3. Diagnosing, and Troubleshooting
Files required to boot
CONFIG.SYS - Not required for Windows 9x, but it is included for
compatibility, path: root
AUTOEXEC.BAT - Not required for Windows 9x, but it is included for
compatibility, path: root
NTLDR -System file that loads the operating system.
Boot.ini - Builds the boot menu.
Bootsect.dos - Loaded by NTLDR only if dual booting,
Ntdetect.com - Builds a hardware list and the
information is used by NTLDR
Ntbootdd.sys - Required only if booting from a SCSI
Ntoskrnl.exe - Kernel file.
SYSTEM - Controls which drivers and services are loaded.
Using Windows 2000, you can create boot disk using the
Insert a blank, formatted, 3.5-inch, 1.44-MB disk into the
floppy disk drive.
Insert the Windows 2000 CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive.
Click Start, and then click Run.
In the Open box, type
d:\bootdisk\makeboot a: (where d: is the
drive letter assigned to your CD-ROM drive), and then click OK.
Follow the screen prompts.
Important: You will need four blank, formatted, 3.5-inch, 1.44-MB
floppy disks. Label them Setup Disk One, Setup Disk Two, Setup Disk Three,
and Setup Disk Four.
Safe Mode with command prompt
Safe mode with networking
Step-by-Step/Single step mode
Automatic skip driver
Windows 9x: Startup menu for Windows 98 is shown in the figure
below. Note that Windows 95 will have Safe Mode With Networking option
available, whereas Windows 98 doesn't have that option.
In Safe Mode, only the mouse, keyboard, and standard VGA device drivers are
loaded. Safe Mode skips several startup files such as the config.sys,
autoexec.bat. It enables you to make necessary changes to these configuration
files, and reboot Windows.
The boot options menu that appears after pressing F8 key appears as below:
Windows Advanced Options Menu
Please select an option:
Safe Mode with Networking
Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Enable Boot Logging
Enable VGA mode
Last Known Good Configuration (your most recent settings that worked)
Directory Services Restore Mode (Windows domain controllers only)
Start Windows Normally
Return to OS Choices Menu
Use the up and down arrow keys to move the
highlight to your choice.
Important boot menu options (for Windows 2000/XP) are explained below briefly.
Safe Mode - Starts Windows 2000 using minimum required resources.
Only mouse, monitor, hard drive, and basic vidio are enabled. No network
drivers are loaded.
Safe mode with Networking - Starts Windows 2000 in Safe Mode along with
Safe Mode with Command Prompt - Starts Windows 2000 using minimum
required resources for troubleshooting. After logging on, only the command
prompt is displayed instead of the Windows desktop.
Enable Boot Logging - Starts Windows 2000 by logging all the drivers
and services that were loaded by the system to a file, named ntbtlog.txt. The boot log is useful in analyzing the startup problems.
Enable VGA Mode - Starts Windows 2000 using the basic VGA driver. The
basic video driver is always used when you start Windows 2000 in Safe Mode
Known Good Configuration - Starts Windows 2000 using the registry
information that was saved at the previous successful shutdown. However, this
does not solve problems associated with corrupted or missing drivers or files.
Any changes made since the last successful startup will be lost.
Debugging Mode - Starts Windows 2000 while sending debug information
through a serial cable to another computer.
User manuals and installation manuals are a good source
for diagnosing problems associated with respective hardware or softwares.
It is strongly recommended that you refer to the manuals first before
proceeding with any further action.
With the advent of Internet, almost all the hardware/software
manufacturers are providing websites that provide support services to their
products. There are several third party web resources are also available.
Training materials is useful for providing on-job training for
employees. Basically, the material should contain product documentation, web
resources, and instructions.
Task Manager can be used to monitor key indicators of your computer's
performance. You can see the status of the programs that are running and end
programs that have stopped responding. You can also assess the activity of
running processes, and see graphs and data on CPU and memory usage.
If you are connected to a network, you can view network status and see how
your network is functioning.
screenshot of Task Manager is shown in the above figure. It contains tabs
for Applications, Processes, and Performance. In Windows 2000/XP, you
can get to the Task Manager by pressing Control+Alt+Delete.
Dr. Watson for Windows is a program error debugger that
gathers information about your computer when an error (or user-mode
fault) occurs with a program. Technical support groups can use the
information that Dr. Watson obtains and logs to diagnose a program
error. When an error is detected, Dr. Watson creates a text file
(Drwtsn32.log) that can be delivered to support personnel by the method
they prefer. You also have the option of creating a crash dump file,
which is a binary file that a programmer can load into a debugger.
a program error occurs, Dr. Watson for Windows starts automatically. To
configure Dr. Watson, follow these steps:
1. Click Start, and then click Run.
2. Type drwtsn32, and then click OK.
By default, the log file created by Dr. Watson is named Drwtsn32.log and is
saved in the following location:
drive:\Documents and Settings\All Users.WINNT\Application Data\Microsoft\Dr
Discussed elsewhere in the tutorial.
Discussed elsewhere in the tutorial.
You can use Device Manager to examine and change
To start Device Manager
1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
2. Click Performance and Maintenance, and then click System.
3. Click the Hardware tab, and then click Device Manager.
Click Start | Control Panel
Administrative Tools | Device Manager under System
Device Manager allows the following functionality:
Determine if the hardware on your computer is working
Change hardware configuration settings.
Identify the device drivers that are loaded for each
device and obtain information about each device driver.
Change advanced settings and properties for devices.
Install updated device drivers.
Disable, enable, and uninstall devices.
Reinstall the previous version of a driver.
Identify device conflicts and manually configure
Print a summary of the devices that are installed on
A screen shot of Device Manager on a Windows 2000 system is
It is a Microsoft Windows diagnostics software. WinMSD reports Memory
use, Services, Devices, IRQ's Ports, Environment variables, Network,
Hardware including Display adapter.
WINMSD [\\computername] options
/a All details
/s Summary details only
/f Send output to a file <computername.txt> in the current directory
/p Send output to a printer
WINMSD with no switches will open the GUI with details of the computer
you are logged into.
screenshot of the Winmsd is given above.
Short for MicroSoft Diagnostics, MSD doesn't exist in
Windows 2000. In its place, an enhanced systems information screen, MSINFO32
is present. MSINFO32 opens same screen as that of Winmsd.
Revovery CD was discussed elsewhere.
ConfigSafe generates an easy to read report of the changes to a system
configuration, including updates to:
EXEs, and DLLs
It can also be used to restore a system to a previously
working configuration. Note that it is a third party software, and one need
to purchase the software to use it.
When a computer problem is reported, you need to approach the
customer and ask for symptoms, such as when the problem was first observed,
how often it occurs, whether he could simulate the reported problem etc. These
will help define the problem precisely, and solve the same.
Ask the customer whether he could reproduce the error. Ensure that you
record the log files as it occurs for further analysis, and resolution.
Ask whether the customer had made any changes to the computer
recently. Verify the Event Viewer logs, and isolate any error messages. A
careful diagnosis will help in faster resolution.