Windows 8 uses a new “hybrid boot” feature to improve boot times. When you shut down, your computer doesn’t actually shut down normally – it performs a sort of limited “hibernate” that stores a state with drivers, services, and other software loaded into memory. When your computer boots, it doesn’t need to reinitialize all your hardware, load drivers, and load services – it simply loads the state from your hard drive and continues the boot-up process. This works differently from the normal hibernate feature, which stores your entire system state — hybrid boot doesn’t store your running desktop programs.
However, hybrid boot can cause problems. Some older computers with buggy drivers may not like it, just as some older computers refuse to hibernate properly because of driver issues. In addition, corrupted boot data can also prevent Windows 8 from booting normally, just as it could on older versions of Windows. To learn a great deal more about Windows 8, don’t forget to check out our Windows 8 guide.
Disable Fast Startup/Hybrid Boot
If you’re experiencing boot problems, you may want to try disabling hybrid boot. This will slow down your computer’s boot process, so you should only do this if you’re trying to fix a problem.
To access this setting, press the Windows key, type “power settings” at the Start screen, and select the Settings category. Click “Change what the power buttons do” to launch the appropriate Control Panel.
Click the “Change settings that are currently unavailable” option near the top of the window that appears.
After bypassing the UAC prompt, uncheck the “Turn on fast startup (recommended)” option under Shutdown settings near the bottom of the window.
Click the Save changes button. Windows will now perform a full shutdown and full startup, just as it did on Windows 7 and previous versions of Windows. Your boot process will take longer, but this will hopefully fix any problems you’re encountering. If this doesn’t fix your problem, you should re-enable fast startup to improve your boot-up speed.
Repair Your Startup Data
When your computer boots from its hard drive, it checks the hard drive’s master boot record, which loads the boot loader and begins the boot process. However, the master boot record (MBR) itself can become overwritten or Windows boot data can become corrupt, preventing your computer from booting and resulting in error messages. If your Windows 8 system refuses to boot, you can use a bootable Windows installer disc – or make a Windows installer USB drive – to repair it.
Insert the disc or USB drive into your computer and restart. You should see the Windows 8 installer appear. Specify your language and keyboard type and continue until you reach the below screen. Click the Repair your computer option at the bottom-left corner of the window.
Click Troubleshoot, and then Advanced Options.
The first thing you should try is clicking the Automatic Repair option. If this works, Windows will take care of everything for you and make your computer boot properly.
If this didn’t work, click the Command Prompt option instead. Type the following commands into the Command Prompt window, pressing Enter after each:
The first command fixes your master boot record, while the second command writes a new boot sector to your hard drive. These commands should fix your problem.
In some cases, you may also need to run these commands afterwards:
The first command scans your computer for operating systems and adds them to its boot configuration data – this should ensure the boot loader knows where the Windows installation is if it can’t find your Windows installation for some reason. The second command also scans your computer for operating systems, but displays a list and allows you to select the operating systems you want to add.
Fix Other Problems
If your Windows 8 computer is still refusing to boot normally, you may want to reset it to a clean state. If the boot process is failing, you should find yourself at the blue screen below. If the failure to boot is happening too early in the startup process, you can insert a Windows installer disc or USB drive – the same one you used above – and access the Troubleshoot screen in the same way. On the Troubleshoot screen, select the Refresh your PC option to reset your PC’s system files to their default state.
Of course, you can always reinstall Windows 8 entirely from a Windows 8 installer disc or USB drive, but the Refresh (or Reset) options work similarly and more quickly.
For more information about troubleshooting Windows 8 boot issues, check out our complete guide to Windows 8.
Have you encountered any Windows 8 boot issues? How did you fix it? Leave a comment below and share your experiences!