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windows error message

Software Troubleshooting

Identify tools, diagnostic procedures and troubleshooting techniques for operating systems.

Safe Mode
To get into the Windows Safe mode, as the computer is booting press and hold you’re "F8 Key" which should bring up the "Windows Advanced Options Menu" as shown below.


safe mode


Windows Recovery Environment

(WinRE) - Repair your computer

Startup Repair
System Restore
Windows Complete PC Restore
Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool
Command Prompt

The System Configuration utility automates the routine troubleshooting steps that technicians use when they diagnose system configuration issues (General, Boot, Services, Startup and Tools)


Task Manager

Windows Task Manager is a task manager application included with Microsoft Windows operating systems that provides information about computer performance and displays details about running applications, processes, network activity, logged-in users, and system services. Successive versions of Windows have introduced new features.
In Windows based systems it is possible to bring the task manager to view using 4 methods:

  • Right Click the taskbar>Task Manager
  • Control + Shift + Escape
  • Control + Alt + Delete
  • Start>Run>Taskmgr

(Applications, Processes, Services, Performance, Networking and Users)


task manager

Missing or corrupt drivers - You need drivers so that your hardware can run if they are missing or corrupted contact the manufactures to solve this problem.
You will need disk with the drivers or go online and find drivers and support
(MMDOC) Manufacturer, Model, Device, OS version and Connection

Remote Desktop
Remote Assistance, Remote Desktop, RDP Protocol

In computing, the Windows registry is a database which stores settings and options for the operating system for Microsoft Windows

To access the registry select

Start>Run> REGEDIT

Abbreviated HKCR, HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT stores information about registered applications, including associations from file extensions and OLE object class ids to the applications used to handle these items.

Abbreviated HKCU, HKEY_CURRENT_USER stores settings that are specific to the currently logged in user.

Abbreviated HKLM, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE stores settings that are general to all users on the computer.

Abbreviated HKU, HKEY_USERS contains subkeys corresponding to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER keys for each user registered on the machine

Abbreviated HKCC, HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG contains information gathered at runtime; information stored in this key is not permanently stored on disk, but rather regenerated at boot time.

OS tools

Device Manager
checks status of devices, drivers, system resources and information (Start>run>devmgmt.msc)

System Information
detail information of your computer system (Start>run>msinfo32)

Event Viewer
checks events happening on your PC (application, system and security)

A place to start or stop the status of all your computer services that run in the background (Start>run>services.msc)

Command line utilities
Ping, Tracert, Pathping, Ipconfig, Arp, Netstat, Nbtstat, Nslookup and Net Commands

Troubleshooting Network Connectivity
Username/Password Problems
Account Status
Physical Connections

Network Printing Troubleshooting
Printer Online Status, check connection, configuration, permissions and drivers

Service Packs (Windows update)
Windows 7 SP1, Vista SP2, XP SP3, 2K SP4 and NT SP6

Recovery Console Commands

With Windows running, insert the Setup CD into your CD-ROM drive. Start/Run/X:i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons. Follow the instructions on the screen.

Attrib: Changes the attributes of a file or directory.
Batch: Executes the commands specified in the text file.
ChDir (Cd): Displays the name of the current directory or changes the current directory.
Chkdsk: Checks a disk and displays a status report.
Cls: Clears the screen.
Copy: Copies a single file to another location.
Delete (Del): Deletes one or more files.
Dir: Displays a list of files and subdirectories in a directory.
Disable: Disables a system service or a device driver.
Diskpart: Manages partitions on your hard drives.
Enable: Starts or enables a system service or a device driver.
Exit: Exits the Recovery Console and restarts your computer.
Expand: Extracts a file from a compressed file.
Fixboot: Writes a new partition boot sector onto the system partition.
Fixmbr: Repairs the master boot record of the partition boot sector.
Format: Formats a disk.
Help: Displays a list of the commands you can use in the Recovery Console.
Listsvc: Lists the services and drivers available on the computer.
Map: Displays the drive letter mappings.
Mkdir (Md): Creates a directory.
More: Displays a text file.
Rename (Ren): Renames a single file.
Rmdir (Rd): Deletes a directory.
Set: Displays and sets environment variables.
Systemroot: Sets the current directory to the systemroot directory of the system you are currently logged on to.
Type: Displays a text file.

Shadow Copy
Volume Snapshot Service is a windows technology that allows you to make backup copies of data known as snapshots.

Directory Structure in Windows

Root Directory

System Folder

Core operating system

Boot Configuration Data

C:\Program Files                  

C:\Document and Settings     
User account information

Temporary Files

Operating Systems problems

BSOD - Blue Screen of Death
Failure to boot
Improper shutdown
Spontaneous shutdown/restart
RAID not detected during installation
Device fails to start
Missing DLL message
Services fails to start
Compatibility Issues
Slow performance
Boots to Safe Mode
File fails to open
Missing GUI
GUI fails to load


Recovery Console
Repair Disk
Regsrv32 (Microsoft Register Server)
Event Viewer
Safe Mode
Start up Disk

Boot Errors

Windows XP Boot errors

NTLDR is missing
Will not load OS

Fix the Master Boot Record

Fix the boot sector code

Missing or corrupt NTLDR or NTOSKRNL.exe

Your Windows XP or Windows 2000 will not boot since this is a key file needed to boot your machine

Boot Windows XP disk and press repair

Invalid Boot.ini
notepad and reconfigure

Windows Vista/7 Boot errors

Missing or corrupt BOOTMGR
Your Windows Vista will not boot (Solution bootrec/fixboot)

Windows Boot Configuration Data files is missing required information
(Solution bootrec/rebuildbcd)

Other Recovery Environment Commands
bootrec /fixmbr
bootrec /scanos


No OS Found
The boot sector or files is corrupted (Reinstall OS)

All system lockups fit into one of two groups. The first group is the lockups that take place immediately after you add a new program or device. These almost always point to resource conflict or software version in incompatibilities. Use the techniques described earlier to fix these problems. The second group is the “lockups from nowhere”. These invariably point either to a virus attack, or to a hardware problem, usually the power supply, RAM, or hard drive. Test/replace until the problem goes away. Spontaneous reboots always point to bad hardware or a virus.

General Protection Faults
A General Protection Faults (GPF) occurs when one program tries to stomp on another program’s memory area.

Windows Protection Errors
Windows protection errors take place when a special type of driver file, called a virtual device driver (VxD) fails to load

Fatal Exception Errors
Fatal exception errors are caused by software or hardware that sends a particular type of error that Windows is not designed to contain. If these arise from a new device or software, uninstall the offending beast and check the manufacturer’s web site and the Microsoft Knowledge Base for known issues related to that software or device.

Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) - You get this error when your computer fails to boot properly, device drivers not loaded or functioning properly or your computer is overloaded.

Shutdown Problems
I find it interesting that most shutdown problems are identical to startup issues. Bad drivers, a corrupted Registry, and faulty page files all cause shutdown problems. Let’s add a few other fixes that are unique to shutdown problems.

Application Not Closing
Some applications refuse to close (Memory issues or program issues) Task Manager

Sound Issues
Sound Card, Driver Issues, Files Corrupt or Muted

System Files not found
Every OS has key system files the must be present in order for the OS to boot if these files are missing or corrupt, the OS will cease to function properly.

Swap file or Paging file issues
Not enough memory or virtual memory

Illegal Operation
Occasionally a program will quit for no apparent reason and present you with this program have performed an illegal operation and will shut down. If the problem persists, contact the program vendor. An illegal operation occurs when it did something that windows did not like.

System Lock up
needs more memory or you are asking the computer to process too many instructions at one time.

Terminate Stay Resident programs are applications that run in the background like and ANTIVIRUS program. You sometime must disable this so it won't conflict with your program or during the installation process

Bad network connections
Bad network cards, cables or if you cannot connect to the network wrong password or you do not have the proper permissions.

Windows Vista System Recovery Options
Start up Repair, System Restore and Complete Restore, Memory Diagnostic Tool

Performance Issues

Reliability and Performance Monitor

Performance Information and Tools

Problems Reports and Solutions

Performance Logs and Alerts (XP)

System Restore
Start>Programs>Accessories>System Tools

Error Reporting

SFC (System File Checker)
SFC/scannow or SFC/scanonce

Command Line Error Messages

Abort, Retry, Fail?
You will get this error message if you are trying to read a disk that is not readable of if no disk present

Access denied
Usually meaning the file has a attribute on it read only or the disk is write protected or if you have no access

Bad command or file name
Usually this is when you miss type a command or if DOS does not know the command.

Disk Full
Message that comes when you to try to copy to a diskette that is full to capacity

Drive not ready error
Disk in the drive is not readable, such as a disk not being in the disk drive

File not found
Meaning that in the directory that you searched does not have that certain file or there are no files in the directory.

Insert System Disk
Insert your bootable diskette into a diskette drive

Insufficient disk space
Disk is full or if you are trying to copy a file to a disk the file is too big to fit on the disk.

Insufficient memory
You don't have enough memory to run a particular command or applications

Invalid directory
Directory is invalid or does not exist in the directory you are currently in.

Invalid Switch
The wrong slash was typed such as cd/ when it is supposed to be cd\

Non-System disk or disk error
When booting up the computer this error will usually occur when there is a floppy disk in the computer that is not bootable if there is no disk inside the computer this could be an indication of a unrecognized hard drive, un formatted hard drive, or hard drive with missing system files.

Out of Memory
You cannot a task because you don't have enough free memory

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • F1: Help
  • F2: Rename
  • CTRL+ESC: Open Start menu
  • ALT+TAB: Switch between open programs
  • ALT+F4: Quit program

Text Shortcuts

  • CTRL+C: Copy
  • CTRL+X: Cut
  • CTRL+V: Paste
  • CTRL+Z: Undo
  • CTRL+B: Bold
  • CTRL+U: Underline
  • CTRL+I: Italic

Software Issues


Solution (Driver Disk or MMDOC and go Online)


Solution (Installation Disk, Disk Imaging or Start up Disk)

Boot Issues                          

Solution (Installation Disk, or Start up Disk)


Solution (Antivirus Software or Installation Disk)


Solution (Anti Spyware Software or Installation Disk)


Solution (Firewall, IDS/IPS, Anti Virus, Anti Spyware, Encryption, Audit, Monitoring)


Solution (Driver, Installation and Compatibility Issues)

Networking Issues                

Solution (Hardware, Permissions, Wireless, Configuration, Services and Protocol)

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