We've all encountered startup problems with previous versions of the Windows operating system and Microsoft has always provided us with lots of tools for fixing the problems. For example, in Windows NT we had the Emergency recovery utility, in Windows 98 we had the MSConfig tool, in Windows 2000 we had the Recovery Console, and in Windows XP we had System Restore, just to mention a few. Of course there were many other operating system native tools, but they all involved a manual, user initiated operation. Not so with Windows Vista!
One of the many new features in the Windows Vista operating system is a utility called the Startup Repair Tool. What makes this new tool stand out among its brethren is that is designed to intercede at the first hint of an operating system startup problem. When a startup problem is detected, the Startup Repair Tool will launch an automated, diagnostics-based troubleshooter that requires little if any user intervention and will resuscitate an unbootable system.
What types of problems does it repair?
As you probably know from firsthand experience, startup problems are some of the most difficult to troubleshoot and sometimes it seems that the best way to fix the problem is to just reinstall the operating system. While this method offers a sure fire resolution, it's time consuming. It could also be avoided because, more often than you might think, the solution is as simple as replacing a single file or altering a single setting. This is the type of problem that the Startup Repair Tool will take care of.
For example, the Startup Repair Tool can automatically repair the following problems:
- Missing/corrupt/incompatible drivers
- Missing/corrupt system files
- Missing/corrupt boot configuration settings
- Corrupt registry settings
- Corrupt disk metadata (master boot record, partition table, or boot sector)
- Problem update installation
How does it work?
When Windows Vista's initial loading sequence detects a startup failure, it automatically fails over to the Startup Repair Tool. Once the Startup Repair Tool takes control, it begins analyzing startup log files for clues as to the source of the problem and then launches a series of diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the startup failure. Once the Startup Repair Tool determines the cause of the failure, it attempts to fix the problem automatically.
If the Startup Repair Tool successfully repairs the problem, it will then reboot the system. It then notifies the user of the repairs and files a detailed report in the new and improved Windows Vista event log that clearly identifies the cause of the problem as well as the solution.
If the Startup Repair Tool can identify the cause of the problem, but can't repair the problem by itself, it will provide access to a set of tools that you can use to manually troubleshoot the problem further.
If the Startup Repair Tool is unsuccessful in its attempt to identify or repair the problem, it will roll back the system to the last configuration that was known to work. The Startup Repair Tool will then add detailed information about the problem to the Windows Vista event log.
Saving time and money
As you can imagine, the automated system provided by the Startup Repair Tool will save administrators and help desk personnel from expending valuable time fixing simple problems. In addition, the event log reporting feature will help administrators and help desk personnel to quickly understand the problem for further troubleshooting as well as enacting preventative measures.
Another way that the Startup Repair Tool will be a boon is via Group Policy. In Windows Vista Group Policy settings provide full control over built-in diagnostics, such as the Startup Repair Tool. These Group Policy settings will allow administrators to disable portions of the default resolutions, provide a enterprise-specific resolution, and even customize the tool to prompt the user to seek assistance, and display enterprise-specific contact information.
Windows Vista's Startup Repair Tool is designed to make it easy for user and administrators to solve simple and complex problems.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.