Make your own free website on

Windows 2000 Diagnostic Boot Methods and BOOT.INI Switches

Working complete PC
Blank Diskette
Student Diskette, "New Boot A Ver 2.0+"
Student CD-ROM, "Room 6359"
The student will become familiar with the Windows 2000 boot process,
The student will learn how to use the [F8] menu choices,
The student will become familiar with the features of each diagnostic boot menu choice,
The student will become familiar with how to use switches within the BOOT.INI to control the Windows 2000 Start Up.
The student will learn how to activate and use the Windows 2000 Diagnostic Boot Menu in order to be able to launch the operating system when it is failing to launch normally. The student will learn how to modify the BOOT.INI file and apply switches to an entry in order to control the start up process.
  1. Install or use GHOST to set up the system with Windows 2000 Advanced Server. The instructor will provide the student with a bad driver to install upon reboot. Complete the installation of the driver and note that it does issue warnings that it is not to the operating system's liking. Upon completion of the installation reboot the the system. Upon startup Windows 2000 will blue screen with a "Stop 0x0" message indicating that the problem came from the driver file that was just installed. At this point the system is ready to begin the procedures.

  2. Procedures - Diagnostic Boot Menu
  3. Reboot the system and press the [F8] key when prompted at the bottom of the startup screen:

    Starting Windows...

    For troubleshooting and advanced startup options for Windows 2000,press F8
  4. This will open the Windows 2000 Diagnostic Boot Menu (MS refers to this as the Windows 2000 Advanced Options Startup Menu):

    Windows 2000 Advanced Options Menu
    Please select an option:

        Safe Mode
        Safe Mode with Networking
        Safe Mode with Command Prompt

        Enable Boot Logging
        Enable VGA Mode
        Last Known Good Configuration
        Directory Services Restore Mode (Windows 2000 domain controllers only)
        Debugging Mode

        Boot Normally
        Return to OS choices menu

    Use  and  to move the highlight to your choice.
    Press Enter to choose.

  5. Each of these possible choices will affect the way the operating system will proceed to boot up:

  6. The Safe Modes order of operational functions:

    ModeExplorer.exe Video Networking All Others 
    Safe ModeYesNoNoNo
    Safe Mode with NetworkingYesNoYesNo
    Safe Mode with Command PromptNoNoNoNo
    Enable VGA ModeYesYesYesYes

  7. In Enable Boot Logging the file named "ntbtlog.txt" will be created in the %systemroot% folder. This is an environmental variable that allows the OS to be installed into any partition on any drive. The default is "C:\WINNT" You can test your system to see what the environmental variable is on the system by opening a DOS box and then issuing the echo command to display the value:

    C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator>echo %systemroot%
    C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator>_

    If the system will not boot, then the technician will have to gain access to the system in order to be able to read this file.

  8. Enable VGA mode will load all drivers and attempt to set the resolution of the video drivers to 640x480 in 16 colors. But if the drivers are corrupt or have other settings issues this may not work. If the resolution is too high for the monitor this is the recommended method of starting up the OS to set the resolution back down to a level that the monitor can handle.

  9. The Last Known Good Configuration. The LKGC is created when Windows (NT4/W2K/XP) determines that the control set used to boot from led to a successful startup. The Control Set is a Registry Key found in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE hive. It contains entries for all drivers for all devices that will be used for the startup process. Windows 2000 determines that the control set is "good" if there were no system critical errors generated and the user was capable of logging on without any errors (reached the desktop errorfree). At that point the control set used (the key and all of its contents in the Registry) is backed up to the LKGC. This is what will be accessed if this choice is selected from the Diagnostic Boot Menu. So the LKGC is effective if: The last startup was successful and new device drivers were just installed that are now causing the system to crash. The LKGC will not work if: files other than those within the Control Set key are causing the problem (corrupt kernel windows components or services), the exact same device drivers became corrupt during the last session and are the ones mentioned in the LKGC key and it is trying to load them, LKGC is only one successful boot "deep" (changes made more than one successful boot ago cannot be avoided by using the LKGC), LKGC is not a substitute for alternate hardware configuration profiles (use hardware profiles for that), the LKGC will not avoid problems that occur after the successful startup (Windows starts up to the logon screen, the user logs on, reaches the desktop and then the system locks up...this has another cause, not the hardware driver control set in other words).

    Remember that Windows automatically creates a new LKGC everytime the system successfully startup according to the criteria above and this overwrites the previous LKGC key in the Registry.

  10. Directory Services Restore Mode is intended for use with Windows 2000 Servers that are functioning as Domain Controllers and offer an opportunity for these systems to perform a recovery process. This option only works on Windows 2000 servers that are currently configured and running as domain controllers. This will be covered in another module.

  11. Debugging Mode is used mainly by programmers to actually debug the kernel and its interaction with the software and or device drivers (mainly) that they are in the process of developing. When the system boots up in debugging mode, the system sends debug codes out the COM2 serial port. These can be received by a system attached by a serial crossover cable that is running a debugger and can be analyzed to see where the problem is occuring.

  12. The return the OS choices menu returns control from this menu of NTLDR (this is the component that is displaying this menu) back to the menu that it displays based on the information found in BOOT.INI. This is the menu that lets the user boot to another OS installation.

  13. Procedures - BOOT.INI Switches

  14. Boot the system normally. Open the root of the C: drive and open the file BOOT.INI in notepad. If you cannot see the file then open Tools > Folder Options > View > click the "Show hidden files..." radio button, uncheck "Hide file extensions...", uncheck "Hide protected...", uncheck "Remember each..." > Apply > OK. Be sure that it is not read-only. Right click BOOT.INI > Properties > uncheck "Read-only" > Apply > OK.

  15. With BOOT.INI open, there is probably only one line in the [operating systems] section. Find the one in which the multi(x) syntax matches the one mentioned in the [default] section. Copy it under itself so that there are four identical lines. The BOOT.INI contents might now look like this:

    Select text by dragging the mouse from the beginning of a line to the end in order to scroll left or right.

  16. Save the file as BOOTINI.NEW in the root of the C: drive. See the tutorial on Creating a Windows 2000 Boot floppy and create one now. Copy this BOOTINI.NEW to the root of the floppy and rename it BOOT.INI.

  17. These lines already illustrate one of the switches that can be used "/fastdetect" on a line of the BOOT.INI to launch the OS. Here is a complete list and what each one does:

  18. Armed with this information change the switches on each line in the BOOT.INI on the boot floppy such that there is one entry that will launch the system without detecting external devices on any COM port, in safe mode without networking support, that will list drivers as they load. Create another entry that will do the same but instead of display drivers as they load it will enable boot logging. Create a last entry that will launch in normal mode but enable logging and display drivers as they load. Change each entry's name between the double quotes to reflect the switches. Here is a finished example:

    Select text by dragging the mouse from the beginning of a line to the end in order to scroll left or right.

  19. Reboot to the floppy and test the new boot up entries of the BOOT.INI file.

Back to Top

Copyrightę2000-2004 Brian Robinson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED