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I've been trying to get in to WindowsRE to salvage the files on my Sony Vaio laptop after it failed to load Vista (it finally, consistently displays "Error loading operating system" after months of such intermittent failures, usually rectified via restarts or utilizing Startup Repair or CHKDSK from WindowsRE) . The problem is, after successfully accessing it once after this failure (and many times before over the course of the laptop's life), I can no longer get it to load.

During the last successful access (right after the failure), I ran startup repair, which itself failed and notified me that the boot sector was corrupt. I attempted to head in to Sony's proprietary recovery tools menu, which is accessible from WindowsRE when it is loaded from the recovery partition or recovery disk, however it hung. I have since been unable to access the recovery environment after restarting, using any of these methods:

  • Access via the recovery partition (pressing F10 on boot)
  • Access via recovery DVD (created using the same computer when it was healthy)
  • Access via a Windows Vista installation DVD

All three methods produce the same results:

  1. The computer acknowledges the boot attempt
  2. The computer successfully gets passed the "Windows is loading files" screen enter image description here
  3. The computer successfully gets passed the Windows loading screen enter image description here
  4. The computer then stalls at a black screen, while showing HDD activity (via indicator light). After a few minutes, the HDD activity ceases, and after a few more minutes, the over sized cursor that is utilized in WindowsRE appears on the black screen. The actual recovery environment, however, never appears, even after leaving the computer in such a state overnight.

What is fustrating is that other bootable utilities, such as SeaTools for DOS and MemTest, boot up and run fine.

In running perfectly normally, MemTest was able to produce a plethora of errors utilizing my RAM. I'm inclined to believe the RAM's faultiness may causing the WindowsRE booting to fail. Would this be a valid assumption? If I'm not mistaken, booting from external media utilizes the RAM, so such a reason is plausible, assuming my knowledge of bootloading is correct.

EDIT: After running MemTest on each stick individually, I discovered that only one stick was the culprit. Using only the good stick has made no difference.

Other than that, I can't figure out any reason why all the bootable utilities except WindowsRE run fine. Does anyone know what the problem is, or could be? Any solutions?

share|improve this question

My guess: The data on the drive is too corrupted for WindowsRE to deal with it, so it hangs trying. Other utilities don't care about the Windows install, so they boot and run.

Your RAM issues are probably what caused the corruption in the first place.

Additionally WindowsRE uses considerably more RAM (and other resources) than Seatools or Memtest would, so there is a much higher chance that the WinRE may use the bad chunk of RAM while loading/running.

Everything running utilizes RAM, that's where it's run from (data is loaded from drive into RAM, run from and accessed in RAM).

Replace the faulty RAM before you do anything else.

share|improve this answer
Yes, I was planning on replacing the RAM trying everything all over again before I resort to more drastic measures. Do you mind clarifying: The data on the drive is too corrupted for WindowsRE to deal with it? I was under the impression booting from media leaves the disk completely alone. Is that wrong? – Kevin Oct 31 '13 at 21:06

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