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How can I repair a Vista winload.exe boot error?

Posted on 2009-05-20
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-07
I have a Windows Vista installation that is giving the below error upon booting.  I've saerched both EE and Google, EE doesn't seem to have much on the topic.  Google has a few things I'm trying now, but I'm wondering if a fellow EE member can chime in and point me in the right direction?  Thanks in advance


Windows Failed to start. a recenent hardware or software change may be the cause. to fix this problem:

(boot from the cd and repair windows) (doesnt actually say that but thats what it tells ya to do)

File: /windows/system32/winload.exe

Status: 0xc0000221

Info: the file is possibaly corupt. its header checksum does not match the computed checksum.
Question by:Jsmply
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LVL 59

Expert Comment

ID: 24435402
Yes, if you boot from the Vista DVD, you can get into the Recovery Environment, which is Vista's replacement for the old XP Recovery Console, and then you could go into the Command Prompt section of the RE, and use the DOS copy command to put a good copy of winload.exe on your hard disk.  Since the files are not stored in compressed form in an I386 folder as they were in XP, however, you would need to obtain a copy of the file from a computer that is working ok and put it on a floppy disk or a USB stick, for example.  See this tutorial on using the Command Prompt in the Vista Recovery Environment:

How to use the Command Prompt in the Vista Windows Recovery Environment

Author Comment

ID: 24435440
Does it matter which version of Vista I pull it from?  IE: Home basic to Ultimate, etc?  I did some googling on the issue and most of the results said the file is not actually corrupt, but Windows is referencing it wrong and can be repaire via bcdedit.  However, I'm more inclined to trust you from EE.  


Author Comment

ID: 24435542
Tried the copy, it didn't work though.  I also checked and the path is correct in bcdedit.  Any other ideas?

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LVL 59

Expert Comment

ID: 24436475
I found this Previously Answered Question on the same error message where the problem was bad memory:

Checksum Error when Vista Boots

Author Comment

ID: 24436633
Okay, after messing around with bcdedit I was able to fix the first error, but now I get the same black screen and same error message but with the file


Could that many files really be messed up or is this a bigger issue?  

I will test the memory for the fun of it, thanks.
LVL 59

Accepted Solution

LeeTutor earned 2000 total points
ID: 24436756
With multiple module names coming up like that, I would expect it might be either your memory or the hard disk. You can check the memory with the built-in diagnostic from the Recovery Environment of Vista on the DVD.  For the hard disk:  I would suggest running a disk diagnostic utility. Most disk vendors have these for free.


For example:


Western Digital

The diagnostic tools are usually going to have to be written to a floppy disk.  If you don't have a floppy drive available (even a cheap USB one) or cannot boot to one, then you could try the diagnostic tools on The Ultimate Boot CD:


Author Comment

ID: 24436917
I'm running memtest now. I assume that's as good as the Windows memory test on Vista?  I will test the hard drive next.

Author Comment

ID: 24438045
Okay it passed Memtest but Seagate diagnostic test found lots of errors, 20 + errors within 30 seconds of running their long test on the hard drive.  

I assume it's not worth repairing.

It's pretty strange, this laptop has had the hard drive changed once before and this customer has had me change hard drives on two other laptops they have had as well.  They seem to be a curse to laptop hard drives.  I know sometimes drives just go bad, but what else can cause this?  Could it be them being rough with the laptop while the drive is in use?

LVL 59

Expert Comment

ID: 24440333
>They seem to be a curse to laptop hard drives.
>Could it be them being rough with the laptop while the drive is in use?

Who knows?  I sure would be expecting some sort of answer like that given their past history...
LVL 59

Expert Comment

ID: 24450109
Jsmply, is your question answered?

Author Comment

ID: 24452276
Yes, thank you!

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