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Summary

If your computer is not starting normally, or if you receive errors when you start your computer that you cannot identify, you could consider performing a "clean boot." This operation starts the computer by using a minimal set of drivers and startup programs. This can help you troubleshoot the problem.

This article describes how to configure Windows XP to start by using a clean boot and then how to return Windows XP to a Normal startup type.

After you configure Windows XP to use a clean boot, some programs may not work as expected. When you return Windows XP to a Normal startup type, the programs work again.

This article is intended for a beginning to intermediate computer user.

You may find it easier to follow the steps if you print this article first.

Start Windows XP by using a clean boot

There are two methods to start Windows XP by using a clean boot:
  • Method 1: Use the Guided Help
  • Method 2: Manually starting XP with a clean boot (advanced user only)
Start with the first method. If it does not work and you are comfortable trying a more advanced method, try the second.

Method 1: Guided Help

Before you start

Before you start to install and use Guided Help:
  • You must be running Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center Edition, or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition to install Guided Help.
  • You must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group to configure Windows XP to start by using a clean boot.
For more information about how to log on to Windows, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
321305 How to log on to Windows XP if you forget your password or your password expires
You can use Guided Help to clean-boot your computer or to restore your computer from a clean-boot state. Guided Help can guide you through the steps, or can automatically perform the steps for you.

Notice that the actions that Guided Help performs can be undone after Guided Help is finished. To undo the actions, run Guided Help again. When you are prompted by Guided Help, click the Normal startup option or the Clean boot option.
To start, download Guided Help. To start, click the following link:

If the guided tour helped you start in a clean-boot state, you are finished with this article. If you have to return your computer to a normal startup state, go to "Steps to configure Windows to use a Normal startup state." If the guided tour did not help, you can try method 2 if you are comfortable trying an advanced method. If you are not comfortable with the advanced steps, go to the "Next Steps" section.

Method 2: Manually starting XP with a clean boot (advanced user only)

This section is intended for advanced computer users. If you are not comfortable with advanced troubleshooting, you might want to ask someone for help or contact Support. For information about how to contact Microsoft support, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://support.microsoft.com/contactus/
To manually start Windows XP with a clean boot, follow these steps:

Video: How to do a clean boot in Windows

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Step 1: Start the System Configuration Utility

  1. Click Start, click Run, type msconfig, and then click OK.
  2. The System Configuration Utility dialog box is displayed.

Step 2: Configure selective startup options

  1. In the System Configuration Utility dialog box, click the General tab, and then click Selective Startup.
  2. Click to clear the Process SYSTEM.INI File check box.
  3. Click to clear the Process WIN.INI File check box.
  4. Click to clear the Load Startup Items check box. Verify that Load System Services and Use Original BOOT.INI are checked.
  5. Click the Services tab.
  6. Click to select the Hide All Microsoft Services check box.
  7. Click Disable All, and then click OK.
  8. When you are prompted, click Restart to restart the computer.

Step 3: Log on to Windows

  1. If you are prompted, log on to Windows.
  2. When you receive the following message, click to select the Don't show this message or launch the System Configuration Utility when Windows start check box, and then click OK.

    Notes
    • You have used the System Configuration Utility to make changes to the way Windows starts.
    • The System Configuration Utility is currently in Diagnostic or Selective Startup mode, causing this message to be displayed and the utility to run every time Windows starts.
    • Choose the Normal Startup mode on the General tab to start Windows normally and undo the changes you made using the System Configuration Utility.

Step 4: Optional step to disable features

If the clean boot fixed the error, you do not have to perform this step.

Important If your problem is not fixed and you do have to follow this step, it permanently removes all restore points from your computer. The System Restore feature uses restore points to restore your computer to an earlier state. If you remove the restore points, you can no longer restore Windows to an earlier state.

This step temporarily disables Microsoft features such as Plug and Play, networking, event logging, and error reporting.
  1. Click Start, click Run, type msconfig, and then click OK.
    The System Configuration Utility dialog box is displayed.
  2. Click the General tab, click to clear the Load System Services check box, and then click OK.
  3. When you are prompted, click Restart to restart the computer.
If these steps helped you start your computer in a clean-boot state, you are finished. If these steps did not help, go to the “Next Steps” section. If you have to return your computer to a normal startup state, go to “Steps to configure Windows to use a Normal startup state”.

Steps to configure Windows to use a Normal startup state

After you used the clean boot to resolve your problem, you can follow these steps to configure Windows XP to start normally.
  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Type msconfig, and then click OK.
    The System Configuration Utility dialog box is displayed.
  3. Click the General tab, click Normal Startup - load all device drivers and services, and then click OK.
  4. When you are prompted, click Restart to restart the computer.

More information

For more information about how to troubleshoot startup problems, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
308041 Resources for troubleshooting startup problems in Windows XP

NEXT STEPS

If these methods did not work for you, you can use the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web site to find other solutions to your problem. Some services that the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web sites provide include the following:
  • Searchable Knowledge Base: Search technical support information and self-help tools for Microsoft products.
  • Solution Centers: View product-specific frequently asked questions and support highlights.
  • Other Support Options: Use the Web to ask a question, contact Microsoft Customer Support Services, or provide feedback.
If you continue to have problems, you might want to contact Support:
http://support.microsoft.com/contactus

Properties

Article ID: 310353 - Last Review: May 22, 2013 - Revision: 9.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Keywords: 
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