Windows Startup and Shutdown Troubleshooting

     When troubleshooting Startup problems with Windows you need to break the startup down in 3 pieces. A computer startup generally contains a BIOS startup, a bootloader startup, and then Windows starting up. This article will give some information on each of those 3 startup procedures. When shutting down Windows you are generally looking at Windows closing down all programs and dealing with various power settings. We will also briefly cover how to troubleshoot shutdown problems.


Startup Process Overview and Troubleshooting

BIOS Startup - This is going to be the first startup that happens when you boot up your computer. Most problems with the BIOS will be hardware or BIOS settings related. With hardware issues its generally best to modify BIOS settings as needed for the hardware or remove it from the computer as a last possible step. Generally with BIOS settings you can customize it to suit yuor needs or in some cases load in various default settings that work with many computer builds. When working with the BIOS its a good thing to contact your computer manufacturer, motherboard manufacturer or check your motherboard manual before changing any BIOS settings. Use caution when modifying the BIOS since this could cause various other problems.

Boot Loader Startup - At this phase in the startup various boot information is being read and processed from the hard disk drive. Many problems here can be caused by corrupted or missing files, hard disk corruption, or your computer could be tryint to boot from a removable device such as a floppy disk. With file corruption you can use the recovery console in Windows XP or the Startup Repair option in Windows Vista, 7, and 8 to fix these kind of issues. Generally with file corrupted or a missing file the system will mention what file is missing. With hard disk drive corrupt you can sometimes fix it by running a chkdsk within Windows or using things like the Recovery Console. Though in many corruption cases you may need to replace the hard disk drive. When dealing with removable media you simply just need to remove the disc and reboot then everything should boot up normally.

Windows Startup - Windows will begin loading once you see the Windows splash screen that contains the Widnows logo then goes to the login screen then ends with the desktop loading up. Many problems at the splash screen is generally a service or hardware driver causing problems. In many cases booting to Safe Mode and using MSConfig and the Device Manager to disable services and hardware will fix this issue. Then once you booted up normally you can start to renable devices to see what caused the problem. In many cases simply uninstall and reinstalling the service software or hardware driver will fix splash screen boot issues. Issue at the logon screen are very rare but are generally caused by GINA (Graphical Identification and Authentication) corruption. This generally happens if you try to replace the GINA files with a 3rd party file. In some cases replacing the GINA.DLL file as mentioned in KB164486 will help or in extreme cases you may need to reinstall Windows. Most Desktop issues will be caused by a startup item loading once the dekstop loads. Using MSConfig and unchecking items in the startup tab until you find the item causing hte problem will fix these issues. Once you found the problem item you can uninstall and reinstall the software if needed.


Shutdown Overview and Troubleshooting

     Most shutdown problems will be caused by programs not shutting down, out of date drivers, or in some cases a Windows Update is needed to fix a shutdown bug. Dealing with programs not shutting down is failry simple. Going into MSConfig and unchecking startup items can help out. Also shutting down programs manually can help as well. For hardware drivers it is recommended to keep your drivers up to date since outdated drivers can cause shutdown or sleep mode issues. It is also recommnded to keep Windows up to date as there have been some shutdown issues that have been fixed with updates.