10 things you can do when XP won't boot

Discussion in 'Tech Heads' started by Solayce, May 25, 2006.

  1. Solayce

    Solayce Would you like some making **** BERSERKER!!! Staff Member

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    10 things you can do when XP won't boot
    http://techrepublic.com.com/5100-10877_11-6031733.html#

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    If your computer powers up okay, but the Windows XP operating system won't boot properly, you have some troubleshooting ahead of you. Here's a look at the likely culprits and what you can do to fix the problem.



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    When your computer hardware appears to power up okay, but the Windows XP operating system won't boot properly, you have to begin a troubleshooting expedition that includes getting into the operating system, determining the problem, and then fixing it. To help you get started on this expedition, here are 10 things you can do when Windows XP won't boot.

    #1: Use a Windows startup disk
    One of the first things you should reach for when troubleshooting a Windows XP boot problem is a Windows startup disk. This floppy disk can come in handy if the problem is being caused when either the startup record for the active partition or the files that the operating system uses to start Windows have become corrupted.

    To create a Windows startup disk, insert a floppy disk into the drive of a similarly configured, working Windows XP system, launch My Computer, right-click the floppy disk icon, and select the Format command from the context menu. When you see the Format dialog box, leave all the default settings as they are and click the Start button. Once the format operation is complete, close the Format dialog box to return to My Computer, double-click the drive C icon to access the root directory, and copy the following three files to the floppy disk:

    Boot.ini
    NTLDR
    Ntdetect.com

    After you create the Windows startup disk, insert it into the floppy drive on the afflicted system and press [Ctrl][Alt][Delete] to reboot the computer. When you boot from the Windows startup disk, the computer will bypass the active partition and boot files on the hard disk and attempt to start Windows XP normally.

    #2: Use Last Known Good Configuration
    You can also try to boot the operating system with the Last Known Good Configuration feature. This feature will allow you to undo any changes that caused problems in the CurrentControlSet registry key, which defines hardware and driver settings. The Last Known Good Configuration feature replaces the contents of the CurrentControlSet registry key with a backup copy that was last used to successfully start up the operating system.

    To use the Last Known Good Configuration feature, first restart the computer by pressing [Ctrl][Alt][Delete]. When you see the message Please select the operating system to start or hear the single beep, press [F8] to display the Windows Advanced Options menu. Select the Last Known Good Configuration item from the menu and press [Enter].

    Keep in mind that you get only one shot with the Last Known Good Configuration feature. In other words, if it fails to revive your Windows XP on the first attempt, the backup copy is also corrupt.

    #3: Use System Restore
    Another tool that might be helpful when Windows XP won't boot is System Restore. System Restore runs in the background as a service and continually monitors system-critical components for changes. When it detects an impending change, System Restore immediately makes backup copies, called restore points, of these critical components before the change occurs. In addition, System Restore is configured by default to create restore points every 24 hours.

    To use System Restore, first restart the computer by pressing [Ctrl][Alt][Delete]. When you see the message Please select the operating system to start or hear the single beep, press [F8] to display the Windows Advanced Options menu. Now, select the Safe Mode item from the menu and press [Enter].

    Once Windows XP boots into Safe mode, click the Start button, access the All Programs | Accessories | System Tools menu, and select System Restore. Because you're running in Safe mode, the only option on the opening screen of the System Restore wizard is Restore My Computer To An Earlier Time, and it's selected by default, so just click Next. Then, follow along with the wizard to select a restore point and begin the restoration procedure.

    #4: Use Recovery Console
    When a Windows XP boot problem is severe, you'll need to use a more drastic approach. The Windows XP CD is bootable and will provide you with access to a tool called Recovery Console.

    To boot from the Windows XP CD, insert it into the CD-ROM drive on the problem system and press [Ctrl][Alt][Delete] to reboot the computer. Once the system begins booting from the CD, simply follow the prompts that will allow the loading of the basic files needed to run Setup. When you see the Welcome To Setup screen, shown in Figure A, press R to start the Recovery Console.

    Figure A
    [​IMG]


    You'll then see a Recovery Console menu, like the one shown in Figure B. It displays the folder containing the operating system's files and prompts you to choose the operating system you want to log on to. Just press the menu number on the keyboard, and you'll be prompted to enter the Administrator's password. You'll then find yourself at the main Recovery Console prompt.

    Figure B
    [​IMG]


    #5: Fix a corrupt Boot.ini
    As the Windows XP operating system begins to load, the Ntldr program refers to the Boot.ini file to determine where the operating system files reside and which options to enable as the operating system continues to load. So if there's a problem rooted in the Boot.ini file, it can render Windows XP incapable of booting correctly.

    If you suspect that Windows XP won't boot because Boot.ini has been corrupted, you can use the special Recovery Console version of the Bootcfg tool to fix it. Of course, you must first boot the system with the Windows XP CD and access the Recovery Console as described in #4.

    To use the Bootcfg tool, from the Recovery Console command prompt, type

    Bootcfg /parameter

    Where /parameter is one of these required parameters:

    /Add--Scans the disk for all Windows installations and allows you to add any new ones to the Boot.ini file.
    /Scan--Scans the disk for all Windows installations.
    /List--Lists each entry in the Boot.ini file.
    /Default--Sets the default operating system as the main boot entry.
    /Rebuild--Completely re-creates the Boot.ini file. The user must confirm each step.
    /Redirect--Allows the boot operation to be redirected to a specific port when using the Headless Administration feature. The Redirect parameter takes two parameters of its own, [Port Baudrate ] | [UseBiosSettings].
    /Disableredirect--Disables the redirection.

    #6: Fix a corrupt partition boot sector
    The partition boot sector is a small section of the hard disk partition that contains information about the operating system's file system (NTFS or FAT32), as well as a very small machine language program that is crucial in assisting the operating system as it loads.

    If you suspect that Windows XP won't boot because the partition boot sector has been corrupted, you can use a special Recovery Console tool called Fixboot to fix it. Start by booting the system with the Windows XP CD and accessing the Recovery Console as described in #4.

    To use the Fixboot tool, from the Recovery Console command prompt, type

    Fixboot [drive]:

    Where [drive] is the letter of the drive to which you want to write a new partition boot sector.

    #7: Fix a corrupt master boot record
    The master boot record occupies the first sector on the hard disk and is responsible for initiating the Windows boot procedure. The master boot record contains the partition table for the disk as well as a small program called the master boot code, which is responsible for locating the active, or bootable, partition, in the partition table. Once this occurs, the partition boot sector takes over and begins loading Windows. If the master boot record is corrupt, the partition boot sector can't do its job and Windows won't boot.

    If you suspect Windows XP won't boot because the master boot record has been corrupted, you can use the Recovery Console tool Fixmbr to fix it. First, boot the system with the Windows XP CD and access the Recovery Console as described in #4.

    To use the Fixmbr tool, from the Recovery Console command prompt, type

    Fixmbr [device_name]

    Where [device_name] is the device pathname of the drive to which you want to write a new master boot record. For example, the device pathname format for a standard bootable drive C configuration would look like this:

    \Device\HardDisk0


    #8: Disable automatic restart

    When Windows XP encounters a fatal error, the default setting for handling such an error is to automatically reboot the system. If the error occurs while Windows XP is booting, the operating system will become stuck in a reboot cycle--rebooting over and over instead of starting up normally. In that case, you'll need to disable the option for automatically restarting on system failure.

    When Windows XP begins to boot up and you see the message Please select the operating system to start or hear the single beep, press [F8] to display the Windows Advanced Options Menu. Then, select the Disable The Automatic Restart On System Failure item and press [Enter]. Now, Windows XP will hang up when it encounters the error and with any luck, it will display a stop message you can use to diagnose the problem.

    #9: Restore from a backup
    If you can't seem to repair a Windows XP system that won't boot and you have a recent backup, you can restore the system from the backup media. The method you use to restore the system will depend on what backup utility you used, so you'll need to follow the utility's instructions on how to perform a restore operation.

    #10: Perform an in-place upgrade
    If you can't repair a Windows XP system that won't boot and you don't have a recent backup, you can perform an in-place upgrade. Doing so reinstalls the operating system into the same folder, just as if you were upgrading from one version of Windows to another. An in-place upgrade will usually solve most, if not all, Windows boot problems.

    Performing a Windows XP in-place upgrade is pretty straightforward. To begin, insert the Windows XP CD into the drive, restart your system, and boot from the CD. Once the initial preparation is complete, you'll see the Windows XP Setup screen (shown earlier in Figure A). Press [Enter] to launch the Windows XP Setup procedure. In a moment, you'll see the License Agreement page and will need to press [F8] to acknowledge that you agree. Setup will then search the hard disk looking for a previous installation of Windows XP. When it finds the previous installation, you'll see a second Windows XP Setup screen, as shown in Figure C.

    Figure C
    [​IMG]


    This screen will prompt you to press R to repair the selected installation or to press [Esc] to install a fresh copy of Windows XP. In this case, initiating a repair operation is synonymous with performing an in-place upgrade, so you'll need to press R. When you do so, Setup will examine the disk drives in the system. It will then begin performing the in-place upgrade.

    Keep in mind that after you perform an in-place upgrade or repair installation, you must reinstall all updates to Windows.
     
  2. Solayce

    Solayce Would you like some making **** BERSERKER!!! Staff Member

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    21,660
    On the following thread:

    CHKDSK /P fixes 95% of all Windows XP boot problems in my experience. It is run from the Recovery Console as described in some of the other steps. Run CHKDSK /P first, then reboot and hope for Windows. If it blue screens again, go back into the Recovery Console and try the "in place upgrade" as described. If you find there is no OS found to "upgrade", reboot, back into the recovery console, and then run BOOTCFG /ADD or /REBUILD, and name the XP install if found. If BOOTCFG /REBUILD wont finish, slave the hard drive in another system and run a full disk check from within Windows. After all 5 tests complete, backup your data just in case, and reinstall HDD in the original PC. Go through the original steps again that I mentioned and oftentimes the XP install will show up for the "in place upgrade". If no luck, well you just backed up, so blow it out and start over. Trust me, this is the way to go.

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    For SATA problems:

    Floppy boot disk boot.ini file

    After reading this article I decided a boot floppy whould be a good thing to have. I followed the procedures and when I tried to boot on the floppy XP would not boot. I contacted Microsoft Help explained my configuration and spent a week passing emails back and forth. Finally after more research I figured out the problem myself. My system is configured to boot from a SATA drive and also has an eide hard drive. The boot.ini file located on the SATA "C:" drive will not work as is. It must be changed as follows:
    [boot loader]
    timeout=30
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn /usepmtimer
    after telling windows where the operating system is "rdisk(1) everything worked as advertised. I spent a lot of time figuring out this problem but learned something in the process; don't rely on Microsoft help and troubleshooting steps cannot cover every variable.
     
  3. Crydee

    Crydee TZT Regular

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    with windoze if you can't boot 1) hope you put all your data on a seperate partition 2) delete your windows partition 3) reformat .. to keep a windows system stable reformatting is a neccessity almost every 6 months or performance really starts to decline imo
     
  4. Harper

    Harper encrypted account, pls don't sniff my packet

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    None of those were very funny.
     
  5. Myzz

    Myzz TZT Journeyman

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    On behalf of Solayce, I don't think this was designed to be a humorous post. Sorry you feel mislead.
     
  6. Rulan

    Rulan TZT Veteran

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    1,767
    Perfectdisk fucked up my install (oh teh irony) and I'm getting the NTLDR missing message on boot (strangely, if I have the Windows CD in the drive, and just let it skip the CD and boot from hard drive, the system boots OK). I'm going to try #5-7 tonight and hopefully that fixes it.
     
  7. Rulan

    Rulan TZT Veteran

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    weird, i dont have the option bootcfg /rebuild (i did /? for list) nor is /P a valid param for chkdsk

    ( i did this from within windows cmd not recovery console, that could be why, will check next time i reboot)
     
  8. Marglar

    Marglar TZT Abuser

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    11: reimage your computer and spend less time fucking with it.
     
  9. Rulan

    Rulan TZT Veteran

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    reinstalled windows, still getting NTLDR missing.. i realized through smashing the keyboard with my face that a menu comes up where I can choose to boot from my hard disk (a list of my 5 partitions come up and i can select the right one), which then loads my OS properly. So something (thanks perfectfuckingdisk) made it set to try and boot from my non-OS partition and i cant fix it with fixboot, bootcfg, or even a fresh reinstall.. i am lost.
     
  10. Solayce

    Solayce Would you like some making **** BERSERKER!!! Staff Member

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    Sounds like it installed a boot loader.
     
  11. Rulan

    Rulan TZT Veteran

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    1,767
    I googled "boot loader remove" and a bunch of other random combinations to try and figure out what you mean, and came up with nothing.. do you know how to fix this?
     
  12. Solayce

    Solayce Would you like some making **** BERSERKER!!! Staff Member

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    OK, just skimmed some info about Perfect disk. I don't think that occurred (installed a bootloader). You have done the fixmbr and and didn't work?


    **edit**

    Also, let's move this into it's own thread so as not to clutter up the sticky.
     
  13. Rulan

    Rulan TZT Veteran

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    Yeah I did fixmbr, and made new boot sector and all that. The only thing I didn't do properly was the bootcfg /rebuild (I didn't know what options to set, so when it asked for the product info I left it blank). I'm going to try properly doing the /rebuild, then removing the old entry in the boot.ini and leaving the one it creates, and see if that fixes it. I don't think it will though. Because I looked at the old entry and the risk(0)disk(1) etc shit is the same in the version that wasn't working, as it was in the newly created rebuild entry, the rebuild entry just didn't have the "Microsoft Windows XP Professional" in it.
     
  14. SkafflocTZ

    SkafflocTZ TZT Addict

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    You left out the best option.

    Get an Ubuntu Linux install CD - place in install drive.... install.
     
  15. Marglar

    Marglar TZT Abuser

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    or my favorite time saving option.. reimage your hard drive. :]
     
  16. Chemosh

    Chemosh TZT Addict

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    Then wonder why you're 100 apps that you paid for don't work on unbuntu.

    As soon as they can get VMs a bit more streamlined i'll VM my system.
     
  17. Fezgig

    Fezgig TZT Neckbeard

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    XP won't boot for me on my fucking useless Dell.

    I think the time off and sudden day trading shocked it. :cry:
     
  18. TulionKT

    TulionKT Spamaton Will Rise Again

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    My method when XP won't boot is tossing your computer in front of a moving bus.