Knowledge Base

Computer Does Not Boot to Microsoft Windows 7

Table of Contents:

  1. Verify the Computer Finishes Initial Power-Up (POST)
  2. Check for Specific Error Messages
  3. Run a Computer Diagnostic
  4. Rest the BIOS to Default Values
  5. Boot the Computer into Safe Mode
  6. Check for Recent Changes
  7. Unplug All External Devices
  8. Use Startup Repair to Restore Critical Windows Files
  9. Use System Restore to Revert to a Previous State
  10. Use Clean-Boot Troubleshooting to Isolate the Software Issue
  11. Virus and Malware Troubleshooting
  12. Restore the Operating System to Factory Settings

This article is for Microsoft Windows 7.
Click below to change the operating system.

This article describes troubleshooting computers that are powering up correctly and passing the Dell BIOS screen at boot-up, but do not successfully boot to Microsoft Windows

Step 1: Verify the Computer Finishes Initial Power-Up (POST)

In many cases a computer will not attempt to hand off control to the operating system. If you power the computer on and you see a Dell logo screen with a bar at the bottom, and that bar fills up completely and disappears, then your computer has successfully completed POST.

Click Here if Your Computer Does Not Complete POST

Step 2: Check for Specific Error Messages

Dell has information on some specific error messages at startup. Refer to the following links for more information:

If the error message is not listed above, try searching for additional solutions on the Web.
Click on your preferred search engine below, then describe your problem in the search box provided.

Search Dell Search Microsoft Search Google Search Bing

Step 3: Run a Computer Diagnostic

To run PSA Diagnostics, turn on the computer and tap the F12 key several times at the Dell logo screen. This will start the One-Time Boot Menu. Select Diagnostics to start the diagnostic assessment of the computer hardware.
This test takes approximately 5 minutes.
If you receive an error from the PSA diagnostics, refer to the Dell Hardware Diagnostics page for further assistance:
Click Here to Troubleshoot Diagnostic Errors

Step 4: Reset the BIOS to Default Values

If your computer is set to first attempt to boot to another device, this may cause issues with successfully booting to Windows. To reset your comptuer's BIOS to factory defaults, perform the following steps:

  1. Restart the computer
  2. At the Dell logo during restart, tap the F2 key repeatedly until you see Entering Setup in the top right corner of the screen.
  3. Depending on the BIOS, you may need to press a key listed at the bottom of the screen to load default settings. For example, F9 on the Inspiron N5110.
  4. Press ESC to exit the BIOS, and be sure to select Save and Exit to save your changes.

Step 5: Boot the Computer into Safe Mode

  1. Start the computer.
  2. Tap F8 on the keyboard immediately after the Dell logo screen disappears until you see the Windows Advanced Options Menu on the screen.
    (If the Windows Advanced Options Menu does not appear, restart the system and try again.)
  3. Select Safe mode and press Enter.
  4. Log on as the administrator or as a user with administrative access.

If your computer does not boot to Safe Mode, select from the following options to troubleshoot. Otherwise, proceed to Step 5.
I cannot boot the computer to Safe Mode
I cannot get to the Advanced Options Menu

Step 6: Check for Recent Changes

If you are able to successfully boot to Safe Mode, check your computer to see if any new software or hardware was recently installed. If so, try uninstalling those programs or hardware from your computer.

Step 7: Unplug All External Devices

A piece of hardware may be interfering with the normal boot process of Windows. Try unplugging all devices from your computer, including:

  • Printers
  • Scanners
  • Media Card Readers
  • Small Media cradles (iPod, PDA, MP3 player, etc.)
  • Digital Cameras and Video Recorders
  • USB storage devices
  • CDs or DVDs from all optical drives

The only devices you should leave attached to your computer are your monitor, mouse and keyboard, if the computer is a desktop.

Step 8: Use Startup Repair to Restore Critical Windows Files

Startup Repair is a Windows 7 recovery tool that can fix certain problems, such as missing or damaged system files, that might prevent Windows from starting correctly. When you run Startup Repair, it scans your computer for the problem and then tries to fix it so your computer can start correctly.
To learn more about using Startup Repair to restore critical Windows files, click the link below:
How to Run Windows Startup Repair

Step 9: Use System Restore to Revert to a Previous State

Click here to watch a video on how to use System Restore in the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) (Note: English Only)

If the Windows Advanced Options menu does not appear, restart the computer and try again.

Attempt to restore from the most recent restore point. If this fails to correct the problem, try the next most recent restore point until you find a restore point that resolves the issue. You will need to reinstall any software installed after the selected restore point.
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. Tap <F8> during startup until the Windows Advanced Options menu appears.
  3. Press <Down Arrow> until Repair Your Computer is highlighted, and then press <Enter>.
  4. In the System Recovery Options window, click to select your language, and then click Next.
  5. Log in as a user with administrative rights, and click OK.
  6. From the Choose a recovery tool menu, click System Restore.
  7. In the System Restore window, click Next.
  8. Click the Show restore points older than 5 days checkbox for a complete listing of restore points.
  9. Click to select a restore point.
  10. Click Next and then click Finish.
  11. Click Yes in the confirmation window.
  12. Click Restart after system restore successfully completes.
  13. If you encounter any error messages during the restore process, follow the on-screen instructions to correct the error.

Step 10: Use Clean-Boot Troubleshooting to Isolate the Software Issue

A program or application may be interfering with the normal boot process of Windows. Microsoft has created a detailed process for isolating a startup program that is causing Windows to not boot correctly. Click the link below to being the troubleshooting process:
How to troubleshoot a problem by performing a clean boot in Windows Vista or in Windows 7

Step 11: Virus and Malware Troubleshooting

Your computer may be affected by a virus or other malicious software. Dell recommends strengthening your PC against malicious attacks by keeping your antivirus software up-to-date.
View our Virus and Spyware Removal Guide

Step 12: Restore the Operating System to Factory Settings

If clean boot troubleshooting cannot identify the issue, it may be necessary to restore your computer to factory settings. To restore your computer's operating system and software to the original factory settings, launch the link below:
Launch the Microsoft Windows Reinstallation Guide

Article ID: SLN128763

Last Date Modified: 09/29/2014 09:21 AM

Rate this article

Easy to understand
Did this article solve your problem?
Yes No
Send us feedback
Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Enter Captcha Code
There is an error with an entry. Please try again entering your CAPTCHA code.
Feedback shows invalid character, not accepted special characters are <> () \
Sorry, our feedback system is currently down. Please try again later.

Thank you. Your feedback has been sent.