Repair or restore Windows 11

2Q==If error messages and crashes accumulate, it is important to narrow down the cause of the problem first. The most recently installed software can be just as responsible as new drivers or Windows updates. It is also possible that the operating system is completely innocent and there is a hardware defect. In the first part of the article (points 1 and 2), we therefore deal with some simple measures that may already fix errors in Windows 11.

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However, there are also particularly tricky and confusing situations in home repair which the cause of problems cannot be determined beyond doubt and therefore cannot be eliminated. Windows then provides several options that you can use to restore the system to a defined state. We will introduce you to the different options and explain their advantages and disadvantages (points 4 to 8).1. Repair or reset software installationsError messages in the window: Messages of this type are caused by an application. It often helps to remove the most recently installed program or add-on or to reinstall the application.

Symptoms of software errors include messages such as “Application error” or “Program has stopped working” in a window. It is also possible that an application simply crashes and can only be started again after a Windows restart.

A program crashes when you start it: Try repairing the installation. To do this, go to the Settings app (Win-I) on Windows and click on “Apps –› Apps & Features”. Click on the desired application in the list and then on “Change” – if available. Many programs, including Microsoft Office 365 or Libre Office, offer one or more repair options. If this does not work, remove the program by clicking on “Uninstall” and reinstall it.

Some software provides an option to remove the previous configuration or create a new one when uninstalling or reinstalling. This will fix errors caused by invalid or broken configuration files. For apps—pre-installed or from the Windows Store—clicking Advanced Options takes you to a page with a Repair button. If this does not help, there is often the “Reset” button. This deletes the configuration of the app, which resets it to its initial state.

A program crashes when you open a specific file in it: If the error only occurs with certain files, they are probably defective. Sometimes a file can be repaired or the contents can be extracted at least partially, for example in Word documents. Detailed instructions for different file types can be found here .2. Detect and fix hardware problemsBlue screen: Uncheck “Automatically restart”. The blue screen will remain visible and you will be able to read the error message.

Due to faulty hardware, Windows may run unstable or crash frequently. The typical symptom is a stop error, which can be seen in full screen with a blue background. After that, Windows will restart automatically. With a standard configuration, the blue screen is usually only visible for a very short time. This is hardly enough to read the error message. Therefore, press the key combination Win-Pause, click on “Advanced System Settings” and then under “Startup and Restore” on “Settings…”. Uncheck “Automatically restart” and confirm with “OK”. This will keep the next blue screen visible until you turn off the computer again.

The error message sometimes tells you which driver caused the problem. Often, however, there are only messages such as “IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL”, “CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED” or hexadecimal error codes such as “0x000000EF” or “0x1000007E”. However, a clear indication of the cause can usually not be determined from this.

Restore drivers: In any case, you should investigate which drivers were last installed or updated. To do this, look in the “Settings” app under “Apps –› Apps & Features”, sort the list by “Installation date” and uninstall any recently set up driver. However, drivers that have reached the computer via the automatic Windows update are missing from the list.

To manage these as well, open Device Manager, for example by pressing Win-X. Now select the device in question, such as the graphics card, right-click on the entry, select “Properties” from the menu and go to the “Driver” tab. Click on “Previous” driver and follow the instructions. This will install the previous driver that Windows still worked with. Cause of crash: The blue screen often does not contain clear information about the error. However, it is in any case an indication of defective hardware or faulty drivers.

Examine hardware in more detail: Causes of an unstable system can also be insufficient cooling of the processor or graphics card or defective memory modules. The cooling can be easily tested by paying attention to fan noise or by opening the PC and checking the smooth running of the fans. Often it is enough to carefully clean the fan and interior with the vacuum cleaner. If this does not help, replace the affected fan.

To start the Windows Memory Diagnostics test, typemdschedin the Windows 11 search and click on the search result. For the memory test, the computer restarts. After rebooting, the scan tool appears with a blue screen and white font. The standard test starts immediately and performs two test runs. With eight GB of RAM, it takes about ten minutes. If errors are found, replace the respective RAM modules.

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Microsoft uses a WIM container on the setup media to ship the installation image (install.wim).  Windows Imaging Format (WIM) files can also be used for particularly space-saving backups. For this you need the command line tool Wimlib . Wimlib is an open source replacement for the Microsoft WIM management tools Dism and Imagex. However, it offers more options. For a full backup, use this command line at an administrative command prompt:

wimcapture C: X:WinBackup.wim “Window 11 Backup” “2020-04-02” –snapshot

Similarly, individual folders can also be backed up, such as the profile folder of the currently logged on user:

wimcapture %userprofile% X:ProfilBackup.wim “My Profile” “2020-04-02” –snapshot

If you need files from the .wim file, you can mount them into the file system. To do this, use the Dism tool supplied with Windows with this command line (as administrator):

dism /Mount-Image /ImageFile:”X:WindowBackup.wim” /Index:1 /MountDir:C:WimMount /ReadOnly

The target directory “C:WimMount” must exist. You can now copy the desired files from the folder. Then solve the integration with the following command line:

dism /Unmount-Wim /MountDir:C:WimMount /discard

If you don’t want to use Wimlib-Imagex only on the command line, use the Wimlib-clc tool. Start the tool after a right mouse click via “Run as administrator”. Wimlib-Imagex is not included in the archive, you must specify the path via “File –› Select program file”. On the “Capture” tab, configure a backup. Under “Archive” you specify the desired destination file and under “Source” the path you want to save. Select the –snapshot option and click Capture.3. Before any major repair: Create a backup

Most of the reset options mentioned in the following points have one drawback: personal files such as documents or pictures are preserved, but installed programs and their settings are lost. For many applications, this is not tragic. After reinstalling, simply reconfigure the options you want.