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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Windows 2000/XP Startup Modes

In this lab you explore different startup options when typing the F8 key at startup. These options can be useful for troubleshooting system problems. The Windows Advanced Options menu includes the following default options:

  • Safe Mode

  • Safe Mode with Networking

  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt

  • Enable Boot Logging

  • Enable VGA Mode

  • Last Known Good Configuration (your most recent setting that worked)

  • Directory Services Restore Mode (Windows domain controllers only)

  • Debugging Mode

  • Boot Normally (Windows 2000 only)

  • Start Windows Normally (Windows XP only)

  • Reboot (Windows XP only)

  • Return to OS Choices Menu (Windows XP only)

Safe Mode will start Windows with a minimal set of drivers used to run Windows, including mouse, monitor, keyboard, hard drive, base video, and default system services. You can enter Safe Mode with Networking or Safe Mode with Command Prompt by selecting the appropriate mode. VGA Mode is useful when you have installed a video driver and have configured it incorrectly. If the computer starts with a blank screen or you see random lines all over the screen you can choose VGA mode to start Windows.

This mode will start the computer with the base video settings (640x480, 256 colors). Boot Logging starts Windows and logs services that load or do not load to C:\winnt\ntbtlog.txt. Last Known Good Configuration starts Windows using the Registry information saved at the last proper shut down. Directory Services Restore is used for Windows Domain Server systems. Debugging Mode starts Windows and sends debug information through the serial port to another computer. In Hardware Profiles you can change Windows startup to select a designated profile. Hardware Profiles can be useful for saving hardware-specific information when transporting a hard drive between two computers. One can do this without the need to reinstall all the devices on each system at every startup.

This procedure is compatible with Windows 2000 and Windows XP. There are subtle differences and you might want to do this procedure in both Windows 2000 and Windows XP.


  • PC-compatible desktop/tower computer system with Windows 2000 installed

  • A PS2 mouse

  • A LAN connection


In this exercise, you will work with Windows Safe mode. This is a troubleshooting mode that enables you to eliminate possible causes of problems, and aids with fixing errors that prohibit you from logging into Windows.

  1. Safe Mode

    1. Turn on the computer (restart if it is already on) and boot to Windows 2000 or Windows XP.

    2. When the screen displays the text Starting Windows, for Troubleshooting and Advanced Startup Options for Windows 2000, press F8, press the F8 key on the keyboard. (This is not displayed in Windows XP; you just keep pressing the F8 key over and over again until you get the Advanced Options menu.)

    3. You will see the Advanced Options menu. Safe Mode is selected by default. Press Enter.

    4. When Windows starts you will see an information window about Safe mode. Click OK.

    5. Right-click the desktop and select Properties from the drop-down menu to open the Display Properties window, and click the Settings tab.

    6. While in Safe mode, Windows gives limited options on many things. Click the Colors drop-down menu. Record your observations in Table 3.52.

    7. table 3.52Table 3.52

    8. Click the Cancel button.

    9. From the desktop, double-click the My Network Places icon.

    10. Double-click on Entire Network.

    11. Double-click on Microsoft Windows Network.

    12. You will see a dialog window similar to Figure 3.34. During this Safe mode, you cannot view the network. Click the OK button.

    13. Figure 3.34Figure 3.34 Unable to Browse Network dialog.

    14. Close all windows and restart.

  2. Safe Mode with Networking

    1. When the computer has restarted, boot the computer to Windows 2000 and press the F8 key as before.

    2. From the Windows 2000 Advanced Options menu scroll down by pressing the down arrow on the keyboard. Select Safe Mode with Networking and press Enter.

    3. When Windows starts you will see an information window about Safe Mode. Click OK.

    4. From the desktop, double-click the My Network Places icon.

    5. Double-click on Entire Network.

    6. Double-click on Microsoft Windows Network.

    7. You should see your workgroup in the window. Double-click on it and record your observations in Table 3.53.

    8. table 3.53Table 3.53

    9. Close all windows and restart.

  3. Safe Mode with Command Prompt

    1. When the computer has restarted, boot to Windows 2000 and press the F8 key as before.

    2. From the Windows 2000 Advanced Options menu scroll down and select Safe Mode with Command Prompt. Press Enter.

    3. The operating system will boot to a command prompt C:\>. Type dir and press Enter to view the contents of the drive.

    4. Record the amount of bytes free in Table 3.54.

    5. table 3.54Table 3.54

    6. Type explorer and press Enter. This will start the Windows Explorer.

    7. You will receive the Safe Mode message. Click OK.

    8. Drag the title bar of cmd.exe (the command prompt) to the right.

    9. Record the changes to the operating environment as a result of typing explorer in Table 3.55.

    10. table 3.55Table 3.55

    11. In the command line type exit and press Enter.

    12. Click the Start menu and select Shut Down.

    13. Select Restart from the drop-down menu and click OK.

  4. Boot Normally

    1. When the computer has restarted, boot the computer to Windows 2000 and press F8 as before.

    2. From the Windows Advanced Options menu scroll down and select Boot Normally in Windows 2000 or Start Windows Normally in Windows XP. Press Enter.

    3. Use Windows Explorer to delete the file c:\WINNT\ntbtlog.txt in Windows 2000 and c:\Windows\ntbtlog.txt in Windows XP. You might need to click on Show Files if you cannot view the contents of the System folder.

    4. You have just deleted the boot log text file that Windows uses to log activity when Enable Boot Logging startup is selected. Close all windows and restart the computer.

  5. Boot Logging

    1. When the computer has restarted, boot the computer to Windows 2000 and press F8 as before.

    2. From the Windows 2000 Advanced Options menu scroll down and select Enable Boot Logging. Press Enter. Windows will now create a boot log file (C:\WINNT\ntbtlog.txt) to record its activity at startup.

    3. Once Windows has started you can view the contents of the logged file. From the desktop double-click on My Computer.

    4. Double-click on (C:).

    5. Double-click on WINNT (Win2K) or Windows (WinXP).

    6. Click Show Files If Necessary. Its hyperlink is located on the left-hand portion of the window.

    7. Scroll down and double-click on ntbtlog.

    8. Notepad will open the file. The window will appear similar to Figure 3.35. You can now view the boot log that contains all loaded and not-loaded drivers. Record the date that appears on the first line of the file in Table 3.56.

    9. Figure 3.35Figure 3.35 NT boot log.

      table 3.56Table 3.56

    10. Scroll down and view the contents of the file.

    11. Close all windows and restart the computer.

  6. VGA Mode

    1. When the computer has restarted, boot to Windows 2000 and press F8 as before.

    2. From the Windows 2000 Advanced Options menu scroll down and select Enable VGA Mode. Press Enter.

    3. When Windows has started, right-click the desktop and click Properties.

    4. Click the Settings tab.

    5. Record the setting for Colors and Screen area in Table 3.57.

    6. table 3.57Table 3.57

    7. Close all windows and restart the computer.

  7. Last Known Good Configuration

    1. When the computer has restarted, boot the computer to Windows 2000 and press F8 as before.

    2. From the Windows 2000 Advanced Options menu scroll down and select Last Known Good Configuration. Press Enter.

    3. If you have made hardware profiles previously in Windows you can select them and boot to them. Press L to switch to the Last Known Good Configuration.

    4. Profile 1 should be selected. Press Enter. If you pressed D your options would change to the default configuration.

  8. Hardware Profiles

    1. When Windows has started right-click on My Computer and select Properties.

    2. Click the Hardware tab.

    3. Click the Hardware Profiles button.

    4. A window similar to Figure 3.36 will appear. From this window you can add and delete hardware profiles. Click Cancel.

    5. Figure 3.36Figure 3.36 Hardware profiles.

    6. Close all windows and shut down the computer.

What Did I Just Learn?

To assist in troubleshooting, you explored various startup options. Some of these diagnostic modes can help you eliminate possible problem sources. It is common in troubleshooting methodology to use these techniques to solve a variety of problems, from driver conflicts to other software faults. In this lab, you practiced

  • Restarting and trying various startup options

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