6 things you can do when Windows XP won’t boot


here are 6 things you can do when Windows XP won’t boot.

Use a Windows startup disk


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.

Use System Restore

Another tool that might be helpful when Windows XP won't boot is System Restore.

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.

Use Recovery Console

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.
Fix a corrupt Boot.ini

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.

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.
Fix a corrupt partition boot sector
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

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

Fixboot [drive]:

Fix a corrupt master boot record

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

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

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