When trying to sign in to Windows 10/11, you may receive a message stating that the operating system could not be loaded because a file’s digital signature could not be verified, which is also known as the Windows 10/11 error 0xc0000428. The file here usually refers to the winload.exe file.
Without a doubt, if Windows 10/11 is unable to authenticate the digital signature for this file, you will be unable to boot your computer normally.
What Is a Digital Signature in Windows 10/11?
Before you can fix the Windows system 32 winload.exe error, you must first understand why Windows is unable to verify the digital signature for this file.
The digital signature essentially acts as a security lock. If Microsoft does not recognize the file’s permissions, a blue screen error will appear, stating that the digital signature for the file could not be verified and displaying the error code 0xc0000428.
Pro Tip: Run a dedicated PC optimization tool to get rid of incorrect settings, junk files, harmful apps, and security threats that can cause system issues or slow performance.
Digital signatures are used to ensure the security of your files. Once you’ve digitally signed your machine, you’ll need to receive this signature every time you power it up, which is why it’s referred to as one of the boot managers.
A digital signature is used to safeguard software and prevent forgeries. In other words, if a document, a message, or an application is digitally signed, the user or recipient can be confident that it is secure and belongs to a legitimate organization or individual. As a result, the digital signature aids in the prevention of forgery, tampering, and abdication of responsibility.
This tutorial will lead you through the steps to successfully solve the 0xc0000428 “The digital signature for this file couldn’t be verified” error in Windows 10/11.
What Is the “The Digital Signature for This File Couldn’t Be Verified” Error on Windows 10/11?
The BOOTMGR bootloader, first introduced in Windows Vista and later also used in Windows 7, Windows 8(.1), and Windows 10/11, reads boot configuration data and displays the operating system selection menu as part of the system startup routine. When a user installs a newer version of Windows on top of an older one, or when a service pack is installed, the BOOTMGR entries may fail to be updated properly, and the following notice may appear:
“A recent hardware or software change might have installed a file that is signed incorrectly or damaged, or that might be malicious software from an unknown source.
If you have a Windows installation disk, insert the disk and restart your computer. Click “Repair your computer”, and then choose a recovery tool.
Otherwise, to start Windows so you can investigate further, press the Enter key to display the boot menu, press F8 for Advanced Boot Options, and select Last Known Good. If you understand why the digital signature cannot be verified and want to start Windows without this file, temporarily disable driver signature enforcement.
Info: Windows cannot verify the digital signature for this file.”
Another version of the error message says:
“Your PC/Device needs to be repaired.
The operating system couldn’t be loaded because the digital signature of a file couldn’t be verified.
Error code: 0xc0000428”
The fact that this file’s digital signature could not be verified is a security flaw created by the installation of certain programs. Because Microsoft does not recognize authorization for the new apps, it displays the message “This digital signature could not be verified.”
What Causes the “The Digital Signature for This File Couldn’t Be Verified” Issue?
Several scenarios have been linked to this error:
- After a system update, BOOTMGR has become obsolete. If something went wrong during the Windows installation procedure, this error may appear, and the boot process may stop if the user has installed a newer version of Windows on top of an older one and the BOOTMGR file has not been updated properly.
- BOOTMGR has become outdated following a service pack update. This issue can also occur if a user fails to update the existing BOOTMGR file after installing a new service pack. If this is the case, an updated version of Windows will be stuck with an old version of BOOTMGR, which will prevent it from loading properly.
- The installation disk was detached before installing Windows. Many customers are recommended to detach their primary boot disk prior to installing a new version of Windows to avoid corruption of the existing working installation or data loss during a system upgrade. However, following this advice may cause the system bootloader on the primary boot disk to become obsolete, resulting in the error in question after the drive is reinstalled.
- Users with dual boot enabled are also likely to see this problem, as the older BOOTMGR may still be in use, or the new operating system may not have a boot record.
- Due to a recent hardware or software upgrade, Windows may be unable to verify digital signatures, resulting in this error. Before they can be used on your device, all drivers must be digitally signed and certified by Microsoft.
How to Fix the “The Digital Signature for This File Couldn’t Be Verified” Boot Manager Error
In this section, we’ll show you how to fix the “The digital signature for this file couldn’t be verified” error in Windows. But before that, make sure that you remove any malware that might be interfering with your processes. You can use a third-party antivirus tool or the built-in Windows Defender to do so. Scanning for system issues and deleting junk files using Outbyte PC Repair should also make the troubleshooting process a lot easier and less complicated.
We recommend going through the solutions in the order suggested below.
Fix 1: Fix the Boot Manager and BCD
You can use the Command Prompt to run a tool called bootrec.exe, which is used to fix boot-related problems on your computer.
However, if you are stuck at the boot screen, you must open the Command Prompt from the boot screen without turning on your machine. On Windows 10/11, you’ll need recovery media to do so. Here are the steps to follow:
- If your device has an optical disk reader, download and burn the Windows file from the Microsoft website to a flash drive or CD.
- Select “Repair your computer” from the drop-down menu. You’ll be taken to Advanced Options once you do this.
- Choose Command Prompt from the drop-down menu.
- After you’ve successfully opened the Command Prompt, type the commands below one by one, pressing Enter after each one:
- bcdboot C:\windows /s C:
- bootrec /fixMBR
- bootrec /fixBoot
- bootrec /rebuildBCD
Note: there should be a space before /.
- Restart your computer and try booting into your computer now.
The bootrec.exe tool will repair your device’s boot files once you execute these commands, and you will be able to boot into your computer normally.
Fix #2: Restart the Boot Manager
If you can’t boot Windows 10/11 because of the 0xc0000428 issue, the first thing you should do is restart the boot manager.
Here is how to do so:
- On the sign-in screen, click Restart while holding down the Shift key until the context menu appears. If you still can’t find the sign-in window, you may need to boot from a USB device to get to this screen.
- In Troubleshoot, select Advanced options.
- Select Command Prompt from the Advanced Options screen. It’s also a good idea to run a Startup Repair for Windows 10/11 to resolve the “The digital signature for this file couldn’t be verified” error on your computer.
- Then, one by one, in the Command Prompt, type the following three commands to restart Windows 10/11’s boot manager:
- cd boot
- attrib bcd -s -h –r
- bootrec /rebuildbcd
Note: Generally, the root drive on Windows 10/11 is C:; if yours is D:, F:, or another hard drive, you need to use its letter.
Now that your PC’s boot manager has been correctly rebooted, you can check if the “The digital signature for this file couldn’t be verified” error 0xc0000428 has been resolved.
Fix 3: Run Startup Repair
If the above solutions don’t work, try this one:
- Press the Power button and then any key while a USB containing Windows 10/11 installation media is inserted into your PC.
- If the system fails to recognize the hard disk automatically, interrupt the restart process by pressing any of these keys: F2, F10, ESC, or DEL. This should load the boot menu, where you can choose to boot from the installation disk.
- Then, using the arrow keys, navigate to the appropriate option, such as Boot, Boot Options, Boot Order, or something similar, and press Enter.
- After that, use the arrow keys to move the CD, USB flash drive, or DVD from the bottom to the top of the Boot list. When you’re done, press Enter.
- Use the F10 key to save your changes.
- Click Yes when the confirmation window appears and wait for the system to restart.
- Select your preferred language, time, currency, keyboard, and other options, then select Next.
- Then choose “Repair your computer” and wait for the System Recovery Options window to appear.
- Select the Windows installation drive and press Next after the window has opened.
- Then, select the Startup Repair option and wait for the process to finish.
Fix 4: Turn Off Driver Signature Enforcement
If the message “The digital signature for this file couldn’t be verified” appears frequently, you may need to switch off Driver Signature Enforcement from the boot menu.
Using repair media is the simplest way to do this. Simply follow these instructions:
- If your device has an optical disk reader, download and burn the Windows file from the official website to a flash drive or CD.
- Select “Repair your computer” from the drop-down menu. You’ll be taken to Advanced Options if you do this.
If you can boot into Windows, you can use the Windows 10/11 Settings app to access Advanced Options. Simply follow these instructions:
- Open the Windows Settings application. You can use the Win + I keyboard shortcut.
- Click Update & Security.
- Select Recovery from the left pane menu.
- Select Advanced Startup from the right pane.
- To access Advanced Startup Options, click Restart Now.
- Select the Troubleshoot option after the PC has rebooted.
- Click Startup Settings after selecting “Advanced options”.
- Toggle on the “Disable driver signature enforcement” option by pressing F7.
Try booting into Windows now. This time, the boot functionality should work normally.
Fix 5: Run System Restore in Safe Mode
If the problem persists, you can use Windows 10/11’s System Restore feature to resolve it:
- Restart your computer, and while the Windows logo is loading, press and hold the Power button until the computer shuts off.
- Shut down or restart your computer numerous times until you see the Advanced Startup mode.
- Next, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart.
- Press 5 or F5 to enter Safe Mode with Networking after restarting.
- In Windows Safe Mode, hit the Win + R shortcut on your computer, type ‘stru’ into the Run box, and then click the OK button to run System Restore.
- Click on Next in the System Restore window, select a restore point based on the day and time when everything was operating fine and there were no problems, and then click Next > Finish to begin restoring the system.
- Restart your computer to see if the error has been resolved.
If you’re having trouble booting up your Windows 10/11 computer because of the “The digital signature for this file couldn’t be verified” issue, you’ve come to the perfect spot for help. The solutions above should be able to help you in dealing with this boot manager error. If nothing works, then you might have a hardware problem that needs to be checked by a professional computer technician. But in most cases, the fixes above should work.
John is a tech enthusiast who has always been fascinated by the latest gadgets and devices. Growing up, he was always the one who volunteered to test out the new software or phone update. He loved finding ways to make technology work better for him and his friends.
John is a self-proclaimed techie and he loves nothing more than writing about the latest gadgets, apps, software, and games on Software Tested. He’s always up-to-date on the latest trends and he’s passionate about sharing his knowledge with others. If you’re looking for insights and opinions on the latest tech products, John is your go-to source.
John has been writing about technology for years and he has a wealth of knowledge to share. He has a keen eye for spotting new products and services that are worth writing about. If you’re looking for an in-depth, opinionated take on the latest tech products, ask John is your go-to source. Whether you’re a tech enthusiast or just trying to keep up with the latest trends, Ivan’s articles are sure to give you something to think about.