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10 Things To Do If Windows XP Wont Boot

10 Things To Do If Windows XP Wont Boot

10 Computer Repair Tips to Fix Windows When You Can Get XP to Load

What do you do when your Windows XP operating system won’t boot?

Although throwing your computer out the Window or grabbing a sledge hammer seem like the appropriate answer, there are actual several simple methods to get Windows XP to boot. If all the computer’s hardware seems to be working (running and making a normal noise) it’s likely that some system files have been corrupted are the cause of your problems.

Before you send the machine off to the technicians or start ripping apart the hardware, try these simple fixes which should get Windows XP to boot up again.

what to do when windows wont boot

What To Do When Windows XP Wont Boot

  1. Windows Start-up Disk
  2. Last Known Good Configurations
  3. System Restore
  4. Recovery Console
  5. Corrupted Boot.ini File
  6. Partition Boot Sector
  7. Master Boot Record
  8. Automatic Restart
  9. Back-up
  10. Upgrade

1. Use a Windows startup disk

One of the first things you should do if you’re Windows XP won’t boot, is to create and run a Windows Startup disk.

If the any of the startup files have been corrupted, this floppy disk can help re-configure them.

To make the startup disk, insert a floppy disk into a computer that has a working XP system similar to your own.

Navigate to ‘My Computer’ > right-click the floppy disk icon > select ‘Format’

Leave all default settings as they are and click Start.

After completion, return to ‘My Computer’ > double-click the drive C icon to access the root directory

Copy the following three files to the floppy disk:

  • Boot.ini
  • NTLDR
  • Ntdetect.com

Insert the startup disk into your afflicted system and press Ctrl + Alt + Delete to reboot the computer.

The computer will now boot from the startup disk, bypassing the active partition and the boot files on the hard disk. Windows XP should then start normally.

2. Use Last Known Good Configuration

Another good thing to try is to revert back to the Last Known Good Configuration. This feature replaces the contents of the CurrentControlSet registry key with a back up copy of the registry key that was last used to successfully start the operating system.

To do this you must restart your computer by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete.

You should now see a message saying ‘Please select the operating system to start’, or you will hear a single beep.

Press F8 to bring up the ‘Windows Advanced Option Menu’.

Select the Last Known Good Configuration item from the menu and press Enter.

Bear in mind that this feature only works once, so if it doesn’t work on the first attempt, then the back up copy is also corrupt and you’ll have to move on with your diagnosis and repair.

3. Use System Restore

The system restore feature detects impending changes and immediately creates restore points (backup copies) of critical components before the changes occur.

System Restore runs in the background and is also configured to create restore points every 24 hours.

To run the system restore feature you must first access the Windows Advanced Options Menu as described in tip 2.

[Restart the computer by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete > Press F8 to bring up the Windows Advanced Options Menu]

Select ‘Safe Mode’ item from the menu and press Enter.

Windows will then boot in Safe mode.

Click Start > navigate to All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore.

The System Restore wizard will be by default set at ‘Restore My Computer To An Earlier Time’ so click Next.

Simply follow the wizard and select a restore point, once this is done, the wizard will begin the restoration procedure.

4. Use Recovery Console

If the above tips don’t work, it could mean that your windows boot problem is severe. Resorting to the bootable Windows XP CD and accessing the recovery console could help you fix the corrupt system files.

To boot from the Windows disk, insert the CD into the drive and restart the computer by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete.

The system will then boot from the CD, simply follow the prompts that allow the loading of the basic files needed to run Setup.

When you see the ‘Welcome To Set UP’ screen, press R to access the ‘Recovery Console’ menu

The Recovery Console displays the folder which contains the operating systems files; you will then be prompted to select the operating system you wish to log on to.

Press the corresponding number on your keyboard and enter the Administrators password.

You’ll then find yourself at the main Recovery Console prompt.

5. Fix a corrupt Boot.ini

A program called the Ntldr starts up as the operating system begins to load. This program refers to the Boot.ini file and determines where the system files are located and which options to enable as the system continues to load.

If there is a problem in the Boot.ini file, Windows may not start up. It is possible to fix this by using the special Recovery Console version of the Bootcfg tool.

Boot the system with the Windows XP CD and access the Recovery Console as described in tip 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 the partition boot sector has been corrupted, Windows will not start up. A special tool from the Recovery Console called Fixboot can help resolve this problem.

First you must boot the system with the Windows XP CD and access the Recovery Console as described in tip 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 first sector on the hard disk is occupied by the master boot record which 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.

If the master boot record is corrupt, the partition boot sector can’t do its job and Windows won’t boot.

Another tool from the Recovery Console called Fixmbr can help resolve this problem.

To use the Fixmbr tool, boot the system with the Windows XP CD and access the Recovery Console as described in tip 4.

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:

  • DeviceHardDisk0

8. Disable automatic restart

If Windows encounters a fatal error, the default settings tell the system to restart. If the problem occurs during while Windows XP is still booting, the operating system can become trapped in a constant rebooting cycle.

To solve this problem you will need to disable the The Automatic Restart On System Failure option.

Access the Windows Advanced Options Menu as described in tip 2.

Then select the ‘Disable The Automatic Restart On System Failure’ item and press Enter.

Now when Windows encounters an error it will hang up and hopefully display a stop message that can be used to diagnose the problem.

9. Restore from a backup

If Windows still fails to boot, you may have to resort to restoring your system from back up media.

The method you use to restore the system will depend on what backup utility you used, you should refer to the manufacturers’ instructions on how to perform a restore operation.

10: Perform an in-place upgrade

If you don’t have a back up utility you‘ll have to bite the bullet and perform an in-place upgrade. By doing this you are simply replacing all the system files into the same folder, similar to an upgrade. This will most likely solve most, if not all of your Windows problems.

To begin, insert the Windows XP CD into the drive, restart your system, and boot from the CD.

At the Windows XP Setup screen press Enter to launch the Windows XP Setup procedure.

After a few moments you’ll see the License Agreement page, 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.

You will be prompted to press R to repair the installation or press Esc to install a fresh copy of Windows XP

Press R to repair Setup will then examine the disk drives in the system and begin performing the in-place upgrade.

After the upgrade you’ll have to reinstall all Windows updates however the reward will be a clean smooth operating system.


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One Comment

  1. Or shift to Vista :) Often corrupted files or lost data can be restored using a recovery tool or software. So I would not panic, yet.

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