My very trustworthy Asus notebook running Windows 8.1 threw a fit today. Windows has a built-in Automatic Repair tool that diagnoses and helps you repair problems that prevent you from booting up normally.
I’ve encountered this feature many times before and it always goes into an endless loop of rebooting trying to fix the problem. Ideally, you just insert a bootable Windows 8 or 8.1 DVD and it will grab all it needs to make the repair.
Yesterday, I spent nearly two hours waiting for it to finally find the files it needed to make the machine bootable. I used both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 disks. But wait, that was after 25 reboot attempts. After about the 17th reboot attempt, I was about to capitulate. I walked out of the room to get some work done on another PC. When i came back Windows 8.1 was up and running. The Blue Screen of Death (BSD) we thought went away is just hidden from your view by Automatic Repair. My advice is to let Automatic Repair reboot as long as your patience will allow in the hopes it may recover. I’ve found System Restore to be a hit or miss process. But I always use it when given the opportunity. In the above case, system restore did restore the system but only after Windows Automatic Repair was able to resolve the boot up problem through the nightmarish process of playing chicken with Windows. Since we know that sooner or later most of us are going to run into system corruption issues you might as well prepare for it.
Planning for Disaster and System Recovery
Who doesn’t hate doing a clean install? It takes a lot of time if you have lots of desktop applications installed. The good thing about Apps and AppStores is you can bring all your apps back without having to find the registration codes. Windows 8.X has a good options for refreshing all the necessary system files that may be corrupted and that cause programs to crash. It’s the Refresh But Save My Settings feature. This will preserve all your custom settings and files but you’ll need to reinstall all of your software. I would keep a list of all your installed desktop apps. Take a screen shot of your control panels “Uninstall Programs” screen or you can write them down. or capture them with the Evernote screen app. I also recommend that you put all executable files in a download directory (preferably on redundant storagte) and all registration codes should be written down and backed up to a USB flash drive or disk not on your computer.
Oh and just one more thing. Backup all your files and applications install media to a hard drive and cloud based storage. If you do all this you’re going to have a really good chance at recovery with the shortest amount of down time. You can even plan periodic Windows Refresh to keep your machine running fast.You can also create a system image and back up that image to an external hard drive. System images are sometimes corrupted too so don’t bet on any one horse.
It isn’t fun but at least you be online again in a couple hours once your system suffers a major crash IF your organized and have planned and implemented your reconstruction strategy before disaster strikes. – Howard Sobel
Howard has reviewed, written about, tested, marketed, published and distributed software for two decades. He is the co-founder of the Windows User Group Network (WUGNET) a serial entrepreneur and product marketing consultant.