How to Fix Windows XP Boot Problem?

If you are still using Windows XP as your PC’s operating system, you could do yourself a great favor by replacing it with a more reliable and powerful operating system like Windows 7. Windows 7 administration and configuration management features are lot easier to handle, and in most cases, they are automated and less time consuming. In contrast, for Windows XP, you will often end up spending a lot of time fixing recurrent errors and security vulnerabilities and that too following complex troubleshooting steps or executing weird commands at the command prompt.

Why Windows XP Boot Problem Occurs?

Getting a Windows XP boot problem is quite common and many computer users are faced with a system where Windows will not start at all. More specifically, just after you have done some addition into your system like installing a new hardware for example, the system might crash due to possible conflicts in system resource sharing. If that is the case, take the new hardware off of your system and see how it behaves. Sometimes installing new software can also lead to similar problem, maybe because the new program gobbling up too much physical memory of your system. In that case, you should uninstall the new software, add sufficient physical memory into your system and then install the new program back again and see what happens.Boot up any computer  restore your Windows and Data

This kind of trial and error method you might have to pursue in order to deal with the error when Windows won’t boot. Also you need to keep in mind that some of the hardware parts like a memory chip or a graphics or sound card could go out of order anytime. In that case, doesn’t matter which operating system you are using, your PC might fail to boot.

Analyzing the system from different angles therefore and identifying the root cause of the problem is often critical to fix Windows boot problem. You might try taking out one memory chip off the slot or the sound or the graphics cardout and see if you notice any change in its behavior.

Yes, I know it could be difficult to see what’s going on inside the system if you take the graphics card off when there is nothing on display! Well, even without the display, you can look at the hard drive indicator light and get an idea if it is booting all way through or just stopping after a while, right? If the indicator light keeps blinking longer than before, more likely there is a problem with the graphics card. Your solution would be to get a new graphics card and put the old one under retirement.

Solutions to Fix Windows XP boot problem

Considering you don’t have any faulty hardware in your PC, I am proposing two solutions for you to try and fix the Windows XP boot problem. If the 1st solution doesn’t work, try the 2nd one that will definitely work! 1st solution is lot easier and less time consuming but not a guaranteed solution. If you feel like the rest of your day is going to be a lucky one, go ahead and take the first option. Unless you know what to do – get ready for spending couple of hours fixing this infamous problem. You can take the easy way out and use software to Boot up Any Computer, Fix & Install Windows Easy. But this tutorial will give you a few things to try first.

Solution #1: Good Old Last Known Good Configuration

Switch on your PC. Just after it finishes memory scan, press F8 key on your keyboard. On F8 key, the system will come and stop at a screen giving you several options to choose from, like; “Start windows in safe mode” or “Safe mode with command prompt” etc. Just after few of these options you will see another option “Last known good configuration”.  Select this option and hit enter. The system will use the configuration that was used last time to boot successfully. Normally the configurations are stored in your hard drive after every time a computer is booted successfully and if the present configuration fails the last known good one can be called for rescue. After calling last known good configuration for help, if the system boots up and you don’t notice any other problem, that’s the luckiest you could get as far as PC troubleshooting is concerned.

Solution #2: Try Repairing Windows XP

You need your Windows XP installation CD to proceed with this option.

1. Put the installation CD in your CD or DVD drive and power on the system.

2. Depending on how your system BIOS is configured, you might be asked “if you want to boot from the CD?” Say “yes” and proceed. The Windows XP setup program will be launched and after a while you will reach the welcome screen as shown in image 1.


3. Press “enter’ at this point – the 1st option. It will bring up a confirmation screen asking you if you really want to proceed with Windows XP installation.

4. “Press F8” to confirm that. You will reach the next screen as shown in image 2 below. Here at this point, Windows XP installation software just found out that you already have an existing version of Windows XP in your system and it might be damaged.  That is the reason why it is offering you a repair option for the existing Windows XP.

5. We are going to take advantage of it and select the first option by pressing “R”. You don’t need to bother about installing a fresh copy of Windows XP as the 2nd option states – that will be more time consuming and complicated. we are going to try and fix our boot problem without formatiing Windows XP.

6. Let’s keep going here by pressing the “R” key and wait for Windows to repair the existing version of the OS. You just accept all the default options that you are presented with. At this stage, what actually the Windows installation program is doing is like performing an upgrade but in a limited form based on what you have in the PC – both in terms of hardware and software. This process will take time, normally in the range of an hour.


7. Once the repair is complete, the system will reboot. And this time, it will work – in 99% cases to be more precise!

As far as I have seen, the 2nd solution has worked most of the time. If by any chance, it also fails to make your PC bootable, the next step will be to try formatting your hard drive. If that fails you definitely have a faulty hardware in your system. You might have a corrupt hard drive or bad memory. In that case, it would be better not to try it by yourself. Contact a good computer expert to check it out for you.


  1. glenn says

    It seems once again that all the repair gurus and those answers they let roll off their brains does not do it for me. I am throwing in the towel on my 8 year old dell inspiron 6100…which has had xp home, vista and xp pro,,,all garbage in my opinion…and getting a new laptop with windows 8 for less than half of what I paid for this relic. Hours and hours wasted attempting to fix this has gone nowhere (and I am not illiterate on these). Thanx anyway…good looking out…just not good for me..

  2. Devising Jadhav says

    Hi, I was installing windows XP while formating went well then PC rebooted but it stuck on page as shown similar as below.


    Press DEL to run Setup
    Press ESC for BBS POPUP
    DDR Frequency 400 Mhz
    Checking NVRAM

    512MB OK
    USB Device(s) : 1 Mouse
    Auto-Detecting Pri Master…IDE Hard Disk
    Auto-Detecting Pri Slave…Not Detected
    Auto-Detecting Sec Master…ATAPI CD-ROM
    Pri Master: WDC WD1200JB-00EVA0 15.)5R15
    Ultra DMG Mode-5, S.M.A.R.T. Capable and Status BAD
    Sec Master: HL-DT-STDVDRRW GWA-4161B 1.00
    Ultra DMA Mode-2
    Auto-Detecing USB Mass Storage Devices . .
    00 USB mass storage devices found and configured.

    Pri Master Hard Disk:S.M.A.R.T. Status BAD, Backup and Replace.
    Press F1 to continew.

    every time I starts PC it opens the like above and only key works is F1 which again opens the formatting and if press esc and then F1 then it opes BIOS. please help.

    • says

      Hi there
      it seems you have a hard drive problem. The SMART monitoring system is warning you of an impending drive failure and telling you to backup now. But i guess you have already backed up your files because you have just formatted.
      1. You can stick this hard drive in an external case and do a few tests on it. For example if you have a Samsung hard drive you can get free test software from Samsung.
      2. You can try formatting again but do a low level format. Sometimes works??
      3. Put another hard drive in now and install Windows on that.

      • Devising Jadhav says

        thanx for reply.
        I have gone through some website I found the cause of above problem was “power on self test problem” they have given the solution that
        ‘ to remove the CMOS battry and fixt it agin after 5 min. ‘

        I did the same, I surprise my PC started well without loss of any data except C:/ drive

  3. Lloyd Lynch says

    I really appreciate all the help you give us. I do have a Win. 7 computer, and I am still holding on the XP. I keep it because I love it. My printer, monitor, music accessories etc, can only work with the XP. The 7 crashed twice this year. I agree, the 7 is better and more reliable. Finally, not everyone can afford the 7. Thanks again.

  4. Roger_57 says

    When I select enter as the first step in the setup screen, the computer locks up with a message at the bottom saying “examining 38147 MB Disk 0 at Id 0 on bus 0 on atapi…..
    I get the same message if I select R instead of enter at the setup screen.
    What is the next alternative?

    • says

      Is this setup a cd or a floppy? Anyway if it is a cd then you should make a copy of your disc and try again. Check your cables to the cd drive too..

  5. says

    Thanks for this article. I was preparing to buy a new PC until I followed your tips and also the basic maintenance guide. Cleaned up a lot of junk on my PC.

  6. says

    Fixing bootable problems through repairing Windows is an easy and effective ways. However, sometime situations are beyond control and user have to format the complete system due to severe infection, hard drive goes bad, internal memory got corrupted or damaged etc. In that case, loosing valuable data is an important concern and recovering it back is also a biggest hurdle.

    Though, thanks Mitz for introuducing other solutions but please try to expand this post by writing the situations when none of these options will going to work.

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