Troubleshooting Startup and Shutdown in Windows XP Professional
The flexibility of the Startup sequence in Windows XP Professional makes it possible to boot into one of several operating systems loaded on your system. Included in the Startup sequence for Windows XP is flexboot, a feature that lists the specific operating systems available on your system for logging into. The operating systems are available on your system for logging into, including VGA mode of Windows XP Professional and Safe Mode. These latter two entries make it possible for you to troubleshoot your system if an error occurs during Startup.
Most Startup problems begin with an event related to a specific application or installed hardware device. Often, the configuration parameters for a device already installed (in the case of IRQs for memory usage, for example) conflict with existing devices, causing the Startup to not work. The role of flexboot is to give you the options of booting into different modes that can be used for analyzing and troubleshooting Startup system problems. If you look at the flexboot on your specific system, you'll likely find a Safe Mode included in the selections of operating systems you can select during initial Startup.
Safe Mode's a Great Place to Start Solving Startup Problems
The difference between working with the baseline mode of Windows XP and Safe Mode is that the latter loads only the most basic files, device drivers; and only starts up the most basic of services that are needed to get your system up and running. Because Safe Mode takes the system to the lowest common denominator of performance, the screen's resolution is often taken a few levels back. As a result, the screen appears to be highly grainy with larger icons. The networking device drivers are also disabled in Safe Mode, making the testing of network connections difficult. Because Safe Mode limits the number of device drivers, files, and services loaded, it's easier to troubleshoot problems overall.
Here's a quick series of steps to get your Windows XP system into Safe Mode:
Select Restart from the System Shutdown dialog box, and shut down your system. Be sure to have all other applications closed before starting this process.
After Startup appears on your screen, press F8. A series of options for Safe Mode are shown onscreen. Windows XP's graphical interface is not visible onscreen at this time; instead, the text is most likely white ASCII against a black background.
Select from the series of Safe Mode options you want to use for troubleshooting system performance. The options for Safe Mode include the following:
Safe Mode. Loads only basic files, services, and drivers during the initialization sequence of Windows XP. The drivers loaded include the mouse, monitor, keyboard, mass storage, and base video. No networking services or drivers are started.
Safe Mode with Command Prompt. Loads basic files, services, and drivers; then starts a command prompt instead of the Windows XP graphical interface. No networking services or drivers are started.
Safe Mode with Networking. Loads basic files, services, and drivers; as well as services and drivers needed to start networking.
Enable Boot Logging. Allows you to create a record of all Startup events in a boot log.
Enable VGA Mode. Allows you to start the system in Video Graphics Adapter (VGA) mode, which is useful if the system display is set to a mode that can't be used with the current monitor.
Last Known Good Configuration. Starts the computer in Safe Mode using the Registry information that Windows XP saved at the last Shutdown.
Chances are, if a problem doesn't appear in Safe Mode, you can eliminate the default settings and basic device drivers as possible causes. If a newly added device or updated device driver is causing problems, you can use Safe Mode to remove the device and reverse the update.
If you are still having a problem starting the system normally and suspect that problems with hardware, software, or settings are to blame, remain in Safe Mode and then try using System Restore to undo previous changes.
If System Restore doesn't work, try modifying Startup options through reconfiguring your environment.
You can also reset a computer to normal Startup using the following series of steps. You find that using these to get the system back to normal operating after troubleshooting will re-enable the networking device drivers to work again, enabling network connections. Use these steps to get normal Startup up and running once again:
Log onto the computer, click Start, and then select the Run option.
In the Open text box of the Run dialog box, type msconfig, and then click OK. This starts the System Configuration utility.
In the General tab, select Normal Startup and then click OK.
When prompted to restart the computer, click Yes.