Using Windows Recovery Console to Fix Blue Screen of Death

In the first part of the tutorial, we basically covered tips to back up files in a Windows XP computer that displays the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). We also introduced the Windows Recovery Console. In this part, the conclusion, we will cover the topic in detail.

I have fixed a BSOD problem in the past which I thought to be incurable. Restoring the registry using Windows System Restore solves the blue screen issue. If you have not read the fist part, I recommend reading it. It contains the necessary fundamentals to help you diagnose a computer with the blue screen issue.

Of course, correcting the registry does not guarantee it will remove the blue screen problem, especially if the problem is not registry-related, but a hardware-related issue instead. In order to sort out serious problems, however, you must test the possible causes one at a time. This is a more effective troubleshooting approach than proceeding directly to a solution without verification of the cause.

The solution outline in this article applies in all cases, whether the computer is bootable or not.

Windows Recovery Console – Correct Unbootable Issues (Step 1)

This step corrects booting issues caused by a faulty registry. For example, it can fix things if you are unable to successfully log in or boot Windows XP. The reference document is the official document from Microsoft.

After the successful installation/setup of Windows XP in your computer, Windows saves the very basic registry settings in a folder called “repair.” This registry does not contain software information for those applications that you will be installing in your computer, but it is enough to boot the computer without any problems.

The path for this repair folder can be found in c:windowsrepair. The actual corrupt/problematic registry path that contains all the software settings, user information, etc. can be found in c:windowssystem32config

Using Windows Recovery Console (a detailed procedure on how to log in is discussed in the first part of the article), the very first step we need to take is to create a temporary folder named “tmp” under C:Windows. Copy the registry (do a backup) located in c:windowssystem32config to that temporary folder C:windowstmp and then delete all the registries located in c:windowssystem32config

We will then copy the very basic registry located in c:windowsrepair to c:windowssystem32config and then quit out of Windows Recovery Console. The strategy is to delete the entire faulty registry and replace it with the default/basic registry needed to boot the computer. After implementing this step, you can now boot the computer, but all of the previous software settings will exist in the way they did as if you’d gone back to Day 1 of your computer.

You will then need to put in your Windows XP CD and boot to Windows Recovery Console. Assuming you have installed your Windows XP in drive C in such a way that the Windows folder can be found in C:WINDOWS, the following are the commands that you need to ype at the Windows Recovery console prompt: C:Windows , to implement the strategy needed for Step 1.

Since the command line is long, if you have a hard time understanding it, please download the text file containing the same commands above.

?—-PRESS ENTER KEY–? means you need to press the enter key in your computer keyboard.

After typing the commands above, enter exit and restart the computer.

{mospagebreak title=Copy the Working (BACKUP) Registry from System Volume Information (Step 2)}

Windows XP backup stores past registries (using system restore) and saves them in the “system volume information” folder. You need to copy those registries from the system volume information folder to C:windowstmp , since it is not possible to access the system volume information folder using the Windows Recovery Console. Once those backup copies are available in C:windowstmp , you need to log back into the Windows Recovery Console, delete the current registry in c:windowssystem32config and copy the clean registry stored in C:windowstmp (the backup registry in System restore) to c:windowssystem32config

To complete the important steps in this section as a continuation of step 1, begin immediately after a system restart by pressing exit in Windows Recovery Console in step 1. Do not log in to your Windows XP home computer.

Instead of logging in, restart it again, and immediately, once the BIOS screen appears (not the Windows XP logo screen), press F8 continuously until this window appears:

Select “Safe mode” only. This should boot Windows XP into safe mode; wait until you completely see the Windows XP login screen. Once you see the login screen, log in as Administrator. It is normal for those icons and screen resolution to be very low (very odd looking indeed), as all video card drivers and flashy features of Windows XP are disabled in safe mode.

{mospagebreak title=Accessing Hidden Information}

System volume information can be seen in this path: c:System Volume Information, but you cannot see it. It is hidden and protected by Windows. To see this folder, go to My Computer -> Tools -> Folder options -> View and then check “Show hidden files and folders” and uncheck “Hide Protected Operating system files (Recommended)”

Try double clicking the system volume information folder. If you cannot access it, then try troubleshooting by following this procedure from Microsoft

Assuming you can access the System Volume Information, what you will see are a series of folders called “RP”x folders, otherwise known as “Restore points.” See example below:

However, you need to select a restore point folder that is around one week older than the current date the blue screen problem occurred, so if you are troubleshooting August 25, 2009, you need click restore point folders that were created around one week ago (about August 17 or 18).

To look for the time and date the folder was created, you can go to “View” and then click “Details.” You can see the date of modification under “Date Modified.” Once you have selected an appropriate restore point folder, double click it and then look for the following files:

_REGISTRY_USER_.DEFAULT

_REGISTRY_MACHINE_SECURITY

_REGISTRY_MACHINE_SOFTWARE

_REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM

_REGISTRY_MACHINE_SAM

These are the backup registry on the date you selected (in the past); this registry is not corrupted and clean. The next thing you will do is copy these five files to: C:windowstmp

Once you have copied the files to C:Windowstmp , you need to rename them as:

1. Rename _REGISTRY_USER_.DEFAULT to DEFAULT

2. Rename _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SECURITY to SECURITY

3. Rename _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SOFTWARE to SOFTWARE

4. Rename _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM to SYSTEM

5. Rename _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SAM to SAM

{mospagebreak title=Copy Working Registry (Backup) from Tmp to Config (Step 3)}

The config folder: c:windowssystem32config , is the one which is the official location of registry; however, we have placed the backup working registry in C:windowstmp . We need to copy the registry to its proper location.

After renaming the files as the last thing you did in step 2, you need to restart and boot again to Windows Recovery Console using the XP installation CD. In the Windows prompt:

C:Windows

Type the following commands very carefully as indicated here.

After inputting all commands successfully, you need to type “EXIT” and then restart the computer normally (not in safe mode).

Then complete the final procedure:

1. Click “Start” and then click “All Programs”.

2. Click “Accessories”, scroll down, and then find and click “System Tools”.

3. Click “System Restore” and then click “Restore to a previous Restore Point”.

Windows XP then activates the past registry. This is the registry that you have copied from the system volume information folder to current config folder in the previous steps, which does not cause the blue screen issue. You can now start working with your computer like a normal user. In the coming days, do not install any software or drivers which you think may have caused the problem, or double check with Microsoft to see if the driver is signed. Observe your machine for a couple of days and weeks to confirm that the blue screen error is gone.

If the blue screen is virus-related, purchase reputable anti-virus software (not free) and then do a full system scan in the computer after system restore. Otherwise, if it is hardware-related, it is out of the scope of this tutorial. It is highly recommended that you go to a reputable and professional computer technician (service center of your laptop/computer) so they can do hardware troubleshooting to find whatever is causing the blue screen problem. Once this is found, defective parts can be replaced. 

4 thoughts on “Using Windows Recovery Console to Fix Blue Screen of Death

  1. the system goes into loop after replacing the corrupt registry with the basic one with short freez at the blue screen. Thanks

  2. You can repeat the process of replacing the corrupt registry by going again to Windows recovery console, delete those registries and replace with the basic one again.This will confirm that everything has been entered to Windows correctly and should ensure that machine is running the most basic registry.

    Now, if things still won’t work after replacement of basic registry (remember you have follow the commands in sequence: http://www.php-developer.org/w

    Make sure you have deleted the previous suspected faulty registries. If after restarting the computer installed with basic Windows registry and still blue screen, the problem is not registry related.

    Try running Linux Ubuntu , boot from CD (you can download it here: http://www.ubuntu.com/GetUbunt… to see if you can boot to your hard disk. If yes, you may have faulty Windows recovery console CD. If not, try to start troubleshooting hardware related problems like video card, motherboard, memory , hard disk, etc. Replace it one by one with a new one and see if it runs. This can now be done with a computer hardware technician.

  3. Hello,
    I followed all your steps and get my computer back from the death. The only problem is that my system restore doesn’t work now and my computer is not running properly, really slow and the applications won’t work.
    I tried to go to safe mode as an administrator and the start menu won’t appear.

    Any thoughts?
    Thanks,
    JDD

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