Windows 8.1 stopped working - now what?

Posted on 2014-02-28
Last Modified: 2014-03-07
My computer was running slowly, so I rebooted. It went into an "auto diagnose" mode and then said it was unable to repair Windows. All my recovery points were lost (I had made sure this was working a month ago - it always turns off, as it has again). I do not have a recovery image or disk. I tried to refresh the computer (knowing that it would wipe out all my programs - even though MS says it won't) and I am asked to put in recovery media. What is that? I downloaded Windows 8.1 from the internet so I have no media, per se. My computer supplier gave me a Windows 8 "installation" disk at one point, but that was not accepted by the refresh screen (it said "invalid media"). I have powered off and on without change. I have tried other recovery options that were offered, but none helped. I created a Windows 8.1 recovery disk on a "usb key" on another computer. I started the computer with that, but could not find any options that would help.

What can I do?
Question by:Lev Seltzer
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Expert Comment

ID: 39894328
The way you describe your issue you have had problems with this PC from the start, and it probably still is a newer PC if it came with Windows 8.1. That means it should still be under warranty. If I were you I'd make use of that warranty and have it replaced.

Otherwise run a memtest86+ and also the HD manufacturer's diagnostics on the Disk, you'll find both on the UBCD:

Make sure you turn off secure boot in the BIOS before trying to boot from the CD.

If the disk's diagnostic shows errors which the tool can't repair, you'll have to replace the disk. If the memory test errors out replace the RAM module(s) that is bad (if your PC has more than one module you may have to run the test with only one of them installed at a time in order to see which one of them is bad).

If the RAM and the Disk are fine, check with the PC's manufacturer on the recovery options. Most PC's have a recovery partition from which you can restore the system to factory defaults, but each manufacturer has a different implementation.

Author Comment

by:Lev Seltzer
ID: 39894547
This is a shop-built computer. I had Windows 7 on it and upgraded to Windows 8, and then 8.1. I do not have CDs of Windows because the upgrades were downloaded (though as stated, I have a CD from the shop for Windows 8). I have 2 other working windows 8.1 computers, but I don't have my product key yet (It is stored on a PST file, and I have to restore that from an online backup, and that will take another hour or so to restore).

Hard drives were rated at being 100% perfect, as reported by a program (I believe it was Hard Drive Commander).

There is no warrantee. Even if there was, the purpose of writing here is not to get warrantee support, but to get my windows to boot properly with the least damage to my settings (most data is stored on a secondary drive, and all data is backed up).

I am downloading UBCD528.iso and will see if that helps. But I am not sure that there is anything for it to do. This is almost definitely a windows problem, which I do not believe is caused by hardware.

Thank you.

Author Comment

by:Lev Seltzer
ID: 39894694
Memtest86+ 5.01 memory test completed without errors
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 39894757
And now run the disk manufacturer's diagnostic, I haven't heard of a "Hard-Drive Commander" and doubt it is any good. Besides, you should always run the manufacturer's diagnostics on the disks, they give you the real results and are also what the manufacturer will reference to in case of problems.

Did you install Windows 8, and after that 8.1, or did your "shop" do that? As I stated earlier, you seem to have had issues with this installation from the beginning, and if your "shop" did the installation, they didn't do a good job if that was the case. You should then insist on them doing it "properly" for you. That in my point of view is also part of a warranty...

If the PC is set up with an m$ hotmail account, which is the default for windows 8 and 8.1, then your settings are synchronized with the cloud, so you could just re-install the OS and once you have setup the hotmail user account again, the settings should be restored from the cloud.

The Windows 8.1 DVD needed for any repairs must be of the same version which is installed on the system. For example, Windows 8.1, 8.1 Pro, 8.1 Ultimate etc. Also, if an OEM version is installed, the DVD must also be an OEM version or vice-versa. If you are sure it is the same version, boot from the DVD and it should see the current installation and then show options to repair it.

Author Comment

by:Lev Seltzer
ID: 39894857
I ran the upgrade of windows 7 to 8.0 and then 8.1 from the website.

I do not have any installation DVDs. How can I get or make one?

Hard Drive commander reads the SMART information from the HDD. That information reported previously that the drives were in perfect condition with nothing failing.
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Expert Comment

ID: 39897224
SMART only reads out internal SMART data that disks have recorded, but it doesn't do any diagnostics of the disks. For that you need the manufacturer's tools which by the way also read out the SMART info as a "by product".

If you "Downloaded" Windows 8.1 from the internet you probably downloaded an "iso" file. Iso files are CD/DVD images which you can burn to a DVD using a utility like infrarecorder and selecting the "Write Image" option, then selecting the iso file you downloaded. It is then burnt to the DVD from which you can bootup your PC and start the installation.

A Clean installation is always better than doing upgrades from one OS to the next, as that keeps any crap and problems you had on the original OS, so the upgrade also stays crappy.

Accepted Solution

Lev Seltzer earned 0 total points
ID: 39898903
Rindi: I appreciate your responses, but they did not address my needs, and did not solve my problems. Eventually, I found a website that explained how to create a windows 8.0 installation disk, and I started my windows installation again.

Author Closing Comment

by:Lev Seltzer
ID: 39912014
I found a solution via a 3rd party website. The expert here tried to offer solutions, but they were not ones that provided an interim or ultimate solution.

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