for printing because a BSOD completely shuts Windows down. However, if you have a digital camera or phone camera handy, it makes a great tool for recording the exact error message. Just be sure to use the correct range setting to get the sharpest picture possible (normal or closeup, often symbolized with a flower icon). Turn off the flash on the camera and use ISO 400 to enable handheld shooting in dim light.



A+: Checking Configurations and Device Manager

To check system configuration, use the following methods:

    • To check integrated hardware, restart the system, start the BIOS configuration program, and examine the appropriate settings.
    • To check Windows version, memory size, and processor speed, open the System properties sheet in Windows. The General tab lists this information.
    • To check hardware resources, driver versions, and device status, open the Device Manager and open the properties sheet for any given device.
    • To check program information, open the application program and use its Help, About option to view program version and service pack or update level.

Common Problems

The following issues discuss how to deal with common computer problems including

    • STOP (blue screen) errors
    • Auto restart errors
    • System lockups
    • I/O device problems
    • Application install or start/load problems
    • Stalled print spooler
    • Incorrect or incompatible print driver



A+: Recording Symptoms and Error Codes

If you don’t find event logs useful, services are running properly, and your tests rule out power and interference, you must proceed to tests that focus on the hardware or software that appears to be the most likely cause of the problem.

Which test or diagnostic routine is the best one to start with? Before you perform any specific tests, review the clues you gathered from the client. Here’s an example: a document in Microsoft Word would print to a laser printer, but a project in Adobe InDesign would not.

Since all Windows-based programs use the same Windows printer driver, we can rule out the printer driver. Printer hardware or driver failures would prevent all software programs from printing; however, in this case, printing works from some programs but not others when the same printer and printer drivers are in use. Before you can solve this problem, you need more information about the printer. It’s time to use the printer’s self-test (a technique listed earlier in Table 15-5) for more information about the printer.

A laser printer’s self-test usually indicates the amount of RAM on board, the emulation (HP or PostScript), and firmware revisions. The amount of RAM on board is critical, because laser printers are page-at-a-time printers: The whole page must fit into the laser printer’s RAM to be printed.

Thus, there are two variables to this printing problem: the size of the RAM in the printer and the size of the documents the user is trying to print. The self-test reveals the printer has only the standard amount of RAM (2MB) on board. This amount of RAM is adequate for text, but an elaborate page can overload it. A look at the InDesign document reveals that it has a large amount of graphic content, whereas the Microsoft Word document is standard-sized text only with a minimal use of bold and italic formatting.

Your theory is to add RAM to the printer, and it can print the brochure. If you don’t have a suitable RAM module, how can you prove it?

Because Microsoft Word printed a text-only document flawlessly, you might be able to convince your client from that fact alone that the printer isn’t “broken” but needs a RAM upgrade—or a workaround.

Devising a workaround that will help the printer work is good for client satisfaction and will prove that your theory is correct. Have the client adjust the graphics resolution of the printer from its default setting to a lower amount, such as from 1,200 dpi to 600 dpi or from 600 dpi to 300 dpi, and print the brochure again. If a lack of printer memory is the cause of the problem, reducing the brochure’s dots per inch for graphics objects will enable the brochure to print. The client will look at the lower print quality and if the client is not satisfied with the lower print quality caused by lower graphics resolution, at that point you can recommend the RAM upgrade. Point out the provision for RAM upgrades in the printer manual if necessary. Remember, you’re not selling anything, but solving problems.

If the printer will not print at all, other tests are appropriate, such as the I/O port loopback test or hardware resources check.



A+: Identifying the Problem: Logs and Services

If the client interview alone doesn’t point you in the right direction, check event logs and services.

Event Logs You can view event logs by running the Computer Management Console (Press {Windows+R} to open the Run prompt and type compmgmt.msc). Event logs are stored in branches of the Event Viewer. Look for Error messages (marked with a white X on a red circle) first, then Warnings (yellow triangle). Frequent errors or warnings that point to the same program or device can indicate a serious problem.


Many Windows features, such as printing, wireless networking, and others, depend upon services. To see if a needed service is running, open the Services and Applications node of the Computer Management Console and click Services. Check the Status column for the service needed. To start a stopped service, right-click it and select Start. Alternatively, you could click the Start button on the tool bar, or double-click the service and click the Start button from the Properties window.

The Properties window of the service also allows you to change the startup type. There are three startup types. Sometimes you might need to set a service to Automatic, so that the service will start automatically every time the computer boots; many services are set this way by default. Or, you might want to set a service to Manual so that you have control over it. In other cases, you might want to set it to Disabled, for example, disabling the insecure Telnet service. This service is disabled by default in Windows Vista and XP, but you never know who or what may have enabled it.



A+: Analyzing the Problem

Depending on the clues you receive in the initial interview, you should go to the client’s work area prepared to perform a variety of tests. You must look for four major issues when evaluating the customer’s environment:

    • Event logs and services
    • Symptoms and error codes (might require you to try to reproduce the problem)
    • Power issues
    • Interference sources

Your evaluation of the most likely sources of problems will lead you to specific tests, and you might need to perform several tests to rule out certain problems. Examples include:

Power Multimeter and power supply load device, circuit tester
BIOS beep, error codes List of BIOS codes and POST card
Printer self test Printer, paper
Windows bootlog Start Windows w/ bootlog enabled
I/O Port tests Connect loopback plugs, run third-party diagnostics
Video tests Third-party diagnostics
Hardware resources Windows Device Manager
Device drivers Windows Device Manager



A+: The User Interview

The number-one question you’re trying to answer is, “What changed since the last time it worked?” Sometimes the client can tell you what changed, and sometimes you must “ask” the computer what changed.

During the client interview, you need to ask questions to determine the following information:

    • What hardware or software appears to have a problem?— The user might have an opinion about this, but don’t be unduly swayed by a statement such as “the printer’s broken”; the device or software the user believes to be at fault might simply reflect a problem coming from another source.

    • What other hardware or software was in use at the time of the problem?— The user probably will answer these types of questions in terms of open applications, but you will also want to look at the taskbar and system tray in Windows for other programs or routines that are running. Pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del will bring up a task list in Windows that has the most complete information about programs and subroutines in memory. To determine the exact version of a Windows-based program in use, click Help, About. View the System properties sheet to determine the version of Windows in use.

    • What task was the user trying to perform at the time of the problem?— Ask the questions needed to find out the specific issues involved. For example, “Printing” isn’t a sufficient answer. “Printing a five-page brochure from PageMaker to a laser printer” is better, but you’ll probably want the user to re-create the situation in an attempt to get all the information you need.

    • Is the hardware or software on the user’s machine or accessed over the network?— If the network was involved, check with the network administrator to see if the network is currently working properly. If the hardware and software are not networked, your scope for troubleshooting is simpler.

    • What were the specific symptoms of the problem?— Some users are very observant, but others might not be able to give you much help. Ask about the approximate time of the failure and about error messages, beeps, and unusual noises.

    • Can the problem be reproduced?— Reproducible problems are easier to find than those that mysteriously “heal” themselves when you show up. Because power and environmental issues at the customer’s site can cause computer problems, try to reproduce the problem at the customer’s site before you move the computer to your test bench, where conditions are different.

    • Does the problem repeat itself with a different combination of hardware and software, or does the problem go away when another combination of hardware and software is used?— For example, if the user can print from Microsoft Word but not from PageMaker, this means that the printer is working, but there might be a problem with configuration or data types used by different applications. If the user can’t print anything, there might be a general problem with the printer hardware or drivers.

Sometimes, the client interview alone will reveal the answer. More often, however, you’ll need to go to the client’s work area and evaluate the hardware and software that are involved.



A+: Diagnosing and Troubleshooting Other Problems

The ability to diagnose and troubleshoot problems depends upon a combination of technical skills and the ability to interact with clients. Often, a combination of what clients tell you (or don’t tell you) and your own detective skills are needed to solve a computer problem.

Identifying the Problem: User Interview

The client interview is the all-important first step in solving any computer trouble-shooting situation. During this interview, you need to determine the following facts:

    • The software in use at the time of the problem
    • The hardware in use at the time of the problem

    • The task the customer was trying to perform at the time of the problem
    • The environment in the office or work area at the time of the problem
    • If new software or hardware has been added to the computer or LAN
    • If any changes have been made to the system configuration
    • If other users are having the same or similar problems



A+: Using the Emergency Repair Disk (Windows 2000)

Windows 2000 has a feature called Emergency Repair that can fix some startup problems. The Windows 2000 Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) is created with the Windows 2000 Backup program. Run it by:

    1. Start the system with the Windows CD; if the system can’t boot from the CD, use the Windows setup floppy disks to start the system and insert the CD when prompted.

    2. Select Repair when prompted, and then Emergency Repair.

    3. Choose Fast Repair when prompted. Fast repair performs all three options provided with Manual repair: Inspect Startup Environment; Verify System Files; and Inspect Boot Sector. Manual repair lets you select which of these to run.

    4. Insert the Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) (if available) when prompted. This disk contains a log file of the location and installed options for this copy of Windows.

    5. After the process replaces damaged or missing files, follow the prompts to remove the ERD and restart the system.



A+: Using Automated System Recovery (ASR) (Windows XP)

Windows XP Professional does not include a true disaster-recovery backup program. However, the Automated System Recovery (ASR) option in NTBackup does enable you to restore the system state (user accounts, hard disk configuration, network configuration, video settings, hardware configuration, software settings, operating system boot files). To create an ASR backup with NTBackup, follow these steps:
Step 1. Switch to Advanced Mode (if NTBackup starts in Wizard mode) and click the Automated System Recovery Wizard button
Step 2. The Automated System Recovery Preparation Wizard’s opening dialog appears. Click Next to continue.
Step 3. Specify where to store the backup, and click Next.
Step 4. Click Finish to complete the wizard. The backup starts. Provide a floppy disk when prompted to store configuration files.
The floppy disk created by the ASR Wizard contains three files that store information about storage devices (asr.sif), Plug and Play (PnP) information (asrpnp.sif), and a list of system state and critical files that were backed up (setup.log).

To restore a system with ASR, you need the following: the Windows XP Professional distribution CD, ASR backup, the ASR floppy disk and a supported floppy drive.

If the computer does not have provision for a floppy drive connected to a floppy drive controller, there are a few USB floppy drives that are supported. The USB floppy drives that Microsoft supports for installing Windows XP (and for ASR) are listed in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 916196, available at http://support.microsoft.com.  Follow this procedure:
Step 1. Start the system with the Windows XP Professional CD.
Step 2. Press F2 when prompted to start Automated System Recovery.
Step 3. Insert the ASR floppy disk.
Step 4. Provide backup files when prompted.
After completing the ASR restore, you will need to reinstall your applications and restore your most recent backup to return your system to service.



A+: Using Windows Vista’s Complete PC Backup

Complete PC Backup is the Vista successor to Windows XP’s Automated System Recovery. It backs up an entire image of your system to the removable media of your choice, for example DVD. To create a backup of your PC with Vista’s Complete PC Backup, follow these steps:

    Step 1. Start the Complete PC Backup by going to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Backup Status and Configuration.
    Step 2. Click the Complete PC Backup button.
    Step 3. Select Create a Backup Now and follow the directions. Have media ready that can hold an image of your operating system, for example DVD-R. Be ready, this will be a sizeable image.

To restore a system from the backup, follow these steps:

    Step 1. Insert the installation disc, and then restart the computer. (Make sure that the DVD drive is listed first in the BIOS boot order.)
    Step 2. Press any key when prompted in order to boot off of the DVD.
    Step 3. Choose your language settings and then click Next.
    Step 4. Click Repair Your Computer.
    Step 5. Select the operating system you want to repair (usually there will be only one), and then click Next.*
    Step 6. On the System Recovery Options menu, click Windows Complete PC Restore, and then follow the instructions. Insert the last DVD of the backup set when prompted to do so.

* If you are restoring a 64-bit system using a 32-bit Complete PC backup or a 32-bit system using a 64-bit Complete PC backup and have more than one operating system installed, do not select an operating system. If an operating system is selected by default, clear the selection by clicking a blank area of the window, and then click Next.



A+: Using System Restore with Advanced Boot Options

If you need to recover users’ files from a system that cannot boot, even in Safe Mode, consider making a BartPE <www.nu2.nu/pebuilder> CD or DVD from the same version of Windows, and use its file manager to copy files or perform data recovery. Also, you might attach the drive into another PC and use the other PC's OS to access the drive.

If you cannot boot into Windows XP, try starting your computer using the Safe Mode option and then click the System Restore link. Click Restore My Computer to an Earlier Time, select a previous restore point, and click Next. This will return your system to a previous state.

You can also start a System Restore with Safe Mode with the Command Prompt option. If you are prompted to select an operating system, use the arrow keys to select the appropriate operating system for your computer, and then press Enter. Log on as an administrator or with an account that has administrator credentials. At the command prompt, type %systemroot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe  then press Enter. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen to restore your computer to a functional state.



A+: Commands of the Recovery Console

attrib change file and folder attributes
batch run commands listed in text file
bootcfg boot file (boot.ini) configuration-recovery. Also rebuilds lost boot.ini
chdir shows current folder name or changes current folder. Use quotes around folder names which have
spaces. Also can use cd instead of chdir
chkdsk checks disk, shows status report. use /r option to repair bad sectors
cls clear screen
copy copy single file to another folder or drive. Auto-uncompresses files from Windows CD/DVD
during copying. Can't copy to removable media
delete delete a single file. Also can use del instead of delete
dir lists files and subfolders in a folder with file and folder attributes for each item
disable disable device driver or system service. Helpful if the bootlog, nbtlog.txt shows a service
or device driver keeps system from starting
diskpart manage/add/remove partition(s) on hard drive(s). Can use command line switches or interactively
enable start or enable a  device driver or system service
exit exits Recovery Console and restarts PC
expand extracts a file from a compressed (.cab) archive or a file with an underscore at the extension's end
(e.g., .DL_) from CD to hard disk
fixboot Write new partition boot sector onto specified partition, often used with fixmbr
fixmbr Repair master boot record of specified disk, often used with fixboot
format prepare a disk for use, with options for file system and quick format
help Shows commands you can use in Recovery Console
listsvc Show drivers and services available on PC
logon login to Windows system
map show drive mappings. If used before fixbot or fixmbr can confirm disk and drive letter are correct
mkdir create a directory. Also can use md instead of mkdir
more pages a text file to screen
net use connects network share to a drive letter
rename renames one file. Also can use ren instead of rename
rmdir deletes a directory. Also can use rd instead of rmdir
set shows, sets environment variables. Can be used to permit copying files to removable media,
wildcards, and other options for Recovery console if system security settings are adjusted
systemroot  Sets current directory to the systemroot directory of system you're logged on to
type sends a text file to screen

Use Help and the command-specific help (/?) to determine what options you can use in the Recovery Console, even if you’re familiar with how the command works from a command prompt. Commands in the Recovery Console often have different options and more limitations than the same commands used at a normal command prompt.



A+: The Recovery Console (XP and 2000 only)

The Windows Recovery Console is a special command-line interface that is designed for copying files and performing disk repairs. In Windows 2000, you can use the Recovery Console as an alternative to the Emergency Repair process, such as if you need to restore only one system file. Windows XP lacks the Emergency Repair provision, so understanding how to use the Recovery Console is even more important.

Use Recovery Console in XP and 2000 when the system cannot start from the hard disk because of missing or corrupted boot files, or when other types of missing system files prevent the computer from starting in Safe Mode.

To start Windows XP’s Recovery Console, you have two options:

    • Option 1—Boot your system with the Windows XP CD and run the Recovery Console as a repair option.

    • Option 2—While the system is working properly, install the Recovery Console from the Windows XP CD-ROM. It will appear automatically as a startup option when you restart your computer.

To start Recovery Console from the Windows XP CD, follow these steps:

    Step 1. Boot the system from the Windows XP CD.

    Step 2. When prompted, press R to start the Recovery Console. (In Windows 2000, you would press R for Repair, and then C for the Recovery Console.)

To log into Recovery Console:

    Step 1. Select the installation to log into. (Do this by pressing the number that corresponds to the operating system.)

    Step 2. Provide the administrator password for the system.

To copy Recovery Console from the Windows XP/2000 CD:

    Step 1. While Windows is running, insert the Windows CD into the CD or DVD drive.

    Step 2. Click Start, Run.

    Step 3. In the Run prompt, type x:\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons where x is the drive letter for the CD or DVD drive.

    Step 4. To confirm the installation, click Yes in the Windows Setup dialog box describing Recovery Console.

    Step 5. Restart the computer. The next time that you start your computer, Microsoft Windows Recovery Console appears on the startup menu. Select it to start Recovery Console.

The Recovery Console contains some of the same commands that are available in the normal command-line interface, along with additional commands that are necessary only for repairing the installation.

  The Recovery Console permits access to only the following locations:

        • The root folder (root directory)

        • The %SystemRoot% (Windows) folder and its subfolders

        • The Cmdcons folder

        • Removable media drives such as CD and DVD drives

    In other words, you cannot use the Recovery Console to access files not stored in these folders, such as users’ data files.

 For Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, the path to use in Step 3 is x:\amd64\winnt32.exe /cmdcons.

If the C: partition or the boot sector of the hard drive is damaged, you will most likely not be able to boot to the Recovery Console on the hard drive. In this case, you will have to use Option 1 and boot off the CD-ROM.



A+: Options for System Recovery

Option: Startup Repair
Described: Certain problems are automatically fixed when clicked, such as damaged or missing system files which are preventing correct Windows startup. Startup Repair scans your PC for the problem(s) and then tries to repair it so your machine starts correctly again.

Option: System Restore
Described: Roll your system files back to an earlier time. It undoes system changes without changing data and personal files, such as game saves, email, photos and documents. Your should be careful when running System Restore in Safe Mode, as the restore can't be undone, but you can re-run System Restore and choose an earlier restore point.

Option: Windows Complete PC Restore
Described: Restores HD contents from a backup, for Business and Ultimate versions of Vista only.

Option: Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool
Described: Scans the PC for memory HW errors.

Option: Command Prompt (replaces the XP/2000 Recovery Console)
Described: For advanced users; use to do recovery oprtations plus other command-line tools to diagnose and troubleshoot problems. This puts the user into a directory like \SOURCES. Enhanced version of Recovery Console.



A+: Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE)

Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) is a set of tools included in Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, and Windows 7. It takes the place of the Recovery Console used in Windows XP/2000. Also known as System Recovery Options, WinRE’s purpose is to recover Windows from errors that prevent it from booting. There are two possible ways to access WinRE:
• Option 1—Booting to the Windows Vista DVD
• Option 2—Booting to a special partition on the hard drive that has WinRE installed
The first option is more common with an individual computer that has Windows Vista installed; for example, if you performed a clean installation with the standard Windows Vista DVD and made no modifications to it. To start WinRE, make sure that the DVD drive is first in the boot order of the BIOS, boot to the Windows Vista DVD (as if you were starting the installation), choose your language settings and click Next, and then select Repair Your Computer, which you will find at the lower-left corner of the screen.

Important! Do not select Install Now. That would begin the process of reinstalling Windows on your HD.

The second option is used by OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) so that users can access WinRE without having to search for, and boot off of, a Windows DVD. These OEMs (computer builders and system integrators) will preinstall WinRE into a special partition on the hard drive, separate from the operating system, so that the user can boot into it at any time. Compare this to the older Recovery Console that was installed into the same partition as the operating system. To access WinRE that has been preinstalled, press F8 to bring up the Advanced Boot Options menu, highlight Repair Your Computer, and press Enter. If you don’t see “Repair your computer” in the Advanced Boot Options menu, then it wasn’t installed to the hard drive, and you will have to use option 1, booting from the Vista DVD. Note that you can still use option 1 even if WinRE was installed to the hard drive; for example, in a scenario where the hard drive installation of WinRE has failed.
The process to install WinRE to the hard drive is a rather complicated one and is not covered on the A+ exam. However, if you are interested, here is a link that gives the basics of installing WinRE: http://blogs.msdn.com/winre/archive/2007/01/12/how-to-install-winre-on-the-hard-disk.aspx.
Regardless of which option you selected, at this point a window named “System Recovery Options” should appear, prompting you to select an operating system to repair. Most users will only have one listed. Highlight the appropriate operating system in need of repair and click Next. That will display the options at your disposal.



A+: F8, typical problems and best choice for startup options

There's only a small window of time available to press F8; it’s right between the BIOS and when the normal operating system boots. Press F8 repeatedly right after the BIOS POST begins. It is important to note that the Last Known Good Configuration option will only be helpful before a successful logon occurs. After a user logs on, that becomes the last known good logon. It is recommended that you attempt to repair a computer with the Advanced Boot Options before using Windows Vista’s System Recovery Options, or Windows XP/2000’s Recovery Console. Now, here are some typical situations:

 Windows versions: Vista, XP, 2000
 Problem: Windows won't start after new HW/SW install
 Startup option: Last Known Good Configuration
 Description: Resets Windows to last known working configuration; must reinstall HW and/or SW after the Last Known Good time.

 Windows versions: Vista, XP, 2000
 Problem: Windows won't start after upgrading a device driver
 Startup option: Safe mode
 Description: After starting in Safe mode, open Device Manager, choose the device and Rollback to the use the previous device driver version, then restart. Note: Color settings will be preserved but the resolution drops back to VGA.

 Windows versions: Vista, XP, 2000
 Problem: Windows won't start after installing a different video card or monitor.
 Startup option: Enable VGA mode/low resolution (640x480) video
 Description: Most video adapters should be installed in VGA mode. If errors occur, use this option, then choose Display Properties for find a video mode which works before restarting.

 Windows versions: Vista, XP, 2000
 Problem: Windows can't start normally; how do you access the web to research the problem or download updates?
 Startup option: Safe Mode w/ Networking
 Description: Windows Update via the Internet may work, but some devices won't function in this mode. Color settings are preserved, but the resolution drops back to 640x480.

 Windows versions: Vista, XP, 2000
 Problem: Windows won't finish starting normally; you need to discover which driver or process prevents it.
 Startup option: Enable Boot Logging
 Description: Your PC starts w/ all normal drivers and settings, whicl also creating NTBTLOG.TXT in the default folder for Windows (C:\WINDOWS for VIsta/XP or C:\WINNT for 2000). Afterwards, restart in Safe Mode then examine the file with Notepad, Wordpad or a text editor to find the last driver file loaded. Then, update that driver or remove its HW device to restore the system to function.

 Windows versions: Vista, XP
 Problem: Windows loads programs in startup you don't need.
 Startup option: Normal mode (or Safe Mode if Normal fails), then do {Win-R} MSCONFIG
 Description: MSCONFIG can disable one or more apps before you reboot. MSCONFIG can also restore damages files or you can use System Restore to revert to an earlier configuration.



A+: Advanced Boot Options and the Windows GUI

Options to help diagnose and troubleshoot the Windows GUI:    .

    • Enable Boot Logging— Creates a ntbtlog.txt file.

    • Enable low-resolution video (640 × 480)— Uses a standard VGA driver in place of a GPU-specific display driver, but uses all other drivers as normal. (This is called Enable VGA Mode in Windows XP/2000.)

    • Last Known Good Configuration—Starts the system with the last configuration known to work; useful for solving problems caused by newly installed hardware or software.

    • Directory Services Restore Mode— This is used to restore a domain controller’s active directory (Windows Server). Even though it is listed, it is not used in Windows Vista/XP/2000.

    • Debugging Mode— This is an advanced diagnostics tool that enables the use of a debug program to examine the system kernel for troubleshooting.

    • Disable automatic restart on system failure (Vista only)— Prevents Windows from automatically restarting if an error causes Windows to fail. Choose this option only if Windows is stuck in a loop where Windows fails, attempts to restart, and fails again.

    • Disable driver signature enforcement (Vista only)— Allows drivers containing improper signatures to be installed.

    • Start Windows Normally— This can be used to boot to regular Windows. This option is listed in case a user inadvertently presses F8, but does not want to use any of the Advanced Boot Options.