HELP! Windows failed to load because a critical system driver is missing or corrupt.


I'm really hoping someone can help me! I've read thru dozens of threads to no avail. The laptop I use for budgeting, research and games has Windows Vista.  I was downloading some trial games (probably too many at one time) and my system crashed.  I don't have the installation disk, nor the pre-installed "Start-up Recovery", did the F8 thing to no avail and I can not afford to loose any files. 

I get absolutely no where but back to the Windows Boot Manager screen telling me that Windows failed to start.  The following information is referenced:



Status:  0xc00000e9

Info: Windows failed to load because a critical system driver is missing or corrupt.





Question Info

Last updated April 5, 2020 Views 1,806 Applies to:


As Safe Mode via F8 is not an option for you, try a Startup Repair and / or a System Restore using a Microsoft Vista DVD

Manufacturers Recovery Disks do not normally have Repair Options; they are normally a reinstall to Factory Settings option only.


Here is the guide to using the Repair Options while using a Microsoft Vista DVD.

If a friend or work acquantance of yours has one, you may borrow and use it for Repairs.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview of the Windows Vista Repair options
  2. How to perform an automatic repair of Windows Vista using Startup Repair
  3. Advanced Tools overview
  4. Conclusion


If you do not have or can not borrow a Microsoft DVD there is a download of a Vista Startup Repair ISO file available which you can make into a Bootable disk to do the above Startup Repair and that method is recommended by a lot of posters in these Forums.

Unfortunately, you have to buy it.

Here is a link to it:




Saving your files:

You can pull the Hard Drive and put it in a USB Hard Drive Enclosure > plug it into another Computer > and attempt to read and copy over your Data that way.


Or, you can download Knoppix > make a Bootable disk from it > Boot into your System with it (IF your Hardware is all working) > and copy your Data from the Hard Drive that way.





Bill Smithers - Microsoft MVP July 2013 - June 2020

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