Whether your Windows PC is slow to start, gives error messages or won't start up at all, we offer solutions to 10 of the most common problems
When I turn on my PC, it emits a few beeps and Windows will not start.
This is commonly caused by loose memory modules. Wearing an anti-static wrist strap (available from Maplin for £8), open up the PC and check that each module is seated correctly – firm thumb pressure should be enough to push them into place.
Windows seems to start loading but then my PC freezes halfway through.
When the PC starts up, tap F8 until the Windows Advanced Options Menu appears. Use the arrow keys to choose the Last Known Good Configuration option. Press Enter and follow the prompts.
I’ve used the Last Known Good Configuration option (from the Windows Advanced Options Menu) and my PC still freezes during startup.
Tap F8 immediately after starting the PC to reach the Windows Advanced Options Menu but this time choose one of the Safe Mode options and press Enter. Now use the System Configuration utility (see the Windows error messages problem below), untick any recently added programs and restart.
After powering up, my PC takes age before it loads Windows.
This happens because the PC is checking other discs – DVDs or external hard disks – to see if it should start from them first. Removing any CDs, DVDs or external discs should help. A permanent fix is trickier: you’ll need to enter the Bios settings by tapping the appropriate key (usually F2 or Del) and setting the boot order options so that the hard disk is checked first.
When Windows starts, I get an error message. I clear it and everything seems fine, but it's annoying.
Windows takes forever to start up on my computer. It used to be faster.
If this is a recent problem, consider what software has been recently installed and try disabling or uninstalling the program to see if this helps. On the other hand, if it’s a problem that has been getting progressively worse, it could simply be that your PC is busy loading countless bits and pieces. Try removing old or unwanted programs from the Startup group in All Programs, via the Start menu.
My Windows computer refuses to start, displaying the message ‘Could not read from the selected boot disk’.
Windows may have become corrupted or the hard disk may be faulty – or both. If you have a Windows disc try starting the PC from that and selecting either ‘Windows Recovery Console’ or ‘Startup Repair’.
How do I use the ‘live’ Ubuntu CD I created following one of your guides?
Most PCs will scan the optical drives for bootable discs before launching from hard disk - so just insert the disc and wait. If you see a message along the lines of ‘Press any key to boot from this disc’, then do so. Otherwise, most new PCs let you choose the boot drive shortly after they’re switched on: you usually need to press a function (F) key to see a menu of boot devices, which include the DVD drive and USB-attached devices. Check the manual or look in the Bios settings for clues about which key to press.
I get a Registry File Failure when I try to start my PC – and nothing else happens.
The Registry could be corrupted. It is possible to attempt a repair but it is an extremely involved process (see the Microsoft Support site for more information). You may need to restore your computer from a backup, or re-install Windows.
I’m typing the right password but Windows won’t let me past the logon screen.
Windows passwords are case sensitive, so make sure that Caps Lock isn’t enabled. Windows does warn when the Caps Lock is switched on, but this message is more noticeable in Windows XP than in Vista or 7. Also, if using a laptop, check that the Num Lock mode is switched off.
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