How to Perform a Startup Repair in Windows 7 (2023)

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Fix problems in Windows 7 automatically with Startup Repair


Tim Fisher

How to Perform a Startup Repair in Windows 7 (1)

Tim Fisher

Senior Vice President & Group General Manager, Tech & Sustainability

  • Emporia State University

Tim Fisher has more than 30 years' of professional technology experience. He's been writing about tech for more than two decades and serves as the SVP and General Manager of Lifewire.

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Updated on December 23, 2022

Reviewed by

Michael Barton Heine Jr

How to Perform a Startup Repair in Windows 7 (2)

Reviewed byMichael Barton Heine Jr

Michael Heine is a CompTIA-certified writer, editor, and Network Engineer with 25+ years' experience working in the television, defense, ISP, telecommunications, and education industries.

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What to Know

  • Boot from the Windows 7 DVD. Fill in the Language to install, Time and currency format, and Keyboard or input method. Select Next.
  • Select Repair your computer. In the screen, choose the Windows 7 installation you want to repair.
  • Choose Startup Repair. Follow any prompts and accept any suggested changes. Wait. Choose Finish to restart Windows 7.

This article explains how to repair Windows 7 using the Startup Repair Tool after booting from the Windows 7 DVD. If you don't have a physical DVD, you can create a Windows 7 System Repair Disc.

As of January 2020, Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 7. We recommend upgrading to Windows 10 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.

How to Repair Windows 7 Using the Startup Repair Tool

The Startup Repair tool repairs Windows 7 by replacing important operating system files that might be damaged or missing. Startup Repair is an easy diagnostic and repair tool to use when Windows 7 fails to start properly and you can't use Safe Mode.

Not using Windows 7? Every modern Windows operating system has a similar operating system file repair process.


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Boot From the Windows 7 DVD

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To begin the Windows 7 Startup Repair process, you'll need to boot from the Windows 7 DVD.

  1. Watch for a Press any key to boot from CD or DVD... message similar to the one shown in the screenshot above.
    1. Press any key to force the computer to boot from the Windows 7 DVD.
      If you don't press a key, your PC will try to boot to the operating system that's currently installed on your hard drive. If this happens, just restart your computer and try to boot to the Windows 7 DVD again.

If you want the Startup Repair to work properly, youmustremove anyflash drivesor otherUSBstorage devices, likeexternal hard drives, from your computer before continuing. Due to the way some computers report the storage space on USB connected drives, the Windows 7 Startup Repair may incorrectly report that it found no problems when in fact there may actually be an issue.


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Wait for Windows 7 to Load Files

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No user intervention is required here. Just wait for the Windows 7 setup process to load files in preparation for whatever task you might want to complete.

In our case, it's a Startup Repair, but there are lots of tasks that could be completed with the Windows 7 DVD.

No changes are being made to your computer during this step. Windows 7 is only temporarily "loading files."


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Choose Windows 7 Setup Language and Other Settings

How to Perform a Startup Repair in Windows 7 (5)

Choose the Language to install, Time and currency format, and Keyboard or input method that you'd like to use in Windows 7.

Choose Next.


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Click 'Repair Your Computer'

How to Perform a Startup Repair in Windows 7 (6)

Click Repair your computer on the bottom-left of the Install Windows window.

This will begin the Windows 7 System Recovery Options which contains several useful diagnostic and repair tools, one of which is Startup Repair.

Do not select Install now. If you already have Windows 7 installed, this option is used to perform a Clean Install of Windows 7 or a Parallel Install of Windows 7.


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Wait for System Recovery Options to Locate Windows 7 on Your Computer

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System Recovery Options, the set of tools that contains Startup Repair, will now search your hard drive(s) for any Windows 7 installations.

You don't need to do anything here but wait. This Windows installation search shouldn't take more than a few minutes at most.


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Choose Your Windows 7 Installation

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Choose the Windows 7 installation that you'd like to perform the Startup Repair on.

Select Next.

Don't worry if the drive letter in the Location column doesn't match the drive letter that you know Windows 7 is installed on in your PC. Drive letters are somewhat dynamic, especially when using diagnostic tools like System Recovery Options.

For example, as you can see above, this Windows 7 installation is listed as being on drive D: when it's actually the C: drive when Windows 7 is running.


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Choose the Startup Repair Recovery Tool

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Click Startup Repair from the list of recovery tools in System Recovery Options.

As you can see, several other diagnostic and recovery tools are available in the Windows 7 System Recovery Options including System Restore, System Image Recovery, Windows Memory Diagnostic, and Command Prompt.

In this guide, however, we're only repairing operating system files using the Startup Repair tool.


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Wait While Startup Repair Searches for Problems With Windows 7 Files

How to Perform a Startup Repair in Windows 7 (10)

The Startup Repair tool will now search for problems with files that are important to the proper functioning of Windows 7.

If the Windows 7 repair tool finds a problem with an important operating system file, the tool might suggest a solution of some kind that you have to confirm, or it might solve the problem automatically.

Whatever happens, follow the prompts as necessary and accept any changes suggested by Startup Repair.


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Wait While Startup Repair Attempts to Repair Windows 7 Files

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Startup Repair will now attempt to repair whatever problems it found with Windows 7 files. No user intervention is required during this step.

Your computer may or may not restart several times during this repair process. Do not boot from the Windows 7 DVD on any restart. If you do, you'll need to restart the computer immediately so the Startup Repair process can continue normally.

You won't see this step if Startup Repair didn't find any problems with Windows 7.


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Choose 'Finish' to Restart to Windows 7

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Select Finishonce you see the Restart your computer to complete the repairs window to restart your PC and start Windows 7 normally.

Startup Repair Didn't Fix the Problem?

It's possible that Startup Repair didn't fix whatever problem you were having. If the Startup Repair tool determines this itself, it might automatically run again after your computer restarts. If it doesn't automatically run but you're still seeing problems with Windows 7, repeat these steps to run Startup Repair again manually.

Also, be sure to read the Important note on Step 1.

If it becomes apparent that Startup Repair isn't going to solve your Windows 7 problem, you do have some additional recovery options including a System Restore or a System Image Recovery, assuming you have previously backed up your entire computer.

You could also try a Parallel Install of Windows 7 or a Clean Install of Windows 7.

However, if you've tried a Startup Repair of Windows 7 as part of another troubleshooting guide, you're probably best served by continuing with whatever specific advice that guide is giving as your next step.


  • What is taking up space on my hard drive in Windows 7?

    Several programs and files could be responsible for filling your hard drive, so open System > Settings > Storage > Show more categories to see a breakdown of what's eating up all of your storage. Temporary files may be a significant contributor, in which case run Disk Cleanup and select Clean up system files.

  • How do I take a screenshot in Windows 7 without the snipping tool?

    To take a screenshot in Windows without the snipping tool, press the Windows logo key + PrtScn to copy the screen to the clipboard, then press Ctrl + V to paste it into your program of choice. If your keyboard doesn't have a PrtScn button, press Fn + Windows logo key + Space Bar instead.

  • How do I factory reset Windows 7?

    To perform a factory reset in Windows 7, there are a few different methods available. The simplest method is to use the Windows 7 setup disk (or from an external drive with the necessary files) to perform a clean install.

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