Windows Vista Help

Crashes, Hangs and Reboots

1. What is a Crash?

A crash occurs when a misbehaving program or driver shutdowns Windows XP completely and displays an error message. On Windows Vista this is usually a Blue Screen of Death or STOP message. Sometimes the faulty program will just stop responding and either hangs or shuts it self down and display the desktop. Fortunately, Windows Vista is very stable, and only the program will crash and not Windows.

2. What is a Hang?

Hanging, freezing or unresponsiveness can be caused by a program using too much CPU time (see Task Manager) and not allowing Windows or other programs to run. Bad hardware or drivers can also cause freezing as the hardware is either incorrectly installed, or the drivers has bugs or some other problem.

3. What is a Reboot?

A reboot is when a serious problem occurs and the computer unexpectedly shuts down and restarts. This is usually caused by hardware problems such as overheating CPU or component or not enough power to the system. Power spikes and surges can also cause reboots as well, a spike protection device or a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) can fix those problems.

4. How do I troubleshoot crashes, hangs and reboots?

When you can back into your system, load up the Event Viewer (eventvwr.msc) and check the System and Application logs for any recent errors and warnings. These can point you to potential problems on your system. If you have problems with running games or your graphics card or sound card, load DxDiag.exe and check each screen and run the tests to make sure your cards are correctly configured, changing the drivers may help. Also, look in Device Manager to see if there is a problem with any devices on your system, look for yellow exclamation marks next to problematic devices.

5. How do I restore back to a previous configuration?

Use the System Restore tool in Accessories, System Tools to restore to a previous version of the registry. Just follow the prompts in the Wizard and select a date (it even tells you what you installed at that time). To enable/disable Restore mode, open the System control panel, click on System Restore and tick or untick the box to enable it. If unable to boot, then use Last Known Good Configuration after pressing F8 for Safe Mode menu.

6. How do I copy missing files from my Vista DVD?

Most files for DVD are stored on the Vista DVD and are compressed. To uncompress them, use the Expand program to expand it to uncompressed form:
e.g. expand d:\i386\freecell.ex_ c:\windows\system32\freecell.exe. If the file is stored in a CAB (cabinet) file, then load up MSConfig and click on Expand File button, enter name of file to restore and which drive to copy file from and where to save it to. You can also use SFC /SCANNOW to replace corrupt or missing system files.

7. What does the error message mean on a Blue STOP screen?

These STOP message occurs when a fatal error occurs which Windows cannot easily recover, sometimes a reboot will recover, if not then you need to boot into Safe Mode (press F8) when starting Windows or use the Recovery/Repairs tools from Vista DVD. See STOP Messages Database for explaination of them.

To repair windows Vista, if it does not boot, you need to boot from the Windows Vista DVD and select Repair Your Computer. Options include: Startup Repair, System Restore, Windows Complete PC Restore, Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool, Command Prompt.

8. My PC is constantly shutting down. For example, LSASS, RPC, RPCSS or DCOM is shutting down?

This is usually caused by your PC being infected with a worm that is shutting down essential operating system services which causes your system to shut down unexpectedly. You must install or enable a Firewall and an Antivirus program to prevent these types of attack.

9. How do I repair my Windows Vista installation?

a). You can either use the SFC /SCANNOW utilitiy to repair and replace missing system files.
b) You can select the Last Known Good Configuration during boot up to use a previous version of Registry.
c) You can use Startup Repair, System Restore to restore Windows to a previous good state.
d) Boot from a Windows Vista DVD (not a Restore Disc), and do a Repair Install.
e) Boot from a Windows Vista DVD and reinstall Windows to a new folder.
f) Boot from a Windows Vista DVD and do a clean Windows installation.
g) Boot from a Windows Vista DVD and do a Windows Complete PC Restore (from a backup).

If your computer has a Recovery disk or partition then see the manufacturer's web site on how to recovery your computer. For example:
Hewlett Packard - Creating a recovery disk
Hewlett Packard - How to use Recovery Manager
Dell - Restore PC to Factory Condition

10. My computer has suddenly become a lot slower?

A recent program installation could cause this. It may be a legitimate program which is taking too long to complete a task and taking up too much cpu or disk usage (use Task Manager) to find out which process is causing it. Sometime a virus, spyware or other malware can cause system slow downs. Run a full virus scan of the hard disk and a scan with a Antispyware product may find some unwanted programs (sometimes known as PUPs - Potentially Unwanted Programs).

11. How do I get to the Recovery Console or Command Prompt?

You can do the following two ways:
a) Press F8 during bootup of Vista from the Hard disk and select Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
b) Boot from the Vista DVD, select Repair your computer and then select Command Prompt from the System Recovery Options.

12. Can I install the System Recovery Options on my hard disk?

Unlike XP or earlier, Microsoft have not provided any easy means of installing the tools on your hard disk (only the Memory Diagnostic tool is available via the F8 menu). You need the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK), your Vista DVD and a bit of time to install the extra options.