How to perform a clean boot in Windows

Applies to: Windows 8.1Windows 8.1 EnterpriseWindows 8.1 Pro More

Summary


A “clean boot” starts Windows with a minimal set of drivers and startup programs, so that you can determine whether a background program is interfering with your game or program.

If you want to free up drive space on your computer before you perform a clean boot, see Free up drive space in Windows 10 or Tips to free up drive space on your PC in Windows 8.1 or Windows 7.

How to perform a clean boot


Though the steps below might look complicated at first glance, just follow them in order, step-by-step, and we’ll try to get you back on track.

Use the following steps to perform a clean boot in Windows 10.  Click here for instructions for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

  1. Sign in to the computer as an administrator.  For more info, see Create a local user or administrator account in Windows 10.
  2. Click Start, and type msconfig.
  3. Select System Configuration from the search results.

    Search result - System Configuration

Important If the computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may prevent you from following these steps. We strongly recommend that you don’t use the System Configuration utility to change the advanced boot options on the computer unless a Microsoft support engineer directs you to do this. Doing this may make the computer unusable.

  1. On the Services tab of the System Configuration dialog box, tap or click to select the Hide all Microsoft services check box, and then tap or click Disable all.

    System Configuration dialog box
     

  2. On the Startup tab of the System Configuration dialog box, tap or click Open Task Manager.

    System Configuration - Startup tab
     
  3. On the Startup tab in Task Manager, for each startup item, select the item and then click Disable.

    Task Manager - Startup tab
     
  4. Close Task Manager.
  5. On the Startup tab of the System Configuration dialog box, tap or click OK, and then restart the computer.  Once the computer restarts in a clean boot environment, you can follow troubleshooting steps to install, uninstall, or run your applicationYour computer may temporarily lose some functionality while in a clean boot environment, however that functionality will return when you reset the computer to start normally after you have finished your troubleshooting.

 

Install, uninstall, or run an application


After you restart the computer, you'll have a clean boot environment. Then, do one of the following, as appropriate for your situation:

 

How to determine what is causing the problem after you do a clean boot


If your problem does not occur while the computer is in a clean boot environment, then you can determine which startup application or service is causing the problem by systemically turning them on or off and restarting the computer.  While turning on a single service or startup item and rebooting each time will eventually find the problematic service or application, the most efficient way to do this is to test half of them at a time, thus eliminating half of the items as the potential cause with each reboot of the computer.  You can then repeat this process until you've isolated the problem.  The following steps describe how to do this:

Reset the computer to start normally after clean boot troubleshooting


After you finish troubleshooting, follow these steps to reset the computer to start normally.
 

More Information


Note If you’re issue prevents you from booting into Windows, you won't be able to follow the steps in this article. After the device tries to restart a few times, you should get Windows Recovery Options, which you can use to try to resolve the issue. Click a link below that corresponds to your version of Windows:

 

How to start the Windows Installer service when system services are not loaded

If you run a Setup program without starting the Windows Installer service, you may receive the following error message:

The Windows Installer service could not be accessed. Contact your support personnel to verify that the windows Installer service is properly registered.

The Windows Installer service doesn't start if you clear the Load system services check box in the System Configuration utility. To use the Windows Installer service when system services are not loaded, start the service manually. To do this, follow these steps.