Dell laptop with Vista x32 Ultimate SP2. Suddenly after installing updates just boots to black screen (before login screen) with mouse cursor movable. Can't boot to Safe Mode.
I booted a SP1 slipstream recovery DVD and ran chkdsk /f, sfc /scannow and tried the3 automatic repairs. Nothing and apparently even though Windows is supposed to make a system restore point before every Windoews Update, there are none. I have a backup which is really old and I don't know what bad things will happen if I try a re-install from the SP1 recovery DVD, when I really have SP2 on the hard drive. Can anyone help me?
Yes, and I was trying to avoid that. So, as a last desperation attempt, I pulled out my backup drive and restored a backup done with NTBackup from 12/23/11. At first I just tried to be careful and used the option to replace the file only if if is older, but that didn't work after about an hour of restore, so I used the option to replace unconditionally and after 5 hours of restore time, I booted and Vista was back. Only a couple minor problems needed fixing. It was somewhat amazing since NTBackup on Vista is crippled by not being able to do shadow copy and therefore the backup (according to the log) skipped many files. Apparently, though, they were not necessary to restore Vista. One other interesting note is that after the restore, the boot up said "Configuring stage 3 of 3" before the login screen which leads me to believe that Windows Update caused the problem. I also went back to my old ways as I did a manual restore point before re-installing the updates from Windows Update because I trusted it to make one before the last updates, but since the SP1 DVD couldn't find any, I am not sure what happened. From now on I won't trust it and I will force myself to make a manual restore point before any updates.
Personally, I don't trust Restore Points. A better solution is to do your own backups. This is a lot more reliable.
You should consider downloading and installing the FREE version of Macrium Reflect and then using it to image off your install to an external drive. Then, use the option to create and burn a Linux Boot CD.
With that, you can restore your Vista install at any time.
I make lots of changes to my system, so I reimage it every week; but if you don't change it much, you could reimage once a month. It only takes a few minutes to do this.
I usually make a clone of the Vista partition. In this case I had one, but I needed that same clone drive to reimage another computer, so I temporarily borrowed it and wouldn't you know it, Murphy's law stuck in that Vista crashed and I didn't have the clone and yes I agree, cloning is the best way to get any (newer) Windows partition back.