Recover Windows 7 from Driver Update Failures

How to use the Windows Recovery Environment

By on October 13th, 2009 08:46 GMT
Keeping Windows 7 and Windows Vista running under normal parameters takes much more work than is done in Redmond alone. Fact is that the ecosystems of software and hardware products designed to integrate with the Windows clients have to do this seamlessly, especially when dealing with solutions that hook into the core of the operating system. Driver update failures for example, can easily cripple Windows 7 and Windows Vista, causing the two platforms to no longer start.

“This problem may occur if any one of the following conditions is true: The new device or the driver causes conflicts with other drivers that are installed on the computer. A hardware-specific issue occurs. The driver that is installed is damaged,” Microsoft explained.

In case you performed a driver update for a device component of your computer and Windows 7 and Vista are acting up, then your best choice to resolve the matter is to roll back the changes. Reverting the driver update will cause the issues introduced by the refresh to go away. First you will need to boot into Windows.

If Windows 7 or Vista is not starting up normally, then reboot the machine and press F8 during startup. When the Advanced Boot Options screen appears first select Last Known Good Configuration and hit Enter. Alternatively, you can also choose to boot into Safe Mode. The next step after the computer boots is to make your way to the Open Device Manager, by entering Open Device Manager in the search box under the Start menu. Select the device you updated the driver for, right-click it, and choose Properties, and from the Driver tab click Roll Back Driver. For newly installed devices, Windows will offer the possibility of an uninstall. Freshly deployed applications with integrated drivers can be removed via Control Panel. After a restart Windows 7 and Vista functionality should be back to normal.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that the changes brought by the device driver update are so critical that Windows 7 and Vista will no longer boot, no matter what you try. In such a case you will need to turn to the Windows Recovery Environment in order to repair Windows Vista or Windows 7. Below you will find the steps necessary to repair Vista and Windows 7, courtesy of Microsoft:

"To use the Windows Recovery Environment, you must have the Windows Vista or Windows 7 installation disc. To start the Windows Recovery Environment, follow these steps:
1. Put the installation disc in the disc drive, and then start the computer.
2. Press a key when you are prompted.
3. Select a language, a time and currency, and a keyboard or input method, and then click Next.
4. Click Repair your computer.
5. In the System Recovery Options dialog box, click the operating system that you want to repair, and then click Next.
Use the tools in the Windows Recovery Environment to repair Windows Vista or Windows 7. To do this, follow these steps:
1. If the computer will not start in safe mode, click Startup Repair in the System Recovery Options dialog box to fix certain problems that may prevent the operating system from starting correctly. If the Startup Repair tool cannot diagnose or repair the problem, go to step 2. If Windows Vista or Windows 7 starts, go to the "Resolve the cause of the startup problem" section.

For more information about how to use Startup Repair, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
925810 A Stop error occurs, or the computer stops responding when you try to start Windows Vista or Windows 7
2. In the System Recovery Options dialog box, click System Restore to restore the operating system to the restore point that was created when the program or the driver was installed. If you cannot use the System Restore tool to start the computer, go to step 3.
3. Use the Command Prompt option in the Windows Recovery Environment to disable the driver that stops the operating system from starting. To do this, follow these steps.
a. In the System Recovery Options dialog box, click Command Prompt.
b. Type the following commands. Press ENTER after you type each command.
cd \Windows\INF
notepad setupapi.app.log
c. Note the date at the start of each new device or driver installation section. Use these dates to determine the last driver that was installed.
d. After you determine which driver was installed last, determine whether the driver is required to start the computer. To do this, read the information in the section of the Setupapi.app.log file that describes this driver. If the driver is related to the disk controller or to the chipset, or if the driver is provided by the operating system, search for the driver name and for the symptom of the problem on the following Microsoft Web site:
http://www.microsoft.com
Determine whether the driver can be disabled before you continue. If the last driver that was installed is not required to start the computer, go to step e.
e. At the command prompt, type regedit, and then click OK.
f. Click HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, and then click Load Hive on the File menu.
g. Locate and then click the C:\Windows\System32\Config\System file, and then click Open.
h. In the Load Hive dialog box, type Offline, and then click OK.
i. Expand System, and then click Select.
j. In the right-pane, locate Current, and then note the value in the Data column.
k. Expand ControlSet00x, and then expand Services. x is the value from the Data column that you noted in step j.
l. Locate the subkey that corresponds to the last driver that was installed. If you cannot locate a match, click Services, click Find on the Edit menu, type the name of the driver in the Find what box, and then click Find Next.
m. Click the subkey that has the driver name.
n. In the right-pane, right-click Start, and then click Modify.
o. In the Value data box, type 4, and then click OK. This step stops the driver from starting.
p. Locate and then click the following registry subkey:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Offline
q. On the File menu, click Unload Hive, and then click Yes in the Confirm Unload Hive dialog box.
r. Exit Registry Editor.
s. Restart the computer.
t. If the operating system does not start, start the Windows Recovery Environment, and then repeat step a through step s. You may have to repeat these steps until all the drivers that have been installed since the last successful startup are disabled."

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