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Repair Windows 7/8/10

Kursah

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Staff member
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Messages
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Location
Missoula, MT, USA
System Name Kursah's Gaming Rig - Haswell Edition | Spartan Home Server 2015
Processor i7 4790k 4.0/4.8 @ 1.26v | i7 4790k 4.0/4.4 @ 1.18v - Both delidded w/CLU
Motherboard Asus Z87-Pro - BIOS 2103 | Asus Z87-Pro - BIOS 2103
Cooling Noctua NH-U14S Push-Pull | Cooler Master 212 EVO Stock - Using NT-H1 and AC MX-4
Memory 16GB (2x8) Corsair Dominator DDR3 2400 CL11 | 32GB (4x8) G.Skill DDR3-1600 CL9
Video Card(s) MSI GTX980 Ti Gaming 6G LE @ Stock | Onboard Intel HD 4600
Storage 850EVO 250GB SSD, 960GB SSD, 1x2TB | 840 120GB SSD, RAID10 6x2TB (6TB) + 8TB Backup
Display(s) Samsung 32" TV IPS 1080p, Dell 23" U2312HM IPS 1080p | 19" 4:3 Dell LCD..mostly RDP.
Case Corsair 600C - Stock Fans on Low | Lian Li Lancool PC-K7 - Cougar fans
Audio Device(s) Aune T1 mk1 > AKG K553 Pro + HiFiMAN HE-350 (Equalizer APO + PeaceUI) | Realtek ALC1150
Power Supply EVGA 750G2 Modular + APC 1500VA UPS | EVGA KR500 80+ Bronze + CyberPowerPC 1000VA UPS
Mouse Logitech G502 | Dell USB Laser Mouse
Keyboard Logitech G15 rv2 | Dell USB Keyboard
Software Windows 10 Pro x64 | Windows Server 2012 R2 (GUI Core,Hyper-V + VMs)
#1
Introduction

!!!Please make sure you backup your data before proceeding!!!

Performing any repair process in this thread (and beyond) can and will be a major risk to your data and its integrity, and in some instances can make things worse. Though in many more cases, the solutions presented here will repair the issues and get most folks back on their feet.

Don't skip on backups, malware scans, data integrity scans. These could make the difference and are a good assurance to your system's ability to move forward in and out of a repair process.

As with anything, YMMV.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This thread is created in response to many users requesting what to do when there's an issue with their PC, I felt it would be nice to have a dedicated thread to specific Windows OS-related repair solutions.

Many times, myself or another experienced user here on TPU might make some suggestions such as running CHKDSK, SFC, or using DISM. I have documented these processes for my Help Desk guys at my office, and frankly if my green horns can handle these methods, I believe many of you can too! Those of us experienced in these methods are of course here to help and guide you through the process!

Since Windows 7 and Server 2008, several advanced repair options have come to light and improved even further since then. Many of these solutions can beat performing a "clean install" of your operating system, which allows you to keep running your current system, settings and files.

Also know that there is some damage that cannot be repaired, period. Which could lead to the point of a wipe and reload process, but don't feel your time is wasted, especially if you're just learning these methods. Eventually you'll be able to tell when these will and won't be helpful.

Also keep in mind, YMMV, depending on your comprehension of what's needed here, technical abilities, diagnostic abilities and the actual system condition, these methods may or may not be helpful for you. But like any good tool box or knowledge database, it doesn't hurt to have on-hand.

I hope this helps you, even if only to increase your knowledge. That's what TPU is all about, sharing what we know with others and learning new things every day.
:toast:

The basics for all modern Windows Operating Systems:

!!!Please make sure you backup your data before proceeding!!!

BACKUP:
This section is meant to get those not backing up, on their feet with something that can work well and reliably in multiple operating system environments. Before doing anything major to your system, you should always be backing up! Even with the best knowledge and repair tools in the business, folks can still go beyond a state of repair and lose everything. Don't be one of those people. :)

Backing up your system before a major issue, failure, change, or repair is always suggested. Sometimes it happens, most times it does not. Depending on how important your data is to you, there may be a cloud backup solution, a NAS/SAN solution, or an external hard drive. There are all sorts of backup methods. The one I cover here is something I use as a quick and easy solution that does not rely on Windows 7/Server Backup solutions, which while they work well in many cases have left me stranded and looking for better options. I will cover that now.
  • Download Macrium Reflect Free and install, create bootable restore media and store in a location and label properly.
    • This is only needed should your hard drive fail and you want to restore the drive image to a formatted drive.
  • Create an image of your OS drive or OS partition, I prefer to do the entire drive as a bare-metal backup so I can do a full restore to another drive and get back online. Depending on the situation you should decide what is best for you.
  • Depending on your backup location and link speed, this could take minutes our hours.
  • The backup image is mountable on any Windows system with Macrium Reflect installed, and will be mountable so you could even access the image to restore a single file if needed.
There are plenty of other backup solutions, but for one that works time and time again, this is my go-to. As-long-as you are performing this, no matter what happens to your OS, you should be in good shape!

I should add, that this section does not cover long-term backup solutions, meaning not digging into nightly/daily/hourly backup methods using incremental or differential backup processes. We'll save that for another thread and another day.

AVAM:
If you want to have a thorough read on how to clean your infected system, please Solaris17's Guide: Virus Removal 101. It covers a lot of extremely useful information, and is where you should go for much more detail on this topic.

AVAM, or Anti-Virus Anti-Malware. No matter where you stand on this topic, the threat is very real. I recommend having no less than two available solutions on your PC ready-to-scan and updated. In the era of more advanced infection techniques, there's a chance you've been infected and might not even know it, there's also a chance you're one of the lucky few that doesn't experience infections or issues related to them, adware, malware, virus, etc.

The point of this section is to have a decent foundation of protection in my opinion. If you feel you have a better solution, by all means use it! What works for me, might not work for you and vice versa. I strongly support anyone to use at least two AVAM solutions regularly.

Really having anything less than Microsoft Security Essentials/Windows Defender is dangerous, and while this is a baseline AVAM solution, it is lightweight and generally easy to use and is compatible with Windows 7 and newer operating systems, coming built-in as Defender on Windows 8 and above.

So when I say you should have more than one solution, that doesn't mean that you need 2+ real-time scanning solutions. Rather one real-time scanning solution, maybe 2 if you are more prone to infections. Then the remaining utilities I treat like MalwareBytes Anti Malware (MBAM) Free where I run them weekly/monthly to update and scan my system.

Feel free to handle this aspect however you want, but do know that you're placing yourself at a greater risk without at least some sort of AVAM solution. MalwareBytes Anti-Malware is a great free and premium solution. Kaspersky, Webroot, Avast, and AVG are some others that are notable mentions for free or affordable solutions.

My initial recommendation is that you should go to
Ninite, check the boxes to the AVAM solutions you want from there (and any other things you might find useful), download, install, update and scan.

Once you've confirmed your system is clean or infection-free, it is time to move on to the next steps.

Scan Disk / CHKDSK and SMART:

CHKDSK, also known as Scan Disk is a CLI-based utility that scans the hard drive for errors and attempts to ID them and if told to, will also try to repair them. Below will give you a quick rundown of the most commonly used method for using this utility and also how to check the S.M.A.R.T. information for your drive(s).

First get an administrative OS access, then open the Command Line Interface or CLI with administrative privileges.

  • Click start > type CMD > right click CMD.exe and run as administrator.
  • Type: CHKDSK
  • If errors found, type: CHKDSK /F
    • Choose YES for scanning at next reboot when OS is unmounted.
  • You can also do this by running the scan disk utility from the hard drive properties in the Windows GUI, I prefer to monitor the status and stats the CLI version provides.
  • Once back in, run CHKDSK again, and also consider checking your OS drive with a SMART utility like Speccy or Crystal DiskInfo.
The results from these can give you an idea if you have a failing hard drive or not. Seeing a predictive failure (usually what it's called on a RAID array), or a caution/critical warning for bad sectors or many of the variables is something worth paying attention to and looking into.

If your hard drive has issues that after a CHDSK repair or two, is still needing repairs. Do yourself a favor and check its SMART reporting data. Odds are you'll see an error and odds are its time to retire the drive from critical data and OS duties if not altogether. Better safe than sorry!

System File Checker Utility:

The System File Checker Utility or SFC as I will refer to it moving forward is a very useful utility that is best utilized in CLI. It will scan your OS installation, confirm system files and try to repair any corruptions or errors found.

Here on TPU and many other technical and IT help forums you will see the command SFC /ScanNow recommended. This is for good reason, as it will scan and attempt to repair any issues with the operating system files it may find. The utility can take anywhere from 5-30+ minutes depending on drive, data and speed.


There are many other commands used in conjunction with the SFC utility, but to be honest the commonly suggested command will be what you'll want to use in most cases. Please review the link at the beginning of this section to review SFC more in-depth. To run SFC properly, please follow the below:

Open an elevated (run as admin) Command Prompt or PowerShell window.
Type and run: SFC /Scannow
Wait for it to run. There are several messages that will be posted after the scan has completed, and two of them can look similar if you don't read them carefully. I will give a quick summary of each message:
  • Scan successful and no issues found.
  • Scan found and fixed issues.
  • Scan found and was unable to fix some or all issues.
    • If you end up with the last option, you can run a command to locate the log file if you closed the CLI window without confirming the path to the log file.
    • findstr /c:"[SR]" %windir%\Logs\CBS\CBS.log >"%userprofile%\Desktop\sfcdetails.txt"
  • Review list, and go to the link at the start of the SFC section for more advanced usage to replace those files.
    • IF you are on Windows 8 or newer, I'd recommend using DISM OS repair option first. Please scroll down to those sections.

System Stability
System stability testing and validation is a very largely argued topic. If you have a preferred method, then by all means use that to confirm system stability. I will share some of the software and tests I use. First let's get you some links so you can download while you're reading this section.

Stress/Stability Test Software:
Monitoring Software:
As you notice, I only have three software suites, and while there are literally dozens of options, these ones I find the most useful for stability testing. Feel free to use your preferred solutions here instead, odds are you have no need for this section if you're familiar with stability testing. But I hope you find it useful either way!

OCCT Testing
  • Linpack CPU Test - 1-3hrs with 90% ram utilization and all logical cores, but NOT AVX. If fail, try again with with 10MB memory, use custom, 10MB is minimum you'll be able to set to once adjusted. If still fail, adjust CPU and MB settings, adjust RAM settings, OC settings, and create a thread for help.
  • If stable then test GPU:3D (if an issue or concern), 1-3hrs. I usually run default shader complexity. No FPS limit. If fail, re-try with error check. This will run a non-moving rendering repeatedly and confirm if anything is drawn incorrectly. Look into GPU drivers, OC and hardware issues. Create a thread for help if needed.
  • If stable then test PSU and mirror Linpack and GPU settings. This test will create a lot of heat and is still one of the heaviest tests I run on a PC. Really brings out the instabilities...which is what I want it to do! This test takes the previous two tests and combines them. Both tests can pass independently and this test can fail, even with a good PSU. It has a harder current pull because of the loads...even then compared to the toughest games I've used for testing. But if you want a truly stable system, passing this test for me makes that easier to stand behind by far. This test consistently lets me seek out unstable PC's where most tests pass them. If you have issues, start a new thread and repeat previous tests, adjust, OC, settings, etc.
  • Note: The CPU test includes AVX testing, this will overvolt your CPU to run these tests which can create excessive heat output and potential dangerous voltage levels when overclocking. While AVX is becoming semi-common in games, it doesn't push the CPU as-hard-as this test, even with the extra voltage applied temps have yet to come close to this test with AVX on. YMMV.
  • If all pass then move onto Realbench.
Asus ROG Realbench Testing
  • Stress Test mode, 1, 2 or 4 hours. Up to 16GB or whatever your RAM amount is. Click start.
  • You will know either by a BSOD, hard crash/reboot, or failure message in the results window if there was a fail, otherwise it will show each pass that is successful. This test also does a good job of stressing out a CPU and GPU.
  • This tests pushes a variety of things while testing your system, but I'd look at the CPU, MCH and RAM first if a stability issue arises, I'd also double check the GPU.
Memtest86+ Testing
  • If the above two tests are failing but you can't get to the bottom of it or have some really odd crashes happening, it is always a good idea to test your RAM. Keep in mind that everything on your PC that runs must be loaded into RAM. Your OS kernel, drivers, apps, programs, games, etc.
  • I prefer to create the bootable USB option, but use the media that works best for your application and boot to it.
  • I choose to change the option in the test to use all threads in parallel so that the test is faster and more stressful. This is optional but I have found it to bring out memory errors more than single-threaded testing. Possibly because some of the CPU's I've tested have the MCH built-in.
  • Let the test go through 1-3 complete cycles. This can take HOURS to do, but be patient.
Memtest can find issues and it can miss issues, but I have found newer versions of this software using all CPU threads seems to do a better job and hunting down bad sticks of RAM. To perform the RAM stick hunt here is one way I do it.
  • Start testing with all memory modules in-use, again 1-3 complete cycles.
  • If fails, remove one module test again.
  • if fails, remove module or of only have 2 sticks in use, swap sticks and test again.
  • Repeat until all sticks have been tested, you might even see more than one or all sticks fail. In these cases I keep a spare, cheap 2GB stick on-hand to test with and confirm its not an MCH or board issue.
If this doesn't help and you're still having errors, document your findings and create a new thread.

Monitoring

You should be watching what your temperature results are when stress testing. Using the software I listed above makes sense and usually is close enough to be safe without a lab full of sensors and diagnostics equipment, at least for most cases. Most are pretty self explanatory or well documented, so I will not break each one down unless requested to do so.

Another useful monitoring tool is built-in to Windows and has been for years, it is called Resource Monitor. There are several ways to access it, but I'm only going to list the one I use the most. Feel free to comment if you want other methods listed.
  • Right click blank area of task bar, choose Task Manager.
  • Choose Performance tab, then click Open Resource Monitor.
Within this you'll have 4 tabs, Overview, CPU, Memory, Disk and Network. They all are useful and reading the link I posted above will allow you to do some nice diagnostics and understanding using it as a tool.

The most frequent thing I use it for is CPU usage and Disk queue length. Then expand the Storage section. .5-1.0 is busy, over 1.0 is system degrading as the data drive is failing to keep up with requests. This causes severe system slowdowns and can occur during scans of system repair and AVAM, updates, games, data transfers from faster sources, or multiple data-intensive requests, among others.

You could definitely find some issues within resource monitor that could attribute to stability issues with your system, and with it being built-in to all versions of Windows discussed in this thread, why not use it?

Once you've gone through all these tests, you should be in some form of stability.

Purge Windows Update Cache
So here's the deal, sometimes your copy of Windows will have update issues. This could be from servers, network connections, bandwidth caps, updates themselves, or a corrupted update cache that causes repetitive failed updates. Another issue is if updates keep occurring and consuming excessive disk space that you could really utilize elsewhere.

So what is a quick and effective way to get around this? In many cases, purging the update cache and rebooting the OS will get things back on track. Please follow the below in order to perform this procedure and confirm if this resolves your update issues.

The Manual GUI Method

The first method I will tell you about is how to do this in the Windows GUI. Be warned, stopping and starting the specific service in this task is best done in command-line. I will tell you how to do that later.

First up is to make sure you can view hidden files and folders.
  • Open File Explorer/Windows Explorer.
  • Go to View > Folder Options.
  • Select Show Hidden Files, Folders and Drives...
  • Click Apply.
Second, stop the Windows Update service.
  • Click start, type services and open services management.
  • Locate the Windows Update service, right click and choose Stop.
  • Minimize services window.
Third, navigate to Windows Update cache location.
  • Type in Start Menu search or open Windows/File Explorer and navigate to the following location.
    • C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download
  • Delete all contents.
Lastly, start the Windows Update service.
  • Bring Services MMC back up.
  • Start the Windows Update service.
I recommend rebooting the system after performing this process, then checking for updates. Many guides will suggest checking for updates right after performing this process. I have done this with limited success, having far more post-reboot.

The Command-Line Method

There are two ways to go about this, either type each of these commands out or create a batch file to run which runs the commands. Depending on how often you'll use this either way will have its preferred application.

If you're familiar with the command-line interface (CLI) within DOS, CMD or PowerShell (PS), then skip to the commands below. Otherwise please continue on from here.

First thing you need to do is run CMD.exe as administrator. If it doesn't say Administrator: Command Prompt in the title bar of the window, try again. Easiest way to access and run CMD in Windows 7, 8 and 10 is to click the Windows button or key, type CMD. The program's full name is Command Prompt in search queries.

Once you have that handled, it is time to run some commands to purge the Windows update cache.

Type or copy and paste each command line individually, pressing Enter in between them to execute.

Code:
net stop wuauserv
CD %Windir%      
CD SoftwareDistribution      
DEL /F /S /Q Download
net start wuauserv
What does each command do?
  • net stop wuauserv
    • Stops the Windows Update Service.
  • CD %Windir%
    • Change directory (CD) to the Windows default directory (C:\Windows).
  • CD SoftwareDistribution
    • Change directory to the SoftwareDistribution directory located in the current directory.
  • DEL /F /S /Q Download
    • Delete command to delete the Download folder and all files within.
    • /F forces the deletion of read-only files.
    • /S forces the deletion of all files from subdirectories.
    • /Q is quiet mode, no prompts for deleting files.
  • net start wuauserv
    • Starts Windows Update Service.
Making a Batch File

I won't get into what all can be done with a batch file, but rather give you a quick and dirty way to make the above commands into a batch file.

  • Right click on your desktop, choose new, choose text document, name it whatever you want... UpdatePurge works too.
  • Edit the document, copy and paste the following commands into the document.
Code:
net stop wuauserv
CD %Windir%      
CD SoftwareDistribution      
DEL /F /S /Q Download
net start wuauserv
  • Then go to File > Save As.
  • Under Save as Type, choose All Files (*,*).
  • Change UpdatePurge.txt (or whatever name you used.txt) to UpdatePurge.bat.
  • Right click the new batch file on your desktop and run as administrator. Done deal!
Something More Advanced

A utility I was shined onto that has a lot more to do than simply purging Windows Update works great for resolving Windows Update issues. As such I wanted to share the link here.

Microsoft calls the utility the Reset Windows Update Agent. You can download and read more about it here. They even provide all the different scripts that are ran within the file for reference. I can also confirm it works with Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012 R2 and 2016.

I will include a brief introduction to the utility for those interested.

First, extract the ZIP file, right click on ResetWUEng.cmd and run as admin. You'll be met with a window asking if you should proceed and warnings for using the utility. Press Y to continue.

Now you'll be met with a screen that has 16 menu options, as shown below.



What I would suggest is starting with options 2 and 3. Use 5-8 for repairs to Windows Updates and other components. 9-11 are the more serious repairs, but when they're needed you'll be glad they're there.

All the options have uses, but really for what we're doing here the ones I listed will likely be most useful.

TPU Suggested Links

Some other users have provided great links and helpful information. Please feel free to review them.
Summary

These methods should all provide you with useful means for repairing and resolving quite a few Windows Update issues and corruptions and should get your OS back to updating normally. There have been some changes with how Microsoft is delivering updates which has created some issues with users getting updates. If you need help with that, look here.
 
Last edited:

Kursah

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 15, 2006
Messages
10,946 (2.68/day)
Likes
5,055
Location
Missoula, MT, USA
System Name Kursah's Gaming Rig - Haswell Edition | Spartan Home Server 2015
Processor i7 4790k 4.0/4.8 @ 1.26v | i7 4790k 4.0/4.4 @ 1.18v - Both delidded w/CLU
Motherboard Asus Z87-Pro - BIOS 2103 | Asus Z87-Pro - BIOS 2103
Cooling Noctua NH-U14S Push-Pull | Cooler Master 212 EVO Stock - Using NT-H1 and AC MX-4
Memory 16GB (2x8) Corsair Dominator DDR3 2400 CL11 | 32GB (4x8) G.Skill DDR3-1600 CL9
Video Card(s) MSI GTX980 Ti Gaming 6G LE @ Stock | Onboard Intel HD 4600
Storage 850EVO 250GB SSD, 960GB SSD, 1x2TB | 840 120GB SSD, RAID10 6x2TB (6TB) + 8TB Backup
Display(s) Samsung 32" TV IPS 1080p, Dell 23" U2312HM IPS 1080p | 19" 4:3 Dell LCD..mostly RDP.
Case Corsair 600C - Stock Fans on Low | Lian Li Lancool PC-K7 - Cougar fans
Audio Device(s) Aune T1 mk1 > AKG K553 Pro + HiFiMAN HE-350 (Equalizer APO + PeaceUI) | Realtek ALC1150
Power Supply EVGA 750G2 Modular + APC 1500VA UPS | EVGA KR500 80+ Bronze + CyberPowerPC 1000VA UPS
Mouse Logitech G502 | Dell USB Laser Mouse
Keyboard Logitech G15 rv2 | Dell USB Keyboard
Software Windows 10 Pro x64 | Windows Server 2012 R2 (GUI Core,Hyper-V + VMs)
#2
Repairing Windows 7

Methods of advanced CLI repair were introduced with Windows 7 and Server 2008 that can allow sysadmins and end-users to attempt to resolve issues without wiping their hard drive, re-installing and either losing or restoring data.

I will list the important repair processes I use in the field, at my bench, remotely, for family, etc. that have allowed me to keep a current Windows 7 system deployed and running smooth. Keep in mind this is not a cure-all, some issues will require what is called an in-place upgrade. In more severe cases, a system re-install may still be required. For many it is worth the time to try and avoid that process and I am hopeful that some of you will be saved that hassle with this part of the guide!

If you're having issues with Windows 7, hopefully the below repair instructions will help you confirm OS file corruption and help resolve it.

In-Place Upgrade

If CHKDSK and SFC fail to repair the issues with the system, then the next option is to perform an in-place upgrade. This is comparable to an Operating System Refresh in Windows 8/8.1 and 10. In that it re-installs most of the operating system's files without losing your profiles, data or programs. In many cases this process accomplishes just that.

Time to close the CLI windows and get back into the GUI, unless you want to deploy Windows through CLI. You'll have to source a different guide for that process!

Requirements to perform a Windows 7 and Server 2008 in-place upgrade:
  • Must have installation media that matches the installed OS version and type. You can download that media click here.
  • Must be able to get to the desktop on the affected system to correctly initiate this process, booting to the media will not allow an upgrade to be performed.
That last rule is the frustrating part of this repair process if you cannot get that far, backup what you can and do a fresh installation. Otherwise proceed.
  • Start the process by using autorun or manually running setup.exe from the installation media.
  • You'll come to the installation window, the options will be Upgrade or Custom. Choose Upgrade. This is critical as choosing custom will force you to overwrite, append or wipe out the current install rather than performing any kind of repair.
  • Follow the on-screen prompts, which should be very few for you to interact with. The overall process looks and is the Windows 7 install GUI. Once it is completed, the system will automatically reboot (may need to more than once).
  • After the reboot(s) after the in-place upgrade you should have a fully functional Windows 7 without issues or corruptions.
Performing an in-place upgrade makes sense, and gives you a stable and clean running operating system when there's an issue or corruption you just can't fix but things aren't broken enough to warrant a fresh installation. The point of this process is to refresh the Windows 7 OS files but retain your data, programs, and settings. That is precisely what the in-place upgrade procedure accomplishes.

I should also add that this process can be accomplished remotely as well, from start to finish. I have done so with persistent LogMeIn, ScreenConnect and Teamviewer installations on various remote systems I have performed this task on, RDP should work as well. Being able to do this level of repair remotely is a huge benefit to any sysadmins out there looking to keep a client happy and perform that "remote magic" IT guys are known for.

**If at this point your issues are not fixed, then there is something else occurring that is causing the issue be it Malware, hardware, drivers, etc. Please refer to the OP in this thread to run through some of those tests and diagnostics, or create a new thread seeking help and stating what you've tried.**

Update Windows 7 Successfully

Many of us have or will run into it, the endless hours of waiting for the Windows Update process to actually update or fail trying to update a Windows 7 install. Could be a fresh install, or a years-old install. This will eventually happen to you, unless you run a WSUS server, and even then the OS can get held up. Microsoft has been changing how all supported versions of Windows update, trending towards the cumulative monthly releases. This transition seems to be one of the tipping points on the matter.

Regardless, there are some excellent solutions available to help you keep up your Windows 7 installation.

  • Solaris17's Windows Update Utility
    • Recommended method for most users that simply want their Windows 7 installation updated. Run as admin, follow directions, be patient.
    • Please comment in that thread if you need assistance or run into issues. Solaris has made many useful changes and revisions due to good feedback.
  • Update Windows 7 Manually
    • Manually perform the tasks that Solaris's utility does if you prefer.
  • Update Windows 7 Manually
    • Another source.
  • Update Windows 7 Manually
    • One last source for good measure!
  • Windows 7 Refreshed Media Creation
    • Creating a Windows Image file (WIM) that contains the necessary updates can make future deployments boatloads easier. This is well worth a read for the more technical types and sys admins.
Those links should provide you with some very useful ways to handle updating Windows 7. If you run into any issues updating Windows 7, please start a thread or post in a relevant linked thread if its kept current.
 
Last edited:

Kursah

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 15, 2006
Messages
10,946 (2.68/day)
Likes
5,055
Location
Missoula, MT, USA
System Name Kursah's Gaming Rig - Haswell Edition | Spartan Home Server 2015
Processor i7 4790k 4.0/4.8 @ 1.26v | i7 4790k 4.0/4.4 @ 1.18v - Both delidded w/CLU
Motherboard Asus Z87-Pro - BIOS 2103 | Asus Z87-Pro - BIOS 2103
Cooling Noctua NH-U14S Push-Pull | Cooler Master 212 EVO Stock - Using NT-H1 and AC MX-4
Memory 16GB (2x8) Corsair Dominator DDR3 2400 CL11 | 32GB (4x8) G.Skill DDR3-1600 CL9
Video Card(s) MSI GTX980 Ti Gaming 6G LE @ Stock | Onboard Intel HD 4600
Storage 850EVO 250GB SSD, 960GB SSD, 1x2TB | 840 120GB SSD, RAID10 6x2TB (6TB) + 8TB Backup
Display(s) Samsung 32" TV IPS 1080p, Dell 23" U2312HM IPS 1080p | 19" 4:3 Dell LCD..mostly RDP.
Case Corsair 600C - Stock Fans on Low | Lian Li Lancool PC-K7 - Cougar fans
Audio Device(s) Aune T1 mk1 > AKG K553 Pro + HiFiMAN HE-350 (Equalizer APO + PeaceUI) | Realtek ALC1150
Power Supply EVGA 750G2 Modular + APC 1500VA UPS | EVGA KR500 80+ Bronze + CyberPowerPC 1000VA UPS
Mouse Logitech G502 | Dell USB Laser Mouse
Keyboard Logitech G15 rv2 | Dell USB Keyboard
Software Windows 10 Pro x64 | Windows Server 2012 R2 (GUI Core,Hyper-V + VMs)
#3
Repairing Windows 8

Further improving on previously deployed OS repair methods, Windows 8, 8.1, Server 2012 and 2012 R2 further allowed advanced repair where an in-place upgrade or total re-install would be required on previous operating systems. In all honesty, before Windows 10 implementation, this was arguably the easiest OS to repair for a couple of years by running more basic commands.

This has since been advanced to more closely match Windows 10/Server 2016 repairs but with the below information I hope to guide you through performing these advanced tasks more easily!

DISM

If CHKDSK and SFC fail to repair the issues with the system, then it this is your next option and besides restoring from a previous backup might be the second-to-last option before re-installing the operating system. We will utilize DISM for this next repair option.
  • In some instances, you won't need the OS ISO to perform the DISM image cleanup. You can attempt this on any OS from 8-10 by using the following command in elevated CLI: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  • In many cases now due to some changes Microsoft made, you'll need to have a copy of the OS ISO available. The ISO will need to be a standard deployment variety that contains Install.WIM in the Sources directory, otherwise the process will fail. Once you have the correct ISO, mount it in Explorer (can do this natively on Microsoft Windows 8.0+), verify the drive letter, verify Image.WIM in the Sources directory.
    • To download a Windows 8.1 ISO from Microsoft, click here.
  • Enter the following in elevated CLI: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /source:WIM:X:\Sources\Install.wim:1 /LimitAccess
    • X = drive letter of mounted ISO. Change to match the appropriate drive letter.
    • Say I had the Install.WIM located in C:\Images, I would type the following command: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /source:WIM:C:\Images\Install.WIM:1 /LimitAccess
The DISM scan can take a while, often times longer than an CHKDSK or SFC scan. To speed up the process, have the Image.WIM on a faster flash media or on local storage rather than disc media. This will help greatly. In many cases one or two runs of this command will repair most issues I've found with Windows 8/8.1.

Once the DISM repair process has been found successful, or not, I will perform a reboot. If the repair was unsuccessful, this will be when I attempt a second pass. If the second pass fails, it is time to move onto the next solution.

However, if the DISM repair passes at any point, reboot the system and then perform an SFC to confirm no further issues are found or need resolved. This step is likely overkill for those not seeking to do optional steps.

Operating System Refresh

It should be noted that in the event DISM fails to repair the system, then an OS refresh would be the next suggestion if the deployed that could save the user's files and OS deployment.

This feature has been an available feature since Windows 8 launched in 2012. The biggest benefit with this option over Windows 7's in-place-upgrade is not necessarily requiring the OS installation media to perform the repair.

If the system is an OEM, an OS refresh from the OEM partition may mean a reinstall of the OS and loss of user data but the restoration of OEM software and bloatware. But you can still choose a manual OS-only refresh without the bloatware if you take the correct steps.

The best choice in my opinion is to run an OS refresh procedure from the advanced boot menu or you can run the installation media while in Windows to perform and Upgrade installation, this will keep your files and settings but replace Windows files and components.

To access the advanced boot menu for Windows 8, there are a several options.
  • When choosing restart from the OS GUI, hold down SHIFT and click restart. This method will work even if you cannot log into a profile on the system which makes it very useful in some situations.
  • If logged in, access PC Settings, and click Restart Now under Advanced Startup.
  • If logged in, open a command prompt window and type shutdown /r /o /t 0 which will initiate a reboot into the advanced menu right with no delay. Without /t 0, there will be a 60-second delay. The number value after the /t is delay seconds.
Once you've reached the advanced boot menu, choose Troubleshoot. From there you can choose to Refresh your PC, Reset your PC and Advanced Options. For this repair, we want to choose Refresh your PC. It's description reads "If your PC isn't running well, you can refresh it without losing our files." That is exactly what we want to accomplish here!

Follow the prompts and processes, and after the refresh installation and rebooting, you should be greeted with a login screen back to your profile in your stable OS environment. At this point you should be able to use the system as intended, if in doubt then re-run the SFC and DISM scans.

**If at this point your issues are not fixed, then there is something else occurring that is causing the issue be it Malware, hardware, drivers, etc. Please refer to the OP in this thread to run through some of those tests and diagnostics, or create a new thread seeking help and stating what you've tried.**
 
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Kursah

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#4
Repairing Windows 10

The most recent Windows operating system as of this guide's creation, has furthered the OS repair and allowed for more advanced tools to take place in various CLI environments. With that, they also added some complexity and made some previous easy repair options not as useful without some extra resources on-hand.

I aim to review those options, why they're needed and what you can do to be prepared for such situations. Windows 10, like 8/8.1 features a more advanced refresh feature that is similar to a Windows 7 in-place upgrade without the need of having installation media.

I will review the actions I take in the field and have found most useful for making repairs to Windows 10 installations. Hopefully you find them useful!

DISM

If CHKDSK and SFC fail to repair the issues with the system, then your next option is to perform more in-depth scanning and repair utilizing a more advanced CLI command, DISM. Besides restoring from a previous backup if available, this might be the second-to-last option before re-installing the operating system.
  • In some instances, you won't need the OS ISO to perform the DISM image cleanup. You can attempt this on any OS from 8-10 by using the following command in elevated CLI: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  • In many cases now due to some changes Microsoft made, you'll need to have a copy of the OS ISO available. The ISO will need to be a standard deployment variety that contains Install.WIM in the Sources directory, otherwise the process will fail. Once you have the correct ISO, mount it in Explorer (can do this natively on Microsoft Windows 8.0+), verify the drive letter, verify image.WIM in the Sources directory.
    • To download Windows 10 from Microsoft, click here.
  • Note: Some Microsoft downloads of Windows 10 1607 (Anniversary Edition) and later contain Install.ESD, which will NOT work with this repair. The ESD must be converted to a WIM. Please click here to find the directions to perform that process. The link provided above as of 12/23/2016 was providing an ISO that contained the Install.WIM.
  • Enter the following in elevated CLI: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /source:WIM:X:\Sources\Install.wim:1 /LimitAccess
    • X = drive letter of mounted ISO. Change to match the appropriate drive letter.
    • So say I had the Install.WIM located in C:\Images, I would type the following command: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /source:WIM:C:\Images\Install.WIM:1 /LimitAccess
The DISM scan can take a while, many times longer than an CHKDSK or SFC scan. To speed the process by having the Image.WIM on a faster flash media or on local storage rather than disc media will help greatly. In many cases one or two runs of this command will repair most issues I've found with Windows 10.

Once DISM has been found successful, or not, I will perform a reboot. If DISM was unsuccessful, this will be when I attempt a second pass. If the second pass fails, it is time to move onto the next solution. If it passes, I reboot again, then perform an SFC check to confirm no further issues are found or need resolved.

Operating System Refresh

In the event that SFC and DISM do fail to repair the system, then an OS refresh would be the next suggestion if the deployed that could save the user's files and OS deployment. This is an available feature since Windows 8. If the system is an OEM, an OS refresh from the OEM partition will mean a reinstall of the OS and loss of user data. You can also (and preferrably) run an OS refresh procedure from the advanced boot menu or you can run the installation media while in Windows to perform and Upgrade installation, this will keep your files and settings but replace Windows files and components.

To access the advanced boot menu for Windows 8, there are a several options.
  • When choosing restart from the OS GUI, hold down SHIFT and click restart. This method will work even if you cannot log into a profile on the system which makes it very useful in some situations.
  • If logged in, access PC Settings, and click Restart Now under Advanced Startup.
  • If logged in, open a command prompt window and type shutdown /r /o /t 0 which will initiate a reboot into the advanced menu right with no delay. Without /t 0, there will be a 60-second delay.
Once you've reached the advanced boot menu, choose Troubleshoot. From there you can choose to Refresh your PC, Reset your PC and Advanced Options. For this repair, we want to choose Refresh your PC. It's description reads "If your PC isn't running well, you can refresh it without losing our files." That is exactly what we want to accomplish here!

Follow the prompts and processes, and after the refresh installation and rebooting, you should be greeted with a login screen back to your profile in your stable OS environment. If not, I do apologize if my guide was not able to help you resolve your issues.

Please create a thread and mention you tried these methods to see if we can perform any further advanced methods of repair to resolve your issues or decide of a fresh install is the best course of action.

**If at this point your issues are not fixed, then there is something else occurring that is causing the issue be it Malware, hardware, drivers, etc. Please refer to the OP in this thread to run through some of those tests and diagnostics, or create a new thread seeking help and stating what you've tried.**

Link your Windows 10 License to a Microsoft Account

Why would you want to do this? Well, if you happen to go through a hardware change and want to take your Windows 10 license with you. This could be from upgrades or major failures. Windows 10 is registered to your main board's hardware ID that Microsoft uses. If you do not tie the license to a Microsoft account, you'll have to go through an arduous process with Microsoft support to regain access to your key or be forced to buy a new copy of the operating system.

Since Windows 8, during first login after a fresh install, Microsoft tries to have users login with their Microsoft Account to create a cloud-synchronized profile on the PC. This is useful for some and not for others, luckily the fine print "create a local account" option still exists in both 8 and 10 installation methods. If you created a profile using you Microsoft account you can do the following process to the activation page and should be able to confirm the license is linked.

Those that chose the local account route, please follow the directions to link your license so you can recall it later. I will provide several links at the bottom for further reading into why you want to do this process and how to do it.

While not a repair, I felt while this process is relevant to Windows 10 it would be worth posting here.
  • Click Start
  • Click Settings
  • Click Update and Security
  • Click Activation
  • As or with Admin permissions, click Add Account
  • Login with your Microsoft Account credentials.
Then you should see a message that reads:

Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft Account.
More info, screenshots and detailed instructions can be found found here, here, and here.

Repair Windows 10 Start Menu

The 10 start menu is not without its flaws, one of them being the random user that loses the start menu altogether. Out of 100s of systems, I've personally only seen this issue come across my bench 4-5 times. But without the start menu, most folks will be helpless.

If you are looking for help on that matter, hopefully this section will give you guidance in repairing the Windows 10 start menu should it no longer display, respond or work correctly.

First thing to try is rebooting your PC, verifying available updates are installed, and if other issues exist confirming steps listed in the OP of this thread were followed.

Next step would be downloading the Windows 10 Start Menu Troubleshooter from Microsoft. This may just take care of the issue for you, it has worked a couple of times.

But if your issue is major and the start menu continually fails to display, then you may need to elevate things to fix the issue.

  • Open command prompt or PowerShell, must have elevated privileges by running as administrator.
    • You might be able to open one or the other from the Windows Utility menu which is found by right clicking the Start button.
    • If not, use Win Key + S, search for CMD or Powershell, run as admin.
  • Copy and paste the following command.
    • Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}
  • You may see various results, some blue, some red. Reboot when completed, test start menu.
  • Another option is to test a different profile, or create a new one. If the start menu works there, a corrupted profile could be the culprit. Though admittedly the command above should repair such a situation, along with the OP corruption repair options. But in some cases a new profile will still need to be created rather than repaired, in which case you'll need to migrate your data over as well.
  • If this repair method fails, perform OS repair. I've only seen this process fail once, but it does happen. This option might actually be faster and more effective than creating a new profile and migrating data for many users and is worth keeping in-mind when running out of options.
If this or other solutions do not solve your issues, please start a new thread to receive help. Thanks!

Converting BIOS to UEFI for Windows 10 Boot.

This might be useful:

Shifting from BIOS to UEFI with the Windows 10 Creators Update MBR2GPT.EXE disk conversion tool. This can be achieved without having to move your data off the disk.

Windows Program Manager, Desmond Lee, demonstrates MBR2GPT


Windows 10 Tweaks

This is a list to other threads on TPU that have some very useful tweaks.
If you feel there are other links that should be here, please let me know. :toast:
 
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#5
Thanks Kursah. I know I run into some serious challenges at work, and I'd be glad to share my discoveries here as well :)

ps (I tried to give you enough time to make your other reservation posts :) )
 

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#6
Misc Suggestions, Tips and Tricks Placeholder (TBD if will stay or not...).

@Ahhzz

Thanks for the kind words dude and I look forward to hearing what you have to share! I'll post my guide in light of how I've learned to manage Windows, and while it might work for me, might not for you. Which is why I like having the feedback from you guys!

I'm looking forward to seeing this thread grow and hopefully be something very useful to many users and admins (aspiring or experienced) out there!

:rockout:
 

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#8
Looking forward to this! Good addition to the forums I think!
 

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#9
Thanks all!!!

I'll add where I have time... I've wanted to do this thread for a looooooooong time and couldn't put it off any longer. Of course as luck would have it, I choose a time when I'm uber busy with work (around 60hrs/week, and 10-20hrs weekend), holiday season family stuff and other life events. But I'm going to do my best to make this thread and the guide at the beginning of it as-useful-as possible.

Thanks for the support guys and I look forward to making this grow and be worthy of being stickied. I also look to all of you for suggestions and tips you might have learned in the field or just along the way of fixing something that might be a better way or more useful. Or if you feel I should explain something differently, again please let me know!

If this guide once completed helps just one person, I've done what I came here to do. As always spread the TPU cheer in the form of helping and educating others. :toast:
 

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#10
Updated all important sections, using the Spoiler buttons to keep things in order...running into some issues with a XenForo bug that doesn't like mixing Spoiler tags and bullet points together in the OP. But I think I have a solution in-place that will keep it clean and consistent. I plan to further hone down the sections, but if you feel I should add or explain something, please let me know either via post in this thread or PM.

I have also added the link to this thread in my sig. :rockout:
 

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#11
This is some frigging awesome tools @Kursah !!! :respect: :respect: :respect:

I respect the members so highly here, that take time and care to try and help fellow members out! You and @Solaris17 are both at the top of my respect list!!!!!!!
 
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#12

Kursah

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#13
You can download a Windows 10 1607 ISO which contains a .WIM from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10ISO/
Excellent! I was actually planning to go through and update my links. Thanks for sharing that!

I do need to revise each section...I copied parts off of a guide I made for my Help Desk techs months ago and kept the parts relevant to this site but not my place of work. So each section needs some serious fine tuning yet! Please keep this kinda stuff coming as I greatly appreciate it! :)
 

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#14
Made a few changes over the holiday weekend in between a lot of happenings and gatherings.

I also went through and edited sections in the OP along with adding a stability testing section. Now at this point I just added some of the most common methods I use, and defer to creating a new thread seeking help if more direction is needed. I also am very aware that we all have our preferences, I do suggest that folks use their preferred methods of testing I am only providing an option that I use.

I know I still have some edits to make, and some parts of the Win 8 and Win 10 sections need revised, but I'm getting there! If you have anything you wanna see, please give me some feedback.

I was thinking about adding a section in the last placeholder thread or in each OS section for "special" fixes. You know like using Classic Shell as a free Start menu for 8.1 (remedial but might be helpful for some), how to repair the start menu in 10, using PowerShell, if it breaks, etc. There are some useful tips...and maybe that's for a different thread. But it would also be kinda cool to have some extra tips just as one more helpful aspect...though it really has nothing to do with repairs...so really I'm not entirely convinced it would be fitting.
 
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#15
Well, I have a problem considering System restore on Win 7 Ultimate x64 on my Dell laptop, so I'll probably format HDD and reinstall Windows. System is unable to create restore points and displays error 0x80042308. I have exactly this problem: https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us...a-system/33175c49-720c-47d5-b926-b2b6579c9280

I tried pretty much everything, including restarting some vss services, repairing failing vss services, disabling non-essential services except Microsoft's, disabling anti-virus etc. None of them worked. Failing VSS services are: System Writer, ASR Writer, WMI writer & MSSearch Service Writer. They all have State [10] (timed out) problem. I fixed System Writer and ASR Writer, but they failed again after the reboot.
Command sfc /scannow displayed a few errors that could not be fixed. Of course, there are no restore points and Windows repair disc option didn't solve the problem either.

The last solution would be manually restarting all vss services. I'll try that over the weekend.

Do you have some better solution for this problem?
 

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#16
Well, I have a problem considering System restore on Win 7 Ultimate x64 on my Dell laptop, so I'll probably format HDD and reinstall Windows. System is unable to create restore points and displays error 0x80042308. I have exactly this problem: https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us...a-system/33175c49-720c-47d5-b926-b2b6579c9280

I tried pretty much everything, including restarting some vss services, repairing failing vss services, disabling non-essential services except Microsoft's, disabling anti-virus etc. None of them worked. Failing VSS services are: System Writer, ASR Writer, WMI writer & MSSearch Service Writer. They all have State [10] (timed out) problem. I fixed System Writer and ASR Writer, but they failed again after the reboot.
Command sfc /scannow displayed a few errors that could not be fixed. Of course, there are no restore points and Windows repair disc option didn't solve the problem either.

The last solution would be manually restarting all vss services. I'll try that over the weekend.

Do you have some better solution for this problem?
Hello! Sorry for the delayed response... I would recommend you start a new thread dedicated to your issue, but while we're here I'm glad to try and help.

Manually restarting VSS writers may help but only temporarily...if after a system reboot the issues have still been occurring then manually restarting VSS writers will not fix anything as they get reset when the OS restarts. Manually restarting them is how I get around rebooting servers when a backup or shadow copy issue occurs.

Did you read the Windows 7 in-place upgrade section of this thread? If not, I suggest you read through that and try it. It is different from the Windows Repair Disc option, and if you can get to the desktop it is absolutely worth a shot. The in-place upgrade will replace OS files while keeping your profile, data and programs intact.

Another option is to read the SFC section in the OP, the link to Microsoft's SFC page also has a section on how to repair/restore files that fail, so you said that SFC /Scannow displayed a few errors that could not be fixed...did you read the log to find out what could not be fixed? I bet they could be repaired with more specific commands. SFC /Scannow is a very generalized command, and while it can fix a lot of things, there's also a lot it cannot.

Again, I would suggest you start a thread dedicated to your issue, especially if my suggestions fail to help. Lastly, you start your post with stating you'll probably format the HDD and reinstall Windows, depending on the data on the Dell laptop that might be the quick and easy solution, especially with Solaris17's Win7 update batch file (or manually if you like it that way). But if you're willing to reinstall, I would challenge you to trying an in-place upgrade first to see if that fixes it. Seeing it takes about the same amount of time as a fresh OS install and you don't have to re-install drivers, programs, etc. At least in the cases I've used the repair on.

:toast:
 

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#17
@Kursah

Another am tool is spywareblaster, been using it for years as another layer of security for MBAM and Super AntiSpyware, Avast.
 

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#18
Yep I've used it before, mostly as a follow up cleaner....though I must admit it has been a long time since I last gave it a spin. I'll look into it! :toast:
 
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#19
@Kursah

Thanks. I might give a try to in-place upgrade. However, I plan to upgrade my old Dell in a few months (i will start a thread about it), so I might even change the OS to Win 10 Pro. Since this is my second PC, upgrade and repair can wait. :)
 
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#20

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#21
Thanks op and others for this helpful info.. Subd :)
 

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#22
Yep I've used it before, mostly as a follow up cleaner....though I must admit it has been a long time since I last gave it a spin. I'll look into it! :toast:
Its not a cleaner. More like a extra layer for browsers etc
 

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#23
Its not a cleaner. More like a extra layer for browsers etc
Hmm. I'll.have to take a closer look then I may be mistaking it for something else.

But for an extra layer of protection I did forget to talk about DNS filtering services like OpenDNS. Thanks for spurring that thought!

:toast:
 

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#25
Hmm. I'll.have to take a closer look then I may be mistaking it for something else.

But for an extra layer of protection I did forget to talk about DNS filtering services like OpenDNS. Thanks for spurring that thought!

:toast:
Hey Man Use Askwoody.com ms-defcon for updates that are causing issues with any Windows OS.