Safe mode and other boot options

Windows always displays the boot menu…

Your PC powers up correctly, it passes the POST, all drives are detected correctly, but Windows does not load automatically. Instead you see a boot menu giving you different boot options. To correct this in Windows 98, go to Start/Run, type msconfig and click OK. In the resulting window, click on the General tab, click the Advanced button and deselect Enable Startup Menu.

Alternatively, you can also change this manually from a command prompt. Boot to a DOS prompt with a Windows startup disk. When you’re at a DOS prompt, make sure you’re at the C:\ prompt. Then type attrib -s -h -r msdos.sys and hit Enter to remove the system, hidden, and read-only attributes for this file. Now type edit msdos.sys and hit Enter. In the resulting window, look for the section titled [Options]. This section might contain the line BootMenu=1. Change the ‘1’ to a ‘0’, save the file and exit the editor. Now reset the correct attributes for the file by typing attrib +s +h +r msdos.sys and hit Enter. Now reboot and see if it now boots automatically into Windows

Yet another way of changing these options are via TweakUI. Under the Boot tab in TweakUI you will find an option to active or deactivate the boot menu, as well as changing the boot menu delay. For information on how to install and use TweakUI please see our article on Tweaking Windows.

“Cannot find WIN.COM, unable to continue loading Windows”

Your PC powers up correctly, it passes the POST, all drives are detected correctly, but Windows does not load automatically. Instead you see an error message “Cannot find WIN.COM, unable to continue loading Windows”. Check to see if WIN.COM is still present on the hard drive. It should be located in the C:\Windows folder. If it was accidentally renamed and you can identify the file, name it back to WIN.COM and reboot. If the file was deleted and you are not able to restore it, reinstall Windows over itself. It will recreate all the system files including WIN.COM while retaining all the settings from your existing Windows installation.

“Cannot find a file that may be needed to run Windows”

Your PC powers up correctly, it passes the POST, all drives are detected correctly, but Windows does not load automatically. Instead you see the following error message:

Cannot find a device file that may be needed to run Windows or a Windows application.
The Windows registry or SYSTEM.INI file refers to this device file, but the device file no longer exists.
If you deleted this file on purpose, try uninstalling the associated application using its uninstall or setup program.
If you still want to use the application associated with this device file, try reinstalling that application to replace the missing file.
(filename)
Press a key to continue

This happens when a Windows system file is renamed or deleted by accident. Most importantly, when you see this screen, stop and write down the name of the file in question. Then push a key and see if Windows will continue to load after all, often it will. To correct the problem, you need to extract a copy of the missing file from the Windows Cab files. If you have Windows 98, this can be done pretty easily if you can still get into Windows with a command called System File Checker, or short SFC. If you cannot get into Windows anymore or don’t have Windows 98, you need to use the Extract command from the DOS prompt. For detailed instructions on restoring Windows system files, please see our article on Repairing Windows System Files.

Registry Errors

Your PC powers up correctly, it passes the POST, all drives are detected correctly, but Windows does not load automatically. Instead you see an error message about a problem with your registry. This can happen either when the registry was corrupted by a bad software installation, or if one of the registry files was accidentally deleted. Windows 98 makes it pretty easy to restore a good copy of the registry. If it encounters an error, it will usually just inform you of the error and then restart, restore a previous version of the registry and you’re back in business. If you run into problems with this method, restart your computer and hold down the Control (Ctrl) key during the boot process until you see the boot menu. Choose option #5 to boot to the Command Prompt Only. At the DOS prompt, type in scanreg /restore. You will be presented with a list of previous registry backups. Select the one that you believe to be error-free and restore it. When this process it is done, you’ll be prompted to restart and Windows should boot correctly now.

Summary

As you can see, most boot problems can be corrected relatively easy. Stay calm, approach the problem systematically, work your way through this check list, and chances are that you will be back in business earlier than you expected

Page 1: Computer boot problems
Page 2: Diagnosis of boot problems
Page 3: System hangs after POST
Page 4: This page

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