Windows Server Troubleshooting - Start Options

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Boot Options

If your computer does not start normally, you can restart in with one of the following startup options.  To get these options you must press the F8 key during the system startup.  By selecting a Safe Mode you start your system with a reduced number of device drivers and services and hopefully avoid the problem.  Once your computer has started in Safe Mode, you can then use your computer to fix the problem.

Options from Windows 98  
Safe Mode Only uses drivers for mouse, monitor, keyboard, mass storage, base video, and default system services
Safe Mode with networking Loads network drivers
Safe Mode with command prompt Loads command prompt
Enable boot logging (in all Safe Modes) Log file at %SystemRoot%\Ntbtlog.txt
Options from Windows NT  
Enable VGA mode Starts with basic VGA video driver
Last Known Good Use the last known good control set. Used to back out driver updates or configuration changes
Debug Mode Used by systems programmers to debug OS & drivers
Options from Windows 2000  
Directory Service Restore Mode Required to restore or repair the Active Directory
Recovery Console Starts a DOS-like environment

Boot Diskette

Although Windows cannot be started completely from a diskette, it can boot from a diskette. When a computer starts, it simply looks for a MBR Master Boot Record on the diskette or hard drive. If the normal startup files or MBR on the hard drive become corrupted, your computer can be started with a boot diskette. For a successful startup, all other system files must be accessible.

You need to make your boot diskette prior to system corruption or on a system that is not corrupted. The procedure to make a boot diskette is as follows;

  1. Format a diskette with Windows NT, 2000, or XP
    • This will put a Windows boot sector on the diskette
  2. Copy the following hidden system files from the active partition
    • NTDETECT
    • NTLDR
    • BOOT.INI - This TEXT file defines the %SystemRoot% folder and other things
      • If this file is copied from a different computer, it may need changes
    • NTBOOTDD.SYS - Windows SCSI driver
      • Required only for disk controllers that do not support the INT 13 boot

System Configuration Utility

MsConfig can be used to control the automatic startup programs. Processes can be automatically started when they are listed in the registry in either

  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run or
  • HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

Although it is possible to modify the Registry with RegEdit, it is much easier to use MsConfig

Keyboard Exercise

Restart your computer and press F8 during the startup to investigate the startup options.

Make a boot diskette following the above instructions.

Start MsConfig and investigate its options.