Everything was going well right up until it wasn’t — maybe your computer suddenly started getting blue screens of death (BSODs), Windows is unstable or won’t boot correctly, or Windows has become inexplicably bogged down. The Advanced Startup menu might have the tools you need to fix your Windows 11 PC. Here’s what you need to know.
The first thing you need to do is boot into the Advanced Startup Options menu. There are a handful of ways to do that. If your Windows 11 installation is badly damaged and you’re unable to boot into Windows, you’ll be taken there automatically.
If your Windows installation has become badly corrupted by malware, an update gone horribly awry, or someone getting a little overzealous deleting things, or is just inexplicably bogged down, resetting your PC might be the right move.
Warning: Using “Reset Your PC” could result in a complete loss of all of your files. If you can get into Windows, or plug the hard drive into another computer, you should back up everything important before you reset your PC.
If you’re going to use Reset Your PC, try the “Keep My Files” option first. You can always go back and completely wipe everything if you need to, but it is much more difficult to go in the other direction.
The Advanced Options menu has numerous options, and they’re all there to troubleshoot or repair your PC. Here’s what they are:
- Startup Repair: Startup Repair will attempt to automatically fix any problems that are preventing Windows 11 from booting correctly.
- Startup Settings: Startup Settings let you change basic Windows options before it actually boots. You can do things like enable Safe Mode, activate debugging mode, turn on boot logging, and more.
- Command Prompt: The Command Prompt allows you to manually execute commands that might be helpful in diagnosing or repairing your Windows Installation.
- Uninstall Updates: Uninstall Updates rolls back the most recently installed Windows update. It is helpful when an update goes wrong and causes system instability.
- System Restore: System Restore uses a restore point to revert Windows to the point when the recovery point was made. It won’t roll back all of your programs, however.
- System Image Recovery: System Image Recovery uses an image of your operating system drive to roll back everything on your computer. System images are usually extremely large, so create them sparingly.
With so many options, how do you know which is best suited to your problem? Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to cover every scenario without writing a modestly-sized novel, but here is a general outline of the steps you should take.
If your PC won’t boot into Windows, all of the options are on the table. The first thing you should try is Startup Repair. The automated Startup Repair tool has gotten better with time, and there is a good chance it’ll fix the problem. It is also the easiest solution available.
Windows Updates can sometimes break your operating system, this is especially likely if there was a power loss in the middle of the installation. The Uninstall Updates option is easy to use and won’t take very long, so it is worth trying. If you haven’t updated Windows recently, however, this is not likely to fix your problem.
Safe Mode isn’t guaranteed to fix anything, however. If Windows won’t even start up in Safe Mode, you have a more serious problem. Try using the System Restore or a System Image Recovery if you have a restore point or system image handy. Be mindful that using a system image will completely revert everything included in the image, including all of your files and folders.
If the Startup Repair utility doesn’t work, the next thing you should try is changing your Startup Settings. Go to Startup Settings and then enable Safe Mode. Stick to the Safe Mode without networking if you have no idea what is causing the problem.
Safe Mode disables all extraneous startup applications and services. If starting Windows with Safe Mode enabled lets you get into Windows that is good news — it means your operating system is probably fine. The problem is most likely a bad driver or another auto-start application. If you have a restore point or system image that was created before you started experiencing problems, use that. It’ll probably fix things.
Note: Using a system image will roll back everything, not just drivers and the Windows operating system. All of your files will be rolled back, too.
If using a restore point doesn’t fix things, or you don’t have one, the solution is still simple but much more time-consuming. You need to reinstall all of your essential drivers and disable all of the nonessential applications and services that normally start with Windows. Try reinstalling your drivers before disabling any of the startup applications; drivers are more likely to be the problem and there is no point in wasting time disabling applications that aren’t the issue.
Note: You’ll either need to enable Safe Mode with Networking or transfer the drivers from another computer on a USB drive.
If the drivers aren’t the problem, then you need to disable all of the startup applications and re-enable them a few at a time until you find the culprit.
The Command Prompt available in the Advanced Options menu can do almost everything a regular Command Prompt can. The first command you should try SFC, the System File Checker. It could take a while to run, so be patient, and don’t restart your PC if it appears to freeze. The DISM command might also help, but you won’t be able to use it with the normal
/Online argument. If you try, you’ll get the following error message:
DISM does not support servicing Windows PE with the /Online option.
If you want to try the DISM command in this scenario, you’ll need to set it up to use an offline image. It isn’t exactly straightforward, so you’re probably better off just trying the next option.
The final option is to back out of the Advanced Options Menu and use the “Reset This PC” option available on the Troubleshooting page.
Resetting your PC will fix almost any problem you have. Make sure to select “Keep My Files,” and “Cloud Download” when going through the options available for Reset this PC. If Reset this PC fails to fix the issue, you can try a full reinstall of Windows, but there is a good chance it will not work. If you’ve exhausted the options available in the Advanced Startup Options and reinstalled Windows using Reset this PC, there is a very real chance your problem is due to a hardware fault.