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Repair overview

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Repair overview

The Microsoft® Windows Server 2003 family includes several features to ensure that your computer and the applications and devices installed on it work correctly. These features help you solve the problems that can result from adding, deleting, or replacing files that your operating system, applications, and devices require to function.


  • Physical access to a server is a high security risk. To maintain a more secure environment, you must restrict physical access to all servers and network hardware.

The recovery feature or features that you use depend on the type of problem or failure you encounter. Use the following list to determine which features to use to address a specific problem.

Your personal data files are missing or have been corrupted, or you want to revert to a previous version of a file.

If you have saved a copy of the data file in another location, you can copy it from that location back to your hard disk. You can make a back-up copy at any time by copying the file to another location on your computer, to external storage such as a removable disk, or to a different computer.

Feature: Backup Utility
When to use it: When you need to restore a version of a data file that you saved using Backup.

What it does: Restores files from backups.

For more information, see Restore files from a file or a tape.

After updating a device driver, you can log on, but the system is unstable.
Feature: Device Driver Roll Back
When to use it: When the only change you want to undo is the updating of a device driver (other than a printer driver). You must be logged on as an administrator.

What it does: Reinstalls the driver you were using previously and restores any driver settings that were changed when you added the new driver. Affects no other files or settings. Printer drivers cannot be restored with Device Driver Roll Back.

For more information, see Roll back to the previous version of a driver.

After installing a new device, the system is unstable.
Feature: Disable the Device
When to use it: When you suspect that one or more specific hardware devices are causing the problem. You must be logged on as an administrator.

What it does: Disables the hardware device and its drivers.

For more information, see Disable a device.

After installing an application, the system is unstable or an application is not working properly.

Under some circumstances, the computer will prompt you to repair or reinstall an application from a network location or from the original set-up media (for example, the program CD). If this happens, follow the directions on the screen to repair your program. If you are not prompted with this information, you can use one of the following features to repair your program:

Feature: Add or Remove Programs
When to use it: When you suspect that one or more specific programs are causing the problem.

What it does: Removes the programs you specify.

For more information, see Windows interface administrative tool reference A-Z: Add or Remove Programs.

Operating system does not start (the logon screen does not appear).
Feature: Last Known Good Configuration startup option
When to use it: When you suspect that a change you made to your computer before restarting might be causing the failure.

What it does: Restores the registry settings and drivers that were in effect the last time the computer started successfully.

For more information, see Start the computer using the last known good configuration.

Feature: Recovery Console
When to use it: If using the Last Known Good Configuration startup option is unsuccessful and you cannot start the computer in Safe Mode. This method is recommended only if you are an advanced user who can use basic commands to identify and locate problem drivers and files. To use the Recovery Console, restart the computer with the installation CD for the operating system in the CD drive. When prompted during text-mode setup, press R to start the Recovery Console.

What it does: From the Recovery Console, you can access the drives on your computer. You can then make any of the following changes so that you can start your computer:

  • Enable or disable device drivers or services.

  • Copy files from the installation CD for the operating system, or copy files from other removable media. For example, you can copy an essential file that had been deleted.

  • Create a new boot sector and new master boot record (MBR). You might need to do this if there are problems starting from the existing boot sector.

For more information, see Recovery Console overview.

Feature: Automated System Recovery
When to use it: After all other attempts at recovery fail, or if you have replaced a damaged system hard drive. You must have previously used Backup to create an Automated System Recovery set.

What it does: Automated System Recovery restores all disk signatures, volumes, and partitions on the disks required to start the computer. Automated System Recovery then installs a simplified installation of Windows and automatically starts a restoration using the backup created by the Automated System Recovery Preparation Wizard.

For more information, see Automated System Recovery (ASR) overview.

Feature: Windows installation CD
When to use it: When you cannot start the computer in Safe Mode, you cannot use either the Last Known Good Configuration startup option or the Recovery Console successfully, and you have no backup to use with Automated System Recovery.

What it does: Reinstalls the operating system. You will then need to reinstall your applications and restore your data files from backups.


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