Troubleshooting Games for Windows Live startup problems -- The Catroot2 Trick

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As the Games for Windows Live components are popping up in a number of game releases on the Windows platform, there comes a time when the most annoying problems start to turn up at the most unexpected times. In the case of starting a gaming session, there’s nothing worse than dealing with the issue of the online interaction components getting in the way of starting your game.

Unfortunately, that’s the same exact thing as to what happened to me not too long ago after upgrading to Windows 7 when trying to start the Vista release of Halo 2. In fact, solving the problem took a little more than the fixes that were on the Microsoft support pages at the time – so it was evident that a bit more work was in order to get me out of that mess. Nonetheless, I have decided that detailing the steps to fix the problem would have to be a complete guide detailing every single thing one should attempt in an effort to fix the problem.

A Cautionary Note or Two

Before we get into the details of the fix process, there are a few things I should note. First, the process involves messing around with the Windows installation files so be sure to follow my instructions exactly as written or you could mess up your system big time. Also, you will need to start and stop the Cryptography service a few times during the process of fixing the issue – but only that one service, so don’t be messing with any of the others so as to have the wrong thing turned off and having an unwanted effect on your system.

When turning off the cryptographic services, you may use the following procedure if you’re not comfortable with using the services manager in the control panel:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Type cmd, but do not press Enter_._ If using Windows XP, click **Run**; type **cmd.exe**; press Enter; and skip to step 4.
  3. Right-click c_md.exe_ and select **Run as Administrator**. If using Window 7 or Vista, confirm the UAC prompt.
  4. Type net stop cryptsvc and press Enter
  5. Type exit to leave the command prompt.

When you’re done with a troubleshooting step and are ready to try launching your game again, simply attempt to start the game; the cryptograpic services will automatically resume, so there’s no real need to start them manually.

Step 1: The Catroot2 Trick

Perhaps the easiest way to fix the problem in many cases is to simply rebuild the cryptographic service components. To prepare for this step of the process, simply follow the steps outlined above to disable cryptographic services, then perform the following priocedure:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Computer.
  3. Double-click the C: drive. If using Windows XP, click Show Contents of this Location if needed.
  4. Double-click the Windows folder. If using Windows XP, click Show Contents of this Folder if needed.
  5. Browse for and click on the Catroot2 folder, then click its text label.
  6. Type a random name (e.g. Catroot2.old) and press Enter.
    WARNING: Make sure you renamed the Catroot2 folder and not Catroot, or Windows will not be able to rebuild the system properly leading to a corrupted installation!
  7. Close the file explorer window, then try launching your game again.

Hardware-specific repair process and reinstall solution on next page…

Step 2: The GeForce Workaround

If the first option didn’t work, and you’re using an nVidia graphics card (or two, if using SLI) then you may still be having issues under Windows 7 if the previous section didn’t help. Again, before proceeding with this fix make sure you disable the cryptographic services (just in case, though it’s been reported that this fix may be possible without turning off these services but I haven’t verified as such). Also, this fix is specifically for nVidia-based systems, so if you’re using anything else (e.g. ATI/AMD Radeon) simply move on to the next section.

  1. Click Start.
  2. Type cmd, but do not press enter.
  3. Right-click cmd.exe and select Run as administrator. Be sure to confirm the UAC prompt.
  4. Follow the procedures described previously for turning off cryptography services until you complete step four.
  5. Type cd %systemroot%\system32\CatRoot\{127D0A1D-4EF2-11D1-8608-00C04FC295EE} and press Enter.
  6. Type del tmp*.cat and press Enter.
  7. Type del kb*.cat and press Enter.
  8. Repeat steps four to seven with %systemroot%\system32\CatRoot\{F750E6C3-38EE-11D1-85E5-00C04FC295EE}.
  9. Type cd %systemroot%\inf and press Enter.
  10. Type del oem*.* and press Enter.
  11. Type exit and press Enter.
  12. Try starting your game again.

Step 3: Check for Updates

Sometimes the fix can be as simple as making sure your software packages are updated. As such, it’s always a good idea to run Windows Update every so often to be sure you have the latest bits available for proper operation of your system. However, since the procedures for using Windows Update differ between various computer systems it would take a lot of space to detail every last part of the update process so I’m going to link over to another article that details the various steps in the process under different Windows releases.

If all else fails…

If nothing I have described to this point has solved your problem, then it may be time to consider reinstalling the Games for Windows Live components, or the game you are trying to play – maybe even both of them. If that is the case, it’s the best last-ditch attempt to try before tossing up the white flag and calling support. And in the event that you do have to call support, be sure to check with the game developer first in case there are any specific troubleshooting methods they are aware of. If they are unable to provide anything – or refer you to the Games for Windows support lines – the number to call is 1-877-274-4349. You may also be able to find additional community-based help in the forums and pages of the official site at if anyone else has experienced the same problem.