How to repair Windows Vista when there is no Restore Point

Here is an interesting experience. I don't know how this happened, but either through my careless deletion of an errant Registry key, or some other demon in the OS, I lost the COM+ subsystem when I rebooted Vista. This means you get errors like "Not enough storage space" and so on. Windows Restore is grayed-out, and all kinds of other goodness.

Not only that, but the system won't recognize the Windows Vista DVD in the drive since it now thinks it's a blank CD. DOH!

Unlike with previous OS versions, you cannot repair Windows Vista from the Boot CD unless there is either a System Restore point or you've backed up the system to another drive or other acceptable media. Since I had no backup and could not see "System Restore" I was sunk, right? That would leave only the option of a fresh install which would rename my old Windows folder to windows.old or something like that.

Then, if I wanted my software, I'd have to boot into another OS (I've got Window Server 2003 dual - boot on the other drive), and then copy the saved Registry Hives (at least, the Software hive) back over the new in order to get back my "Stuff".

Fortunately, I had copied the entire Windows Vista DVD to a folder on the hard drive. From within my crippled Windows, I ran Setup off that, and did an UPGRADE. That is, I upgraded Windows Vista with Windows Vista! All is fine.

Some additional ideas

Once you get your machine up and running again, you may find that simple things like allowing Windows Update to run before you've ensured that critical developer items (like installing and enabling IIS 7.0) can mess up your day. Create a new System Restore Point at each juncture to ensure that you can always roll-back to a previously working system state before you go on with your adventures. This simple action, which only takes a couple minutes, can save you hours of pain.

And - another thing: Lars Hederer's ERUNT utility installs and runs fine on Vista - as long as you run it as Administrator and have UAC turned off. There is nothing like a fresh backup of the entire registry that can be easily replaced on-demand to solve problems! Moreover - unlike Windows Vista Restore, you can restore your full Registry from an ERDNT backup folder from a DOS box, with no OS booted! So even if all you've got is the Recovery Console or a Windows PE disk, you can still navigate to the folder and execute the ERUNT recovery executable.

I don't know about you, but I've got a real "Love / Hate" going with Windows Vista. I really like some of the new features, and others, like UAC (which I keep "off") just seem to be the biggest annoyances. There's no question in my mind that Vista is a real memory hog compared to say, Windows XP. And - I can't even get a DirectX 10 graphics card because my box doesn't have a PCI Express slot. Maybe when Longhorn Server comes out in RTM I'll try the 64-bit version.


1) Keep a full copy of the Windows Vista installation media on your hard drive.
2) Create incremental System Restore Points as you reach "working set" milestones.
3) use the free ERUNT utlity to make regular (or better yet - automated, on startup) restorable Registry backups.