5 recovery environments for tricky Windows 10 repairs

If Automatic Repair doesn’t do the trick to restore a Windows PC to normal startup and runtime behavior, consider other options. These third-party recovery tools shine when the going gets tough.

If you work with Windows systems, especially on the client side, you’ll occasionally need to bring an inoperable system back to life. The causes of this lamentable system state are as varied as the symptoms, which can range from an inability to boot Windows to a non-functional keyboard or display (hard to do anything in Windows without input or output). Despite all the many potential causes and symptoms, the situation remains the same: For whatever reason, a Windows system won’t start up and run as it should.

Bootable repair to the rescue!

[Related: 12 Windows 10 install issues — and what to do about them]

The general concept of a bootable repair environment is pretty straightforward. It provides an alternate runtime environment to take over for the non-functional Windows OS. Historically, using a bootable repair environment meant using some form of optical media custom-crafted to provide a working runtime that could access the system to check its hardware, inspect the boot sectors and disk layouts, tinker with OS files, etc.

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