How to perform a clean boot in Windows

Applies to: Windows 8.1Windows 8.1 EnterpriseWindows 8.1 Pro



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.  This is similar to starting Windows in Safe Mode, but provides you more control over which services and programs run at startup to help you isolate the cause of a problem.

How to perform a clean boot

These steps might look complicated at first glance, but following them in order, step-by-step, will help you get you back on track.

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

  1. Sign in to the computer as an administrator.  If you don't have an administrator account, you can create one.  Create a local user or administrator account in Windows 10.
  2. In the search box on the taskbar, type msconfig and select System Configuration from the results.

Search result - System Configuration

Important If the computer is connected to a network, network policy settings might prevent you from following these steps. Only use the System Configuration utility to change the advanced boot options on the computer with guidance from a Microsoft support engineer.  Using the System Configuration utility might make the computer unusable.

  1. On the Services tab of System Configuration, select Hide all Microsoft services, and then select Disable all.

    System Configuration - Services tab - Hide all Microsoft services check box checked - Disable all

  2. On the Startup tab of System Configuration, select Open Task Manager.
    System Configuration - Startup tab - Open Task Manager button
  3. Under Startup in Task Manager, for each startup item, select the item and then select Disable.

    Task Manager - Startup tab
  4. Close Task Manager.
  5. On the Startup tab of System Configuration, select OK.  When you restart the computer, it's in a clean boot environment.  Follow troubleshooting steps to install, uninstall, or run your application.  Your computer might temporarily lose some functionality while in a clean boot environment.  Reset the computer to start normally after clean boot troubleshooting and resume functionality.


Install, uninstall, or run an application

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 systematically 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.  Here's how:

Reset the computer to start normally after clean boot troubleshooting

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

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 might 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. Here's how: