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How to perform advanced clean-boot troubleshooting in Windows XP
Article ID: 316434 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q316434
Many issues that you may experience on a Windows XP-based computer occur because of an incompatible or corrupted program. To determine whether this is the case, you can either perform a clean boot or restart Windows without starting the program in question.
This article describes how to perform advanced clean-boot troubleshooting to determine whether the problem in question is affiliated with the core operating system or with a program that is loading in the Windows environment. For more information about how to clean boot your computer, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310353/ )How to perform a clean boot in Windows XP
Clean-boot troubleshooting is designed to isolate a performance problem. To perform clean-boot troubleshooting, you must take a number of actions, and then restart the computer after each action (to test whether the action resolved the problem).
How to restart in Safe mode or in Safe mode with networking supportTo troubleshoot potential environmental issues, first restart your computer in Safe mode or in Safe mode with networking support. If the issue is with a program that does not depend on network connectivity, Safe mode is appropriate. If the issue is with a network program, and you are using a network adapter to connect to a network, Safe mode with networking support may permit you to test the networking program, including browser issues.
Note You cannot use Safe mode with networking support when you use a modem or a PC Card connection to a network because modem drivers and PC Card drivers do not load in Safe mode or in Safe mode with networking support.
If you start the computer in Safe mode or in Safe mode with networking support, and you can perform an operation that you previously experienced problems with, the issue is most likely environmental.
Note In Windows XP, you can perform a clean-boot by using the System Configuration Utility (Msconfig.exe).
For more information about the System Configuration utility, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
310560See the "How to remove registry entries" section for information about how to determine which program components may be causing the issue.
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310560/ )How to troubleshoot configuration errors by using the System Configuration utility in Windows XP
Note You may not be able to test some operations in Safe mode because not all services and devices load in Safe mode or in Safe mode with networking support. For example, you cannot test multimedia issues that involve sound, nor can you test suspend or hibernation issues in Safe mode.
If you start the computer in Safe mode or in Safe mode with networking support, and the issue still occurs, an environmental issue may still be the cause. Many function or filter drivers that third-party software installs may continue to load in Safe mode. Therefore, you may have to take an additional step to test and remove third-party drivers in Safe mode.
To start the computer in Safe mode, follow these steps:
There are circumstances where Safe mode cannot help you. For example, Safe mode cannot help you when Windows system files that are required to start the computer are corrupted or damaged. In this case, the Recovery Console may help you.
How to remove unsigned driversAll the drivers that are included with Windows XP use digital signatures to verify that they have been tested by the Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL). Many third-party programs are written for Windows XP must install additional drivers that have not been tested by WHQL. Therefore, they do not receive a digital signature.
Note Some third-party vendors have tools that they can use to generate a valid digital signature even if these products were not tested by WHQL. The following procedure cannot be used to determine whether these drivers are installed.
Windows XP includes the File Signature Verification tool (Sigverif.exe). You can use this tool to find all files on your computer that are not digitally signed. For the purposes of Windows XP clean-boot troubleshooting, you have to test only the files in the %Windir%\System32\Drivers folder.
To use the Sigverif.exe tool, follow these steps:
Note Many video drivers are not digitally signed. The following steps may cause problems with your video resolution. These problems may prevent you from starting the computer.
The list of all signed and unsigned drivers that the Sigverif.exe tool finds is in the Sigverif.txt file in the %Windir% folder (typically, the Winnt or Windows folder). All unsigned drivers are noted as "Unsigned."
When you determine which drivers are unsigned, create a folder to move the unsigned drivers to. Typically, SysDriversBak is an easy folder name to remember. Create the folder in the Windows directory so that if the computer is put into a no-boot situation, the drivers can be restored in the Recovery Console.
Move the unsigned drivers, restart the computer (without the unsigned drivers in the Windows\System32\Drivers folder), and then test the program or other functionality to see whether the same error messages or issues still occur.
Note Because most driver files are associated with registry entries that have not yet been changed, you may receive the following error message:
If the issue no longer occurs, the issue was caused by a third-party unsigned filter or function driver. A function driver is a driver that is used to load a specific device that uses one of the computer buses. A filter driver loads at a level above or below a function driver to add or modify the behavior of the function driver.
At least one driver or service failed to start...
To determine which unsigned driver is causing the problem, use one of the following methods:
To turn off a service, follow these steps:
To disable a driver, follow these steps:
65416Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/65416/ )Hardware and software vendor contact information, A-K
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/60781/ )Hardware and software vendor contact information, L-P
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/60782/ )Hardware and software vendor contact information, Q-Z
Note Not all devices and services are listed in the Windows XP user interface.
If the device or service is not available in the Windows XP user interface, use the Recovery Console to turn off the driver or service.
For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314058/ )Description of the Windows XP Recovery Console
How to remove registry entriesImportant This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/322756/ )How to back up and restore the registry in Windows
If you no longer experience problems running programs in Safe mode, the issue is likely caused by programs that are loading while the Windows XP computer is starting.
Programs that are a part of the startup process for Windows XP are generally added to one of the following locations:
Note The Backup utility is not included in the default installation of Windows XP Home Edition. The Backup icon is not present on the Start menu in Windows XP Home Edition, nor is Backup listed in the Add Remove Programs tool for Windows XP Home Edition. For additional information about how to install the Backup utility in Windows XP Home Edition, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
302894To back up the System State data, follow these steps:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/302894/ )How to install Backup from the CD-ROM in Windows XP Home Edition
240363The Startup folder icons are loaded from two locations. To remove these entries, follow these steps:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/240363/ )How to use the Backup program to back up and restore the system state in Windows 2000
To add the icons for the Startup menu, follow these steps:
How to test user profilesA user's specific information may be corrupted, but other users on the same computer may have no problems. To determine whether this is the case, log on as a new user, or create a new user account, and then test the new logon.
Note A program may work correctly only when you log on with the default Administrator account. For example, older programs may demonstrate this behavior.
If the default Administrator profile becomes corrupted, reinstall Windows XP to correct this issue.
All user-specific configuration information (which appears in the
HKEY_CURRENT_USERregistry key) is stored in the Ntuser.dat file in the Documents and Settings\user name folder.
How to turn off third-party servicesTo prevent or work around problems, you may have to turn off installed third-party services. Safe mode and Safe mode with networking do not load third-party services. If Safe mode works, the problem may be caused by a third-party service that is loading.
The following table is a partial list of core operating system services that load. However, this list varies according to the services that are installed and the version of Windows XP that you are using.
Collapse this tableExpand this table
Additional services that can be installed include the following services:
How to remove programsIf none of these methods resolve your issue, use the Add/Remove Programs tool in Control Panel to start removing programs. Restart your computer, and then test after each removal.
If these steps still do not resolve your issue, contact Microsoft Product Support Services, or reinstall the operating system and your programs.
For help with system performance issues in Windows Vista, visit the following Microsoft web page:
Problems with overall system speed and system performance
For more information about troubleshooting startup issues in Windows XP, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310353/ )How to perform a clean boot in Windows XP
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308041/ )Resources for troubleshooting startup problems in Windows XP
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310560/ )How to troubleshoot by using the Msconfig utility in Windows XP
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/229716/ )Description of the Windows Recovery Console
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/242518/ )Long pause during Windows startup process
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/244905/ )How to disable a service or device that prevents Windows from starting
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/249000/ )Windows Advanced Options Boot Menu missing at startup
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/252448/ )How to create an MS-DOS network startup disk in Windows 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/266169/ )How to troubleshoot problems with standby mode, hibernate mode, and shutting down your computer in Windows 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/298427/ )How to restore the disabled startup programs after an upgrade from Windows 98 or Windows Millennium Edition
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/300886/ )A description of the "Restore Startup Programs" option that is used when you upgrade to Windows XP
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/303561/ )Windows XP shortcuts in the Startup group do not work when you first start the computer
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306084/ )How to restore the operating system to a previous state in Windows XP
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310126/ )Troubleshooting device conflicts with Device Manager
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/244601/ )How to troubleshoot unknown devices listed in Device Manager