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Issue #700: December 20-26, 2020

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Q: I think that it was after doing something with iCloud that I got this problem. When I turned on my computer again, I got a black screen and this message “Fatal application initializing error. The application failed to initialize. Settings database cannot be constructed properly.” The worst part is it seems to have cleaned out my Documents, iTunes and Pictures.

I did a restore to a week previous to the problem but nothing helps. I still have the black screen and still get the above message each time I turn on my laptop.  I’ve tried anything and everything and different sources that I could find for a solution. Nothing works.

I figure I need a computer doctor unless you can give me any other advice.

– Denise T.
City Unknown

A: I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve told people in the past, Denise.  Don’t wait until you’ve tried every other possible solution before finally turning to me in desperation.  In the process of trying “anything and everything” to fix your problem you could very easily cause further harm or at the least, make it more difficult to fix your problem.  One example is using System Restore.  People perceive this function as some sort of time machine that can transport your computer back to a time when it was working, and are disappointed to find out that it doesn’t restore their documents or undo certain kinds of changes.  Let me clarify.  System Restore can only restore settings that were saved in a restore point.  Sometimes the system will create these for you, but it is often up to you do create one.  I’ll teach you how in a future issue.  Meanwhile, just know that the only things that restore is capable of restoring are system files (parts of the operating sytem), parts of certain installed applications, the Windows registry, and most Windows configuration settings.  It will not restore user files (documents, pictures, music, videos, etc.) or e-mail, or any other personal items.  In order to have the ability to restore these, you’ll need to have some sort of a file backup scheme in place, usually to an external hard drive or the cloud.

Now, on to the problem about which you asked.  That error message is indicative of an application trying to use a piece of software called the .NET Framework (pronounced “dot net”) which is a software support library written by Microsoft, and originally released in February 2002.  This framework provides a measure of support to software authors that makes it easier to write programs in multiple programming languages. It also provides certain ready-made functions so that authors don’t need to re-invent the wheel for each program they write.  When you install software that requires the .NET Framework, that software’s installer usually checks to see if you already have it installed, and if not, it installs it for you. 

If something happens to corrupt the .NET Framework, any applications trying to use it will likely fail.  When this happens, they often throw an error message similar to the one you cited in your question, often with the associated error code 0xc0000135.  The simple solution to this problem is to re-install the .NET Framework.  It should automatically install through Windows Update, but if you don’t have automatic updates enabled it will need to be done manually.  Follow the instructions at TinyURL.com/IGTM-0700a.  Just to complicate matters, there are multiple versions of .NET Framework, and each distinct version is not necessarily compatible with software that requires the framework.  There’s no way for me to know for sure which version you need, so the best I can do is provide you with a source to get any version you might happen to need.  Visit TinyURL.com/IGTM-0700b for all the links.

As for all your documents, there’s no telling what might have happened – certainly not from a simple description in an e-mail.  They could have been moved, or they could have been deleted.  My first recommendation is to look in the Recycle Bin for them.  If they’re not there, try and remember one of the file names that you had saved, and use the search function in Windows File Explorer to search your PC for it.

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