Windows 8 Tips

In Windows 8, the F8 or F5 key don't work anymore and there is "No Last Known Good".


When Automatic Repair fails and you cannot even get into Safe Mode, then most probably there are some errors or missing files on your hard disk that prevent Windows 8 from starting correctly.


To access Repair your computer/Recovery Environment (aka Limited Diagnostic State), you must have either Windows 8 DVD or Windows 8 Recovery Drive (USB) or System Repair Disc (CD/DVD) available in case Windows is unable to start. If Windows 8 is able to start and run, you can reboot right into Recovery Environment or use the Refresh and Reset your PC options.

If you do not have the Windows 8 installation DVD (e.g. Windows 8 came pre-installed) or Recovery Drive/System Repair Disc (and your friends do not have a matching one either) other options of Repair Your Computer are unavailable.


Getting into Recovery Environment in Windows 8 without installation media

In Windows 8, the F8 or F5 key does not work anymore. If Windows is unable to start, you can get into new Startup Settings after Windows 8 detects it was unable to start - click See advanced repair options in Recovery screen (Below)

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...or after     

 Automatic Repair fails        

                                                                                                                                     (Below)- click Advanced options.

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If Windows 8 is able to start and run, open Settings bar using keyboard shortcut Windows Key+I. Click Change PC settings in the bottom.


























Click to open General tab of PC settings screen, scroll all the way down to Advanced startup section and click Restart now. This will restart Windows 8 and open its troubleshooting tools.

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This is how Windows 8 Advanced startup screen looks like.
Click Troubleshooting in Choose an option screen.


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Booting to Recovery Environment with Windows 8 installation media or Recovery Drive/System Repair Disc

If your computer does not boot from CD/DVD or USB drive, read this article on how to change boot order.

After you boot your computer using Windows DVD or System Repair Disc, a black screen appears with gray text "Press any key to boot from CD or DVD". Press some key on your keyboard (Space and Enter are the most common ones ) within 5 seconds to launch Windows from the disc.
This screen will not appear while booting from USB Recovery Drive.



If using Windows 8 installation DVD, Windows Setup dialog appears. Select your preferred settings from Time and currency format and Keyboard or input method boxes. I suggest you leave Language to install to "English" here to better understand this article.
Click Next to continue.































Windows installation media users will then see a big tempting Install now button. Do not click it! Click Repair your computer in the lower left corner instead.win8 recovery05

























Troubleshooting steps to take in Windows 8 Recovery Environment


Step 1 - Automatic Repair in Windows 8

Unless you started Windows 8 Recovery Environment from failed Automatic Repair, the very first option to try in case Windows 8 is unable to boot is the Automatic Repair that will check the condition of your hard disk and see if files needed to launch Windows are present. The process takes several minutes to half an hour.

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To access the option, click Advanced options in Troubleshoot screen.

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 In the Advanced Options screen, click Automatic Repair.


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Next, choose a target operating system by clicking on its button. In most cases, you should have only one Windows 8 installation visible.



Windows 8 will then look for problems on hard drive(s) and verify that all required files are in tact. This might easily take 10 or more minutes. Please stand by.


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In case Automatic Repair was unable to fix problems, click Advanced options to access other recovery tools.
If repairs were successful, restart your computer

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Step 1.1 (optional) - use Command Prompt for fixing disk errors

If you do not have the correct Windows 8 installation or Recovery Drive/System Repair media, but you still need to check for and fix errors on disks, click Command Prompt in the Advanced Options screen.

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 A black Command Prompt window opens on drive X. The X: is a special temporary disk created entirely in the Random Access Memory (RAM) of your PC. No hard disk space is used for this drive.
First, we need to locate the drive where Windows is installed. Most probably this is a drive with letter C, D, E or F.
Type c: and press Enter. This will open a partition/volume with drive letter C.







Now type dir win* and press Enter. This lists all files and folders that have names starting with "win", such as windows, win8, windows7, etc.
As you see, nothing was found in the example below. The second line states that volume label is "System Reserved", this means that this is a hidden recovery partition that new installs (not upgrades) of Windows 8 create. You do not need to use or check this partition. Not all computers have such partition.









If no matches appeared, change to drive D by typing the command d: and pressing Enter. Then repeat the dir win* command (or press the Arrow Up key twice) and see if there is a matching folder on the disk.
In the example below, there is a folder named Windows. The <DIR> indicates it is a folder (directory). Most probably this is the drive where Windows is installed.
Sometimes files are badly messed up on a drive and the dir command ends with an error message. This certainly means that you must check this partition/volume 











Now type chkdsk <the drive letter>: /F /X and press Enter. Replace <the drive letter> with the letter of drive where Windows is installed (or the drive that has files badly messed up), for example chkdsk d: /F /X or chkdsk c: /F /X.
This command will find and repair errors on the partition/volume (the /F switch) and if required, unmount it first (the /X switch).
If you want to run a full disk check with recovering data from unreadable clusters, use the chkdsk <the drive letter>: /R /X command instead. Note that the exhaustive test might take several hours to complete.





The process might take quite a while (up to an hour). After it is completed, verify that there is a line stating "Windows has checked the file system and found no problems" in the report. If there were errors on the volume, repeat the last command until the no problems message appears.
Ignore any failure messages about event log.



















After checking the disk, close Command Prompt by clicking the X mark on the top right. If there were errors detected, click Continue in the Choose an option screen to try starting Windows normally and see if the problem has been solved.


Step 2 - System Restore


The next step is to try System Restore from Advanced Options screen. This works only while using the correct Windows installation or System Repair Disc. Using Windows 8 media on Windows 7 installation (or vice versa) ends with an error message about no available Restore Points.


System Restore will literally turn back time for your PC: while your documents and files will always remain in tact, all programs or drivers installed after the selected Restore Point might disappear and must be reinstalled. Also, if you changed your Local Account password recently, it might be reverted to the previous one by the selected Restore Point.
Please note that this System Restore cannot be undone (but you can still restore another Restore Point later).

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Step 3 - Refresh your PC

In case Automatic Repair and System Restore did not help and you do not have any system image backups available, you can use the brand new option in Windows 8 - Refresh your PC. This method is pretty close to Non-destructive reinstall of Windows XP and Non-destructive reinstall of Windows 7, except you will lose all apps and Desktop programs that were not installed from Windows Store unless you have created a custom recovery image. All your files, documents and most of personalization settings will remain in tact, and a list of removed programs will be available on your Desktop. Windows settings will revert back to defaults to avoid possible conflicts.
Please be aware that even if using a custom recovery image, Desktop programs will lose their custom settings and revert back to defaults.

In most cases, you must have Windows 8 installation or recovery media (DVD) available. No media prompt will appear if a custom recovery image is available.


To start, click Refresh your PC in Troubleshoot screen. If you have a custom recovery image on some external drive, make sure the drive is connected. If Windows 8 is running in normal mode, not Recovery Environment, you can also verify the custom image is available. If Refresh your PC does not detect a custom recovery image, or one has not been created, it will use defaults and all installed Desktop programs and non-Windows Store apps will be removed.

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An overview of refreshing will appear. Click Next if you are satisfied with the consequences.

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 As usual, you must choose a target operating system. Click the correct Windows 8 installation in the list. In most cases, there is just one.


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If the process asks you to insert your Windows installation or recovery media, insert it and the process will continue automatically.


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Windows 8 will remind you that you must have your PC plugged in. Click Refresh to start the process.

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The process will take from 15-20 minutes to several hours, depending on the number of installed programs. It has several stages, such as "Preparing", "Getting devices ready", "System" and "Welcome".


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In most cases, this action solves all problems and Windows 8 is able to boot and run normally.
Next, reinstall all removed programs after this - the list is available on your Desktop as an HTML document titled "Removed Apps" and it contains links to program downloads.

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If you restored a custom recovery image, you must reconfigure all Desktop programs and non-Windows Store apps. Your File History is in tact, but you must register the recovery image again.

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