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  1. #1
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    How to solve UEFI boot and startup problems




    TOP STORY

    How to solve UEFI boot and startup problems


    By Fred Langa

    Successor to the antiquated BIOS, the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) adds powerful security tools to post-XP systems. Ironically, UEFI can also block important repair, recovery, and backup tools that boot from DVDs, CDs, or USB drives.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/how-to-solve-uefi-boot-and-startup-problems (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    Your "fully accurate test for UEFI boot problems" has one flaw; it assumes that Windows 8 is running. Instructions for performing the UEFI boot from a powered down computer would be more helpful, since that is the situation most people will be in when they need to do this.

    Otherwise, great instructions for getting into the UEFI settings and setting up an emergency boot drive.
    Last edited by DeweyRW; 2014-12-11 at 09:08.

  3. #3
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    Thanks. This was a very useful article about UEFI as my motherboard manual is not well written on the implications of the various modes available and what they mean to the OS!

  4. #4
    Ken Kashmarek
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    There is an aspect here that seems to have been left out or perhaps ignored. It involves GPT formatted disks (versus MBR) and if the UEFI equipped computer came with a version of Win7 that is vendor pre-installed (64-bit).

    I have a workstation in this configuration, with a 1TB GPT formatted disk, with Win7 pre-installed by the vendor. It has the UEFI boot partition (hidden), a Win7 partition, and a vendor recovery partition for that Win7 (plus the vendor crapware), and eventually had Win8 (preview) installed on a separate disk drive, also GPT, with its own hidden recovery partition.

    In my environment, this workstation does NOT run in full UEFI mode, and even now with full Win8.1Pro installed, the UEFI boot is the constrained version, which acts as a pseudo-BIOS. That is, it does not have the full UEFI functionality discussed in the article.

    So, what makes it special here? Getting information about this pseudo-BIOS version of UEFI presents a problem, especially with boot or startup issues. Even an install DVD from a fully paid Win8.1Pro system does not recognize the Windows system on this computer. This typically shows up as an issue when trying to correct startup problems. With the pre-installled Win7, there is no install DVD and the vendor provided recovery sotware may also fail to handle the system properly.

    Ultimately, I had to manually bring up the UEFI partition from the Win8.1Pro install DVD (using command line mode running DISKPART), then remove the corrupted BCD file, and use the Microsoft BCDBOOT command to build a new BCD. Later, after being able to reboot, the BCDBOOT command was used from Win8.1Pro to make further updates to the BCD file in the hidden UEFI partition.

    By the way, if one attempts to install Linux on this configuration, be prepared for a royal battle of wits with the implementors of UEFI over their attempts to protect Microsoft Windows from competition. I believe there is a way to do it, but you may have to disable your Windows drives to keep the Linux GRUB from attempting to install on the UEFI configuration. One could then later boot directly into your LINUX system using the option to select a device to directly boot from.

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    UncleStu (2014-12-11)

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    "UEFI ... attempts to protect Microsoft Windows from competition."

    True, but it is worse than that. UEFI is also designed to protect the PC manufacturer from competition.

    I believe those two goals were the main reasons for the invention of UEFI.

    All - All - the "protections" UEFI affords (including root kit detection) can be accomplished without shackling honest paying customers to any operating system and/or hardware vendor.

    I am amazed that so many otherwise intelligent people allow themselves to be forced into purchases they needn't make, by succumbing to fear - most of which is baseless - and marketing BS.

    Need an example? They have managed to convince most of us, and the government, that we don't "own" the software we (by any reasonable definition) buy.
    Once they got away with that, they knew they could do anything - anything - to their customers, and they have been. UEFI is just the latest insult - a big expensive one.

    While I'm on a bit of a rant, another longstanding pet peeve is software that isn't compatible with newer operating systems.

    Any - any - software that runs on XP should be able to run on newer Win versions, without jumping through hoops. Same NTFS, same jobs to be done. There is no - valid - technical reason for it not to work, except that they want to sell you new software. It's easy to intentionally introduce incompatibilties with that as a motivation.

    New PC > New OS > You are forced to buy new software that usually provides no more value for you than what you've been satisfied with for years.

    (Gee! You think they would really do that?) Umm, yes.

    Don't misunderstand me. When software comes out that I need, I buy it.

    (end of rant) Thank you for your attention, if you lasted this long.

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    You really did not help much. Many machines do not allow UEFI turn off (which MS really suggests). ASUS machines and motherboards are notorious for this. Try booting 7 on them. You should have a separate article about what to machines and motherboards are not 7 friendly.

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    Not sure if this is related to this article or not, but I'll give you my situation.
    I have a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet that has been upgraded to Win 8.1.
    I want to reset it to the factory configuration so I can donate it to a non-profit.
    When I attempt to reset it, it tells me there are some files missing!
    It further tells me to insert(!) a system disk. Problem is the Surface Pro does not come with an optical drive.
    How do I proceed? Is there something I can download from Microsoft's website to a flash drive to reset the tablet?

  9. #8
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    Upon reading this article I tried my System Repair Disk and it did not work. I save a System Image so that I don't have to go thru the very labor intensive task of re-installing everything upon SSD failure or whatever. So I read this and the April 10 and April 17 articles, then decide to purchase Neosoft Easy Recovery. It doesn't appear to handle system images. Did I miss something?

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    I followed the instructions but found that when I selected Restart Now, contrary to the article, my HP laptop rebooted.

  11. #10
    WS Lounge VIP Coochin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by russell shelton View Post
    Upon reading this article I tried my System Repair Disk and it did not work. I save a System Image so that I don't have to go thru the very labor intensive task of re-installing everything upon SSD failure or whatever. So I read this and the April 10 and April 17 articles, then decide to purchase Neosoft Easy Recovery. It doesn't appear to handle system images. Did I miss something?
    I suspect rather than "Neosoft Easy Recovery" you meant Neosmart Easy Recovery?

    I have used Neosmart Easy Recovery on a few customers' computers, and it does actually handle system images created with the built-in Windows program. However, I have the "Technician" version, so maybe that capability is not present in your version?
    Computer Consultant/Technician since 1998 (first PC was Atari 1040STE in 1988).
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  12. #11
    WS Lounge VIP Coochin's Avatar
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    Since Win8 and UEFI were released I have had to work on a number of UEFI computers when the OS was failing to start, so I needed to get into UEFI settings to disable "secure boot" and change boot order. etc. In no case was I unable to enter UEFI settings, but in many cases it was difficult to do so.

    In most cases the older BIOS firmware allowed at least one second for the user to press a function key to enter the BIOS settings menu, but with UEFI the timing seems to have been considerably shortened. And there is the added difficulty of knowing which function key to press. I have found that "Esc", "F2", "F10", and "F8" are the most likely, but there might be others depending on the UEFI vendor and the OEM.

    In some cases I discovered the applicable function key by looking up the laptop or motherboard on the manufacturer's website.

    In practise, hit the power-on button - after about two seconds repeatedly tap the applicable function key until you see "entering settings menu" (or similar) in the lower-left corner of the screen. If at first you don't succeed, try again with a different function key.

    Overall I think Fred's article is helpful, contrary to negative opinions expressed in certain posts to this thread. UEFI is a fairly new technology, and there is some variance in its implementations. I think it is unreasonable to expect that Fred's article should cover all the different possibilities presented by the many different UEFI/OEM vendors.
    Computer Consultant/Technician since 1998 (first PC was Atari 1040STE in 1988).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coochin View Post
    UEFI is a fairly new technology, and there is some variance in its implementations. I think it is unreasonable to expect that Fred's article should cover all the different possibilities presented by the many different UEFI/OEM vendors.
    True; but you know what that means yet again? That computers are even more complicated, not ever simpler to use and troubleshoot. More options but less ability to access and use them; it is very VERY frustrating to get jacked like that all the time because of competing [yet seemingly complimentary] motivations (security vs licensing chain of command) and non-standardized implementation.
    Last edited by F.U.N. downtown; 2014-12-12 at 08:13.

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    Thanks Coochin, you were right, it was Neosmart, not Neosoft. On the Neosmart website, my search of "System Image" yielded nothing. I'm in contact with their Tech Support and he says they have products that do restore system image depending on what program I did the image with. Will report back when solved.

    I have Win 7 running on Gigabyte Z77-D3h, Intel i7-3770 processor, onboard graphics, 8gb ram, Samsung 256 gb Pro SSD, 2TB WD HDD, DVD RAM super multi

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    About those really cheap 8 inch Windows 8.1 tablets....
    They not only come with precious little internal storage (16gb or 32gb is typical), but about 4gb of that space is used for a Recovery partition. On a 16gb tablet you only have about 2-3gb for your programs and data. In the 'real computer' world, we create an external recovery media, wipe that internal Recovery partition and expand the C: partition for a bit more breathing space. On these minuscule tablets, you will typically create your recovery media on a USB flash drive connected through an OTG/USB adapter.
    At least on the E-Fun tablet sold by Walmart during the 2014 holiday season (and I suspect most or all these tablets) DON'T DELETE THE RECOVERY PARTITION!
    The tablet either checks or uses this partition during boot, and if missing Windows stops dead and demands your recovery media - only no drivers have been loaded to detect your USB attached media. And there is no conceivable way to get past this screen. It tells you you can enter safe mode by pressing the Windows key - only there is no keyboard and neither the USB nor Bluetooth device drivers have loaded. In other words, you are now holding a useless hunk of electrontics.
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    I had trauma with UEFI. I was building on a Z98 board and it had all kinds of boot problems.If you have a fairly straightforward and generic set up with SATA drives and USB 3.0 cards, you are not going to have a lot of trouble. I have SCSI drives mixed with SATA drives and could not get the Asus board to boot from the SCSI drive. I spent a very long time(days) with Asus tech support and had to use CMA to get everything right but then I had to RMA the board. I now have a Z97 board which is a lot less trauma but from time to time, the CMOS will reset itself to looking for SATA drives to boot from. In other motherboard forums, I see similar experiences.

    I have read a lot of stuff about UEFI and still don't see what the advantage is. Once you get past all of the CMOS setup eye candy, you began to realize that most of the stuff is for people who want to overclock and water cool. This is not a criticism of that group, and we are all lucky to have them because they can teach us a lot, but if you want a simple machine to do the ordinary stuff, and you want something a bit exotic on your board, be prepared for a lot of effort.

    Within 6 months we have gone from Z87, which was supposed to be the world's savior, through Z97, the replacement of the world's savior, to Z99 using DDR 4 which is supposed to make the heavens open and the angels sing.

    If you have some form of exotic device such as a SCSI drive, I highly recommend that you go to your manufacturer's website and see what kind of workarounds that you have. I went to Adaptec's website and found that all of my trauma have been documented but for the time being, no one is really going to do any serious upgrading of these devices. Therefore, that super great device that you have had all of these years, and works like a charm, is going to have to be trashed if you want to stay up on the latest and greatest.

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