How to troubleshoot operating system problems and tools used

As a matter of fact, operating systems are not designed to utmost perfection since at times they suffer from a number of problems. Such problems can be very inconveniencing if one are not familiar with the troubleshooting tools. Hence one should be aware of all these techniques which can resolve the problem so one can continue working without any problems. Below are some of the common operating problems and their troubleshooting tools.

Common symptoms


The blue screen of death is a Windows stop error that clearly points onto hardware malfunction or spoilt device drivers. One may decide to start in safe mode or carry out some System Restore.

Failure to boot

Failure of one's computer to boot can be as a result of a corrupt operating system or some possible changes in one's system's boot order. One can go to the BIOS setup and try to look at the boot sequence. If that does not work, then one should consider reinstalling the Windows operating system since the problem could be far much serious.

Improper shutdown

At times, one's computer may shutdown improperly due to instances of power loss or crushing. In case of such an incidence, restarting the computer might not take one directly to Windows and therefore one should run Windows Error Recovery which automatically checks the file system and drives for any problems. With that, all system files are placed in their right positions and Windows now starts without any problems.

Spontaneous shutdown/restart

This is a problem that mostly occurs in instances where one's computer keeps looping over the start-up process where it appears to be starting and then restarts. In such a case, the first step should be to try and establish the occurrence point of the problem either in the course of the BIOS check where the Power on Self-test is undergoing among some other possible reasons. Once that is established, then one can easily decide if the problem is hardware related or related to the Windows configuration.

RAID not detected during installation

This is an error message that tends to appear when one are installing an operating system and some of the files required are not found. In such a case, one might open the registry in safe mode to check for the files or restart the installation process with a new installation media.

Device fails to start

Failure of one's device can be very frustrating. In most cases, it normally results from a computer crush or some other hardware related problems. In such a case, try to carry out hardware diagnostics so as to try and establish the problem. One can also decide to boot the computer from a Windows installation media to try and get one's computer to restart.

Missing dll message

The missing dll message mainly appears when the dynamic link libraries are missing. This could be as a result of using many third party applications leading to much redundancy in all the applications. Dlls have many different versions and therefore a lack of update can lead to such a pop-up message. Overwriting older versions with new versions can be very dangerous since there can be some possible malfunction.

Services fail to start

At times, starting one's system might become a problem due to the fact that one can receive a pop-up message informing one that there is a failure in the starting of one or more services. Since it is very difficult to establish the problem, some information should be collected. One can manually start services at the Windows services so as to see if any of them will fail.

In addition to manually starting the services, try to look at processes the services depend on since the process may have to start so that the service can also begin running. One might also need to install a special type of software that will manage the service, rebuilt it and reconfigure it so that every inch of that service starts properly.

Compatibility error

The Windows operating system compatibility error mainly appears when some of the old application versions are not working properly after a windows upgrade. In such cases, Windows has an in-built capability that allows one to change the compatibility of the applications. One can also choose to run the program in its compatibility mode so as to choose the most appropriate operating system for the application. In some cases, the old and out-dated applications can also run in a new version of Windows as long as they are in their compatibility mode.

Slow system performance

A slow system performance is a problem that can be fixed by making sure that onehas installed the latest versions of all items running in one's computer system such as the operating system, drivers and applications. All security patches should be up to date and all Windows updates should functional. Slow system performance could be as a result of some in-built configurations such as running the CPU slowly when on battery and not on power. Malicious software could also be a cause of slow system performance hence a computer scan can be very essential.

Boots to safe mode

The safe mode boot option is one that is usually available prior to starting the operating system. When onepresses F8, onereceives a menu of advanced options from where one can choose to boot one's computer in safe mode. By using the safe mode boot for one's operating system, one should be in a position to enable network drivers among some many other functions. In addition, booting through the safe mode may not boot the desktop but takes one directly to the command prompt rather than heading to the graphics display.

File fails to open

In a Windows operating system, all files normally have distinct file extensions such as .docs and .ppt. A file with a specific file extension can only be opened by an application designed to open it. Trying to open a file whose file extension is not compatible with a certain program can result into an error message of the file failing to open.Installation of the specific application to open specific file extensions can be a solution. In other cases, some modifications can be made on the applications inside Windows.

Missing NTLDR

Missing NTLDR message is one that is very common on older versions of Windows such as the Windows XP operating system. NTLDR files are very crucial and highly important boot files for one's computer and their deletion means that one's system will not start. To deal with this, one should start the computer with a boot disk so that one can copy back the deleted files onto the hard drive, then carry out a system restart and the Windows operating system begins to run.

Missing Boot.ini

The missing operating system message mainly appears in instances where oneis trying to access a drive that is configured as a boot device but with the absence of a boot loader in one's computer. With such an error message, one may need to get into the recovery console environment and run the check disk command to check if the OS is in one's computer. In other case, one should only carry out updates on the Master Boot Record and everything gets right on track.

Missing operating system

When the operating system isn't installed or it is corrupted, then this message appears and this message indicated that one has to do something about the installation of new windows.

Missing Graphical Interface

The missing graphical interface normally results into a dark screen that appears in instances where Windows does not start up. User interfaces and login screens are absent and therefore there could be a problem with the video system. One should try to update the video driver or start the system in graphics mode for lower resolution graphics so as to get to a point of loading the new drivers.

Graphical Interface fails to load

The graphical interface probably fails to load due to the absence of the necessary graphics drivers or a problem with the video hardware. In such a case, try updating the video drivers or install a new version of the drivers.

Invalid boot disk

The invalid boot disk error message mainly appears when there is a problem with one's operating system's boot order. On receiving such a message, make sure that no USB device is plugged in since the BIOS might be configured to boot from external USB devices instead of the local drive. In addition, one can make modifications onto the BIOS configuration so as to modify the devices that should boot first on one's computer.


Here are the tools sued for the fixation;


Fixboot command is used when one want to create a new boot sector for the operating system. By using this command, one might want to write some new booting sector in a particular partition. When using this command, one might also require using the DISKPART command so as to identify the part or section of the disk onewants to write the new boot sector.

Recovery console

This is a powerful troubleshooting tool that gives one the mandate to change things on the operating system without having to start windows. It is however a very dangerous commands to use. This is a command that gives one complete control of the operating system in such a manner that one can make changes to it before it starts.


The Fixmbr command is one that one can access from the command prompt. This is a troubleshooting command that one should use when the need to build another Master Boot Record arises. One can also make changes on the drive's configurations, repartitions and reformats.


The SFC operating system troubleshooting tool is one that one should prior to using one's system again in case one have ever been a victim of malware infection or hard drive corruption. This is the System File Checker command which is able to carry out integrity scans on all the system files so as to check the validity of the operating system files. In case some malware infection replaced or brought about some damage to one of the system files, the System File Checker will identify it and prompt one to recover the file so as to put the appropriate one in place.

Repair disks

The system repair disk is a troubleshooting environment that is available for windows where onereceives the option to create a system recovery option, backup and restore options. There are many options normally available in this such as repair/start-up, system restore, image recovery among many others. In the repair disk option, one can also launch the system recovery options and commence all one's troubleshooting.

Pre-installation environments

The pre-installed windows environment is an option that is mainly used when going through some recovery options or when setting up windows vista and 7. This is an environment where the desktop is usually unavailable. One can easily come up with one's own windows pre-installation environment. In addition, some of these PE tools can be downloaded and burnt onto a DVD ROM hence no need to come up with one.


The MSCONFIG troubleshooting tool is an acronym for the Microsoft System Configuration Utility. This is a troubleshooting utility that one should use in instances where one's operating system is experiencing start-up problems, if the desktop is not loading or some possible malfunction of some applications. With this utility, one are in a position to carry out some diagnostic activities through which all processes are broken down so as to establish where the problem is. This is a utility that gives one the ability to control all the boot process activities such as enabling and disabling the loading of some applications. In addition, one can make modifications and changes to some operating services if onedoes not want them to load when the operating system starts.


The DEFRAG tool is another important operating system troubleshooting tool. This mainly stands for defragmentation which means putting files and folders in a proper order. Through defragmentation, one is able to bring many split files into one location for continuous viewing. This is a troubleshooting tool that one should use when one are encountering problems with accessing hard drive files especially if the files are stored in different locations on the hard drive thus making the process of reading each file a challenge. This is a process that one can set to occur automatically using the task scheduler.


The regsvr32 also known as the Microsoft Registry Server is a troubleshooting utility that tends to alter contents of the registry. With this application, one can easily make some DLL registration in addition to deregistration from the operating system. The Microsoft Registry Server performs registry updates when one are troubleshooting problems related to dynamic link libraries that are used by the Windows operating system. . Once it updates, it informs the operating system of the DLL's location, its version among other information required by the application so as to use the dynamic link library.


With the computer registry being an important aspect of the operating system, it is one of the most important places one should not miss when carrying out operating system troubleshooting. This is because it is in the registry where much information concerning applications, system configurations, services and running drivers is stored making it a very large and important database. In the registry, there is a program known as regedit or Registry Editor where one can gain full access to edit registry information. One can back up registry information, add keys and also delete keys.

Event viewer

The event viewer is somewhat a special troubleshooting tool in that it is the one that enables one to see activities that are happening simultaneously in the OS. Since it's very difficult to establish all that's happening in the OS, the event viewer is a place where one are able to see all that's happening in the operating system. For instance, one may have a driver that is not properly functional and one can easily view it at the event viewer. The event viewer also keeps track of information on activities that occurred some period ago.

Safe mode

The safe mode boot option is one that is usually available prior to starting the operating system. When onepresses F8, onereceives a menu of advanced options from where one can choose to boot one's computer in safe mode. By using the safe mode boot for one's operating system, one should be in a position to enable network drivers among some many other functions. In addition, booting through the safe mode may not boot the desktop but takes one directly to the command prompt rather than heading to the graphics display.

Command prompt

The command prompt is considered to be one of the most powerful OS troubleshooting tools. The command prompt is a platform that can be accessed without necessarily having to start the operating system. In Windows XP version, one can access it from the installation media while in Windows & and Vista one can use the system recovery options to get to the command prompt. In the command prompt, one can make modifications to the operating system only if oneis conversant with the modifications oneis making. It can be very dangerous to go to the command prompt, make some alterations on operating files or even delete them and then recovering them becomes a problem. Through the command prompt, one have complete control of the operating system since one can replace OS files and move them around since the OS is not yet booted.

Emergency repair disk

Emergency repair disk should be carried out when there is an urgent need to carry out diagnosis on a drive that is not properly functional. One should use the system recovery option or repair disk option for this.

Automated system recovery

An automated system recovery can be induced by running one's computer in safe mode and then selecting the system recovery option and the operating system moves to a specific restoration point.

Generally, troubleshooting of operating system problems is an easy activity only when the right troubleshooting tools are used. It is therefore important that oneis familiar with all the troubleshooting tools.


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