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.

Windows 8.1 and Windows 8

 

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. Or, if you’re using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, and then click Search.
  2. Type msconfig in the search box, and then tap or click msconfig
    Search box -  msconfig
     
  3. 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 - Services tab - Hide all Microsoft services check box checked - Disable all

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 Startup tab of the System Configuration dialog box, tap or click Open Task Manager
    System Configuration - Startup tab - Open Task Manager button
  2. On the Startup tab in Task Manager, for each startup item, select the item and then click Disable.
    Task Manager - Startup tab - Disable
     
  3. Close Task Manager.
  4. On the Startup tab of the System Configuration dialog box, tap or click OK, and then restart the computer. 
    System Configuration -  Startup tab - OK

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:
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 8

 

  1. Sign in to the computer by using an account that has administrator rights. For more info, see Create a local user or administrator account in Windows 10.
  2. From Start, search for msconfig. (In Windows 10, use the Search box from the Start menu. In Windows 8 or 8.1, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. Or, if you’re using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, and then click Search.)
  3. Select msconfig or System Configuration from the search results.
  4. Tap or click the Services tab, and then tap or click to select the Hide all Microsoft services check box.
  5. Tap or click to select the upper half of the check boxes in the Service list.
  6. Tap or click OK, and then tap or click Restart.
  7. After the computer finishes restarting, determine whether the problem still occurs.
    • If the problem still occurs, one of the checked items is the problematic service.  Repeat steps 1 through 6, but in Step 5, clear the lower half of the boxes in the Service list that you selected in your last test.  
    • If the problem doesn't occur, the checked items are not the cause of the problem. Repeat steps 1 through 6, but in Step 5, turn on the upper half of the boxes that you cleared in the Service list in the last test. 
    • Repeat these steps until you've either isolated the problem to a single service, or until you've determined that none of the services are the cause of the problem.  If you experience the problem when only one service is selected in the Service list, go to step 10. If none of the services cause the problem, go to step 8.
  8. Tap or click the Startup tab, and then tap or click to select the upper half of the check boxes in the Startup Item list.
  9. Click OK, and then click Restart.
    • If the problem still occurs, repeat step 8, but this time clear the lower half of the boxes in the Startup Item list that you selected in your last test.  
    • If the problem does not occur, repeat step 8, and turn on the upper half of the boxes that you cleared in the Startup Item list in the last test. 
    • If you still experience the problem after only one Startup Item is selected in the Startup Item list, this means that the selected Startup Item causes the problem, and you should go to step 10. If no Startup Item causes this problem, here may be a problem with a Microsoft service.  To repair the service, Microsoft recommends that you reset or reinstall Windows by following the steps provided at Recovery options in Windows 10.
  10. After you determine the startup item or the service that causes the problem, contact the program manufacturer to determine whether the problem can be resolved. Or, run Windows with the problem item disabled.  (Run the System Configuration utility and enable your Services and Startup Items, but clear the check box for the problem item.)

Reset the computer to start normally after clean boot troubleshooting


After you finish troubleshooting, follow these steps to reset the computer to start normally.
 
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 8

 

  1. From Start, search for msconfig. (In Windows 10, use the Search box from the Start menu. In Windows 8 or 8.1, wipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. Or, if you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, and then click Search.)
  2. Select msconfig or System Configuration from the search results.
  3. On the General tab, tap or click the Normal Startup option.
  4. Tap or click the Services tab, clear the check box beside Hide all Microsoft services, and then tap or click Enable all.
  5. ap or click the Startup tab, and then tap or click Open Task Manager.
  6. In task manager, enable all of your startup programs, and then tap or click OK.
  7. When you're prompted to restart the computer, tap or click Restart.

 

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.

Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 8

 

  1. From Start, search for computer. (In Windows 10, use the Search box from the Start menu. In Windows 8 or 8.1, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. Or, if you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, and then click Search.)
  2. Right-click or swipe down on Computer in the search results, and then tap or click Manage.
  3. In the console tree, tap or click Services and Applications, and then tap or click Services.
  4. In the details pane, right-click or swipe down on Windows Installer, and then tap or click Start.