What to do if Windows doesn't want to start

Updated: April 04, 2023
6 min read
What to do if Windows doesn't want to start
by Jessica Miller
Tech Expert & Writer
Checked by
Quality Control team

This tutorial will help to solve the main problems when booting the OS. We are going to fix errors in Windows 10. But in Windows 8 and 7, the recovery process is about the same.

Before we start

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If the system does not even start up

In such cases, the OS logo screen does not appear. Instead, it displays a black background with various errors.

system does not even start up

Disconnect peripheral devices

The system may not boot due to a malfunction of one of the connected devices. Try disconnecting USB drives, card readers, printers, scanners, cameras, microphones, and other accessories.

After disconnecting, restart the computer. If that doesn't help, temporarily disconnect the keyboard and mouse, then press the restart button again.

Check the status of the boot disk.

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The BIOS, the layer between Windows and your computer's hardware, may have lost its boot settings. For example, if the wrong drive is specified as the source of the OS files, the device simply can't find them at startup and, therefore, can't start the system.

  1. Reboot the computer.
  2. Immediately after starting up, press the BIOS entry key until you see the setup menu. Depending on the PC manufacturer, this may be F2, F8, Delete, or another key. Usually, the option you want is displayed at the bottom of the screen immediately when you turn on your computer.
  3. Once in the BIOS setup, locate the Boot section and check if the Windows system files drive is at the top of the boot list. If not, move it to the top. Your BIOS may look different, but its structure is always about the same.
  4. Select the Save and Exit options to apply the changes.

The computer will then reboot, and the problem may be fixed.

Reset the BIOS

If the previous method didn't help, the system might have experienced a larger failure. In this case, you should perform a BIOS reset.

If Windows starts booting but freezes, restarts, or displays a blue screen

Windows startup can be hindered by incorrect updates, driver errors, and third-party programs and viruses.

Try running the system in Safe Mode. It only activates the basic components of Windows without any extra drivers or programs. If the problem is with the latter, the system will start and you can clean it up.

To boot into safe mode in Windows 8 or 10, turn off your computer by holding down the power button and turn it back on after a few seconds. Repeat this action until additional boot options appear on the screen. It usually takes up to three such restarts. Then click on TroubleshootingAdvanced OptionsBoot OptionsReboot. After another reboot, select Safe Mode.

To turn on Windows 7 in Safe Mode, restart your computer and press the F8 key or Fn + F8 (on laptops) several times immediately after startup. In the menu that appears, select Safe Mode.

After enabling Safe Mode, uninstall the last installed programs and check the system with an antivirus. If that doesn't help, open the Windows recovery menu in settings and use one of the available options. The system will guide you with hints.

If nothing helped

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It's possible that the Windows system files have become corrupted. You can attempt to restore them using specific tools.

Utilize the Windows Recovery Environment

This menu provides tools for restoring Windows. In the event of boot issues, the system often automatically initiates this environment when you power on your PC, displaying "Auto Repair" on the screen. If this occurs, choose Advanced OptionsTroubleshootAdvanced Options.

If this doesn't happen, you can try to access the recovery environment manually.

For Windows 7 and earlier versions, press the F8 key or Fn + F8 (on laptops) immediately after starting your PC. When the Advanced Boot Options menu shows up, choose Computer Troubleshooting and utilize the recovery options provided by the system.

To access the Windows 10 or 8 recovery environment, power off your computer by pressing the power button, then turn it back on after a few seconds. Repeat this process until the Auto Repair menu appears on the screen, usually requiring up to three restarts. Once in the menu, select "Advanced Settings" → "Troubleshoot" → "Advanced Settings."

Advanced Settings

In the recovery environment, you'll see various options. Proceed with the following steps.

  1. Choose "Startup Repair." The system will attempt to resolve the issues automatically.
  2. If this is unsuccessful, re-enter the recovery environment and select the "Command Prompt" option. In the window that opens, type the commands diskpart, list volume, and exit one after the other, pressing Enter after each one.
  3. A table displaying the local drives will appear on the screen. Identify the one labeled as the system disk (the disk containing Windows files). It's crucial to note that its letter might not correspond to the system drive label in Explorer.
  4. If no disk is marked as a system disk, determine it based on its size, which should match the size of the local disk where Windows is installed. If you're unsure or don't remember, it's better to avoid the following step and close the command line.
  5. Type the command bcdboot C:\windows, replacing C with the letter of the drive that is the system drive. Press Enter and restart the device.

If this doesn't resolve the issue, try the other recovery options available, following the system prompts.

Utilize a startup disk or flash drive


If you can't access the recovery menu, you can launch it using a bootable disk or a Windows flash drive. If you don't have any of these, you'll need to purchase an OS installation disk.

Alternatively, you can use another computer to download the Windows image and transfer it to a flash drive. Note that the Windows image's bit-type must match your PC's OS bit-type for successful recovery.

After preparing the media, use it to boot your computer by following these steps:

  1. Insert the flash drive or disk and restart your machine. Immediately after starting, press the BIOS access key (F2, F8, or Delete).
  2. In the BIOS setup, find the Boot section and move the Windows flash drive or disk to the top of the device list.
  3. Choose Save and Exit to apply the changes and restart the PC.
  4. Once the device has booted from the removable media, click "Next" and select "System Restore."
  5. Now attempt "Startup Repair" and the other options mentioned in the previous section of this article.

If the recovery tools are unsuccessful, you can reinstall Windows using the inserted disk or flash drive. During this process, all data on the system disk will be erased, but the operating system will likely function properly.

To reinstall the system, restart the device, press "Install," and follow the on-screen instructions.

If reinstalling Windows does not resolve the issue, the problem likely lies with the computer's hardware. In this case, contact a service center for assistance.

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