How to edit the Boot.ini file in Windows Server 2003


This step-by-step article describes how to view and manually configure the Boot.ini file in Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

In Windows Server 2003, you can quickly and easily locate the Boot.ini file to verify or edit the Microsoft Windows startup configurations and make changes to the Advanced RISC Computing (ARC) path as required. Additionally, you can add switches to the Boot.ini file.

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Edit the Boot.ini file

To view and edit the Boot.ini file, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, point to
    Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  2. In Control Panel, double-click
  3. Click the Advanced tab, and then click
    Settings under Startup and Recovery.
  4. Under System startup, click
NOTE: In a multiple-boot operating system configuration, select the default operating system to start by clicking the operating system that you want in the Default operating system list.

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Typical scenarios

The following list describes some typical scenarios where the user must manually update the ARC path in the Boot.ini file after storage configuration has changed.
  • If you add a new controller that has the BIOS disabled, you may have to check and manually correct the ARC path in the Boot.ini file.

    Note The additional controller may also affect the controller section of the ARC path.
  • Whenever you add or remove disks from the computer, you create the potential for a situation where the ARC path must be updated.
  • Although the operating system may sometimes offer to update the Boot.ini file, you still have to manually update the ARC path. Whether the ARC path must be manually updated depends on the extent and nature of the changes to the Boot.ini file.

    If this change to the ARC path causes problems when you start the computer, follow these steps:
    1. Start the Recovery Console and run the map ARC command. From the results of the map ARC command, you can determine the correct ARC path.
    2. Create a new Boot.ini file on another computer.
    3. Copy the new Boot.ini file. Use one of the following methods:
      • Copy the new Boot.ini file to a floppy disk, and then use Recovery Console to copy the new Boot.ini file to the system.
      • Copy the new Boot.ini file on an NT Boot floppy. If the following files are also needed, copy them on the same floppy disk: Ntldr,, and the Mass Storage Device driver that you have renamed as Bootdd.sys.
    Alternatively, you can use Recovery Console and the /bootcfg switch to fix the ARC paths in either Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Windows Server 2003.
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The ARC path is not automatically updated

This section explains why the operating system does not automatically update the ARC path when storage configuration changes are detected.

Storage configuration changes can be made in such a way that the operating system cannot determine whether problems in the existing ARC path in the Boot.ini file may cause problems during the next startup. Because ARC paths are updated only during startup (that is, when removable hard disks are plugged in), the operating system cannot determine what will be the ARC paths of the removable hard disks. Neither can the operating system determine whether the fact that the drives are present will affect the existing ARC path in the Boot.ini file. Similarly, if changes to the storage configuration are made offline, the operating system has no way to know about them.

For example, if a computer is shut down, the operating system cannot discover the following kinds of changes until the next startup occurs:
  • A controller is added.
  • Storage is added.
  • The BIOS of a controller is changed.
  • Storage is added to an existing controller.
Your next attempt to start the computer may not work because the startup process does not contain any code that changes the ARC path in the Boot.ini file.

Third-party utilities

Some third-party utilities change partitions or drives. These utilities may create situations where the operating system is unaware of changes that may affect the ARC path that is used during startup.

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The ARC path is automatically updated

This section lists occasions when the operating system automatically updates the ARC path in a Boot.ini file.
  • Changes to a partition - When either Logical Disk Manager or the Diskpart tool is used either to create or to delete a partition.
  • Changes to a dynamic disk - When changes are made to a dynamic disk that has a retained partition, you may be prompted to update your ARC path. This means that information about the partition exists at Sector 0 in the partition table even though this is a dynamic disk. This situation occurs if either of the following conditions is true:
    • If the partition existed before the disk was converted to a dynamic disk.
    • If the /retain command was run under the Diskpart tool to make sure that info about the partition was added to the partition table.
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For additional information, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
239780 Safe-mode boot switches for Windows Boot.ini file

148954 How to set up a remote debug session using a modem

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Article ID: 317526 - Last Review: Jan 7, 2008 - Revision: 1