BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2004

  

 

BOOT CAMP 349 (26/10/04)

 

Windows XP Safe Mode part 2

 

FOLLOWING on from last week’s introduction to Windows XP Safe Mode and how to use it to remove or disable programs that cause problems immediately after boot up we turn our attention to using it to fix faults that make Windows hang or stop responding during start up.

 

The vast majority of Windows XP boot up crashes are due to either faulty hardware devices or a corrupt or ‘unsigned’ driver and in both cases the most recently installed item of hardware or software is the most likely culprit. If the uninstall procedure outlined last week doesn’t help then the next step is to work your way through a simple step-by-step routine to identify and remove the rogue component.

 

We’ll begin with suspect hardware devices so start the PC in Safe Mode, right click on My Computer select Properties then the Hardware tab and click Device Manager. If you are lucky a yellow circle with an exclamation mark will flag up the guilty item. To check if it is the source of the problem right click the entry and select Disable from the drop-down menu, exit Windows and try a restart. If that works then return to Device Manager, right click the item again select Update Driver and follow the prompts. In some cases you may need to visit the manufacturer’s web site and search for an updated driver or patch and download it onto your PC. If nothing is highlighted then disable the most recently installed hardware device and carry out a restart. Don’t forget to re-enable a device after the next Safe Mode restart if it proves to be innocent.

 

By the way, avoid using this trick on the video adaptor entry otherwise you could be left with a totally blank screen and no easy way back. Microsoft Knowledgebase article 292460 deals with troubleshooting video problems in Safe Modem, just type the number into Google.

 

Occasionally glitches can occur after a device driver on your PC has been updated either manually, or through an automatic or scheduled download. In this case you can use Safe Mode to restore the previous driver. As before open Device Manager, right-click on the troublesome entry select Properties and click the Driver tab then the ‘Roll Back’ button and if one is available it will be installed.  

 

If the PC is still crashing or displaying a BSOD during boot up them it’s time to call in the big guns and tackle the software drivers. These are data files that Windows loads during boot up to enable it to use various programs, applications and peripherals used by your PC. A fair few problems are due to ‘unsigned’ drivers, which haven’t been certified by Microsoft WHQL for use in XP and whilst they are not necessarily all bad, lack of certification is a cause for concern. Fortunately there shouldn’t be too many of them and they should be checked first.

 

XP has a useful tool for doing just that, begin by booting the PC into Safe Mode then go to Run on the Start menu and type ‘sigverif’ (without the quotes). This launches the ‘File Signature Verification’, utility, click the Start button and the scanning process begins. It may take several minutes so be patient, when it has finished it generates a log file called ‘sigverif.txt’ that is saved in the C:\windows folder. Open Windows Explorer and double click the file to open it in Notepad. Scroll down the list and look for any unsigned drivers, making a note of their location on your hard disc drive (for the record most drivers and hence the ones likely to be faulty are stored in the c:\windows\system32 folder).

 

Now you can use a process of elimination to isolate the one that is causing the problem. Open Windows Explorer and create a new folder on your C:\ drive (File > New > Folder) call it something like ‘driveback’. Next Cut and Paste the first unsigned driver on your list from its original location into your ‘driveback folder’. For this to work it must be removed from it’s home folder, i.e. ‘Cut’ then Paste not ‘Copy’ and Paste). Exit Windows and re-boot normally. If the problem persists go back into Safe Mode, return the first unsigned driver to its rightful place and repeat the exercise on the next one. 

 

If this works and Windows appears to be working normally once again you can now set about identifying which program or application the driver is associated with. This probably won’t be immediately obvious from the filename so type it into Google and this will point you towards the manufacturer’s web site from where you should be able to find a replacement or an updated version suitable for XP.

 

Next week – Mice and Keyboards

 

JARGON FILTER

 

BSOD

Blue Screen of Death -- the all too familiar error display that appears when Windows has suffered a fatal crash

 

VIDEO ADAPTOR

Plug in card or circuitry built into a PC’s motherboard responsible for generating the video display

 

WHQL

Windows Hardware Quality Labs  -- division of Microsoft responsible for testing and certifying drivers from companies marketing software and hardware for use on Windows

 

 

TIP OF THE WEEK

Here’s a tip for advanced users with troublesome Windows XP Pro PCs (it also works with XP Home but see note below). Repeatedly restarting in Safe Mode can be a bit of a chore so here’s a way to add Safe Mode start to your Boot Menu. Right click My Computer, select Properties then the Advanced tab, under Startup and Recovery click the Settings button then the Edit button. Boot.ini opens in Notepad. Carefully highlight and Copy the line: ‘multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS=”Microsoft Windows XP Professional” /fastdetect’. Paste the copied line immediately underneath the original and change “Microsoft Windows XP Professional” to Microsoft Windows Safe Mode”. At the end of this line add the following ‘/safeboot:minimal /sos /bootlog’ (without the quotes), Save and Exit Boot.ini, restart and Safe Mode should be listed on the Boot Menu.

 

N.B if you don’t see a Boot Menu when you start Windows XP select the option in the Startup and Recovery dialogue box (see above) by checking the item ‘Time to display Operating Systems’ and reduce the time setting to between 5 and 10 seconds.

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