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I have an Acer Aspire 4935G. After a Windows Update, I was prompted to restart. But when it was booting up again, it went into its Startup Recovery mode, and the error says that a boot critical file, ntkrnlpa.exe, was corrupted.

I don't have a Vista CD to do a Repair. I still have the Recovery partition (I also have Recovery Discs) but I've read that using either will do a clean install. I save most of my data in a separate partition: I moved my Documents and other locations to the default D: partition, but I forgot to move my AppData, which includes a backup of cellphone contacts and messages that I still want to recover.

Is there any way I can repair my Vista installation without data loss?

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

See this article for downloading a Vista Recovery disk : "How to Make a Windows Vista Repair Disk If You Don’t Have One".

You can then use your most recent Restore point to rollback your computer to a time that it still booted ok. See the following article for instructions: "Using Windows 7 or Vista System Restore" (and where I found the reference to the first article).

You may use first Molly's suggestion to save your data, of course, since these kind of operations are dangerous.

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you can use a Linux Live CD (e.g. Knoppix) or create your own BartPE Windows 'Live' CD and backup your files to any USB storage device or burn to CD/DVD.

and then restore your laptop with the recovery utility.

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