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Fixing Boot and Crash Problems in Windows Vista and Windows 7

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Almost everyone who uses Windows will experience a crash at some point. Eric Geier, author of 100 Things You Need to Know About Microsoft Windows Vista, points out some basic fixes for Windows Vista and Windows 7 to try before hauling your PC to your local computer shop.
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If Windows doesn't start or is unstable, this article can help you to fix the problem. If you aren't having problems right now, review this article for ideas you might try in the future when problems inevitably crop up. We'll go through the main troubleshooting techniques, using free tools from Microsoft and other manufacturers.

Accessing the Advanced Boot Options Menu

Many of the troubleshooting techniques covered in this article are accessed on or via the Advanced Boot Options menu of Windows Vista and Windows 7 (see Figure 1). To use this menu, press the F8 key repeatedly right after you turn on your computer, before the Windows logo displays.

Figure 1 Advanced options for Windows startup.

For some techniques, we'll use the Repair Your Computer option (highlighted in Figure 1), which brings up the System Recovery Options dialog box shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 System recovery options.

If you don't see the Repair Your Computer option on the Advanced Boot Options menu, you can still access the repair tools; just insert and boot to a Windows System Repair disc. To create this disc in Windows 7, open the Control Panel and click the Backup and Restore option. You can also download the System Repair disc via the Internet for Windows Vista and Windows 7.

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