How To Change the Master Boot File in Windows XP

A common problem that arises when you install another version of Windows XP on a computer that had a previous installation of a different version of this operating system is an inaccurate master boot file. This particular file contains boot information and is located in the first sector of your hard disk. This means that even if you format the hard disk and delete the partitions, this file will not change. To fix this problem you will have to modify the boot menu or what is known as the boot.ini file.

  1. Navigate to the pertinent utility program. The Start Up and Recovery window is the section where you can access the boot.ini file. To get here, start by right-clicking on the My Computer folder and choosing Properties. This will pull up the System Information window. This window has several tabs, and you should pull up the one labeled Advanced. You'll find three items here, Startup and Recovery is the last. Click on the Settings button and the Startup and Recovery window will appear.
  2. Edit the boot.ini file. The first section of the Startup and Recovery window has a heading 'System startup'. Click on the Edit button located at the side of this section. Doing so will launch the boot menu file in the Notepad text application. A typical boot.ini file should only have one instance of Windows listed under the "[operating systems]" heading. Let's say for example that you mistakenly installed Windows XP Professional on your computer that previously had Windows XP Home. Now every time you turn on and start the computer, it always asks you to choose which of the two operating systems should be loaded. The boot menu file of such a PC would then show two instances of windows listed under the "[operating systems]" heading. The possible cause for this issue is that when you installed Windows XP Professional, it saw that your master boot file still had information on booting with Windows XP Home. The setup process then assumed that both operating systems were needed and thus recorded this information in the boot menu file. To remedy this situation simply erase the line containing Windows XP Home. Be careful to erase only this line and leave everything else unchanged. Save the file and close it afterwards.
  3. Use the fixmbr command for corrupted master boot record files. Another boot problem that can happen to anyone is that the master boot record itself is corrupted by a virus attack or some other means. The answer to this problem is to directly repair it through the Recovery Console utility. This will involve booting your system from the installation CD. Once Recovery Console is up, type fixmbr on the command prompt. The program will execute and write a new master boot record on the computer's hard disk. After you exit and restart, the computer should boot normally.

Computer booting process errors range from annoying to debilitating. Regular home users can confront and solve these issues with a little knowledge of the functions of the boot menu and master boot record as well as a few of the executable commands in the Recovery Console utility program.


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