The long of it (with all the details; skip ahead for just the question)

So, Vista won't boot (surprise, surprise). But, I've gotten it a lot closer than when I started this process, so I have hope in a successful repair.

So, this is for a friend who may have opened a virus (and apparently a nasty one if that is the case). She was perusing her junk folder, saw a message from one of her contacts that was in the folder, and opened it up. Unwise, but the milk is spilled. Her computer crashed, and windows stopped booting.

That's where I came in (cue cheesy dun dun dah dahda). So, when I started, Vista would not boot, it would not show the vista logo, it would not show the safe mode options, and would instead just sit there with a blinking cursor. A great place to start. But I got a live disc for Ubuntu to make sure there were still files on the drive. Turns out, I couldn't even access the drive. At first I thought this indicated a harddrive failure that happened to have bad timing, but persisted just in case.

So, I grabbed one of my Vista discs, stuck it in, and booted up to repair mode to see if it could fix it. Automatic startup fix failed, though it thought it was doing something, so we could at least read the harddrive enough to recognize windows. Stumbled around a bit until I came across the following commands:

bootrec /fixboot
bootrec /fixmbr

Ran them, restarted and bingo, we have a get past a blinking cursor. Now, we get a windows Error message that says the following:

Windows was unable to start ... blah blah blah ...
The following file had issues:
File not found

(I'm paraphrasing but you get the picture). So we've got a file missing. Booted into the install disc, used a copy command and restarted. Got a little further. Got to safe mode screen, tried to start it normally, and another file missing. NTFS.dll. That one might be important... I figure instead of playing this game, we'll copy over the whole System32 folder to get things done, and get fresh copies of everything.

So Booted to the disc, and this time the start up repair ran. Didn't solve anything (I restarted and checked), but it ran. Booted to CD again, stopped it from running, and copied over all the files. Now we get to the Safe Mode Screen and the progress bar. But before the progress bar can start loading, we get a blue screen of death. Which leads us to...

The short of it

Booting, in either normal or safe mode leads me to a blue screen of death. Unfortunately, I think windows crashes because the computer restarts before I can read what it says. And just so it's out of the way, automatic restart on the BSOD is turned off, so it should stay up and show me details. I've

  • Run the startup repair utility
  • Recopied over System32 files from install disc
  • Rerun startup repair utility

I'm working right now from the command line on the install disc (so still not in Windows). I've loaded up the memory.dmp file in Notepad, but it's not very helpful (and is very very large; ~360mb). I can't run a repair 'upgrade' install to repair everything because I can't boot to windows. And this leaves me at a wall.

Any ideas for furthering my progress towards getting this computer up and running? Any help is greatly appreciated.


If there was a virus involved, you should get a virus boot disk and ensure that it is gone, else after all this work you'll end up where you started.

Have you tried a repair install? This will re-install all of vista without blowing away your settings.

  • I can't get to the repair install because to do the repair install, you have to start the disc in windows (not very convenient, but it is what it is). I'll try the virus boot disk though and report back :) – LoveAndCoding Oct 14 '11 at 1:23
  • Ah yes, sorry my mistake - it was XP that didn't require your machine to be working before you could repair it. The repair options with Windows become increasingly useless with each iteration. Once you clean the virus, you could install windows to another partition, then copy everything over to the broken one to effect a repair. Might be quicker. By the sounds of it it will probably be quicker all round to start over with a new install. – Paul Oct 14 '11 at 1:27
  • Yeah, mainly just trying to save the data. I have an unopened external on retainer if I need, but I'm trying to use it as a last resort. Plus, sometimes you just got to love the fight – LoveAndCoding Oct 14 '11 at 1:29
  • Heh. Totally. If you could get ubuntu to recognise the drive then that would be the easiest path to recovering the data if you can't convince Windows to get past the bsod. – Paul Oct 14 '11 at 1:36
  • Yeah, Ubuntu now recognizes the drive, and it looks like most of files are intact, which is good. I'll give it a little longer before I just back up the important stuff and wipe it clean. – LoveAndCoding Oct 14 '11 at 1:37

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