When Vista will not boot…

Today, it happened; Vista would not boot…

Many Vista users experiencing this type of issue are often left to performing a “complete” and “time-consuming” system recovery using the recovery software allocated on a disk partition by the manufacturer or on recovery discs that you may have created. Most manufacturers do not provide a “real” physical copy (retail version) of Windows Vista on DVD…  The problem with this is that the “real” Windows Vista DVD has a “recovery environment” that you can boot into that attempts to “fix” your system, when it will not startup properly.  The “recovery environment” does not reinstall Vista; it is merely a tool designed to try and fix Vista.  If you are a Vista user, and do not have an original Windows Vista DVD, there is a solution to this problem. “The NeoSmart Files” web site has been hosting a downloadable version of the Windows Vista Recovery Disc, since January ‘08, which you can burn to a CD (approximately 120 MB in the ISO format). You can visit the site by clicking on the logo.

The NeoSmart Files

This CD actually saved me a whole lot of headaches today… 

My Vista box would not boot and I suspected corrupted startup files. One of my first troubleshooting options was to boot into the “recovery environment” using the CD that I created (earlier in the year) from “The NeoSmart Files” website.  After booting from the CD, I was eventually presented with various recovery options; one being “startup repair”. After selecting that option, the utility corrected the issue(s) I was experiencing and my system startup returned to normal. If I did not have this CD, as a diagnostic option, I most likely would have resintalled the operating system via an image I had made OR performed a recovery via the computer manufacturer’s option. Either way, there was risk of possibly losing file data. 

Instructions for creating and using the CD…

If terms like “ISO format” and “Creating a CD” are hindering you, I encourage you to visit “TechRepublic – Creating a Windows Vista Recovery CD”  for “step-by-step” instructions, on the entire process from downloading/creating the recovery CD to actual screenshots of the recovery process. You can visit the site by clicking on the logo.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)…

For FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) about Windows’s Vista startup repair, click on the Microsoft Windows Logo below.

Windows Vista Recovery - FAQ's

Additional Note…

If you do not have the original Windows Vista DVD, I highly recommend that you get this download from “The NeoSmart Files”. During the writeup of this article, I learned that when Windows Vista SP1 (Service Pack 1) was in beta, Microsoft actually included the option to make the recovery environment CD.  After Vista SP1 (Service Pack 1) came out of beta, Microsoft pulled the option from the operating system… 


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12 thoughts on “When Vista will not boot…

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  1. Just an addenda.. this boot CD works on both 64-bit and the more common 32-bit versions.
    If you have Vista computers and do not have this disc .. I guaranty a Windows Update will sooner or later make you wish you had.

    Great tip!


  2. If I am not mistaken, my Vista Home Premium SP1 has a startup recovery/repair option. I have used it twice after bad shutdowns without invoking F8.


    1. Joe,

      Thanks for visiting and your comment. I too, recently experienced a boot issue with Vista SP1 (Home Premium) and the only method I knew of to get into the startup repair is via the CD boot disk which the article refers. I never got to the point where I could invoke the F8 (safe mode) mode. Now, if you have the actual physical retail Vista DVD, then you can boot from that to get into the “startup recovery”. If there is another option, I would love to know. One reason I do this blog is to learn from people such as yourself.

      Again, thank you for submitting a comment.



  3. I would like to amend my earlier comment — you need to know which version of Vista you have, and download the appropriate image: 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit. Both are available at NeoSmart.

    Also, your readers should be aware that the download at NeoSmart is done via a BitTorrent protocol, and you must use a Torrent client to ‘convert’ the download into the .iso format and then burn it to disc.
    This is not difficult, and excellent instructions are provided.


  4. TechPaul,

    Thank you for pointing out these key points… For those readers, who have not a clue as to what we are talking about, I suggest you find someone with Tech experience or “know how” to create one of these CD’s for you…



    1. Hello John,

      Welcome to the blog and thank you for the “good” information… In many cases, people do not have a Windows Vista DVD. The manufacturer (HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Compaq) usually creates a restoration partition on the drive for the user or they give the user the option of creating restoration CD’s. I have that scenario with my PC and do not have an actual Windows Vista CD. You are correct in saying what you stated if that DVD is available to the user…

      Thank you,



  5. i tried everything that was recommended to reinstall windows and recover lost files, nothing works, the drive is still there with my files but is inaccessible.
    i have loaded vista on a small partition, 10gb, which is not nearly large enough for anything. i cannot do anything to get my files back. What now…Microsoft wants $$ for their screw up and no way will I pay for their screw up.


  6. my Dell Inspirion does not have a repair disk. I have a series of blue screen and finally it shutt off suddenly and I turned it on but it went to Dell screen and moved to a black screen with a disk error and asking to press CTL Alt DEl, I did but went back to Dell screen and back to a black screen with the same error,
    I could not boot it up. It is death. What is happening? I am lost.
    A technician will take 4 days to look the computer and charge about $100, this is terrible.


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