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Window's Startup Modes for Troubleshooting

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Window's Startup Modes for Troubleshooting

By Stephen Bucaro

Troubleshooting a Windows problem is a bit difficult when
the system freezes up or the display becomes unintelligible.
You need a way to get Windows to bypass some of its
complexity and bloat so the system can start, allowing you
to perform troubleshooting. Windows provides several
alternate startup modes just for that purpose.

To access these alternate startup modes, start your
computer and immediately after the startup beep, press the
[F8] key. The startup menu will display as shown below.

1. Normal
2. Logged (BOOTLOG.TXT)
3. Safe mode
4. Step-by-step confirmation

Enter a choice: 1

Press the number key for your choice and then press the
[Enter] key.

1. Normal allows you to get out of the startup menu and
resume starting Windows normally if you pressed the [F8]
key accidentally.

2. Logged causes Windows to log its startup activity in
a file named bootlog.txt in the drives root directory.
Bootlog.txt will be a very long file. Open bootlog.txt with
Windows Notepad or DOS Edit and search for a line that
contains the word "failure".

If Windows freezes before completing startup, the last line
in bootlog.txt might give you a clue to the cause of the
problem. You may find that one or more steps fail during
the startup process. Don't assume those are the cause of
your current problem. Those steps may have been failing all
along and you didn't know it.

3. Safe mode. This mode bypasses most startup configuration
files, including most of the registry. It starts windows
without most of the drivers. It loads only generic mouse
and keyboard drivers and a standard VGA video driver.

Safe mode lets you work with "bare bones" Windows. You have
access to your drives, so you can copy or delete files. You
can use the Registry Editor to inspect or edit the Registry.
But Control Panel | System | Device Manager will return
the message "Status is not available when Windows is
running in Safe Mode" for the properties of every device,
so you can't troubleshoot the area that causes the majority
of Windows problems.

4. Step-by-step confirmation performs the startup process
one step at a time. Before each step a message is displayed
on the screen letting you select to run or bypass the step.
This lets you bypass the steps that returned "failure" in
the bootlog.

Windows 95 and 98 may provide you with several additional
startup options, for example "Command prompt only",
"Previous version of MS-DOS", or "Safe Mode with Network
Support". Windows Me does not contain an independent DOS
command processor so these modes are not available.

Windows 2000 and XP also provide you with several
additional startup options, for example "Enable VGA mode",
"Last Known Good Configuration", and "Debugging mode",which
can be used for specific troubleshooting purposes.

If Windows freezes up or the display becomes unintelligible,
you can bypass some of Windows complexity and bloat by
choosing an alternate startup mode. One of these alternate
startup modes may provide you some clues as to the source
of the problemScience Articles, or permit you to troubleshoot.
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Article Tags: Startup Modes, Safe Mode

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