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

Support for Windows Server 2003 ended on July 14, 2015

Microsoft ended support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

This article was previously published under Q323427
SUMMARY
This step-by-step article describes how to manually edit the Boot.ini file in a Windows Server 2003 environment.

The Ntldr file uses information in the Boot.ini file to display the bootstrap loader screen from which you select the operating system. This screen is based on the information in the Boot.ini file. If you do not select an entry before the counter reaches 0 (zero), Ntldr loads the operating system that is specified by the default parameter in the Boot.ini file.

Windows Server 2003 Setup places the Boot.ini file in the root of the system partition.

Before you edit the Boot.ini file, modify your folder options so you can view hidden files, and then back up the Boot.ini file.

NOTE: You can also edit the Boot.ini file by using the System Configuration Utility (Msconfig.exe). To start the System Configuration Utility, click Start, click Run, type msconfig in the Open box, and then click OK.

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Modify Folder Options

  1. Right-click Start, and then click Explore.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options, and then click View.
  3. Under Advanced Settings, click Show hidden files and folders, click to clear the Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) check box, click Yes, and then click OK.
  4. Locate the system partition, locate and right-click the Boot.ini file, and then click Properties.
  5. Click to clear the Read-only check box, and then click OK.
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Save a Backup Copy of the Boot.ini File

  1. Right-click Start, and then click Explore.
  2. Locate the system partition, locate and right-click the Boot.ini file, and then click Copy.
  3. Locate and click the folder where you want to copy the Boot.ini file, and then click Paste on the Edit menu.
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Sample Boot.ini File


The following is a sample of a default Boot.ini file from a Windows Server 2003-based computer:
[boot loader]timeout=30default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS[operating systems]multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows .NET Standard Server" /fastdetect				
The following is a sample of the same Boot.ini file after the addition of another partition that runs Microsoft Windows XP Professional.
[boot loader]timeout=30default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS[operating systems]multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows .NET Standard Server" /fastdetectmulti(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" 				
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Edit the Boot.ini File

  1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Notepad.
  2. On the File menu, click Open.
  3. In the Look in box, click the system partition, in the Files of type box, click All Files, locate and click the Boot.ini file, and then click Open.
  4. Make the changes that you want to the Boot.ini file, and then click Save on the File menu.

    Examples of changes that you can make are described in the following sections of this article.
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Remove an Operating System from the Menu

To remove an operating system from the menu, follow these steps:
  1. In Notepad, select the line that contains information about the operating system that you want to remove, and then click Delete on the Edit menu. For example, select the following line:
    multi(0)disk(1)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect
  2. On the File menu, click Save.
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Modify the Operating System Menu Order

To modify the operating system menu order, follow these steps:
  1. In Notepad, select the line that you want to move, click Copy on the Edit menu, and then press DELETE.
  2. Click where you want to insert the line, and then click Paste on the Edit menu.
  3. Repeat step 1 and step 2 for each line that you want to move, and then click Save on the File menu.
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Modify the Default Operating System

The default operating system is the operating system that is started if no selection is made before the time-out occurs. (The time-out is the number of seconds in which you can select an operating system from the menu before the default operating system is loaded.) To modify the default operating system, follow these steps:
  1. In Notepad, modify the following line to change the default operating system:
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
    For example, to change the default operating system from Windows Server 2003 to Windows XP Professional, modify the following line
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
    to the following:
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(2)\WINDOWS
  2. On the File menu, click Save.
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Modify the Time-out

To modify the time-out value, follow these steps:
  1. In Notepad, edit the following line to change the time-out (where the value is 30 seconds):
    timeout=30
  2. On the File menu, click Save.
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Troubleshooting

If there is a problem with the Boot.ini file that you modified, copy the original Boot.ini file (the one that you backed up earlier) to the system partition. back to the top
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Article ID: 323427 - Last Review: 12/03/2007 04:46:31 - Revision: 6.5

Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, 64-Bit Datacenter Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition, Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Standard Edition, Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition

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