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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>


  • Thanks to posting by N4cer I managed to fix the problems.

    Once I deleted the Recordings.xml file and renamed one of the backups, everything worked fine. Thanks for the tip!

    All the best,


    p.s. The sfc /scannow did not give me any leads as it did not report any problems.

  • Hi first of all thanks to people who wrote up there experiences here it saved me a re install or re image, I had a similar experience to most posts here Media center worked fine then all of a sudden it wont access the TV tuner so after reading this blog i went in search of the recordings.XML file as mentioned above i also re named one of the old backed up copies i found in the same location to the .XML file format to replace the file i deleted and hey presto it worked. I no this is pointless feedback as everyone else has said the same but many thanks to all who wrote about it.

  • One of our readers, mrmoto, has dropped us a tip on repairing your broken Media Center system files. Since we’re all about hacking Windows 7 Media Center the need to repair what has been broken is...

  • Thank you, n4cer, for sharing! You truly saved me a day of grief!

    All good things to you...

  • For those who may still come across the "Windows Media Center Receiver Service has stopped working" problem as I did recently (and found this page after searching for it). Assuming that you have also installed Sony Vegas, the solution is here:


    This may help others like me - I almost went for a re-install of Windows until I stumbled across that page!

  • pj147. You are a star. I have been having zero success at getting WMC to acknowlage my tv card. I had eliminated all hardware issues and was sure it was something to do with my particular installation of Win7. When you mentioned Sony Vegas the bells started to ring as I have Vegas 7 installed. After renaming the file cfhd.dll to cfhd.dll.bak WMC finds my tv card instantly and works fine. Wonderful and once again thankyou for posting.

  • I purchased my HP PC with Windows Vista in 01/08 and have had absolutely nothing but great things to say about the windows media center.  I absolutely love it and use it constantly all the time.  Well today, I had my very first problem with it - I got the dreaded message, "Some of the files needed to play radio or video are missing or corrupt. Windows Media Center component registration may have failed."  After trying everything I could think of and scans turning up nothing, I started googling my problem which led me to this weblog.  Thankfully, n4cer's post from 03/07 solved my problem.  I deleted my Recordings.xml file and my problem was solved.  Special Thanks to n4cer and to Aaron Stebner for allowing posters to share their knowledge, ideas, and experiences!!!

  • Hi, about a week ago I started having a problem with Windows Media Center on my Windows Vista pc. The issue is that this program opens up a window of itself whenever I try to open an unrelated program...no matter what program I'm trying to open. It is now almost completely taken over! I can't open System Restore, troubleshooting options, my email, google, games of any type, McGaffee, Norton, Perfect Optimizer, Windows Explorer, etc, etc. When trying to find some kind of a fix, it ALWAYS ends up opening a Windows Media Center window. And, this window only allows volume & full screen control. I also, have never intentionally gone to this site. I do not want to watch tv or movies...I do watch You Tube & use Windows Media Player once in a while which may use this program or not. I'm not computer savvy enough to figure it out, I just want it out of my face!! Please Help!!

  • Hi Byronincoosbay - I'm sorry, but I haven't heard of this type of behavior before, so I'm not sure exactly what to suggest for you to try to fix this.  It might help to go into regedit.exe and see if there is something incorrectly configured to launch ehshell.exe (this is the main program name for Windows Media Center).  You might also have to try to repair/re-install Windows by re-running Windows setup from your original OS installation disc to solve this.

  • Hi Aaron,

    Do you have a similar blog or can suggest one for Win7 MC? Can you suggest a webpage, detailing inner workings of TV Guide, and what regions & IP ranges it covers by what content? Is there a way to switch in WMC db files from MS Guide to Zap2it.com to bypass problems with MS Guide altogether forever? My issue was described here (thegreenbutton.com/.../98859.aspx) - Guide never downloads, channels are OK, no WMC Event Log, can't find Guide download log file. Can you suggest a solution, explanation, or relevant weblink? Why MS Social site offers dead silence on TV Guide issues?

  • Hi Zamar - The SFC repair command will work in all versions of Windows, but keep in mind that it only repairs files, not anything else (such as the registry, file/folder/registry permissions, etc).  Windows Media Center also appears in the Media Features category of the Windows Features control panel (optionalfeatures.exe) on Windows 7, so it might help to remove it and re-add it from there.

    I normally suggest posting this type of question on the Green Button forums (thegreenbutton.com/.../ShowForum.aspx) or the newsgroups (www.microsoft.com/.../reader.mspx).

    If you're not having any luck with the forums or newsgroups, you can also try to contact Microsoft technical support for more in-depth assistance with this issue.  You can find contact information at http://support.microsoft.com.

  • Thanks Aaron,

    You suggestion to disable & re-enable Media features (with 2 reboots) worked! And WMC Event Logger is working again!

  • Hi Zamar - That is great news!  I'll update this blog post with that suggestion too.

  • Just wanted to clarify that both Media Center and Media Player (in my experience) should be disabled and re-enabled. Also, after re-enabling them Win7 doesn't require a reboot, but the Guide still won't work until you in fact reboot. :)

  • Also wanted to add for guys who lives in Canada near US border with good ATSC & NTSC coverage: if you select Canada as your region and add postal code, you'll get only Canadian channel lineup in Guide. Instead, you select US as your region, open Zap2it.com, and try several different ZIP codes just from across the border from your location to see, what ZIP code gives you the most complete US & Canada channel lineup. For Toronto & GTA & Buffalo area one of most complete is linked to ZIP 14174 . This is critically important step to research before you enter that ZIP into WMC Guide Setup. If you also need to add Canadian QAM cable channels to the ATSC & NTSC US & Canada OTA channels mix, Peter Near's Blog (thegreenbutton.com/.../enabling-atsc-amp-qam-in-canada-for-windows-7-rtm.aspx) is your best friend at the moment. The Guide itself just can't by default give you a mix of channels you in fact can receive from both sides of the border, despite many ATSC US stations are targeting Canada and have strongest directional signal turned towards Canada (so its not copyright issue, just the Guide deficiency).

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