Fixing Typical Boot Problems

No matter how good our beloved Windows operating system has become, one has to expect that occasional problems with the boot process will arise.  If you are a loyal Slick IT reader, you will have already read our article and made yourself a boot disk and already understand how the boot process works. Today, we are going to look into some common fixes for boot problems that IT techs everywhere are sure to have run into.

This article is applicable in some way shape or form to all versions of Windows, but primarily the information given here is for Windows Vista, Server 2008, Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. These newer flavours of Windows have a modified boot process that has both advantages and some quirks as compared to the NT/XP flavoured boot.

The first one that is 100 specific to the New NT 6.0 and later kernel, is problems in the Boot Configuration Database (BCD). Typically, this issue presents itself with an error message like “Windows could not start because of a computer disk configuration problem”; “Check boot path and disk hardware”; or “Could not read from the selected boot disk.”

These error message most often come from the careless deletion of the BCD but can also occur from disk issues resulting in BCD corruption or the addition of a partition that has somehow changed the name of the volume.

To fix this, simply log in to the Windows Recovery Environment and run the following commands: bootrec /scanos and bootrec /rebuildbcd. You will also find that the bcdedit.exe tool has some other options availoable that may be of use.

Common to all versions of Windows starting with NT is the infamous “Missing Operating System”; “Invalid Partition Table”; or the “Error Loading Operating System”.

The cause is simple. Ninety-Nine per cent of the time this is due to corruption by due to hard disk errors. Viruses and poorly written device drivers may also be responsible for corruption of the Master Boot Record (MBR).

Fortunately, this is also the easiest of all of our boot problems to fix.  Simply  run bootrec /fixmbr from a boot disk or the Windows Recovery Environment.

Many of you have probably run into “BOOTMGR is missing”. This too, is a result of corruption and is equally easy to resolve. Simply running bootrec /fixboot should clear this up.

Our final cause of boot problems may often be the most serious.

When Windows is reporting that operating system files and/or xxx.dll is missing, you should immediately suspect disk issues.  This particular error may be indicative of many files missing and not just the one listed.

Often it is easier to just reinstall the OS, but if you are in the mood to try and recover from this, you will need to launch the Windows Recovery Environment and try to find the files needed on a Windows disk or in the \Windows\winsxs\backup folder. Or, failing that, try to find and copy the file from another running machine in your network – just ensure that it is from the same service pack and OS

These tips in unison should allow you to recover from almost all boot failures. If all else fails, go for the windows repair install and cross your fingers.

Hope these help.

HP 2600n Print Queue Issues

As of late, I have become increasingly irritated with HP and the general crappiness of its products. A good HP product is now, in my opinion, akin to a good karaoke machine – the point being that neither of these really exist!

Today I had the joy of working with an HP 2600n. It should have been a really easy fix – a few users were complaining that documents were stuck in the print queue and they could not delete them – nothing stopping and restarting the spooler service won’t fix, right?

In fact, that did fix the issue. Instantly, the jobs were deleted out of the queue. Great!….Let’s just print a test page from the server to make sure that it is really working. I open up properties, select the test page and click on OK – within seconds a test page is popping out of the printer.

Fantastic!!! It works.

But then, one of the users tries to print a document to the shared printer.

Nothing happens…and the job is stuck in the queue again. What the hell?  I clear the queue and print a test page – bam, test page instantly pops out.

As it turns out, this particular model of HP printer, along with a plethora of other HP printers was not really designed to be shared off of a Server 2003 platform. These “cheap” network printers are actually not fully PCL compliant and are designed to work with HPs Print software and installed drivers but not using the standard drivers that you would install on a typical print server.

The fix, luckily, is easy. If you are having the same issue I had, simply go into the properties tab on the printer and uncheck the “Enable Bi-directional communication”. Apply the change, and your printer will work flawlessly.

But, HP you are not off the hook for this. Making printers and marketing them as network printers knowing full well that these won’t work well when shared out is absolutely unacceptable! As I mentioned in the first part of this blog entry, I have increasingly been spending far too much time troubleshooting nonsense – please count my clients and I out for any future HP purchases.

Upgrade Windows 7 RC to RTM

Greetings everyone….

This is a post that I am really pleased to make. In fact, ecstatic would probably be a better word.

For the last month I have been stewing about how to get my Windows 7 RC release upgraded to the RTM. Microsoft’s official line on this is that upgrades are not possible and the only way to do such was a fresh install.

This was really a very frightful thought for me. I have been using the RC as my primary operating system and it worked so well that it basically got tweaked into a more permanent set up than what an RC release should ever be.  Rebuilding this guy would have been a lot of work!

Well, today I found a workaround. A lot of other people had been talking about this, and of course it is not supported by Microsoft, but it worked great and it is really simple.

All you have to do is download the same release as your installed version, unpack it using WINRAR, 7Zip, or some other suitable program browse to the sources folder. Inside of that, you will find a file called cversion.ini. Open this up in notepad, change the minversion parameter to 7100 and save it.

Now, you are ready to upgrade. Copy the installation files onto a USB key, and run setup .exe. You will now be allowed to upgrade. It really is that easy!!


Copyright © 2010 Paul Guenette and Matthew Sleno.