How to Fix Errors Seen During the Computer Startup Process

Consider yourself lucky to see an error message

It might seem silly that we've written a set of instructions for "fixing errors" considering the thousands of possible error messages a computer user could see just from the time you turn the power on to when your desktop is up and available.

However, the fact that you have an error message puts you in a class of relatively lucky victims of computer failure. An error message gives you a specific place to work from, unlike a vague symptom like a computer that turns on but displays nothing or one that shows no sign of power at all.

Hal.dll Error Message

If your computer is having trouble starting but isn't showing any kind of error message, skip these instructions and instead see our How to Fix a Computer That Won't Turn On guide for a better troubleshooting guide for whatever symptom your computer is experiencing.

How to Fix Errors Seen During the Computer Startup Process

Here's what to do if you see an error message on your computer while your PC is trying to start:

  1. Document the error message exactly. While this might seem obvious to some, transcribing the error message in its entirety and without mistake is possibly the most important thing you can do when you encounter an error message while your computer is starting.

    Misspelling a DLL file or writing down the wrong characters in a STOP code could have you trying to fix a problem with a file, driver, or piece of hardware that you don't actually have a problem with.

  2. While there are thousands of errors one might see during a computer's startup process, there are a select few that seem to show up more regularly.

    If you're "fortunate" enough to receive one of these common errors, you can save yourself the trouble of searching around for a solution and instead get started on solving the problem:

    The error message you see doesn't have to be exactly as we've listed above. For example, the hal.dll issue comes in various forms, but it will always mention hal.dll.

    Have an error other than one listed above? No problem, you just aren't experiencing one of the more common computer startup error messages. Move on to Step 3 below for help.

  3. Search Lifewire from the top of this page for a troubleshooting guide specific to the error message. We have individual troubleshooting guides for well over one thousand specific error messages, and likely have one specific to the error you're seeing when you turn on your computer.

    An error message during startup is an indication of a specific problem, so it's important to troubleshoot the specific issue the message is indicating and not to waste time testing unrelated pieces of hardware or replacing unrelated files.

  4. If we don't yet have specific troubleshooting information for your startup error, you might still benefit from a bit more information about the error.

    Here are links to lists of error messages that you might see during startup:

    We also keep a list of Device Manager error codes and HTTP status codes, but the types of issues that cause these errors aren't the types that prevent Windows from starting.

  5. If you haven't already, you should also try to search for a solution to your problem using your favorite search engine.

    For the best results, your search string should be surrounded in quotes so it's searched as a continuous phrase, and it should include the complete error message or the file name that the error message references, assuming one is referenced.

Was this page helpful?