Windows XP Repair Option

I was ‘back in the saddle’ today after a hiatus last week for spring break with my kids. Helped a client out with a problem that, fortunately, isn’t too common, but common enough that it warrants its own tip. It applies to Windows XP only and you might need to try using it if you cannot boot your computer up to anything other than the startup menu screen (where you get the option to start in Safe Mode…see picture).

If after turning on and off your computer a few times to try and get your desktop to come up, AND you can’t get into Safe Mode using the menu shown, AND using the “Last known good configuration” option don’t work, try these steps to perform a Windows repair:

  1. Insert your Windows XP CD installation disk
  2. Shut off the computer
  3. Turn on the computer and wait for the XP disk to load (you might have to hit enter on the keyboard to get your system to boot from the CD)*
  4. When the blue menu for XP setup appears, push “R” on your keyboard to enter into the Repair mode of Windows
  5. You will then see a black screen with white lettering asking you which Windows installation you want to log into. Generally, it is “1”.
  6. Push the “1” key on your keyboard
  7. Press Enter
  8. Now you will be asked to type the Administrators password. Simply push the Enter key on your keyboard and a C:\Windows will appear next  (If Enter does not work for your Administrator password, that means someone along the way actually logged into the usually hidden Administrator account and entered a password. Try a few of your normal ones, if none work, then you cannot continue with these steps.
  9. Now type:   chkdsk /r
  10. Press Enter on your keyboard
  11. The scan will quickly jump to 50%, but then it can take as long as 3 hours or more to completely finish. It is also not unusual for it to make it to say 72%, then go back to 50% and start again. All of this is NORMAL, simply walk away and get a bite to eat, see a movie or take the dog for a walk.
  12. When the scan finishes, it will give you a short summary of your hard drive stats and say that it fixed one or more errors.
  13. Type:  exit
  14. Press Enter to restart the computer
  15. Take the Windows CD out of the drive
  16. Keep your fingers crossed and all should be well.

In my experience (and talking with Adam), this method will work approximately 40% of the time to help systems that couldn’t boot up.

*If your computer doesn’t boot from the XP CD,  you will need to either change your BIOS or watch for instructions right at the beginning of the boot process on which key to hit to boot from the CD.

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