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Tips & Tricks To Repair XP


Tips & Tricks To Repair XP

I will not assume any responsibility for problems that may occur to your system from using any of these suggestions. It is always prudent to backup important data before you make any changes to your operating system.

1.)  How to access Safe Mode:

Reboot your computer while holding down the F8 Key. At the Advanced Options Menu select the option for Safe Mode and press Enter.

2.  How to access Last Known Good Configuration:

Reboot your computer while holding down the F8 Key. At the Advanced Options Menu select Last Known Good Configuration.

3.  How to access the Recovery Console:

The Recovery Console is a set of tools which run from a Command prompt. If your system is formatted as NTFS then these tools can help you manage the partition. You can learn more about the Recovery Console through Help and Support or
Click here for information about the different commands and their functions .

To run the Recovery Console from CD boot with the Windows XP CD (or with the optional 6 floppy disk set) and select "R" at the Welcome Screen.

The screen will switch to black and you will be asked which installation to log on to. If you only have one installation you will press "1". Remember that numlock is off at this time.

Next you'll be prompted to enter your Admin password. By default it is created blank so just press Enter.

At the C:\Windows command prompt type "Help" for a list of commands you can use.

4.  How to Repair the Boot Sector:

If XP won't start it may be due to a damaged boot sector or a missing or corrupt ntldr or ntdetect.com files.

To replace damaged ntldr and ntdetect.com you can copy fresh files from the XP CD using the COPY command. Boot with the XP CD and enter the Recovery Console (as above). At the Command Prompt type the following (where "X" is your CD-Rom drive letter) allowing the files to overwrite the old files


To repair a damaged Boot Sector at the command prompt type FIXBOOT and press Enter. Then answer "Y"

5.  How To Format using the Recovery Console :

format drive : /Q /FS:file-system

Use the above command (where /Q performs a quick format of the drive, drive is the drive letter of the partition to format /FS:file-system specifies the type of file system to use [FAT, FAT32, or NTFS]) to format the specified drive to the specified file system. For example the following quick formats C partition as NTFS


the following will do a full format of C as FAT32

*** Note: If a file system is not specified, then the existing file system format is retained.

Type EXIT to quit the Recovery Console and restart your Computer

6.  How Partition using the Recovery Console:

At the command prompt type DISKPART and press Enter.

An interface is displayed which you can move through with the Arrow Keys. Press "C" to create a partition in unused space. Pressing "D" will delete the highlighted partition.

7.  How To Exit the Recovery Console:

You can not use Ctrl+Alt+Del to quit the Recovery Console. Instead type "EXIT" at the command prompt and Windows will be started.

8. How to Repair Install: ***Also removes Service Packs***

Sometimes the only way to repair XP is to reinstall. You do not have to wipe your partition and start over. Just as with previous versions of Windows you can install over top of an existing setup. This has the advantage of retaining your installed applications, data and settings. You will lose previously saved System Restore Points but System Restore will begin creating new restore points again immediately following the Repair Install. You will need to reinstall SP1a and any Critical Updates from the Windows Update Site. Be aware that a Repair Install will leave your system vulnerable to the Blaster and Welchia worms. Do not go on line until you have enabled XP's firewall first. Then visit the Windows Update Site to patch your system It is always prudent to backup important data before you make changes to XP.

There are two approaches. The first one should be used if you can still boot to your Windows Desktop. Simply pop the XP CD into the CD-Rom drive and select Install->Upgrade[recommended]. This will install XP overtop of itself in the same way as upgrading from a previous setup. However if your version is an OEM version then you will not have this option. If you do not see the option to Upgrade[recommended] DO NOT choose New Install as that will either overwrite your current setup completely or give you a dual boot setup.

If you cannot boot to the Desktop or you have an OEM version of XP then the following should be used to complete a Repair Install.

Boot with the Windows XP CD and at the Setup Screen press the Enter Key

You will be taken to the Windows XP Licensing Agreement. After reading the agreement press F8 to proceed.

The next screen gives you the option to do a fresh (clean) install or to repair the selected Windows XP installation. To run a Repair Install Press "R" at this time.
***CAUTION*** if you do not see the option to repair the selected Windows XP installation DO NOT choose the option to continue installing a fresh copy without repairing as that will overwrite your data and cause unrecoverable data loss.

Windows XP will copy the necessary files to your Hard Drive to begin the installation and will then reboot. You will see the message that informs you to "Press any key to boot the CD". Do not press any keys this time just wait a few seconds and the Windows Startup Screen will be displayed. Following this you will be greeted by the Windows XP Setup Screens.

When Setup has completed you should find all of your previously installed apps and settings are intact.

9.  How To Determine If XP was Activated?

You installed XP and then can't remember if you activated it. Go to Start->Run and enter the following

oobe/msoobe /a

10.  View Product Key XP

If you have more than one system running XP you have obviously purchased more than one copy of the Operating System. However you may have forgotten which Product Key you used for which system. It happens. I have 5 systems and have had all of them running XP at times. XP does not store the Product Key in a recognizable format in the registry.
Click this link and select "Open" and your Windows XP Product Key will be displayed
Keyfinder is a freeware utility that retrieves your Product Key. has the options to copy the key to clipboard, save it to a text file, or print it for safekeeping. It works on Windows 95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000, XP, .NET, Office 97, and Office XP. It even has the ability by using Mcft's own script to change the Windows XP, 98, and ME installation key. See the Mcft Knowledgebase article here Q328874
If your version of XP came pre-installed on your computer the revealed Product Key could be that of an image used by the manufacturer. If this is the case you will likely be unable to use it to install another version of Windows XP such as one purchased separately from the computer. Find an alternate location for ViewKeyXP if my link is broken.

11.  How to access the Recovery Console:

Fix Switch Identities in Mcft Outlook Express After Service Pack 1
HP/Compaq SP1 Notice - The System Restore feature in these computers seriously conflicts with SP1
Cannot Start Windows XP After Installing Service Pack 1 and Then Performing a System Recovery Operation

Fix for SP1 Problems and Compaq Pressario 6330

Mcft Knowledgebase Articles Pertaining to Windows XP SP1
Setup Could Not Verify the Integrity of the File" Error Message Occurs When You Try to Install SP1
'The Password Is Not Valid' Error Message Appears When You Log On to Recovery Console in Windows XP

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