Vista files Corrupted on Pre-Installations and Express Upgrades on Dell Computers


Super Moderator
Staff member
I'm just curious. Has anyone in this forum (who has ever stuck it out with a pre-installed Vista installation) had problems with corrupted system files or the upgrading of Vista to SP1?

My situation mainly focouses on Dell computers, but it could be a problem period with any brand (for all I know anyway). As the result of system crashes and what have you, I have run the system file checker on at least 2 machines now to find that some files are corrupted, but cannot be fixed. I am assuming that this was because the files were being used, so I booted from a Vista DVD and attempted an offline repair, but the system would still refuse to fix the supposely corrupted files.

I kinda turned my head for awhile and ignored the issue as the systems would boot and (one being my desktop) might have had errors that were hardware related, as noted in the "Memory Test Fails to Load" thread.

But then, I grew extremely frustrated when I figured out that Vista SP1 could not be installed. I tried all of Microsoft's recommended workarounds (found here: to no avail. The SP1 install appears to work perfectly until the completion of Stage 3 of the install (Final stage). It then reverts changes and gives you a non-successful installation message when you logon. The remedy for my desktop (along with many other problems I was having) was to reinstall everything. I immediately applied SP1 after the installation before the installation of my other applications to assure that none of the system files had been tampered with.

This, however, is not an option for the other machine. It is my brothers', and I need to find a way to successfully get SP1 applied and fix the corrupted system files. This machine was orginally pre-loaded with XP and upgraded to Vista via Dell's Express Upgrade to Windows Vista promotion. I prob. could (w/ my brother screaming at me for having to re-install everything while he needs access to his files) just re-install with the Express Upgrade DVD since I believe it gives you that option, but I find it ridicuous that I should have to do a clean install of a machine because of issues like this (it just shouldn't even be a problem). I don't see a fix (if any) in the future any time soon for machines with these problems. I work to fix other's computers all the time, and having to re-install each and every machine with Vista that won't apply SP1 because of this issue doesn't add up, and, quite simply, isn't an option.

Microsoft's approach is to blame the problem on all third party hardware, software, and (especially) drivers. For example, they blamed third-party drivers as the reason for audio skipping during playback in Windows Media Player/Center after the release of Vista. This (most of the time) is very untrue. My media played just fine in other players. SP1 finally came along and finally fixed this issue, but it is just one of many problems Vista users without SP1 are facing. I've ran an SP1 install on my laptop successfully with all applications (and anti-virus) running normally. I had done a clean install the day I recieved the system, so I think the problem lies with corrupted system files that system file checker cannot fix.

Anyway, enough of my complaints. I have logged the events of the system file checker to it's own file (Apart from the CBS log) already using findstr, so I am wondering if anyone would know of a way to fix the files without performing a clean installation of Windows so that none are left corrupted and I can apply SP1. Any feedback (no matter how useful) would be greatly appreciated.


Mostly Harmless
Staff member
I had a lot of trouble installing SP1 final on my system (beta releases had worked just fine); in the end I gave up and used the pre-slipstreamed media to perform a clean install.

Then I gave up on Vista altogether and I'm on Linux now.