19 Mei, 2007

Try Safe Mode and Step-by-Step Confirmation to Troubleshoot Windows Startup Issues

Suppose you get video, and can get into the BIOS, but Windows won’t start. If it doesn’t even attempt to start — for example, if a hard disk error crops up before you see the Windows splash screen — then you’re probably looking at a hard disk problem. But if the Windows startup process begins and then aborts, a faulty or conflicting device driver is probably the cause. This can occur because of a FAT error, or after upgrading to a new Windows version, after installing a new driver for an existing device, or after installing an entirely new device.

If Windows locks up during startup, the next time you start it, a Windows Startup menu appears offering to allow you to start in Safe Mode. (You can also call up this Windows Startup menu by pressing F8 when you see the message “Starting Windows.”) Safe Mode loads only a minimal set of drivers, so it will probably exclude the driver that is causing you problems and allow Windows to load. If you can get into Windows through Safe Mode but not through a normal boot, it means that the problem is software-related — more specifically, that it’s related to a driver or program that is loading at startup.

The most common driver to cause problems is the video driver. If Windows locks up at the point where the chosen video mode kicks in (that is, after the splash screen but before you see the mouse pointer), an invalid video mode has probably been chosen. Start in Safe Mode and change the video to a relatively conservative setting, such as 256-color 800×600 with Adapter Default for the refresh rate.

In a situation like the one described above — where Windows boots in Safe Mode but not in normal mode — the obvious solution is to find the item that’s causing the problem and eliminate it. This is often easier said than done, however.

One effective way of doing it is to use the Step-by-step Confirmation option on the Windows Startup menu. Press F8 as the PC is booting to display it; if you see the splash screen, you’ve missed the F8 opportunity; reboot and try again. From that Startup menu, choose Step-by-step Conformation. Then press the Y key to step through each line of the startup. When the line executes that is causing the problem, the PC will lock up, and all you have to do is look at the last text that appeared on the screen to see which driver or program did it.

This doesn’t always work because sometimes an item that’s causing a problem will not have its own separate step in Step-by-step Confirmation. However, it can catch many driver-related errors.