Startup Issues Windows Xp/Vista

A common problem for users is when out of the blue your PC won’t start. Sometimes it just hangs there and does nothing and other times it simply gives an error and reboots.

When this happens you often think, “If only I had made a back-up” or ” I wish I had made a boot disk”.

Don’t let it get to this point. It takes minutes to make a boot disk which could save you hours of work trying to restore your system.

Make a back-up of your system
Before installing important updates or before you make any major changes to your hardware it is advisable to back-up your system. You can back-up to CDs/DVDs Zip Disks, use Windows Back-up/Restore wizard or use third party backup software.

How to use System files to create a boot disk for Wimdows XP. (Not to be confused with an MS Dos start-up disk)
If you have a start-up problem, this disk can be used to bypass your system start-up files and boot directly from the disk files and under the right circumstances start Window normally.

Open your C: drive (or whatever your system drive letter is) in Windows Explorer. If Explorer displays a warning, click Show the contents of this folder. To display the particular files you need, select Tools, Folder Options then click the View tab. Make sure Show hidden files and folders is selected, and un-check Hide protected operating system files

1. Insert a blank floppy disk into drive A, and then format the disk by using Windows XP.
2. From the root folder of the system partition of your hard disk drive (for example, C:), copy the following files to the floppy disk:


3. Restore the hidden, system, and read-only attributes to the files on your hard disk if you removed these attributes.

Make the disk write protected and mark it as “Boot Disk” and date it. Most importantly, keep it safe.

Set your system to create a Boot log every time it boots up. Windows XP
1. Click Start, Run and type MSCONFIG
This will start the system configuration Utility.

2. Click on the Boot.ini Tab and check the Box next to /Boot log, click apply and Restart system.
When system has restarted go to your windows directory and at the bottom (usually) you will find a file called NTBTLOG.txt. This will list all drivers weather loaded or not on your system. This file will be overwritten at next start-up so if you are having problems then it would be a good idea to rename this file in case it’s needed. You can. however, access this file from the recovery console without it being over written.

If your computer won’t start normally then there are a couple of things you can try.
1. Boot into “Safe Mode” Windows XP/Vista
This is done by hitting F8 at start-up. The windows advanced options will be displayed. Using your arrow keys select Start system in safe Mode. If windows starts in safe mode without error then the problem you are having might have been caused by a driver or start-up issue.

If the problem persists then it could point to a Hardware problem or corrupt operating system files. Check for errors with your hardware devices. These can be found in the Device manager.

2. Enable Boot logging. Windows XP/Vista
If your system is not already setup for Boot logging then you can enable boot from widows advanced options by selecting Enable Boot logging. This will create a text in your windows directory called ntbtlog.txt. It will list all the drivers loaded and those not loaded at start-up. This could prove useful when determining if a driver is causing your boot problem.

3. Last Known Good Configuration. Windows XP/Vista
When Windows starts normally your system will mark the boot configurations as being good. Using the Last Known Good Configuration from windows advanced options could restore your system to the last known good configuration.

4. Event Viewer. Windows XP/Vista
The Event Viewer can be found In Administrative tools which can be found in the control panel. This is part of the Microsoft Management System. Logs are kept of your computers activity. These logs can be checked to find a clue as to why your system has failed.

How to start Windows from Windows Recovery Console. Windows XP
If you can’t repair your system from safe mode then it may be necessary to use the Recovery Console. To access the Recovery Console you will need your operating system installation disk.

1. Place the installation disk into your CD/DVD drive and reboot your computer.
2. Hit any key when you see the message BBoot from cd hit any key

Your system will begin to load necessary drivers. When completed the windows setup screen will be displayed.

3. Hit the R key to start the Recovery Console.
4. Select by number the drive which needs to be repaired.
5. When prompted enter the administrator password. (If there is no password simply hit enter).

You will now be at the command prompt for your drive.

6. Type chkdsk /p

7. If you receive errors type chkdsk /r

The recovery console will now repair corrupt files. Be patient. It may take some time!

When the repair console has finished and if your system starts normally then it would be prudent to download all necessary updates from Microsoft.

If the above command doesn’t work type fixmbr at the recovery console command prompt. This could fix the master boot record and allow Windows to start normally.

System Configuration Utility for Windows XP .

1. Click start run and type MSCONFIG

This will start the System configuration Utility. You can try a number of things here to help restore your system.

2. Under the General Tab check the box next to Selective Start-up.Then un-check the Following:

Process System.ini File
Process WIN.INI File

Load System Services (Do not un-check this if you don’t want to lose your Restore Points)
Load Start-up Items.

3. Reboot.

If the system starts normally open the System Configuration Utility and check the box next to Process System.ini File. Click Ok and restart. If the system starts normally you can check the next box and restart. Continue by checking the box next to Load Start-up Items and click OK and Restart. If the problem reoccurs then you could try enabling each start-up program one at a time till you find the problem.

System configuration Utility for Windows Vista.

1. Click start and at the base of the start menu type MSCONFIG.

This will open the System Configuration Utility.

2. Under the general tab check the box next to Diagnostic Start-up (Windows XP/Vista)
3. Restart your PC.

This option will load basic devices and services only, which could be helpful for diagnosing start-up program Issues.

Alternatively you can check the box next to Selective Start-up. This Starts Windows with basic services and drivers and the other start-up programs that you select.

To select or deselect start-up programs and services, click on the Start-up tab in the System Configuration Utility and un-check the box next to any unessential programs. This could prove useful in tracking down start-up issues.

Start-up Repair for Windows Vista.

Start-up Repair for windows Vista is a recovery tool Located on the Vista Installation disc. If your system was pre-installed this Recovery tool may also have been installed on your systems Hard Drive.

The Start-up Recovery tool can be used for fixing some start-up Issues in Windows Vista.

How to use the Start-up repair Windows Vista recovery tool with the installation disc.

1. With the installation disc in your cd/dvd drive, restart your computer.
2. When prompted hit any key to start Windows from the installation disc.
3. Select your Language settings
4. Click on Repair your computer
5. Select the operating system you need to repair.
6. On the system recovery console click Start-up Repair
7. Follow the on-screen instruction.

How to use the Start-up repair Windows Vista recovery tool which has been pre-installed on your Hard Drive.

1. With no disc in your cd/dvd drive restart your computer
2. If you have more than one operation system then choose the one which needs repairing.
3. Press F8.
4. On the Advanced Boot Options screen , use the arrow keys to highlight Repair your computer. (If this is option is not listed, then your computer does not have the Recover tool pre-installed on your hard drive.)
5. Select Language setting and click Next.
6. Select user name and enter password. And click Ok.
7. On the system recovery console click Start-up Repair.
8. Follow the on-screen instructions.

If your system does not have the recovery tool pre-installed, your PC manufacturer may have a solution. Usually with Windows Vista pre-installed there is a process for restoring you operating system via key commands. There may be a recovery Manager in your pc’s program files which will allow you to create a disc which can restore your operating system to factory settings. Note – This will wipe any information stored on your system.

If start-up Repair does not resolve your issue then you should try the Bootrec.exe tool.

(The following was taken directly from Microsoft support. Article No. 927392)

To run the Bootrec.exe tool, you must start Windows RE. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Put the Windows Vista installation disc in the disc drive, and then start the computer.
2. Press a key when you are prompted.
3. Select a language, a time, a currency, a keyboard or an input method, and then click Next.
4. Click Repair your computer.
5. Click the operating system that you want to repair, and then click Next.
6. In the System Recovery Options dialog box, click Command Prompt.
7. Type Bootrec.exe, and then press ENTER.

Bootrec.exe options
The Bootrec.exe tool supports the following options. Use the option that is appropriate for your situation.

Note: If rebuilding the BCD does not resolve the startup issue, you can export and delete the BCD, and then run this option again. By doing this, you make sure that the BCD is completely rebuilt. To do this, type the following commands at the Windows RE command prompt:

bcdedit /export C:BCD_Backup
• c:
• cd boot
• attrib bcd -s -h -r
• ren c:bootbcd bcd.old
• bootrec /RebuildBcd

The /FixMbr option writes a Windows Vista-compatible MBR to the system partition. This option does not overwrite the existing partition table. Use this option when you must resolve MBR corruption issues, or when you have to remove non-standard code from the MBR.

The /FixBoot option writes a new boot sector to the system partition by using a boot sector that is compatible with Windows Vista. Use this option if one of the following conditions is true:
• The boot sector has been replaced with a non-standard Windows Vista boot sector.
• The boot sector is damaged.
• An earlier Windows operating system has been installed after Windows Vista was installed. In this scenario, the computer starts by using Windows NT Loader (NTLDR) instead of Windows Boot Manager (Bootmgr.exe).

The /ScanOs option scans all disks for installations that are compatible with Windows Vista. Additionally, this option displays the entries that are currently not in the BCD store. Use this option when there are Windows Vista installations that the Boot Manager menu does not list.

The /RebuildBcd option scans all disks for installations that are compatible with Windows Vista. Additionally, this option lets you select the installations that you want to add to the BCD store. Use this option when you must completely rebuild the BCD.