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Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional Resource Kit, Second Edition
Author The Microsoft Windows Team
Pages 1744
Disk 1 Companion CD(s)
Level Advanced
Published 06/11/2003
ISBN 9780735619746
ISBN-10 0-7356-1974-3
Price(USD) $59.99
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Chapter 27: Troubleshooting Startup continued


Following a Process for Startup and Recovery

If you cannot start Windows XP Professional, the operating system provides several options that you can use to identify the cause and resolve the problem.

If the startup problem occurs immediately after updating or installing a specific device driver or application You can restore previous system settings by using the following features:

  1. Use the Last Known Good Configuration.
  2. If you are in normal or safe mode, undo a device driver update by rolling back a driver.
  3. In normal or safe mode, use System Restore to restore a previous system configuration.

The preceding options are not limited to troubleshooting startup problems, but also apply to any problem affecting the operating system.

If you are still unable to start your system in normal mode You can restart your computer in safe mode and disable services and software that might be interfering with the startup process. Try disabling the following:

  1. Temporarily disable applications and processes.
  2. Temporarily disable services.
  3. Uninstall software.

If the problem prevents you from starting in safe mode You can try the following:

  1. Use Recovery Console to replace corrupted files or to perform other manual recovery operations.
  2. Examine and correct the following:
    • Boot.ini settings on x86-based systems.
    • NVRAM startup settings on Itanium-based systems.

  3. Perform a parallel Windows XP Professional installation and use Backup to restore operating system files from backup media.
  4. Use Automated System Recovery (ASR) in Windows XP Professional Backup to reformat the system partition and restore operating system files from backup media.

Restoring to the Last Known Good Configuration

Use Last Known Good Configuration to correct instability or startup problems by reversing the most recent system and driver changes within a hardware profile. When you use this feature, you lose all configuration changes that were made since you last successfully started your system.

Using the Last Known Good Configuration restores previous drivers and also restores registry settings for the subkey HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet. Windows XP Professional does not update the LastKnownGood control set until you successfully start the operating system in normal mode and log on.

When you are troubleshooting, it is recommended that you use Last Known Good Configuration before you try other options, such as safe mode. However, if you decide to use safe mode first, logging on to the computer in safe mode does not update the LastKnownGood control set. Therefore, Last Known Good Configuration remains an option if you cannot resolve your problem by using safe mode.

To access the Last Known Good Configuration startup option

  1. Remove all floppy disks and CDs from your computer, and restart your computer.
  2. Press F8 when prompted.
  3. If Windows XP Professional starts without displaying a menu similar to that shown in Figure 27-4, restart your computer. Press F8 after the firmware POST process completes but before Windows XP Professional displays graphical output.

  4. On the Windows Advanced Options menu, select Last Known Good Configuration.

When Windows XP Professional starts, it reads status information from the file systemroot\Bootstat.dat. If Windows XP detects that the last startup attempt was unsuccessful, it automatically displays the message and startup options that are shown in Figure 27-1.

Click to view graphic
Click to view graphic

Figure 27-1  Startup options when your system cannot start

For more information about the Last Known Good Configuration, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, and also see "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.

Starting in Safe Mode

Safe mode is a diagnostic startup environment that runs only a subset of the drivers and services that are in your system memory. Safe mode is useful when you install software or a device driver that causes instability or problems with starting in normal mode. In most cases, safe mode allows you to start Windows XP Professional and then troubleshoot problems that prevent startup.

Logging on to the computer in safe mode does not update the LastKnownGood control set. Therefore, if you log on to your computer in safe mode and then decide you want to try Last Known Good Configuration, the LastKnownGood control set is still available.

In safe mode, Windows XP Professional uses the minimum set required to start the graphical user interface (GUI). The following registry subkeys list the drivers and services that start in safe mode:

  • Safe mode
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Minimal

  • Safe mode with networking
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Network

To access safe mode

  1. Remove all floppy disks and CDs from your computer, and restart your computer.
  2. Press F8 when prompted.
  3. If Windows XP Professional starts without displaying the menu shown in Figure 27-4, restart your computer. Press F8 after the firmware POST process completes but before Windows XP Professional displays graphical output.

  4. On the Windows Advanced Options menu, select Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, or Safe Mode with Command Prompt.

You can also select a safe mode option from the startup recovery menu that appears when Windows XP Professional detects that the startup attempt was unsuccessful. For more information about the startup recovery menu, see "Restoring to the Last Known Good Configuration" earlier in this chapter.

For more information about safe mode, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center and "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book. Also see article Q202485, "Description of Safe Boot Mode in Windows 2000," in the Microsoft Knowledge Base. To find this article, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base link on the Web Resources page at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/reskits/webresources.

Rolling Back Drivers

When you update a device driver, your computer might have problems that it did not have with the previous version. For example, installing an unsigned device driver might cause the device to malfunction or cause resource conflicts with other installed hardware. Installing faulty drivers might cause Stop errors that prevent the operating system from starting in normal mode. Typically, Stop message text displays the file name of the driver that causes the error.

Windows XP Professional provides a feature called Device Driver Roll Back, which can help you restore system stability by rolling back a driver update.

To roll back a driver

  1. In Control Panel, open System.
  2. Click the Hardware tab, and then click Device Manager.
  3. Expand a category (Standard floppy disk controller, for example), and then double-click a device.
  4. Click the Driver tab, and then click Roll Back Driver.
  5. You are prompted to confirm that you want to overwrite the current driver. Click Yes to roll back the driver. The roll back process proceeds, or you are notified that an older driver is not available.

For more information about Device Driver Roll Back and about using System Information to check for unsigned drivers, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center. Also see "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.

Using System Restore to Undo Changes

Using System Restore, you can restore your system to an earlier state, a state prior to when you began having problems. System Restore monitors changes to certain system and application files. It functions like an "undo" feature, allowing you to recover from system problems, such as those caused by incorrect system settings, faulty drivers, and incompatible applications. System Restore restores your system state without risk to personal files, such as documents or e-mail.

When you need to restore to an earlier system setting, you can select a restore point that was created when the system functioned correctly. Restore points are registry "snapshots" that System Restore creates, stores, and manages. System Restore copies monitored files to data stores on hard disk before Windows XP Professional overwrites, deletes, or changes the files.

When Windows XP Professional is running in normal mode, System Restore creates restore points in the background without user intervention. You can also manually create restore points, for example, before installing new hardware or software. In safe mode, you can use restore points but you cannot create them.

To start the System Restore wizard

  • From the Start menu, click Help and Support, click Tools, and then click System Restore.

For more information about System Restore, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, and see also "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.

Temporarily Disabling Applications and Processes

If a problem occurs after installing new software, you can temporarily disable or uninstall the application to verify that the application is the source of the problem.

Problems with applications that run at startup can cause logon delays or even prevent you from completing Windows XP Professional startup in normal mode. The following subsections provide techniques for temporarily disabling startup programs:

  • Disabling Startup Programs by Using the System Configuration Utility
  • Disabling Startup Programs by Using the SHIFT Key
  • Disabling Startup Programs by Using the Group Policy Snap-in
  • Disabling Startup Programs for Computers on a Network
  • Manually Disabling Startup Programs

Disabling Startup Programs by Using the System Configuration Utility

System Configuration Utility allows you to disable startup programs individually or several at a time. You can also disable certain startup programs that do not use the registry to store configuration information but that instead use the Win.ini file. For example, on x86-based computers, you can use this tool to disable 16-bit startup programs.

To disable a startup program by using the System Configuration Utility

  1. In the Run dialog box, type msconfig, and then click OK.
  2. To disable startup programs, select the General tab, click Selective Startup, and then click to clear the Process WIN.INI File and Load Startup Items check boxes.
  3. -or-

    To disable specific startup items, select the Startup or WIN.INI tab, and then click to clear the check boxes that correspond to the items you want to disable. You can also click Disable All on the Startup and WIN.INI tabs to disable all items on each tab.

If you change any startup setting by using the System Configuration Utility, Windows XP Professional displays the following message when you log on:

You have used the System Configuration Utility to make temporary changes to some of your system settings. 
To return to normal operations, choose the Normal option on the General tab.

The preceding message and the System Configuration Utility continue to appear each time you log on until you restore the original startup settings by clicking Normal Startup under Startup Selection on the General tab. To permanently change a startup setting, you must move or delete startup shortcuts, change a Group Policy setting, or uninstall the application that added the startup application.

For more information about the System Configuration Utility, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, and also see "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.

Disabling Startup Programs by Using the SHIFT Key

One way you can simplify your configuration is to disable startup programs. By holding down the SHIFT key during the logon process, you can prevent the operating system from running startup programs or shortcuts in the following folders:

  • systemdrive\Documents and Settings\Username\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
  • systemdrive\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
  • windir\Profiles\Username\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
  • windir\Profiles\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

The windir folders exist only on computers that are upgraded from Windows NT 4.0.

To disable the programs or shortcuts in the preceding folders, you must hold down the SHIFT key until the desktop icons appear. Holding down the SHIFT key is a better alternative than temporarily deleting or moving programs and shortcuts because this procedure only affects the current user session.

To use the SHIFT key to disable programs and shortcuts in startup folders

  1. Log off the computer.
  2. In the Welcome to Windows dialog box, press CTRL+ALT+DEL.
  3. In the Log On to Windows dialog box, type your user name and password, and then click OK.
  4. Immediately hold down the SHIFT key. The mouse cursor changes shape from a plain pointer, to a pointer with an hourglass (it might do this several times).
  5. Continue to hold down the SHIFT key until the Windows XP Professional desktop icons appear and the mouse cursor stops changing shape.

Disabling Startup Programs by Using the Group Policy Snap-in

You can use the Group Policy MMC snap-in to disable programs that run at startup. Before you use this snap-in, you must be familiar with Group Policy concepts, and you must understand how to view registry entries and change local Group Policy settings.

For information about Group Policy and about using the Group Policy snap-in, see "Planning Deployments," "Managing Desktops," and "Authorization and Access Control" in this book, and see "Group Policy" in the Distributed Systems Guide of the Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit. Also see "Using Group Policy" in Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, and see the Change and Configuration Management Deployment Guide link on the Web Resources page at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/reskits/webresources.

If you are uncertain which startup programs to disable, you can view the registry startup information that appears in certain registry subkeys. For information about viewing registry entries, see "To open Registry Editor" in Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, and also see Table 27-10, Table 27-11, and Table 27-12.

To disable startup programs by using the Group Policy snap-in

  1. In the Run dialog box, type gpedit.msc, and then click OK.
  2. Under Local Computer, click the plus sign (+) to expand either of the following:
    • Computer Configuration
    • User Configuration

  3. Expand Administrative Templates, expand System, and then click Logon.
  4. Double-click the Group Policy setting Run these programs at user logon.
  5. For the programs that appear in either registry subkey that shows in Table 27-10, do one of the following:
    • To disable all the programs that are listed in the following subkeys, click Disabled.

    Disabling this Group Policy deletes the computer or user Run subkey described in Table 27-10.

    • To selectively disable individual programs that are listed in the computer or user Run subkey, click Enabled, and then click Show. In the Show Contents dialog box, select a program to disable, and then click Remove.

    If you enable the preceding Group Policy settings, the programs listed in the corresponding registry subkeys no longer start automatically when a user logs on to the system.

Table 27-10 Registry Subkeys That List the Programs That Run at User Logon

Group Policy SettingRun List Controlled by the Group Policy setting "Run these programs at user logon"
ComputerHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\Run
UserHKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\Run

You can change additional Group Policy settings that might help you simplify your computer configuration when you are troubleshooting startup problems. Table 27-11 lists the registry subkeys that are controlled by the Group Policy setting Do not process the run once list. If you enable this Group Policy setting, the system ignores the programs listed in the following RunOnce registry subkeys the next time a user logs on to the system.

Table 27-11 Registry Subkeys That List the Programs That Run Once

Group Policy SettingRunOnce List Managed by the Group Policy setting " Do not process the run once list"
ComputerHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
UserHKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce

Table 27-12 lists the computer registry subkey that is controlled by the Group Policy setting Do not process the legacy run list. The programs listed in this registry subkey are a customized list of programs that were configured by using the system policy editor for Windows NT 4.0 or earlier. If you enable this Group Policy setting, the system ignores the programs listed in the corresponding registry subkey when you start your computer. If you disable or do not configure this Group Policy setting, the system processes the customized run list that is contained in this registry subkey when you start the computer.

Table 27-12 Registry Subkey That Lists Customized Legacy Programs

Group Policy SettingCustomized Run List Controlled by the Group Policy setting "Do not process the legacy run list"
ComputerHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

Group Policy changes do not always take effect immediately. You can use the Gpupdate (Gpupdate.exe) tool to refresh local Group Policy changes to computer and user policies. (Gpupdate replaces the secedit /refreshpolicy command used in Windows 2000 to refresh Group Policy settings.) After you refresh the policy, you can use the Group Policy Result (Gpresult.exe) tool to verify that the updated settings are in effect. For more information about using Gpupdate, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center.

Disabling Startup Programs for Computers on a Network

If your computer is on a network, additional steps might be required to disable startup programs that are started by Group Policy settings, roaming user profiles, logon scripts, or scheduled system management tasks. You can also contact your network administrator and request network test accounts that exclude items, such as logon scripts, that you know are not causing problems on other computers.

To check Group Policy settings, you can use the Resultant Set of Policy (RSoP) MMC snap-in (Rsop.msc) or the Group Policy Result (Gpresult.exe) tool to view the policies currently in effect for your user and computer accounts. The information provided by these tools can assist you with troubleshooting or help you determine the policy settings that might affect your results.

You can also prevent Group Policy, logon scripts, roaming user profiles, scheduled tasks, and network-related issues from affecting your troubleshooting by temporarily disabling the network adapter and then logging on by using a local computer account.

To disable a network adapter

  1. Do one of the following:
    • In Control Panel, open Network Connections.
    • In the Run dialog box, type ncpa.cpl, and then click OK.

  2. Right-click the Local Area Connection icon, and then click Disable.

If you use roaming user profiles and do not want to disable the network adapter, you can temporarily switch to locally cached user profiles. Making this change preserves local diagnostic changes in case you need to log off and log on, or restart the computer. This change also prevents the roaming user profile from overwriting your diagnostic changes each time you log on to the computer.

To switch from roaming user profiles to locally cached user profiles

  1. In Control Panel, open System, and then click the Advanced tab.
  2. Under User Profiles, click Settings, and then click the name of your user profile.
  3. Click Change Type, and then click Local profile.

For more information about roaming user profiles, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, and also see "Managing Desktops" in this book.

Manually Disabling Startup Programs

You can use the registry editor Regedit.exe to disable the registry entries for startup programs. For a list of registry subkeys that contain entries for service and startup programs, see "Logon Phase" earlier in this chapter. Changes made by using the registry editor might not take effect until you restart the computer.

You can also prevent startup programs from running by using Windows Explorer or Recovery Console to temporarily move shortcuts in the following folders to another location on the hard disk:

  • systemdrive\Documents and Settings\username\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
  • systemdrive\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
  • windir\Profiles\username\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
  • windir\Profiles\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

The windir folders exist only on computers that are upgraded from Windows NT 4.0.

For the startup program changes to take effect, you must log off or restart the computer and log on again.

For more information about disabling startup programs, see article Q270035, "How to Modify the List of Programs that Run at When You Startup Windows," in the Microsoft Knowledge Base. To find this article, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base link on the Web Resources page at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/reskits/webresources.

Ending Processes and Applications That Are Not Responding A startup program or a process that stops responding can cause delays or prevent you from logging on to Windows XP Professional. A process is an instance of an application, including the set of system resources that run an application. By using Task Manager, you can view and selectively end applications and processes, allowing the startup process to continue.

When you are in normal or safe mode, you can also use Task Manager to gather system information, such as CPU and memory statistics.

To start Task Manager

  • Press CTRL+ALT+DEL, and then click Task Manager.

As Figure 27-2 shows, you can select the Applications, Processes, Performance, and Networking tabs. The Applications and Processes tabs provide a list of active applications and processes, some of which run in the background and might not show activity. You can use the End Process button to end most of the items listed. Save all data before ending any process because this action can cause the system to stop responding.

Click to view graphic
Click to view graphic

Figure 27-2  Task Manager

You can also customize Task Manager to display more information on the Processes tab.

To display more information on the Processes tab

  1. Open Task Manager, and then click the Processes tab.
  2. On the View menu, click Select Columns.
  3. Select or clear the check box for each item you want to change.

To obtain more information about Task Manager, open Task Manager, and on the Help menu, click Task Manager Help Topics.

In addition to using Task Manager, you can also end processes by using two command-line tools:

  • Task List (Tasklist.exe)
  • Task Kill (Taskkill.exe)

Task List displays information similar to that displayed by the Task Manager Processes tab. For each process, Task List displays useful information, such as the name of the process, the process identification number (PID), and the amount of memory used.

To end a process, run Task Kill by using the process ID or any part of the process name, such as the title of the application window, as a command-line parameter. For more information about Task List and Task Kill, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center.

Preserving the Core System Processes When you are deciding which processes to temporarily disable, avoid ending the processes that are listed in Table 27-13. This table lists the core processes that are common to all systems running Windows XP Professional. Knowing the core processes is useful because the source of an application or service-related problem is most likely due to non-core processes.

Table 27-13 Core System Processes

Core ProcessProcess Description
Csrss.exe*An essential subsystem that is active at all times. Csrss.exe is the user-mode portion of the Windows subsystem and it maintains console windows and creates or deletes threads. Csrss stands for client/server run-time subsystem.
Explorer.exeAn interactive graphical user interface shell. It provides the familiar Windows taskbar and desktop environment.
Internat.exeWhen enabled, a process that displays the EN (English) and other language icons in the system notification area, allowing the user to switch between locales.
Lsass.exe1The local security authentication (LSA) subsystem server component generates the process that authenticates users for the Winlogon service. The LSA also responds to authentication information received from the Graphical Identification and Authentication (GINA) Msgina.dll component. If authentication is successful, Lsass.exe generates the user's access token, which starts the initial shell. Other processes that the user initiates inherit this token.
Mstask.exe1The task scheduler service. It runs tasks at a time determined by the user.
Smss.exe1The Session Manager subsystem, which starts the user session. This process is initiated by the system thread and is responsible for various activities, including starting the Winlogon.exe and Csrss.exe services and setting system variables.
Spoolsv.exe1The spooler service. It manages spooled print and fax jobs.
Svchost.exe1A generic process that acts as a host for other processes running from dynamic-link libraries (DLLs). Multiple entries for this process might be present in the Task Manager list. For more information about Svchost.exe, see article Q250320, "Description Of Svchost.exe," in the Microsoft Knowledge Base. To find this article, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base link on the Web Resources page at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/reskits/webresources.
Services.exe1The Service Control Manager can start, stop, and pause system services.
System1The system process, which is the process in which most kernel-mode threads run.
System Idle1A separate instance of this process runs for each processor present, and has the single purpose of accounting for unused processor time.
Taskmgr.exeThe process that runs Task Manager.
Winlogon.exe1The process that manages user logon and logoff. Winlogon runs when a user presses CTRL+ALT+DEL to open the logon dialog box.
Winmgmt.exe1A core component of client management. This process starts when the first client application connects, or when management applications request its services.

* You cannot use Task Manager to end this process.

For more information about threads, processes, and services, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center.

Temporarily Disabling Services

Many services automatically run at startup, but others are started only by users or by another process. The operating system, the drivers, and the applications that are loaded on a computer determine the services that run. For example, two Windows XP Professional systems with identical hardware installed can be running different services if they have a different set of applications installed.

When you troubleshoot startup issues that are related to system services, a useful technique is to simplify your computer configuration so that you can reduce system complexity and isolate operating system services. To decrease the number of variables, temporarily close all applications or services and start them one at a time until you reproduce the problem. Always close applications first, before attempting to disable system services.

This section helps you do the following:

  • Use service tools to diagnose and resolve startup issues.
  • Determine service dependencies.
  • Determine the services and processes to temporarily disable.

Using Service Tools to Diagnose and Resolve Startup Issues

Windows XP Professional provides tools that can help you troubleshoot services:

  • System Configuration Utility
  • Services snap-in (Services.msc)
  • SC (Sc.exe)

Disabling Services with the System Configuration Utility

The System Configuration Utility allows you to disable system services individually or several at a time. You can also disable certain services that do not use the registry to store configuration information, but that instead use the System.ini file. For example, on x86-based computers, you can use this tool to disable 16-bit services.

To disable a service by using the System Configuration Utility

  1. In the Run dialog box, type msconfig, and then click OK.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To disable services, on the General tab, click Selective Startup, and then click to clear the Process SYSTEM.INI File and Load System Services check boxes.
    • To disable specific services, on the Services or SYSTEM.INI tab, click to clear the check boxes that correspond to the items you want to disable. You can also click Disable All on the Services and SYSTEM.INI tabs to disable all items on each tab.

If you change any startup setting by using the System Configuration Utility, Windows XP Professional prompts you to return to normal operations the next time you log on. A prompt and the System Configuration Utility appear each time you log on until you restore the original startup settings by clicking Normal Startup under Startup Selection on the General tab. To permanently change a startup setting, use Control Panel, change a Group Policy setting, or uninstall the application that added the service.

For more information about the System Configuration Utility, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, and also see "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.

Disabling Services by Using the Services Snap-in

When diagnosing startup problems, you can use the Services snap-in (Services.msc) in safe and normal modes to view service information or to temporarily disable a service that is causing problems (for example, a driver mentioned in a Stop message). You must have administrator permissions to disable or change the service startup type. Certain startup changes are not in effect until you restart the computer.

To disable a service by using the Services snap-in

  1. In the Run dialog box, type services.msc, and then click OK.
  2. As Figure 27-3 shows, the Services snap-in displays the name, description, status, and startup type for each service.

  3. Double-click a service name and then click the General tab. Record the setting for Startup type so that you can later restore the original value if you find that the change was not helpful.
  4. Change the Startup type to Disabled.

After disabling the service, try to start your computer in normal mode. If your system starts in normal mode, you can research a permanent solution for the problem by checking technical information resources.

Startup type settings remain in effect even after you restart the system. You must use the Services snap-in to restore the original Startup type setting. On the General tab of the Services snap-in, you can specify the following startup types for services:

  • Automatic. The operating system automatically starts the service.
  • Manual. A user or another service starts the service.
  • Disabled. The service does not start.

Click to view graphic
Click to view graphic

Figure 27-3  Services snap-in

Managing Services by Using Sc.exe

As an alternative to using the Services snap-in, you can use Sc.exe, a command-line tool that communicates with the Service Control Manager and displays information about services running on your computer. Sc.exe enables you to gather the same type of information obtainable from the Services snap-in and to perform many functions including:

  • Display service information, such as start type and whether you can pause or end a service.
  • Change the Startup type of a service.
  • Start, pause, or resume a service.
  • Disable a service by using the sc config command.

For troubleshooting startup, the sc query and sc config commands are the most helpful. The report that follows is an example of the information you can obtain by typing sc query at the command prompt:

SERVICE_NAME: winmgmt
DISPLAY_NAME: Windows Management Instrumentation
        TYPE               : 20  WIN32_SHARE_PROCESS
        STATE              : 4  RUNNING
                                (STOPPABLE,PAUSABLE,ACCEPTS_SHUTDOWN)
        WIN32_EXIT_CODE    : 0  (0x0)
        SERVICE_EXIT_CODE  : 0  (0x0)
        CHECKPOINT         : 0x0
        WAIT_HINT          : 0x0

For more information about Sc.exe, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center.

Determining Service Dependencies

Some services and drivers that rely on other components are initialized before starting. If a service or driver does not start, the cause might be a dependency requirement that is not met. You can obtain a list of dependencies by using any of the following methods:

  • Navigate to the registry subkey HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\servicename and examine the information contained in the DependOnGroup and DependOnService entries.
  • Start the Services tool, double-click the service you want information about, and then click the Dependencies tab.
  • Use the Dependency Walker (Depends.exe) Support Tool. For more information about Dependency Walker, see "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.

You can also check the Event Viewer System log to obtain information about services that do not start due to dependency issues.

For more information about the Services snap-in, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center. For more information about adding or changing service dependencies for troubleshooting purposes, see article Q193888, "How to Delay Loading of Specific Services," in the Microsoft Knowledge Base. To find this article, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base link on the Web Resources page at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/reskits/webresources.

Determining Which Services and Processes to Temporarily Disable

When you are troubleshooting, the method for determining which services and processes to temporarily disable varies from one computer to the next. The most reliable way to determine what you can disable is to gather more information about the services and processes enabled on your computer.

These Windows XP Professional tools and features generate a variety of logs that can provide you with valuable troubleshooting information:

  • Error Reporting service
  • Dr. Watson
  • Boot logging
  • System Information
  • Event Viewer

Error Reporting Service Windows XP Professional provides a Windows error reporting service that monitors your system for problems that affect services and applications. When a problem occurs, you can send a problem report to Microsoft and receive an automated response with more information, such as news about an update for an application, service, or device driver.

For more information about the Error Reporting service, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, and also see "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.

Dr. Watson If an application error (also known as a program exception) occurs, the Dr. Watson application debugging tool (DrWtsn32.exe) records information about the problem to a log, DrWtsn32.log, located in the systemdrive\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\DrWatson folder. This log contains the following information:

  • The file name of the program that caused the error.
  • Information about the computer and user under which the error occurred.
  • A list of the programs and services that were active when the error occurred.
  • A list of components, such as dynamic-link libraries (DLLs), that were in memory when the error occurred.
  • Additional information that might be useful if you need to contact technical support about an application that is causing errors.

The task and component lists are useful for duplicating the conditions under which an application error occurred. Using the lists as a reference, you can add or remove programs and services until you reproduce the problem. For more information about the Dr. Watson tool, including an overview of the log file and an explanation of the debugging files, see "Setting up Dr. Watson" and "Using the Dr. Watson log file" in Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center.

Boot Logging Boot logging lists the files that successfully and unsuccessfully processed during startup. Boot logging enables you to log the Windows XP Professional components that are processed when you start your computer in safe mode and also in normal mode. By comparing the differences between the two logs, you can determine which components are not required to start.

You can enable boot logging by using either of these methods:

  • Edit the Boot.ini file as described in "Reviewing and Correcting Boot.ini Settings on x86-based Systems" later in this chapter. Add the /bootlog parameter, save the revised Boot.ini, and restart the computer. For more information about the /bootlog parameter, see Table 27-18 later in this chapter.
  • Restart the computer and press F8 when prompted. On the Windows Advanced Options menu, select Enable Boot Logging.

Windows XP Professional records in a log, windir\Ntbtlog.txt, the name and path of each file that runs during startup. The log marks each file as successful (Loaded driver) or unsuccessful (Did not load driver). Boot logging appends entries to Ntbtlog.txt when you start your system in safe mode. Comparing normal mode and safe mode entries enables you to determine which services run in normal mode only. The following lines are sample Ntbtlog.txt entries:

Loaded driver \SystemRoot\System32\DRIVERS\flpydisk.sys
Did not load driver \SystemRoot\System32\DRIVERS\flpydisk.SYS

If you cannot start your computer in normal mode, start it in safe mode. For the services that run only in normal mode, disable those services one at a time, trying to restart your computer in normal mode after you disable each service. Continue to individually disable services until your computer starts in normal mode.

For more information about boot logging, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center.

System Information If a startup problem occurs inconsistently and if you can start Windows XP Professional in safe or normal mode, you can use System Information to view driver and service name, status, and startup information.

System Information enables you to create lists of drivers that were processed during safe and normal mode startup. By comparing the differences between the two lists, you can determine which components are not required to start Windows XP Professional. For diagnostic purposes, you can use this list of differences to help you determine which services to disable. In safe mode, disable a service and then try to restart the operating system in normal mode. Repeat this process for each service until you are able to start in normal mode.

To view service or driver information

  1. In the Run dialog box, type msinfo32, and then click OK.
  2. Do any of the following:
    • To view service information, click Software Environment, and then click Services.
    • To view the state of a driver, click Software Environment, and then click System Drivers. Information for each driver is in the State column.
    • To view driver information arranged by category, click Components, and then double-click a category, such as Storage.

A related tool, Systeminfo.exe, enables you to view system information, such as processor type, firmware version, and network information, from the command prompt. For more information about System Information and Systeminfo.exe, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center.

Event Viewer (Eventvwr.msc) You can use Event Viewer (Eventvwr.msc) to view logs that can help you to identify system problems. When you are troubleshooting, use these logs to isolate problems by application, driver, or service, and to identify frequently occurring issues. You can save these logs to a file and specify filtering criteria.

Event Viewer provides three logs for computers running Windows XP Professional:

  • Application logs. The application log contains events logged by applications or programs. For example, a database program might record read or write errors here.
  • Security logs. The security log holds security event records, such as logon attempts and actions related to creating, opening, or deleting files. An administrator can specify what events to record in the security log.
  • System logs. The system log contains information about system components. Event Viewer logs an entry when a driver or other system component does not load during startup. Therefore, you can use Event Viewer to search for information about drivers or services that did not load.

To use Event Viewer to obtain driver and service error information from the System log

  1. In the Run dialog box, type eventvwr.msc, and then click OK.
  2. Click System, and on the View menu, click Filter to open the System Properties dialog box.
  3. Under Event types, click to clear the Information and Warning check boxes.
  4. In the Event source list, click Service Control Manager, and then click OK.
  5. Double-click an event entry to view details.

A related command-line tool, Event Query (Eventquery.vbs), enables you to search the event logs by using specified criteria. For troubleshooting, using Event Query enables you to view the Event logs for entries related to specified event properties, including date and time, event ID, and user name.

For more information about using Event Viewer, click the Action menu in Event Viewer, and then click Help. For more information about Event Query, click Tools in Help and Support Center.

Uninstalling Software

You can simplify your system configuration by uninstalling software, which reduces the number of variables to track and helps you to identify problems more quickly.

If you find that recently installed software causes system instability or if error messages consistently point to a specific application, you can use Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel to uninstall the software. If you suspect that an application is causing conflicts, uninstalling software can verify your suspicions. You can then reinstall applications after locating Windows XP Professional updates or other solutions.

For more information about adding or removing programs, see "Add or Remove Programs overview" in Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, and also see "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.

Using Recovery Console

If you cannot start your computer in safe mode or by using the Last Known Good Configuration startup option, you can use Recovery Console. With the appropriate permissions, you can use this command-line interface to start recovery tools, start and stop services, access files on hard disks, and perform advanced tasks, such as manually replacing corrupted system files. You can run Recovery Console from the Windows XP Professional operating system CD, or you can install it as a startup option.

Infrequently, startup files and critical areas on the hard disk become corrupted. If the corruption is extensive, it might prevent you from starting Windows XP Professional in normal or safe modes, or from using the installed Recovery Console or using the Last Known Good Configuration startup option. In these situations, you can run Recovery Console from the Windows XP Professional operating system CD.

To start Recovery Console from the Windows XP Professional operating system CD

  1. Insert the Windows XP Professional operating system CD into the CD-ROM drive, and restart the computer. When prompted, press a key to start Setup.
  2. At the Setup Notification screen, press ENTER.
  3. After the Welcome to Setup screen appears, select To repair a Windows XP installation using Recovery Console by pressing R.
  4. A menu that lists one or more Windows XP Professional installations appears.

  5. Type the number corresponding to the installation that you want to use, and then press ENTER.
  6. At the prompt, enter the password for the local Administrator account to access the contents of the local hard disk. Recovery Console accepts only the local Administrator account password.

From Recovery Console, you can attempt to replace corrupted files with undamaged copies stored on removable disks, such as a floppy disk or the Windows XP Professional operating system CD.

To use the CD-based Recovery Console, you must set the CD-ROM as the primary boot device (the first item listed in the boot order). If the CD-ROM is not listed as a boot-order option in the computer firmware, you cannot start your system by using the Windows XP Professional operating system CD. You must use startup floppy disks to start Windows XP Professional Setup. For more information about startup floppy disks, see the Getting Started Guide, which comes with Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional.

To install Recovery Console as a startup option for x86-based systems

  1. With Windows XP Professional running, insert the Windows XP Professional operating system CD into your CD-ROM drive.
  2. Click No when prompted to upgrade to Windows XP Professional.
  3. In the Run dialog box, type cmd, and then click OK.
  4. At the command prompt, type:
  5. drive:\i386\Winnt32.exe /cmdcons

    In the preceding command, drive represents the letter of the CD-ROM or network drive that holds the Windows XP Professional installation files.

  6. Restart your computer. Recovery Console appears as an item on the operating system menu.

Using Recovery Console to Disable Services

If you are unable to start Windows XP Professional in normal or safe mode, the cause might be an incorrectly configured driver or service that has caused a Stop message. Stop messages might provide information about the service or driver name, such as a file name. By using Recovery Console, you might be able to disable the problem component and allow the Windows XP Professional startup process to continue in normal or safe mode.

To enable or disable services by using Recovery Console

  1. At the Recovery Console prompt, type listsvc.
  2. The computer displays the service or driver name, startup type, and possibly a friendly driver or service name. Record the name of the driver or service that you want to enable or disable.

  3. To disable a driver, type:
  4. disable drivername

  5. To enable a driver, type:
  6. enable drivername start_type

    Possible values for start_type are:

    • SERVICE_BOOT_START
    • SERVICE_SYSTEM_START
    • SERVICE_AUTO_START
    • SERVICE_DEMAND_START

For more information about Stop messages, see "Common Stop Messages for Troubleshooting" in this book.

Using Recovery Console to Restore the Registry Keys HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE\SYSTEM and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE

If the previously discussed recovery methods do not enable you to start Windows XP Professional, you can try replacing the System and Software files, which are in the systemroot\System32\Config folder, with a backup copy from the systemroot\Repair folder. The System and Software files are used by Windows XP Professional to create the registry keys HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE. A corrupted copy of the System or Software file could prevent you from starting Windows XP Professional.

Try other recovery methods before using the manual procedure that follows. The manual procedure enables you to start the operating system, allowing you to perform further repairs by using Windows XP Professional tools.

When using the following procedure, do not replace both the System and Software files as part of a single attempt to start the computer. First, replace one file, and then test whether this action resolves the startup problem. If the problem persists, copy the other file. Which file you decide to replace first (the System or Software file), depends on the information that the Stop error displays (hardware or software related).

Using Recovery Console to replace the System file

  1. At the Recovery Console prompt, locate the config folder by typing:
  2. cd system32\config

  3. Create backups of the System or Software files by typing:
  4. copy system <drive:\path\filename>

    -or-

    copy software <drive:\path\filename>

    If they exist, save backups of other files that use file names that start with "system" or "software," such as System.sav or Software.sav.

  5. Replace the current System or Software file by typing:
  6. copy ..\..\repair\system

    -or-

    copy ..\..\repair\software

  7. Answer the Overwrite system? (Yes/No/All): prompt by pressing Y.
  8. Restart the computer.

If you are still unable to start your computer, consider performing a parallel operating system installation or an ASR restore operation. For more information about these two recovery options, see "Performing a Parallel Windows XP Professional Installation" and "Saving System Files and Settings by Using Automated System Recovery" later in this chapter. For more information about Stop messages, see "Common Stop Messages for Troubleshooting" in this book.

Consider these points when you replace the System or Software file with a backup copy from the systemroot\Repair folder:

  • The System and Software files in the repair folder might not be current. If the files are not current, you might need to update drivers, reinstall applications and service packs, and perform other configuration to bring your computer up-to-date.
  • The Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) that was available in Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 does not exist in Windows XP Professional. The option to create an ERD for updating the systemroot\Repair directory is not available.

To update the systemroot\Repair directory, use the option to save system state in Backup (Ntbackup.exe). Whenever you perform a backup operation with the System State option enabled, Backup updates the repair folder.

For more information about Backup and saving system state, see "Backup and Restore" in this book. Also see "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.

For more information about Recovery Console, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, and also see "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.

Recovery Console Alternatives

For x86-based systems, you have another option in addition to Recovery Console for accessing FAT16 and FAT32 partitions. If the FAT16 and FAT32 partitions were formatted by using an MSDOS startup floppy disk (FAT16), or an emergency boot disk created in Microsoft® Windows® 95 OSR2, Windows 98, or Windows Me, you can start your computer by using these startup floppy disks. Using the floppy disk method starts the system in a command-line environment that enables read and write access to the disk without using Recovery Console. You can pre-configure startup disks to include commonly used tools and additional drivers that provide CDROM or network access.

For information about creating and using a FAT16 or FAT32 emergency boot disk, see Windows 95 OSR2, Windows 98, or Windows Me Help. You cannot use an MSDOS boot disk or an emergency boot disk to view the contents of NTFS volumes.

Reviewing and Correcting Boot.ini Settings on x86-based Systems

The Boot.ini file, which is created during setup in the system root partition, contains information that Ntldr uses to display the startup menu. The Boot.ini file includes the path to the boot partition, descriptive text to display, and optional parameters. The Boot.ini file supports multiple installations of Windows XP Professional on the same computer and also supports multiple-boot configurations with other Microsoft operating systems installed in separate partitions. The following is an example of a Boot.ini file:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\Windows="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

Each Boot.ini file contains two sections:

[boot loader] Contains settings that apply to all the Windows XP Professional installations on a computer.

[operating systems] Contains settings that apply to a specific Windows XP Professional installation on the computer.

The default= line in the [boot loader] section points to the default operating system.

For multiple-boot systems that have Windows XP Professional and another Microsoft operating system, such as Windows 2000 Professional, additional entries might appear in the [operating systems] section as shown:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect

When more than one operating system is installed on a computer, a startup menu appears that is similar to the one shown in Figure 27-4.

Click to view graphic
Click to view graphic

Figure 27-4  Example of a startup menu for multiple-boot systems

The Boot.ini file uses the Advanced RISC Computing (ARC) naming convention to define the path to a Windows XP Professional installation. If the contents of the Boot.ini are incorrectly changed or the file becomes corrupt, you might not be able to start Windows XP Professional. To detect and correct Boot.ini problems you need to understand ARC paths.

ARC paths use the following formats:

multi(W)disk(X)rdisk(Y)partition(Z)\systemroot="Description"
scsi(W)disk(X)rdisk(Y)partition(Z)\systemroot="Description"
signature(V)disk(X)rdisk(Y)partition(Z)\systemroot="Description"

Windows XP Professional can use any of the preceding formats to locate the systemroot directory.

Multi( ) Syntax The multi( ) syntax instructs Windows XP Professional to rely on system BIOS calls to load system files. To achieve this, Ntldr uses interrupt 13 (also called INT-13) firmware instructions to locate Ntoskrnl.exe and other systemroot files needed to start Windows XP Professional. The multi( ) Boot.ini syntax is used for all controllers that provide INT-13 support for ATA and SCSI disks. Table 27-14 describes the multi( ) parameters, which follow this syntax:

multi(W)disk(X)rdisk(Y)partition(Z)

Table 27-14 describes the multi( ) parameters.

Table 27-14 Multi( ) Parameters

Parameter Multi( ) Parameter Descriptions
WSpecifies the drive controller number (also known as the ordinal number), typically 0. The first valid number is 0.
XThis value is always 0 when the multi( ) syntax is used.
YSpecifies a physical hard disk attached to drive controller W. For ATA controllers, this number is typically between 0 and 3. For SCSI controllers, this number is typically between 0 and 7, or 0 and 15, depending on the adapter type. The first valid number is 0.
ZSpecifies the partition number on the physical disk specified by parameter Y, attached to the controller specified by parameter W. All partitions in use are assigned a number. The first valid number is 1.

SCSI( ) Syntax The scsi( ) syntax informs Windows XP Professional that the startup SCSI controller does not support INT-13 calls and that a device driver, Ntbootdd.sys, is needed to access files on the boot partition.

The scsi( ) parameters follow this format:

scsi(W)disk(X)rdisk(Y)partition(Z)

Table 27-15 describes the SCSI( ) parameters.

Table 27-15 SCSI( ) Parameters

ParameterSCSI( ) Parameter Descriptions
WSpecifies the drive controller number (also known as the ordinal number), typically 0. The first valid number is 0.
XSpecifies a physical hard disk attached to drive controller W. For SCSI controllers, this number is typically between 0 and 7, or 0 and 15, depending on the adapter type. The first valid number is 0.
YSpecifies the SCSI logical unit number (LUN) of the disk that contains the boot partition. This value is typically 0 when the scsi( ) syntax is used.
ZSpecifies the partition number on the physical disk specified by parameter Y, attached to the controller specified by parameter W. All partitions in use are assigned a number. The first valid number is 1.

Signature( ) Syntax The signature( ) syntax shares similarities with the scsi( ) syntax and was implemented to support Plug and Play scenarios where you install additional drive controllers to your system. Windows XP Professional Setup determines whether to use the signature( ) syntax during installation. The signature( ) syntax is valid for systems equipped with either ATA or SCSI hard disks. The signature( ) parameters follow this syntax:

signature(V)disk(X)rdisk(Y)partition(Z)

The signature( ) syntax instructs Ntldr to locate the disk with the signature that matches the first value in parentheses, regardless of the controller number associated with the disk. A disk signature is a globally unique identifier (GUID) that is extracted from information in the MBR and written to the disk during the text-mode portion of Windows XP Professional Setup or during previous Windows 2000 and Windows XP Professional installations. This 128bit hexadecimal number uniquely identifies the disk.

If you see the signature( ) syntax used in the Boot.ini file, it means that Ntbootdd.sys is required to access the boot partition and one or both of the following conditions exist:

  • You installed Windows XP Professional to a hard disk partition larger than 7.8 gigabytes (GB) in size, the ending cylinder number is higher than 1024 for that partition, and the system firmware or startup controller BIOS cannot gain access by using extended INT13 calls.
  • The hard disk controller BIOS does not support extended INT13 calls or you have set this option to disabled by using the adapter's built-in setup utility. When Windows XP Professional is unable to use INT13 BIOS calls during the startup process, the file Ntbootdd.sys is required to access the boot partition.

Whenever possible, configure your storage controller to use INT13 BIOS calls. Consult the documentation for the storage adapter to determine the correct hardware settings.

Table 27-16 describes the signature( ) parameters.

Table 27-16  Signature( ) Parameters

ParameterSignature( ) Parameter Descriptions
VA 32-bit hexadecimal number extracted from the MBR that identifies the disk.
XSpecifies a physical hard disk with signature V, attached to any drive controller that uses Ntbootdd.sys. For SCSI controllers, this number is typically between 0 and 7, or 0 and 15, depending on the adapter type. The first valid number is 0.
YThis value is always 0 when the signature( ) syntax is used.
ZThe partition number on the physical disk with a signature matching V. The first valid number is 1.

NTBootdd.sys File Ntbootdd.sys is a copy of a storage controller device driver that resides on the root of the startup partition. Ntbootdd.sys is used when the Boot.ini specifies the scsi( ) syntax or when the signature( ) syntax is used for disk controllers with disabled firmware.

The Ntbootdd.sys file can be used for ATA disks, depending upon the type of controller used. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for hardware and driver installation when using add-in Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) ATA controllers with Windows XP Professional.

Boot.ini Parameters and Options The Boot.ini file consists of two sections, [boot loader] and [operating systems]. You can customize the startup process by editing these sections. Table 27-17 lists parameters for the [boot loader] section.

Table 27-17  Boot.ini [Boot Loader] Parameters

ParameterBoot.ini [Boot Loader] Parameter Descriptions
Timeout= secondsSpecifies the number of seconds that the startup menu is displayed before the operating system specified in the default= line is loaded.

  • If you set this value to 0, Ntldr immediately starts the default operating system without displaying the bootstrap loader screen.
  • If you set this value to -1, Ntldr displays the menu indefinitely unless you make a choice.

default=Specifies the ARC path to the default operating system.

Table 27-18 lists optional parameters that you can append to the ARC paths contained in the [operating systems] section of the Boot.ini file. For example, the following optional parameters limit memory usage to 64 MB:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\Windows="Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect /MAXMEM=64

Table 27-18  Boot.ini [Operating System] Parameters

ParameterDescription
/3GBSpecifies for x86-based systems that the operating system allocate 3 GB of virtual address space to applications and 1 GB to kernel and executive components. An application must be designed to take advantage of the additional memory address space.
/basevideoDirects the operating system to use standard VGA mode for the installed video driver (640 x 480 resolution with 16 available colors). If you install a new video driver, and it fails to work properly, you can use this parameter to start the operating system. You can then remove, update, or roll back the problem video driver.
/baudrate=Specifies the baud rate used for kernel debugging. The default baud rate is 9600 kilobits per second (Kbps) for modems up to 115,200 Kbps for a null-modem cable. Including this parameter in the Boot.ini file implies the /debug parameter.
/bootlogEnables boot logging to a file called systemroot\Ntbtlog.txt. For more information about boot logging, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center and "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.
/burnmemory=numberSpecifies an amount of memory, in megabytes, that Windows XP Professional cannot use. Use this parameter to confirm performance or other problems related to RAM depletion. For example, /burnmemory=128 would reduce the physical memory available to Windows XP Professional by 128 MB.
/crashdebugLoads the kernel debugger when you start Windows XP Professional but it remains inactive until a Stop message error occurs. This parameter is useful if you experience random kernel errors. For more information about Stop messages and debugging, see "Common Stop Messages for Troubleshooting" in this book.
/debugLoads the Windows kernel debugger when you start Windows XP Professional.
/debugport={com1|com2|1394} Specifies the communication port for kernel debugging, typically com1, com2, or 1394. Using this parameter in the Boot.ini file implies the /debug parameter.
/fastdetect ={com1|com2|comx,y,z...}Turns off serial and bus mouse detection in Ntdetect.com. Use if you have a component other than a mouse attached to a serial port during the startup process. If you use /fastdetect without specifying a communication port, serial mouse detection is disabled on all communication ports.
/maxmem=numberSpecifies the maximum amount of RAM that Windows XP Professional can use. Use this parameter to confirm whether a memory chip is faulty. For example, if you have a 128MB system that is equipped with two 64MB RAM modules and you are experiencing memory-related Stop messages, you can specify /maxmem=64. If the computer starts Windows XP Professional and operates without problems, replace the first module to see if this resolves the problem.
/noguibootDisables the bitmap that displays the progress bar for Windows XP Professional startup (the progress bar appears just prior to the logon prompt).
/nodebugDisables kernel debugging.
/numproc=numberAllows you to force a multi-CPU system to use only the quantity of processors specified.
/pcilockFor x86-based systems, stops the operating system from dynamically assigning hardware input and output, and interrupt request resources to PCI devices. Allows the BIOS to configure the devices.
/safeboot:parameterForces a start in safe mode by using the specified parameters. The available parameters are:
  • minimal
  • network
  • safeboot:minimal(alternateshell)
You can combine other Boot.ini parameters with the /safeboot: parameter. The following examples illustrate the parameters that are in effect when you select a safe mode option from the startup recovery menu.
  • Safe Mode with Networking
  • /safeboot:minimal /sos /bootlog /noguiboot

  • Safe Mode with Networking
  • /safeboot:network /sos /bootlog /noguiboot
  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt
  • /safeboot:minimal(alternateshell) /sos /bootlog /noguiboot

For more information about safe mode, see "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.
/sos Displays the name of each device driver as it loads. Use when startup fails (while loading drivers) to determine which driver is failing to load.

Editing and repairing the Boot.ini file When you install Windows XP Professional, the hidden file attribute for Boot.ini is set by default. To edit the Boot.ini file, you can use the following tools:

  • Bootcfg.exe
  • System Configuration Utility (Msconfig.exe)
  • Control Panel
  • A text editor (such as Notepad.exe)

Bootcfg.exe is a new command-line tool for Windows XP Professional.

To use Bootcfg.exe to view or edit the Boot.ini file

  • To view the contents of the Boot.ini file, at the command prompt type bootcfg /query.
  • To edit the Boot.ini file, use the bootcfg /Addsw or bootcfg /Rmsw command to change Boot.ini options. For a list of parameters, at the command prompt type bootcfg /?.

For more information about Bootcfg.exe, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center.

To use the System Configuration Utility to edit the Boot.ini file

  1. In the Run dialog box, type msconfig, and then click OK.
  2. Click the BOOT.INI tab.
  3. You can move individual Boot.ini lines up or down, or you can add Boot Options settings to each ARC path by selecting the check box associated with each parameter.

For more information about the System Configuration Utility, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center, also see and "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.

To use Control Panel to edit the Boot.ini file

  1. In Control Panel, open System.
  2. Click the Advanced tab, and in the Startup and Recovery box, click Settings.
  3. In the System Startup area, click Edit or select from the options listed in Default operating system.
  4. Clicking Edit causes Notepad to read the contents of Boot.ini for editing. For multiple-boot systems, the option that you select in Default operating system updates the Boot.ini default= ARC path entry in [boot loader].

When you install Windows XP Professional, the hidden and read only file attributes for the systemdrive\Boot.ini file are set by default. Before using the following procedure, you need to clear these attributes by typing attrib %systemdrive%:\boot.ini -h -r at the command prompt.

To use Notepad or another text editor to edit the Boot.ini file

  1. In the Run dialog box, type cmd, and then click OK.
  2. Type notepad (or another text-editing program that you prefer to use) at the command prompt.
  3. On the File menu, click Open, and then specify systemdrive\Boot.ini. The environment variable systemdrive represents the drive letter assigned to the system partition.

Replacing a Damaged Boot.ini If your system fails to start due to a damaged Boot.ini file, you can use the following methods to replace the file or to correct errors.

The bootcfg command is a new addition to the Windows XP Professional Recovery Console.

To use the Recovery Console bootcfg command to rebuild a Boot.ini file (Automatic Method)

  1. Start Recovery Console.
  2. At the Recovery Console prompt, type bootcfg /rebuild.
  3. Windows XP Professional scans the hard disks on your system and checks for Windows installations. You can then rebuild the Boot.ini file.

To use Recovery Console to create a new Boot.ini file (Manual Method)

  1. Start Recovery Console.
  2. For more information about installing and using Recovery Console, see "Using Recovery Console" earlier in this chapter and "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book.

  3. From the Recovery Console prompt, type:
  4. map

    A list appears containing hard disk and partition information for Windows XP Professional and other operating systems, such as Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0. Record and use this information to correct errors to an existing Boot.ini file, or to create a new Boot.ini file by using a text editor, such as Notepad, on another computer. (You must use another computer because Recovery Console does not provide text-editing tools.)

When you are trying to copy an existing Boot.ini file to a floppy disk to edit on another computer, be aware that floppy disk write access is disabled by default. For information about using Recovery Console to enable write access to floppy disks, see "Tools for Troubleshooting" in this book, and also see article Q235364, "Description of the SET Command in Recovery Console," in the Microsoft Knowledge Base. To find this article, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base link on the Web Resources page at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/reskits/webresources.

Reviewing and Correcting NVRAM Startup Settings on Itanium-based Systems

Unlike x86-based systems, Itanium-based systems do not require a Boot.ini file to track ARC paths to Windows XP Professional installations and startup options. Instead, Windows XP Professional writes this information to NVRAM during installation, and the EFI boot manager displays a menu with these options when you start your computer. You can manage NVRAM settings by using the following tools:

  • Bootcfg.exe
  • Nvrboot.efi

Bootcfg.exe

Bootcfg.exe is a new command-line tool that allows you to add or change Windows XP Professional startup parameters stored in NVRAM. Always use Bootcfg.exe to avoid typing errors that can occur when manually editing settings. For more information about Bootcfg.exe, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center.

Nvrboot.efi

To safeguard against corrupted NVRAM data, Setup writes the boot manager entry that corresponds to a specific installation to a file named BootNNNN. Table 27-19 describes a possible scenario where BootNNNN files are written to disk after you install Windows XP Professional three times on the same system (as part of a multiple-boot configuration). In addition, separate WINNT50.x folders exist for each Windows XP Professional installation.

Table 27-19  WINNT50.x Folder and BootNNNN File Details and Locations

AttributeFile Details and Locations
InstallationFirstSecondThird
BootNNNNBoot0004Boot0005Boot0006
Disk locationEFI\Microsoft\WINNT50EFI\Microsoft\WINNT50.0EFI\Microsoft\WINNT50.1

In the preceding table, the value of x can vary. For example, if you have also installed two non-Windows-brand operating systems on the computer, the values for x in Table 27-19 could be 3, 4, and 5, representing three successive Windows XP Professional installations. Setup determines the value of NNNN based on the NVRAM boot id entry used during installation, and the value of NNNN depends on the number of boot entries present. Therefore, it is possible for identically named BootNNNN files to exist in two different EFI\Microsoft\WINNT50.x directories.

You can recover from problems caused by corrupted or deleted NVRAM settings by using Nvrboot.efi, which is a menu-driven tool. The Nvrboot.efi tool enables you to restore boot manager startup options saved to BootNNNN files. If the boot manager option that allows you to select one or more Windows XP Professional installations is missing, Nvrboot.efi enables you to restore any or all entries by doing the following:

  • Importing individual BootNNNN files that are stored in WINNT50.x folders.
  • Exporting some or all EFI boot manager entries to a user-specified location. You can then use the backups generated by Nvrboot.efi to restore missing NVRAM entries.

The steps that you must follow to run Nvrboot.efi vary by computer manufacturer. For more information about starting and using Nvrboot.efi, review your system documentation. Methods that the EFI boot manager might provide to start Nvrboot.efi include startup menu items similar to the following:

  • EFI Console. Selecting this option enables you to navigate to the MSUtil folder on the EFI System partition. From the EFI command-line, type:
  • nvrboot

  • Other Options. Choosing this option might display a submenu from which you can select the option to start the EFI console. You can then navigate to the MSUtil folder on the EFI System partition and start Nvrboot.efi.

Nvrboot.efi also provides other options, such as appending startup parameters listed in Table 27-18.

For more information about using Nvrboot.efi, see article Q298872, "How to Modify NVRAM with Nvrboot.efi," in the Microsoft Knowledge Base. To find these articles, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base link on the Web Resources page at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/reskits/webresources.

Performing a Parallel Windows XP Professional Installation

Infrequently, startup files and critical areas on the hard disk become corrupted. If you are mainly concerned with salvaging readable data files and using the Backup tool to copy them to backup media or a network location, you can perform a parallel Windows XP Professional installation.

To perform a parallel installation of Windows XP Professional

  1. Restart the computer by using the Windows XP Professional operating system CD. If prompted, press any key to start the system from the CD-ROM.
  2. If more than one usable disk partition exists, Setup displays a list from which you can select. Setup also allows you to create new partitions or delete existing ones. If installing to the same partition as the existing Windows XP Professional installation, Setup prompts you for a file name (for example, Windows.tmp).

  3. Accept default options and proceed through the installation process. When prompted with formatting options, select Leave the current file system intact (no changes) if you are performing a parallel installation of Windows XP Professional to a partition that contains data. Do not select the Format option because this deletes all data on the partition.

Complete the parallel installation and start the second Windows XP Professional installation. You can now access files on other volumes and copy them to a safe location.

Saving System Files and Settings by Using Automated System Recovery

The Backup tool adds a new feature called Automated System Recovery (ASR) that enables you to recover from situations where you cannot easily repair system partition damage. ASR works by writing operating system files onto backup media, and hard disk configuration information to floppy disk.

If you have a recent ASR backup set to use, you can begin an ASR restore by using the Windows XP Professional operating system CD to start your system. During the text-mode setup phase, wait for the Press F5 to run Automated System Recovery (ASR) prompt to appear. Respond to the prompt by pressing F5, and follow the instructions on the screen.

For more information about ASR or about using Backup to save system state information, see Windows XP Professional Help and Support Center. Also see "Backup and Restore" in this book.


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Last Updated: June 2, 2003
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