Always remember to check basic issues first
before attempting to remove and replace parts. Before installing new
peripherals, refer to your motherboard and device manuals for helpful
information, including safety precautions, firmware configuration, and
expansion slot or memory slot locations. Some peripheral manufacturers
recommend that you use a bus-mastering PCI slot and advise that
installing their adapter in a secondary slot might cause it to function
all hardware might not be on the list, you can reduce the likelihood of
incompatibilities by choosing hardware found on the Windows Tested
Products List website at http://testedproducts.windowsmarketplace.com.
How to Use Device Manager to Identify Failed Devices
Vista can detect hardware that is not working properly. To view failed
hardware, follow these steps to use Device Manager:
Click Start, right-click Computer, and then click Manage.
Under System Tools, click Device Manager.
Manager displays all devices. Problem devices (including any devices
Windows Vista was unable to successfully communicate with) are
displayed with a warning sign. If no categories are expanded and no
devices are visible, Windows Vista did not detect a problem with any
How to Check the Physical Setup of Your Computer
you have recently opened the computer case, or the computer has been
moved or shipped, connectors may have loosened. You should perform the
following tasks to verify that connections are solid:
that the power cords for all devices are firmly plugged in and that the
computer power supply meets hardware specifications Computer
power supplies are available in different sizes and are typically rated
between 200 and 400 watts. Installing too many devices into a computer
with an inadequate amount of power can cause reliability problems or
even damage the power supply. See the manufacturer’s power
specifications when installing new devices and verify that your
computer can handle the increased electrical load.
Disconnect external accessories
External accessories—such as those that connect using USB or IEEE 1394,
PC cards, and ExpressCards—can malfunction and interfere with the
startup process. You can either disconnect devices one by one and
attempt to start the computer after disconnecting each device to
identify the cause of the problem, or you can disconnect all devices,
start the computer, and then reconnect devices one by one.
Verify that you correctly installed and firmly seated all internal adapters
Peripherals such as keyboards and video cards often must be installed
and functioning to complete the initial startup phase without
generating error messages. Adapters might become loose if the computer
is moved or bumped, or if the computer vibrates from moving parts such
as hard disks.
Verify that you correctly attached cables
Check that you have firmly seated all cable connectors by disconnecting
and reconnecting cables. Search for damaged or worn cables and replace
them as required. To ensure that contacts are solid, use a pencil
eraser to clean dirty connectors.
Check the system temperature
High temperatures inside a computer can cause unpredictable failures.
Many computers will display internal temperatures for the processor,
hard disk, graphics card, or other components if you start the firmware
menu. Graphical, third-party tools also run within Windows for
displaying temperature diagnostic information. If temperature is high,
verify that all fans are working properly and the vents are not
blocked. Verify that the computer’s case is completely assembled:
Leaving panels open might seem like it would improve airflow, but it
can actually misdirect air that should be cooling hot components.
Verify that air can flow freely around the outside of the computer.
Particularly with mobile PCs, verify that the computer is not resting
on a soft surface that can prevent heat dissipation, such as a couch or
carpet. Finally, reset processor and memory speeds to their default settings to verify that the computer has not been overclocked.
How to Check the Configuration of Your Hardware
you have recently changed the hardware configuration of your computer,
or you are configuring a new computer, you should check the
configuration to identify the cause of a startup problem.
Verify that you correctly configured any jumpers or dual in-line package (DIP) switches
Jumpers and DIP switches close or open electric contacts on circuit
boards. For hard disks, jumper settings are especially important
because they can adversely affect the startup process if not correctly
set. For example, configuring two master ATA disks that are installed
on the same channel or assigning duplicate SCSI ID numbers to devices
in the same SCSI chain might cause a Stop error or error messages about
hard disk failure.
Configure BCD references correctly when a hard disk is added
Installing an additional hard disk or changing the disk configuration
in a computer can prevent Windows Vista from starting. In this case,
use the Startup Repair tool within System Recovery Tools to
automatically resolve the problem.
Verify SCSI configuration
If your computer uses or starts from SCSI devices and you suspect that
these devices are causing startup problems, you need to check the items
listed in Table 1.
Table 1. Checklist for Troubleshooting SCSI Devices
|All devices are correctly terminated.||Verify
that SCSI devices are correctly terminated. You must follow specific
rules for termination to avoid problems with the computer not
recognizing a SCSI device. Although these rules can vary slightly from
one type of adapter to another, the basic principle is that you must
terminate a SCSI chain at both ends.|
|All devices use unique SCSI ID numbers.||Verify
that each device located on a particular SCSI chain has a unique
identification number. Duplicate identification numbers can cause
intermittent failures or even data corruption. For newer devices, you
can use the SCSI Configures Auto Magically (SCAM) standard. The host
adapter and all devices must support the SCAM standard. Otherwise you
must set ID numbers manually.|
|The BIOS on the startup SCSI controller is enabled.||Verify
that the SCSI BIOS is enabled for the primary SCSI controller and that
the BIOS on secondary controllers is disabled. SCSI firmware contains
programming instructions that allow the computer to communicate with
SCSI disks before Windows Vista starts. Disabling this feature for all
host adapters causes a startup failure. For information about disabling
or enabling the BIOS, refer to the documentation provided with your
|You are using the correct cables.||Verify
that the connecting cables are the correct type and length and are
compliant with SCSI requirements. Different SCSI standards exist, each
with specific cabling requirements. Consult the product documentation
for more information.|
|The firmware settings for the host SCSI adapter match device capabilities.||Verify
that host adapter BIOS settings for each SCSI device are set correctly.
(The BIOS for the SCSI adapter is separate from the computer
motherboard firmware.) For each SCSI device, you can specify
settings—such as Sync Negotiation, Maximum Transfer Rate, and Send
Start Command—that can affect performance and compatibility. Certain
SCSI devices might not function correctly if settings are set beyond
the capabilities of the hardware. Consult the documentation for your
SCSI adapter and device before changing default settings.|
|SCSI adapters are installed in a master PCI slot.||Verify
that you installed the host adapter in the correct motherboard slot.
The documentation for some PCI SCSI adapters recommends using busmaster
PCI slots to avoid problems on 32-bit computers. Refer to the
manufacturer’s documentation for your motherboard or computer to locate
these busmaster PCI slots. If your SCSI adapter is installed in a
non-busmaster PCI slot, move it to a master slot to see if the change
improves operation and stability.|
a precaution, always shut down the computer and remove the power
connector before troubleshooting hardware. Never attempt to install or
remove internal devices if you are unfamiliar with hardware.
How to Verify That System Firmware and Peripheral Firmware Are Up to Date
can sometimes trace instability and compatibility problems to outdated
firmware. Whenever possible, use the latest firmware version. If Setup
does not respond when you are installing the operating system, the
cause might be the firmware for your CD or DVD drives. Try upgrading
the CD or DVD firmware to the latest version.
How to Test Your Hardware by Running Diagnostic Tools
the problem occurs after the POST routine finishes but before Windows
Vista fully loads, run any diagnostic software that the manufacturer of
the hardware adapter provides. This software typically includes
self-test programs that allow you to quickly verify proper operation of
a device and might help you to obtain additional information about the
device, such as model number, hardware, and device firmware version.
How to Simplify Your Hardware Configuration
problems can occur when you have both newer and older devices installed
on your computer. If you cannot resolve problems by using safe mode and
other options such as rolling back drivers, temporarily disable or
remove ISA devices that do not support Plug and Play. If you can start
Windows Vista with these older devices removed, these devices are
causing resource conflicts and you need to manually reconfigure the
resources assigned to them.
you are diagnosing startup problems related to hardware, it is
recommended that you simplify your configuration. By simplifying your
computer configuration, you might be able to start Windows Vista. You
can then gradually increase the computer’s hardware configuration
complexity until you reproduce the problem, which allows you to
diagnose and resolve the problem.
troubleshooting when you have several adapters and external peripherals
installed. Starting with external and ISA devices, disable or remove
hardware devices one at time until you are able to start your computer.
Reinstall devices by following the manufacturer’s instructions,
verifying that each is functioning properly before checking the next
device. For example, installing a PCI network adapter and a SCSI
adapter at the same time can complicate troubleshooting because either
adapter might cause a problem.
cause a large share of startup problems related to hardware because the
PCI bus does not have a reliable method for determining ISA resource
settings. Device conflicts might occur because of miscommunication
between the two bus types. To avoid ISA and PCI conflicts, try
temporarily removing ISA devices. After you install a new PCI device,
you can use Device Manager to determine which system resources are
available to ISA devices. Then reconfigure the ISA devices that do not
support Plug and Play to eliminate any conflicts. If the problems
continue after you reinstall ISA devices and you cannot resolve them
with assistance from technical support, consider upgrading to newer
How to Diagnose Disk-Related Problems
Disk-related problems typically occur before Windows Vista starts or shortly afterward. Table 2 provides a list of symptoms, possible causes, and sources of information that you can refer to.
Table 2. Diagnosing Disk-Related Startup Problems
|Symptom, message, or problem||Possible cause||For more information|
|The POST routine displays messages similar to the following:
Hard disk error.
Hard disk absent/failed.
|The system self-test routines halt because of improperly installed devices.||Verify that hardware is connected properly, as described earlier in this section.|
|The system displays MBR-related or boot sector-related messages similar to the following:
Missing operating system.
Insert a system diskette and
restart the system.
|The MBR or partition boot sector is corrupt because of problems with hardware or viruses.||Run Startup Repair|
|The system displays messages about the partition table similar to the following:
Invalid partition table.
A disk-read error occurred.
|The partition table is invalid because of incorrect configuration of newly added disks.||Run Startup Repair. If Windows Vista still fails to start, use the System Recovery Command Prompt to configure your disks.|
|You cannot access Windows Vista after installing another operating system.||The Windows Vista boot sector is overwritten by another operating system’s setup program.||Run Startup Repair.|
|System files are missing.||Required startup files are missing or damaged, or entries in the BCD registry file are pointing to the wrong partition.||Run Startup Repair.|
|The EFI boot manager or Windows Boot Manager displays messages similar to the following:
Couldn't find loader.
Please insert another disk.
|System files are missing.||Run Startup Repair.|
|CMOS or NVRAM disk configuration settings are not retained.||The CMOS memory or NVRAM is faulty, data is corrupted, or the battery that retains these settings needs replacing.||Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacing or recharging the system battery.|
disk-related issues such as corrupted files, file system problems, or
insufficient free space might cause Stop messages to appear.