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How to repair Media Center files and registry entries on Windows Vista and Windows 7

How to repair Media Center files and registry entries on Windows Vista and Windows 7

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Note - this post was originally written for Windows Vista, but it also applies to Windows 7.

Since the Windows Vista public launch in January 2007, I have been receiving questions more frequently about how to repair Windows Media Center to try to resolve various bugs.  Many of the customers I have heard from have tried some of the repair steps I have previously posted for Windows XP Media Center Edition (such as this, this or this), but ran into problems getting them to work.

I want to emphasize that OS repair techniques that I have previously documented for Windows XP Media Center Edition will not work on Windows Vista or Windows 7 and should not be used on these versions of Windows.  The underlying installation technology for OS components is completely new in Windows Vista, so install/repair techniques for Windows XP OS components will not continue to work on Windows Vista and higher.  Also, some of the registration utilities that shipped with previous versions of Media Center are not included in Windows Vista or higher because they are no longer needed.

Windows Vista and Windows 7 Media Center files and registry information are protected by Windows Resource Protection (WRP) in Windows Vista.  This means that only the OS installer service (named TrustedInstaller) has permission to modify/remove these files or registry keys unless you specifically take ownership of the files/keys and add additional user accounts to the access permission list (which you should not need to do except in extraordinary circumstances).

If you run into problems while using Windows Vista or Windows 7 Media Center and you suspect that files or registry entries that are a part of the Media Center feature are corrupt, you can use the instructions listed below to attempt to repair them.

Repairing Windows Vista and Windows 7 Media Center files

You can use the following steps to repair the files that are a part of Windows Vista Media Center:

  1. Click on the Start menu, choose All Programs, then Accessories, then right-click on the Command Prompt item and select Run as administrator
  2. Click Continue to authorize opening a command prompt with administrative privileges
  3. Run this command in the cmd prompt: sfc /scannow
  4. The cmd prompt should list text stating "Beginning system scan. This process will take some time."
  5. Wait for the scan to complete (this can take several minutes so be patient).  This command will scan all protected system files and attempt to replace incorrect versions with correct Microsoft versions
  6. When the scan completes, the SFC tool will indicate whether or not it found any problems and whether or not it was able to fix them
  7. If any errors are reported that SFC was unable to fix, there are steps in this knowledge base article and this how-to guide that explain how to locate and attempt to fix the errors 
  8. After fixing any errors that are found, try to use Windows Vista Media Center again

Disabling and re-enabling Windows 7 Media Center

You can use the following steps to disable and re-enable Windows Media Center on Windows 7.  These steps do not apply to Windows Vista.

  1. Click on the Start menu, type optionalfeatures.exe and press Enter to launch the Windows Features control panel
  2. In the Windows Features control panel, expand the item named Media Features
  3. Uncheck the items named Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player
  4. Click OK, wait for the process to finish, and reboot your computer
  5. Click on the Start menu, type optionalfeatures.exe and press Enter to launch the Windows Features control panel
  6. In the Windows Features control panel, expand the item named Media Features
  7. Check the items named Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player
  8. Click OK, wait for the process to finish, and reboot your computer

Repairing Windows Vista and Windows 7 Media Center registry entries

Unfortunately, there is not an easy way of repairing the registry keys/values that are installed by Windows Vista and higher like there is for files.  If you want to try to repair the registry keys/values that are a part of Windows Vista and Windows 7 Media Center, you will need to run Windows setup again and repair the OS.

<update date="10/7/2008"> Added a link to a knowledge base article about SFC and how to find errors that it reports during its repair process. </update>

<update date="8/17/2009"> Fixed broken link to knowledge base article. </update>

<update date="2/24/2011"> Added a note about how to disable and re-enable Windows Media Center on Windows 7. </update>

<update date="2/25/2011"> Updated the note I added yesterday to also include Windows Media Player. </update>


  • Hi NMaxfield - If the suggestions in this blog post and in the comments from other customers do not help, then I don't know of any other options currently other than to try to repair/re-install Windows.

    I'm not sure what the Sony Vegas product does, but does it help at all to uninstall that?

  • I ran RUN, Run AS Administrator (right-click on Run)and entered the text sfc /scannow (Don't forget the space between c and the forward slash / ).  The program took about ten minutes, notified me that he had found corrupt files and that it had corrected these same errors.  Suddenly, my WMC icon was back (it disappeared a few weeks ago), and my programs are working correctly.  Thanks to everyone for their help.

  • Hello, I found this page when Vista Media Center started crashing anytime I tried to watch live TV.

    However, none of the fixes above helped me out.

    I discovered that if the kernel debugger is enabled, Media Center will develop these symptoms.

    The debugger can be disabled by entering:

    bcdedit -debug off

    from an elevated command prompt and rebooting.  I hope this info will help somebody out.

  • I have been using Media Center since the second beta of MCE2003, and I have never had any problem like the one described above until today.  What's worse is that I have always built my own systems, but this one I was forced to buy from HP since I want to use Digital Cable Tuners.  I set the system up two days ago and everything was working flawlessly until today-- two ATI external Digital Cable Tuners and two ATI Theater 650 PCI cards for OTA HDTV.  This morning I was watching standard-def TV and I tried to change the channel to an OTA HD station when the system crashed and gave me a BSOD.  When I restarted, Vista told me that the system had crashed because of an nVidia driver problem.  I tried watching TV again and it told me that no tuners are installed, and I got the "media center receiver service stopped working" error multiple times.  I have tried all solutions offered here (including disabling debugger) to no avail.  I also tried deleting "recordings.xml", but I was unable to find that file.  sfc /scannow from the command prompt found no errors whatsoever.  I have physically uninstalled and reinstalled all of my tuners and drivers, and still media center is unable to find them.  I have also uninstalled and reinstalled my nVidia 8500GT video card with no luck.  This is particularly frustrating because I swore I would NEVER purchase a pre-built PC, but it was the only way for me to get the OCUR functionality-- two days after it arrives, this  happens, effectively rendering my only source of TV useless.  The only thing I've done that might've caused this is that I changed my Public folder to another hard drive and deleted the old one.  I restored it after this happened though, and it did not fix the issue.  If MS ever wants Media Center to catch on like it should, they've got to work out bugs like this before unleashing them on the unsuspecting public.

  • Hi Momentarydogma - I'm sorry for the hassles that this issue has caused for you.  Media Center uses locations under the Public folder for some of its storage, and it requires special ACLs so that its services can access those folders.  It is possible that deleting and recreating the Public folder would cause the type of errors you are seeing.  I don't know the exact ACLs that need to be reset after recreating that folder, but at a minimum, the ehStart, ehSched and ehRecvr services need to have read/write/modify access to the Public\Recorded TV folder and any sub-folders underneath it.

    It is likely most reliable for you to either look at the exact ACLs on another system running Windows Vista Media Center to get the exact set of ACLs, or repair/re-install your OS to restore the default values.

  • I had similar problems; Windows Media Center couldn't find my recorded programs nor could I watch TV--it said to contact my hardware manufacturer!

    It turns out my Windows Media Center was crashing due to a Vista component which was broken, called WMI. This command fixed it:

    Click Start, then type: cmd <enter>

    then type:

    net localgroup administrators NetworkService /ADD <enter>

    and then type: exit <enter>

    Good luck!


  • I've recently had this problem with the same error message from both the WMC on my laptop and the WMC on ym XBOX360 - "A necessary component of Windows Media Center is currently not available" i've searched everywhere for a solution, i've tried the 3 DLL option but no luck, it just dies after about 20 seconds.. help!

  • Hi Runningfromtherain - I'm sorry for the hassle this is causing for you.  I haven't heard of that specific error in the past - is this on a Windows Vista system or a Windows XP system?  Also, I'm not familiar with a 3 DLL option, so can you describe what steps you took to try that option?

    Just to confirm, have you tried running sfc /scannow like this blog post describes?  If so, and if it didn't help, it might help to post a question at one of the following locations to see if anyone there has any additional suggestions:



    It might also help to try to repair/re-install your Windows Vista OS (assuming you are running into this issue on Windows Vista).

  • Yeah its Windows Vista, i tried the solution on the sfc /scannow and it said that it found problems, "some were repaired and some couldn't be fixed" but when i tried to view the log it was Access denied. The greenbutton site is where i found the 3 dll solution that still hasn't helped!

    in command prompt i had to type in

    regsvr32 jscript.dll

    regsvr32 vbscript.dll

    regsvr32 wmp.dll

    it worked for a couple of minutes then crashes!!

  • Hi Runningfromtherain - If you are attempting to re-register DLLs on Windows Vista, you'll need to make sure to do that from an elevated cmd prompt.  You can open one of those by clicking on the Start menu, choosing All Programs, then Accessories, then right-clicking on Command Prompt and choosing Run as administrator.

    If SFC is reporting problems and it cannot fix them, then this means there is something wrong with the files that came with your OS, and you may have to try an OS repair/re-install to resolve this issue.

  • I am getting the same error as n4cer, but I have no recordings.xml file.  Could that be the problem?...and if so, how can I get this file back?

  • Hi Copterpilot - The file recordings.xml is created when you schedule any TV show recordings in Windows Media Center.  If you are getting the sam eerror as N4cer and running sfc /scannow didn't help, then I think you may need to try to repair/re-install your Windows Vista OS in order to try to resolve this issue.

  • I have previously posted some instructions ( here and here ) that can be used to verify and attempt to

  • I have previously posted some instructions ( here and here ) that can be used to verify and attempt to

  • How about suggestions for this scenario:

    WMC worked great for several months, scheduling and recording perfectly until sometime just before March 6.

    For some reason, WMC will no longer recognize one of my channels and gives the message:

    No TV signal.  There is currently no TV signal detected for this channel.  The channel may be temporarily off the air, or you may need to adjust or reconnect your TV antenna.  

    I use OTA antenna reception and have confirmed that the channel is still broadcasting.  I have tried a second tv tuner and the channel is still not recognized by WMC.  I have also used this tv tuner in a second computer, which does recognize the 'missing' channel.

    It has to be something with WMC, but what?

    Thanks for any suggestions.

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