Fixing Boot Problems in Windows XP
It can be quite frustrating if you cannot get Windows XP to boot. Here are several things to try, which can solve boot problems:
- Look for clues where it hangs. First, if your computer is cycling through reboots, press F8 after the first beep of the reboot and select Disable the Automatic Restart on System Failure. Next time you boot, when the computer hangs, it may give you some clues to the problem.
- Use a Windows XP Boot Disk. This assumes you have made one prior to your problem. To create a boot disk, begin by formatting a floppy disk. Then copy the following files onto the disk: boot.ini, NTLDR, and ntdetect.com. Alternatively, you should be able to create this with a CD.
- Use System Restore. Assuming you can boot in Safe Mode (press F8 on reboot immediately after hearing a single beep, then select Safe Mode from the list of choices), from the Start menu, go to Accessories | System Tools and select System Restore. Follow the wizard interface to restore your machine to a previous point. Note that you will not lose any data, but you may have to reinstall some applications.
- Use Last Known Good Configuration. The Last Know Good Configuration is another option in the menu where you find Safe Mode when rebooting your computer. For more information on Last Known Good Configuration view Microsoft article #307852.
- Use the Recovery Console on your XP Disk. Reboot your computer with your Windows XP installation disk, and select the Recovery Console. From the Recovery Console, you can select which OS to log into (if this is your only OS on the machine, only one will be listed). When prompted, enter the administrator password (the default is blank -- just hit Enter). For more information on the Recovery Console view Microsoft article #307654.
- Use your backup. Many folks don't backup, while others just backup their data, but if you have a complete system backup, you can use that.
- Fix corrupted partition boot sector and/or master boot record. To fix a corrupt partition boot sector, go back to the Recovery Console and type fixboot c:. To fix the master boot record, you also use the Recovery Console. From there, enter fixmbr \Device\HardDisk0. This assumes that you are booting from c: and c: is on harddisk 0.
- Try reinstalling Windows XP. Boot from your Windows XP disk, and select Repair. Repair will overwrite your existing Windows installation but not destroy your data. After the repair completes, go to Windows Update (requires IE 5 or higher) to re-install all patches. Note that you may also need to reinstall some applications.