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Windows XP Repairing / Troubleshooting Tips, Tricks and Tweaks

Below, you will find Windows XP Repairing / Troubleshooting Tips, Tricks and Tweaks to help you understand your Windows XP operating system and to help you make it work more smoothly and safely. If you are unable to understand any of the instructions outlined below, please use our free service listed below for help:
Back up the XP registry DirectX Diagnostic Tool
System Restore Feature Defrag.exe
Bootcfg Tasklist.exe
Local Group Policy Editor Format Hard Drive
Common Command Console Utilities PowerToys for XP
Windows XP MSCONFIG Personal Support

Using the "Ping" Command

Low Disk Space Notification

Repair Option on a LAN or High-Speed Connection

Detect and Repairing Disk Errors

Update a Device Driver Troubleshooting Drivers Using Driver Verifier Manager
Create Password Reset Disk System Information Tool
Partition Your Hard Disk Using the System File Checker
Configuring the XP firewall Reinstall Internet Explorer
Re-Enabling System Restore System Response
Accessing Safe Mode Restore Missing Windows Update Link
Driver Rollback Disable Boot Virus Detection
Password Reset Disk

Repairing IE / OE In Windows XP

Constant Ping to Troubleshoot a Connection Remove a randomly named Trojan Virus
Installing the Windows XP Recovery Console View event logs to troubleshoot issues
How to use the Recovery Console Most Common Reasons for System Crashes
Recover your XP Password Windows Update Registered Incorrectly
Cannot Create or Replace a File or Folder CD/DVD Drive Not Detected
XP Pro Won't Completely Shutdown Game will not install
Fixing Defragmenter problems in Windows XP Booting to Safe Mode in Windows XP
Error message when you click a Mailto: link Reinstall System Restore in Windows XP
BIOS Power-On Selt Test (POST) Screen Disable "Automatic Restart" feature
Muted sound  

Windows XP Tip Categories


Use the Information below at your own risk.  See "Terms of Use"

Back up the XP Registry

  1. Go to Start>> Run, type in: regedit
  2. Click on the registry key that you are going to edit.
  3. Go to File and click Export.
  4. Choose a location to save the registry key file and click Save.

Or you can use a small utility called "ERUNT" which stands for: The Emergency Recovery Utility NT. This is an emergency registry backup and restore utility for Windows NT/2000/XP

Download ERUNT Emergency Recovery Utility NT
574 KB

NOTE: Please keep in mind that using the export style of backup is not a complete backup of the Windows registry. ERUNT is a very good backup program and is a complete backup of the registry, but I believe the System Restore (SR) feature that comes with XP is the best and safest way to backup. With SR, you'll have a months worth of clean registry backup copies to choose from (assuming the chosen restore point was in fact clean to start with). Remember, each restore point overwrites the next. Now, If you use ERUNT, you could be restoring a copy of your registry that is much older than a month, whereby you would lose any programs and/or changes that you've made after making your backup copy. So, you can see that the SR is best because you can always choose a restore point that is very recent.

For further information regarding the System Restore feature:

Click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

306084 HOW TO: Restore Windows XP to a Previous State

304449 HOW TO: Start System Restore Tool From Command Prompt

283073 HOW TO: Disable the System Restore Configuration User Interface

302796 Troubleshooting System Restore in Windows XP


DirectX Diagnostic Tool

Windows 2000/XP has a handy tool for running diagnostic tests on your DirectX program. Some of what this tool can do includes:
  • Display detailed information
  • Diagnostic tests on many components, which include:
    • Display
    • Sound
    • Network 
    • ...and more
  • Check for problems
  • Save the information to a text file.


System Restore Feature

XP contains a new feature called System Restore that restores the system to a previous configuration point. Should you restore your system to a point before you activated XP on your computer, the OS will forget that you activated it and you'll need to reactivate XP. If the system restore point is past the 30-day grace period that Microsoft allows for activation, you'll have to activate XP immediately. The only workaround to reactivating your system is to perform the following steps: 
  1. Start your Windows installation in Minimal Safe mode. 
  2. Move to the \%systemroot%\system32 folder. 
  3. Rename wpa.dbl to wpa.noact. 
  4. Rename wpa.bak to wpa.dbl. 
  5. Reboot your system as normal. 

Note: The above procedure will work only if you've made no significant hardware changes.



One of the problems with the welcome addition of the disk defragmenter in Windows 2000 is that it has no command-prompt equivalent. As a result, you can't easily schedule the defragmenter to run. To address this problem, Microsoft included defrag.exe in Windows XP for command-level disk defragmentation.

An example analysis execution shows: C:\>defrag d: -a Windows Disk Defragmenter Copyright (c) 2001 Microsoft Corp. and Executive Software International, Inc. Analysis Report 6.91 GB Total, 6.73 GB (97%) Free, 2% Fragmented (5% file fragmentation)

The command format is: defrag <volume> [-a] [-f] [-v] [-?] volume drive letter or mount point (d: or d:\vol\mountpoint) -a Analyze only -f Force defragmentation, even if free space is low -v Verbose output -? Display this help text



Bootcfg is a new addition to the Windows XP recovery console. You use this command to modify the boot.ini file, which contains the choices at system startup (in a multiboot environment, boot.ini contains the list of all the OSs and lets you choose one).

The Bootcfg command recognizes Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows NT. It doesn't recognize Windows 9x. Bootcfg has the following options:

  • /default-Sets the default OS (modifies the default= line in boot.ini).
  • /add-Scans the computer for OSs and lets you add located installations. You can also specify optional boot switches.
  • /rebuild-Same as /add except /rebuild automatically recreates boot.ini with all found installations if the user confirms.
  • /scan-Identifies current installations but doesn't modify boot.ini.
  • /list-Scans the boot.ini files and displays each entry.
  • /redirect-Enables redirection of the boot loaded to a specific port and baud rate (this option is useful for the Headless Administration options).
  • /disableredirect-Disables the redirection configured with /redirect.

Bootcfg is simply an extra tool. You can still modify boot.ini directly with Notepad (after removing read-only, system, and hidden attributes-attrib c:\boot.ini -r -s -h). Or you can use the System Control Panel applet or Msconfig



Microsoft has replaced tlist.exe with tasklist.exe in XP. Tlist.exe lets you list all the processes running on your machine and the associated task name and memory usage. Tasklist.exe replicates all the functionality of the original utility. For information about tasklist.exe, type the following at the XP command prompt: tasklist /?


Local Group Policy Editor


A nice feature of the Windows NT, 2000, XP Operating Systems is the "Local Group Policy Editor" This is a flexible Change and Configuration Management tool. This tool includes options for registry-based policy settings, security settings, software installation, scripts, startup, shutdown, logon, logoff, and folder redirection.

To invoke the Local Group Policy Editor, select Start and then Run, then type: 


Now press ENTER on your keyboard.


Format Hard Drive

There are several ways to format in XP:
1 During install
2. Using Diskmanagement under administrative tools
3. Using the recovery console
4. Using start run cmd then the format command.
5. Right click on the drive in explorer and select format.
6. Using a Win98 boot disk

Note: WinXP will not let you mess with the boot partition or system partition since both contain items required to boot and run winXP. Thus, you should use the install process to format system and boot drive.

Here is the easiest way to perform a "Clean Install" of XP:

Using Windows XP CD:

1. Insert your XP CD in the drive while running your current installation of XP. 
2. You will be given some options here. You can select:
  • Clean Install 
  • New Installation
  • Advanced

...and others I believe.  But since this tutorial teaches a Clean Installation of XP, select "Clean Install".
3. Put a checkmark in the box to "designate where you want to install XP" (or some such dialog). Typically, you will choose to install XP on your C: drive.
4. Next, you will need to select the file system you wish to use. I recommend selecting NTFS as it is more sucure than the FAT32 system.
5. Setup will then format the partition you chose and then you can install XP clean on that partition. Be sure that if you have more than one partition, you select the correct one. 
6. Install your Windows XP Operating System.

Using Windows 98 Boot Disk:

Get yourself a Windows 98 boot-diskette with fdisk. Delete all partitions and THEN boot from the CD. If XP's setup finds formatted partitions, it proceeds without user intervention. If it doesn't find any, setup will prompt you for partitioning and formatting.

Using Floppy Drive:

If you are not able to boot from your CD-ROM, try changing the boot order in your BIOS so that your CD-ROM boots first.


Common Command Console Utilities

Listed below are many of the Windows XP console utilities that you can run from the command line.

Computer Management

Disk Managment diskmgmt.msc
Device Manager devmgmt.msc
Disk Defrag dfrg.msc
Event Viewer  eventvwr.msc
Shared Folders fsmgmt.msc
Group Policies  gpedit.msc
Local Users and Groups  lusrmgr.msc
Performance Monitor  perfmon.msc
Resultant Set of Policies rsop.msc
Local Security Settings secpol.msc
Services  services.msc
Component Services comexp.msc


PowerToys for XP

As with previous versions of Windows, Microsoft has released a set of great utilities to enhance the Windows experience. 

Power Toys for XP consists of the following:

  • Super-Fast User Switcher: Switch users without having to go through the XP logon screen
  • Open Command Window Here: Open a command window that points to a particular folder just by right-clicking that folder
  • TweakUI: Make many modifications to internal XP settings that aren't accessible in the default UI
  • Power Calculator: Graph and evaluate functions as well as perform unit conversions
  • Image Resizer: Easily resize multiple images into a target size with a right-click
  • CD Slide Show Generator: View images as a slide show
  • Virtual Desktop Manager: Have up to four virtual desktops
  • Taskbar Magnifier: Magnify part of the screen from the taskbar
  • HTML Slide Show Wizard: Create HTML slide shows of your digital pictures, ready to place on a Web site
  • Webcam Timershot: Take pictures at specified time intervals from a Webcam connected to your computer and save them to a location that you designate

PowerToy Setup
939 KB Download
8 Min @ 28.8 kbps



The Windows XP utility Msconfig (Microsoft Configuration) is useful for configuring various OS elements:
  • Startup type (e.g., which drivers are loaded, whether system.ini/win.ini are parsed)
  • Which parts of system.ini are used
  • Which parts of win.ini are used
  • Which commands run at start-up
  • Which services start
  • boot.ini options

With the boot.ini option, you can check the current entries, specify additional options, and configure the timeout.

  1. Start Msconfig (Start, Run, msconfig.exe).
  2. Select the BOOT.INI tab.
  3. The dialog box displays the current OSs.
  4. Click Check All Boot Paths to go through all the entries and ensure that they relate to a true installation.
  5. If you select an actual installation, you can then set the various boot options, such as basevideo and SOS.
  6. Once finished, click OK.

Personal Support

Have you ever made the mistake of telling friends or co-workers that you know something about computers and then get tasked with fixing all of their computer ailments? Well, as nice as it is to give your time for free, it's is even nicer if it doesn't take tons of time to fix them.  With any version of Windows XP it can be pretty simple.  If the other party has an Internet Connection, all they have to do is send you a Remote Assistance request then you will be able to connect to their computer to fix a wide array of troubleshooting tasks such as; file associations, registry settings, set system options and much more. But beware...they'll surely be so impressed that they will tell all of their friends about you.


Using the "Ping" Command

A very handy method of checking your computer's networking connection is the Ping command. Let's say that you are having trouble connecting to a certain site. You can PING that site to see if it is accessible. If the site is not the trouble, try PINGing your Internet Service Provider to see if the problem is at their end.

Using the PING command in Windows XP/NT/2000:
Once you are online, go to Start>> Run. Type in: cmd.exe [Enter]

Using the Ping command in Windows 95/98/ME:
Once you are online, go to Start>> Programs>> MS DOS [Enter]

At the command prompt:

Type in: ping  [Enter]


Description of the Low Disk Space Notification in Windows XP

When a Windows XP-based computer is running low on disk space, you receive a "Low Disk Space" message that, when clicked, starts the Disk Cleanup Wizard. This article describes the conditions in which you receive the "Low Disk Space" message. When free disk space reaches 200 megabytes (MB), you receive the following message for 10 seconds, once per session:

You are running out of disk space on [drive]. To free space on this drive by deleting old or unnecessary files, click here.

When free disk space reaches 80 MB, you receive the following message for 30 seconds, every four hours, twice per session:

You are running very low on disk space on [drive]. To free space on this drive by deleting old or unnecessary files, click here.

When free disk reaches 50 MB, you receive the following message for 30 seconds, every five minutes, until free space is above 50 MB:

You are running very low on disk space on [drive]. To free space on this drive by deleting old or unnecessary files, click here.

Note: There is a registry value you can set to disable this feature. To disable low disk space checks, follow these steps, log off, and then log on again: Follow these steps, and then quit Registry Editor:

1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
2. Locate and then click the following key in the registry: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
3. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
4. Type NoLowDiskSpaceChecks, and then press ENTER.
5. On the Edit menu, click Modify.
6. Type 1, and then click OK.



Repair Option on a Local Area Network or High-Speed Internet Connection

In the latest versions of Windows, you are given a repair option when you right-click a network connection in the Network Connections window. Below, you will find exactly what Windows does, in order, when you tell it to repair a network connection:
  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) lease is renewed (ipconfig /renew)
  • Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) cache is flushed (arp -d *)
  • Reload of the NetBIOS name cache (nbtstat -R)
  • NetBIOS name update is sent (nbtstat -RR)
  • Domain Name System (DNS) cache is flushed (ipconfig /flushdns)
  • DNS name registration (ipconfig /registerdns)
  • IEEE 802.1X Authentication Restart (WinXP SP1 or later)

Note: The bit in parenthesis is the actual command that is issued, which you can perform yourself from a command prompt.

Source: Microsoft KB Article


Detect and Repairing Disk Errors

In previous versions of Windows, you would find a built in utility called ScanDisk. This utility exists in Windows XP but is called the Error Checking utility. So, in addition to running Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter to optimize the performance of your computer, you can check the integrity of the files stored on your hard disk by running the Error Checking utility.

As you use your hard drive, it can develop bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing (such as file saving) difficult, or even impossible. The Error Checking utility scans the hard drive for bad sectors, and scans for file system errors to see whether certain files or folders are misplaced.

To run the Error Checking utility:

Important: Be sure to close all files before running the Error Checking Utility. Any unsaved data will be lost.

1. Click Start, and then click My Computer.
2. In the My Computer window, right-click the hard disk you want to search for bad sectors, and then click Properties.
3. In the Properties dialog box, click the Tools tab.
4. Click the Check Now button.
5. In the Check Disk dialog box, select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box, and then click Start
6. If bad sectors are found, choose to fix them.
Tip: Only select the Automatically fix file system errors check box if you think that your disk contains bad sectors.

Source: Microsoft


Update a Device Driver

Many people are of the opinion that if it isn't broke then don't fix it. However, there are other people that believe that updating your hardware with fresh drivers taps its full potential and makes for a smoother running device. In any case, it is easy to locate and update a device driver using Device Manager, here's how:
  1. Go to Start and right-click on My Computer.
  2. Select Properties from the resulting menu.
  3. Click the Hardware tab.
  4. Click the Device Manager button.
  5. Select the device you want to update by hitting the plus sign next to the hardware category. The specific device will now be shown.
  6. Right click on the device and select Update Driver (see Figure #1).

This will invoke the Hardware Update Wizard. Follow the onscreen instructions or visit the manufactures web site to locate an updated driver.

If the new driver fails, you can easily reinstall the old driver. Here's how:

  1. Open the Device Manager (steps 1-4 above).
  2. Expose the desired device, right click it and then select Properties.
  3. Choose the Driver tab.
  4. Select the Roll Back Driver button (see Figure #2).
Figure #1
Updated Driver
Figure #2
Driver Roll-Back


Troubleshooting Drivers Using Driver Verifier Manager

If you are having lockups, blue screens, error messages...etc. Many times the cause is a corrupt driver. Microsoft has a tool already installed in Windows XP called Driver Verifier Manager. This easy to use tool will help you identify the cause of a driver problem. Here's how to use this tool:
  1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: verifier [Enter] or Click OK.
  2. With the Select A Task page open, keep the default setting "Create Standard Settings". Click Next.
  3. Choose the "Select Driver Name From A List" option.
  4. Select the driver files that you would like to verify by checking the checkbox next to a driver file.
  5. Click Finish, then Reboot your system.
If you encounter a Blue Screen along with an error message on restart, then one or more of the selected drivers are a problem. If your system boots normally, then you have no driver issues with the ones that you've selected.

Driver Verifier will remain active until you turn it off. Here's how:

Go to Start>> Run. Type in: verifier /reset  [Enter] or Click OK.

For further information about the Driver verifier program visit:;en-us;244617


Create Password Reset Disk

I often get questions regarding forgotten passwords in Windows XP. Windows XP has a feature that will reset your password in the event that you forget it. Here's how to set this up:
  1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> User Accounts
  2. Open the User account that you would like to make a reset disk for
  3. Find a link titled: "Prevent a Forgotten Password" Click this link

The Forgotten Password Wizard will now guide you through the steps necessary to create the disk. When the process completes, label the disk accordingly and store it in a safe place.


System Information Tool

In Windows XP, you'll find a very handy tool called, the System Information Tool. The main purpose of this tool is to help in troubleshooting computer issues. As an example, if you are having a problem with an optical drive, you can use this tool to identify the status of the driver for this drive. While the troubleshooting aspect of this tool is used by the more advanced users, this tool is handy for all users who wish to find out information about what is installed on your Windows application at a glance. Here's how to start the System Information Tool:

Go to Start>> All Programs>> Accessories>> System Tools>> System Information.

OR - Go to Start>> Run. Type in: msinfo32.exe [Enter] or click OK.

The categories of information you can expect to find in this tool are:
  • Installed Components
  • Hardware Resources
  • Installed Applications
  • Software Environment
  • Internet Explorer


How to Easily Create a Partition on Your Hard Disk with XP

If you've moved up from Windows 95 or 98 to Windows XP, one big thing you'll notice is that creating new partitions doesn't have to be done from the command line any more. Windows XP makes it easy to create a new partition using the graphical disk management tool. Here's how: 
  1. Turn off your computer and install your new hard disk. It's unlikely that you have any unpartitioned space on which to create a new partition on the drive already in the machine, so you'll need to add a new drive. New drives typically don't come preformatted, so you'll need to create your own partitions and format them. 
  2. Start your computer and logon as an administrator. Click Start and then click the Run command. In the Open text box type: diskmgmt.msc and click OK. 
  3. A Wizard will appear when the Disk Management console opens. Go through the Wizard's steps and allow it to initialize the new disk, but do not allow the Wizard to convert the disk from basic to dynamic. 
  4. You will see, on the left side of the console, disk icons that represent "Disk 0", "Disk 1," etc. Your new disk should be the one with the highest number. The size of the disk should be listed, and the word "Unallocated" should be just under the size. Right click where it shows the size of the disk and click the New Partition command. 
  5. Click Next on the New Partition Wizard Welcome page. 
  6. On the Select Partition Type page, click on both of the options and read the Descriptions. We'll assume here you're creating a primary partition. Select Primary partition and click Next. 
  7. On the Specify Partition Size page, type in the size of the partition. Depending on what you want to use the disk for, you might want to create more than one partition. Type in the size of the new partition in the Partition size in MB text box and click Next. 
  8. On the Assign Drive Letter or Path page, you can bind the partition to a drive letter or mount it in an empty NTFS folder. In this example, you'll do it the old fashioned way and assign the partition a new drive letter. Select the drive letter and click Next. 
  9. You need to format the partition to use it. Always use NTFS unless you need to allow other operating systems on the same machine to access the drive. You can use the defaults, or customize the Allocation unit size based on the types of applications you want to run on the disk. Click Next. 
  10. Click Finish. 

Note: You'll see the drive being formatted. You can use the partition after the formatting is complete. You don't even need to restart.


Using the System File Checker

You can run the System File Checker to verify protected system files. 

Command line switches are:

sfc [/scannow] [/scanonce] [/scanboot] [/revert] [/purgecache] [/cachesize=x] 

/scannow - Scans all protected system files immediately. /scanonce - Scans all protected system files once. /scanboot - Scans all protected system files every time the computer is restarted. /revert - Returns the scan to its default operation. /purgecache - Purges the Windows File Protection file cache and scans all protected system files immediately. /cachesize=x - Sets the size, in MB, of the Windows File Protection file cache. 


Configuring the XP firewall

To enable the firewall: 
  1. Go to start >>control panel >>network and Internet connections >>network connections 
  2. Right click on your Internet connection and select 'properties'.
  3. Go to the 'Advanced' tab and check the 'Internet Connection Firewall' box.

What you have just done is enabled a combination of packet filtering and a circuit level gateway. Your computer will now record which applications on your computer attempt to access the Internet, and examine all incoming data against these records. Any unsolicited data will be dropped. 

If you choose to use Internet connection sharing as well, the firewall will handle requests from the other computers in your network as well, acting as a gateway. The XP firewall is effective at stopping unauthorized data from entering your computer or network. 


Reinstall Internet Explorer

To Reinstall Internet Explorer 6:

1) Insert the Windows XP CD

2) Open Start / Run and type: rundll32.exe 


Re-Enabling System Restore

If you've previously disabled system restore through the Group Policy Editor, the option to start it again does not show in the System Properties. You can re-enable it again.  Here's how:
  1. Start the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc)
  2. Navigate to Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/System/System Restore
  3. Set Turn off System Restore and Turn off Configuration to Disable
  4. Right click on My Computer and Select Manage
  5. Navigate to Services and Applications/Services
  6. Navigate to System Restore Service and double click
  7. On the General tab set [Startup Type] to Automatic using the drop down list
  8. Click the Start button to start the service
  9. Close the Computer Management console
  10. Return to System Restore in Group Policy Editor and configure both to Not Configured
  11. Close Group Policy Editor and reboot the system.

After the reboot is complete, right click My Computer, select Properties and the tab for System Restore will have been restored. Configure it to your individual needs and satisfaction.


System Response

If your computer hangs while trying to access files or programs, you can try the simple steps below to reboot your system without actually rebooting it.  However, if you still experience the problem, then I would recommend performing an actual reboot of your system.
  1. Press CRTL + ALT + DEL
  2. Go to the 'processes' tab and click explorer.exe once to highlight it, then click 'end process'.
  3. Now, click File >> New Task and type: explorer.exe 
  4. Click OK

Everything should be working fine now!


Accessing Safe Mode

  • To access Safe Mode, you have to press F8 as soon as you see booting into Windows XP text. This can sometimes be quite tricky, especially on very fast systems. To make it a little easier, you can tap the F8 key continually during the entire boot sequence, and if you have a dual boot system, select the OS, press Enter and F8 at the same time to enter Safe Mode.
  1. From Start> Run Type: msconfig
  2. Choose the Boot.ini tab
  3. From Boot Option
  4. Select /SAFEBOOT by placing a check in the box.
  5. Press Apply
  6. Press OK
  7. Select Restart
  8. System will boot into Safe Mode
  9. BEFORE rebooting from  Safe mode repeat steps 1 thru 7 and uncheck the box selecting /SAFEBOOT
  10. Press Apply
  11. Press OK
  12. Select Restart
  13. You will get a message that your are in Troubleshooting Mode, place a check in the "do not show this again" box; press OK
  14. From Start> Run; once again Type: msconfig
  15. From the General Tab
  16. Select Normal Startup
  17. Press Apply
  18. Press OK
  19. This will restore normal boot.


Restore Missing Windows Update Link

Microsoft has made available to all Windows users, a web site that provides Updates to its Operating Systems. By default, a link is provided in the Start Menu. If for some reason you have removed this link or it has just mysteriously disappeared, then here is a simple method to recover this link to your Start Menu:
  1. Here is the address to the Windows Update website:
  2. On the above link, point your mouse directly over the Windows Update link.
  3. While holding your mouse over the link, left-click the link and keep the left button depressed.
  4. While continuing to hold the left mouse button down, mouse over the Start Menu and wait a moment for the menu to expand.
  5. Once the menu has expanded vertically, continue holding down the left mouse button and mouse over the "All Programs" button. The All Programs menu will also expand.
  6. Once the All Programs menu has expanded, slide the mouse pointer up the programs menu until you have chosen a location within the menu for your link to reside (you should see a black horizontal line while you're moving your pointer around in the programs menu).
  7. Once you've chosen the location for your link, remove your finger from the left-click button and the link will now pop into place.
  8. You can right click the newly placed link and rename it "Windows Update" or just leave it as is.
  9. Now, you can left click the link again and hold the left click button depressed while sliding the mouse pointer into the Start Menu area (you should again see a black horizontal line while you're moving your pointer around in the Start Menu).
  10. Once you have chosen a location within the Start Menu for your link to reside, just lift your finger from the left-click button and again, the link will pop into place.

Congrats! You've just added the Windows Update URL to your Start Menu.


Driver Rollback
Windows XP device Driver Rollback can replace a device driver with the previously installed version. When you install a new device driver that causes system instability, use Driver Rollback to reinstall the previous drivers. In the event that Driver Rollback cannot reinstall your previous driver, you can use System Restore to return your operating system to its state before the new device driver installation.

To use Driver Rollback, perform the following steps:

  1. Click the Start button, and then right-click My Computer.
  2. Click Properties.
  3. Click the Hardware tab, and then click Device Manager.
  4. In the Device Manager window, right-click the device for which the new driver was installed, and then click Properties.
  5. Click the Drivers tab, and then click Roll Back Driver.


Disable Boot Virus Detection

Having the Boot Virus Detection enabled is pretty much obsolete with the newer machines. This is due to more modern virus styles and the fact that most Motherboards now days can detect any attempts to write to the boot sector or the partition table. 

Disabling this feature in the "Advanced BIOS Features" section of the BIOS will improve your boot speed.


Password Reset Disk

In the event you have forgotten your account password, Windows XP has made this feature available so that your password can be easily reset. The tips below include instruction for creating and using a Password Reset Disk for both Windows XP Home and Professional editions:

To create a Password Reset Disk: [Home Edition]

  1. Open Control Panel from the Start Menu
  2. Open User Accounts
  3. Click on the User for which you want to create a Password Reset Disk. 
  4. Along the upper left side of the window, click on Prevent a Forgotten Password. This starts the Forgotten Password Wizard. 
  5. Insert a blank floppy disk and follow the prompts through the Wizard. 
  6. When the process is complete, label the disk and store it in a safe place. 

Here is how to use your Password Reset Disk:

  1. From the Welcome screen, click your user name
  2. Click the Question Mark button. 
  3. Click Use Your Password Reset Disk. Follow the instructions to create a new password. 

Note: Once you have logged in with your new password, be sure to store your Password Reset Disk in a safe place.

To create a Password Reset Disk: [Professional Edition]

Note that this procedure requires one blank, formatted floppy disk. To create a password reset disk for your local user account:

  1. Press CTRL+ALT+DELETE. The Windows Security dialog box appears.
  2. Select Change Password . The Change Password dialog box will appear.
  3. In the Log on to box, click the local computer. For example, click Computer (this computer).
  4. Select Backup . The Forgotten Password Wizard will now start.
  5. On the "Welcome to the Forgotten Password Wizard" page, choose Next .
  6. Insert a blank, formatted disk in drive A, and then choose Next .
  7. In the Current user account password box, type your password, and then select Next . The Forgotten Password Wizard will create the disk.
  8. When the progress bar reaches 100 percent complete, select Next , and then choose Finish . The Forgotten Password Wizard will quit and you return to the Change Password dialog box.
  9. Remove and label the newly created disk.  Be sure to store it in a safe place.
  10. In the Change Password dialog box, click Cancel .
  11. In the Windows Security dialog box, click Cancel.
Here is how to use your Password Reset Disk:
  1. In the Welcome to Windows dialog box, press CTRL+ALT+DELETE.
  2. In the Log On to Windows dialog box, type an incorrect password in the Password box, and then select OK .
  3. In the Logon Failed dialog box that appears, select Reset . The Password Reset Wizard starts.
  4. On the "Welcome to the Password Reset Wizard" page, choose Next .
  5. Insert the Password Reset Disk in your floppy drive and select Next.
  6. On the "Reset the User Account Password" page, type a new password in the Type a New Password box.
  7. Type the same password in the Type the Password Again to Confirm box.
  8. In the Type a New Password Hint box, type a hint that will help you remember the password if you forget it. 

Note : This hint is visible to anyone who attempts to log on to the computer by using your user account.

  1. Choose Next , and then click Finish . The Password Reset Wizard will quit and return you to the Log On to Windows dialog box. The Password Reset Disk is automatically updated with the new password information. You do not have to create a new password reset disk.
  2. In the Log On to Windows dialog box, type your new password in the Password box.
  3. In the Log on to box, click the local computer. For example, click Computer (this computer) , and then click OK . You are logged on to the local computer with your local account information.


Repairing IE / OE In Windows XP

If you are having any of the following problems, you may find that repairing your Internet Explorer / Outlook Express application may help.
  1. If you click a hyperlink in an email message:
  • A blank page opens
  • The hyperlink does not function at all
  • You receive an error message
  1. Unable to type in text boxes in a search engine or website.
  2. Address bar search does not work.
  3. Or, if you encounter various error messages while browsing.
To fix most problems concerning IE/OE:

Go to Start>> Run. Type in:

rundll32.exe setupapi,InstallHinfSection DefaultInstall 132 %windir%\inf\ie.inf  [Enter]

(for accuracy, it is best to copy and paste the entire above command)

Or, you can repair IE/OE manually:

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.x Repair for Windows XP:
  1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: sfc /scannow [Enter]
(Notice the space between sfc and /scannow)
  1. Follow the onscreen prompts during the System File Checker process.
  2. Reboot your machine when completed.

Constant Ping to Troubleshoot a Connection

If you would like to send a constant Ping to an Internet address, it is possible to do this using a DOS command:
  1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: cmd  [Enter] or click OK
  2. At the command prompt, type: ping /t

Note: To find additional ping commands, you can type: ping /?


Remove a Randomly Named Trojan Virus

Warning: Be sure to make a backup copy of your registry prior to making any changes to it.
  1. Start your computer in Safe Mode by pressing F8 once Windows first begins to load. Be sure that you login as Administrator.
  2. Go to Start>> Search all files and folders. Search for the viruses file name and delete it where-ever it is found.
  3. Go back to Start>> Run. Type in: regedit [Enter] or click OK.
  4. Navigate to the following Registry keys one at a time:
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\startupreg
  5. Click the last string entry (eg: startupreg & run) to empty its contents into the right pane. Look for entries that reference your specific Trojan file. Delete the strings that contain such reference. Be sure that you do not delete any string values in the left pane.
  6. Close the Registry Editor when completed. Restart your computer normally.
  7. Update your Antivirus software and run a full system scan. If your antivirus software states that your system is clean, you will now need to remove all of your restore points as the virus may reside there. The next time that you would use system restore, you will re-infect your system.

Here's how to remove your restore points:

  1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> System>> System Restore tab. Check the box to "Turn off system restore on all drives".
  2. Click Apply. Then click OK. This will remove all restore points.
  3. Follow the instructions in #1 above to restore your system restore on all drives by unchecking the entry.
  4. Create a new clean restore point by going to Start>> All Programs>> Accessories>> System Tools>> System Restore.
  5. Click "Create a Restore Point" then click Next.
  6. Enter a name for this Restore Point and then click Create.

Note: If everything seems to be running well at this point, delete the backup copy of your registry. Then, empty your recycle bin.


Installing the Windows XP Recovery Console

I have seen on many occasions that after trying to install software or a device, something in Windows may become corrupt and sometimes to the point where Windows will not boot. If after trying to restore to a last known good configuration you still cannot boot. You can try a last ditch effort at the Recovery Console. The Recovery Console will give you access to a DOS like environment where you can try to fix suspected problems. Here is how to install the Recovery Console:

1. Place your Windows XP CD into your CD-ROM drive
2. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: d:\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons (assuming D:\ is your CD-ROM Drive). Press Enter on your keyboard or click OK.

A Windows setup dialog box will now appear. Here, you can read about the Recovery Console option. After you're done reading, click YES to confirm the installation.

Once you restart your computer, you will now see "Microsoft Windows Recovery Console" on the startup menu.


View event logs to troubleshoot issues

If you need to troubleshoot issues within Windows XP, you can view your event logs in the Computer Management Console. To access the Computer Management Console:

Go to Start>> Right click My Computer>> Select 'Manage' from the resulting menu.

Once in the console, select Event Viewer. Then double click any highlighted events within the Application or System categories to view the details on what the problem could be.


How to use the Recovery Console

There are many things that can be done in the Recovery Console.
  • Enable and Disable Services
  • Format Drives
  • Read and Write data on a local drive to include NTFS formatted drives
  • Plus many other administrative tasks

The Recovery Console is mostly used for bringing a non-booting machine back from the dead. If you accidentally deleted a file that is keeping your system from booting, you can use the Recovery Console to copy the file from your CD-ROM to your hard drive. Or, if a particular service is preventing proper system function, then you can use the Recovery Console to reconfigure the service to restore proper system functionality.

In any case, it is important for you to become familiar with the Recovery Console so that you can restore your computer in the event something should go wrong.

Using either the Microsoft Windows XP startup disks or the Windows XP CD-ROM, you can run the Recovery Console. Here's how:

Startup Disks:
If you do not have the startup disks, you can use the following MSKB article to create them:

If you are going to use the Windows XP CD-ROM to run the Recovery Console, you will first need to configure your BIOS to start from the CD-ROM.

Running the Recovery Console:

1. Insert either media method (listed above) into the proper drive.

Note: When using the CD-ROM, select any on-screen options that will allow the computer to start from the CD-ROM.

2. When you get to the "Welcome to Setup" screen, press R on your keyboard to start the Recovery Console.
3. If you have a dual-boot or a multi-boot system, select the installation that you need to access from the Recovery Console.
4. When prompted, enter the administrator password. If there is no password, leave it blank and just press Enter on your keyboard.
5. This will take you to the command prompt where you can enter the proper command to diagnose your problem and/or repair your installation.

Note: At the command prompt, you can access a list of command options: type: help

Note: For information regarding specific commands, type: help commandname (using the actual command name after "help")

6. When you are ready to exit the Recovery Console, type: exit


Most Common Reasons for System Crashes

[Windows XP]

If you are seeing random system crashes or periodical restarts, it may help you to know what the most common reasons for Windows XP to become unstable.

Bad Memory Module:
Having a bad memory module will cause these issues. To troubleshoot this, you will need to either swap out a module for a known good module one at a time until you find the bad module. Or, remove one module at a time and reboot your system. Repeat this process as necessary until you find the bad module.

Sound Card Driver:
It is fairly common for a driver to cause this type of issue. Sometimes they become corrupt for no reason or even become out-dated. The sound card driver is not the only driver that can cause these issues, but it is the most common and should be the first card to focus on. Just simply visit the manufactures web site and reinstall the correct driver for your sound card.

Once your systems processor reaches a certain temperature, the system will shut itself down. The most common reason for overheating is a dirty fan not being able to spin fast enough to cool the processor. Or, a fan has just gone bad. Once you've gained access to the inside of your case, look and listen for a faulty fan. If they all appear to be working, it may not be a bad idea to go ahead and clean them while you are in there.

Failing Power Supply:
A power supply that isn't providing enough power to create a stable environment will cause this type of issue. It would seem if your computer turns on and boots up that the power supply is working, but in fact, it could be failing. This can be a tricky one to troubleshoot if you do not have the proper equipment. Without the proper test equipment, you are forced to either replace the power supply with a known good one or replace it with a new one.

Mixing FAT32 and NTFS:
If you have two hard drives installed on your system where one is FAT32 and the other is NTFS, this can cause conflicts that can ultimately create errors. Try converting your hard drives to the NTFS file system.

Bad USB Hub:
This one is pretty simple to troubleshoot. Just simply remove the hub from your system to see if the problem is resolved. This is not nearly as common as the scenarios listed above, but I have seen it happen a few times.


Recover your XP Password

If you have forgotten your XP password, there is a small utility that will recover it for you:


Windows Update Registered Incorrectly

Fortunately, this occurrence does not happen very often at all. But, if you do find an instance where you have already installed a particular update, but Windows is asking you to install it again. This is due to an update that did not register correctly.

To fix this, you will need to delete the registry key associated with the update, then reinstall the update. Here's how:

Warning: Making mistakes while editing the Windows Registry can have serious effects on your Windows installation. Be sure to make a backup copy prior to making any changes.

  1. At the Windows update web page, note the KB article number (six digits) associated with the incorrectly registered update.

  2. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: regedit [Enter] or click OK.

  3. Drill down to the following registry key:

HKEY LOCAL MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Updates\Windows XP\SP2 (could possibly be SP1 instead of SP2)

  1. Click once on the SP2 entry to empty its contents into the right pane.

  2. In the right pane, locate the KB article number that you noted earlier.

  3. Right click the KB article number and select Delete from the resulting menu.

  4. Exit the registry editor saving the changes.

  5. Restart your computer and then reinstall your Windows update.


Cannot Create or Replace a File or Folder

If you are trying to create a file and receive one of the following error messages:
  • Cannot create or replace (filename). The directory or file cannot be created.
  • Cannot create file or folder, disk may be full or write protected.

This can occur from one of the following reasons:

  • The file name already exists.
  • The file name was typed incorrectly.
  • The file itself is to large for the remaining hard disk space.
  • The file cannot be created in a certain folder.

To correct the error message, do one of the following steps:

[1] The file name already exists:
By default, Windows will never allow two files to co-exist on any of their Operating Systems. Therefore, you must ensure that the file name that you are trying to create has its own identity.

[2] The file name was typed incorrectly:

The criteria for creating file names is as follows:

  • Use 8 characters or less.
  • Use only hypens (-), numerical or alphabetical characters.

[3] The file itself is too large for the remaining hard disk space:

Be sure to check to make sure that your hard disk has sufficient space available to create the file you are trying to create. To check your available hard disk space:

  1. Go to Start>> My Computer
  2. Right click on your primary hard drive (usually C:\).
  3. Check the space available against the file size you are trying to create.

Note: Your hard disk space should have at least twice the available space for the file size you're trying to create. If you are lacking in hard disk space, then continue reading below.

To create more hard disk space:

  1. Go to Start>> All Programs>> Accessories>> System Tools>> Disk Cleanup.
  2. Select your hard disk drive (usually C:\). Click OK.
  3. Select the files under "Files to delete" to remove them.
  4. You can click the "More Options" tab to remove the following:
  • Unused Windows Components
  • Restore Points
  • Software Application
  1. Click OK. All of your selected items will now be removed.
  2. Restart your system.

[4] The file cannot be created in a certain folder:

If the folder you are trying to create a file in has too large of a file size, then Windows will not accept it. Also, if the folder has any corrupt files in it, new files will not be accepted. To correct this issue, create a new folder and save your file in the new folder. Here's how:

Note: Do not attempt to try to create a folder within the corrupt folder.

  1. From the application your would like the folder to reside in, go to File>> New>> Folder.
  2. Type the file name for your new folder.
  3. Open both the new folder and the old folder side by side. Drag the file from the old folder (right click>> Cut) and drop (CTRL>> V) it into the new one.


CD/DVD Drive Not Detected

Before Windows can see your Drive, it first has to appear in the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). When getting error messages from Windows that state the CD or DVD drive is not detected, check to make sure it appears in the BIOS. Here's how:
  1. Boot up your PC.
  2. At the first logo screen, press F1 repeatedly until you see the BIOS setup screen.
  3. Using the left and right arrows to navigate, select Main (usually at the top left).
  4. The CD or DVD Drive name should be listed next to Primary Slave, Secondary Slave or Secondary Master.
  5. Navigate to Exit and exit without saving changes.

If it is listed in the BIOS but the CD/DVD Drive no longer functions, then a ribbon cable could have come loose. If that is not the case either, try uninstalling the device in Device Manager. Here's how:

  1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> System>> Hardware tab>> Device Manager button.
  2. In Device Manager, locate and expand the entry titled "DVD/CD-ROM drives".
  3. Right click the appropriate drive and select "Uninstall" from the resulting menu.
  4. When prompted, confirm that you would like to remove the selected device.
  5. At the "Action" menu, select "Scan for hardware changes".
  6. Click out of the Device Manager and the Control Panel.

If none of the above has worked, it is likely that your CD or DVD Drive no longer functions. Replace the drive with a compatible drive. See your manufactures web site for details.


XP Pro Won't Completely Shutdown

  1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> Power Options.
  2. Select the APM tab.
  3. Place a checkmark in the "Enable Advanced Power Management support" check box.
  4. Click OK and exit the Control Panel.

Your computer should successfully complete the shut down process.


Game will not install

If you are having trouble installing a games software, the steps listed below may help you determine the cause and help you finish the installation.
  1. Be sure that the Windows version that you are trying to install on is supported by the game.
  2. Check to make sure that you have enough Hard Disk space available to load the software.
  3. Check to make sure that your PC meets the minimum system requirements to run the game.
  4. Turn off DMA:

Some game manufactures use a copy protection verification test. But with high-speed drives, the disc may spin so quickly that the test fails. If the test does not pass, the software will not install. Do get around this issue, try turning off DMA (Direct Memory Access) in your Device Manager. Here's how:

  1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> System>> Hardware tab>> Device Manager tab.
  2. Go to the "View" menu and make sure that "View devices by type" is selected.
  3. Expand the IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers entry (double click).
  4. Double click Secondary IDE Channel entry.
  5. Select the Advanced Settings tab.
  6. Under the Device 0 category and next to the Transfer Mode entry, you will find a drop down menu that lists two entries:
  • DMA if available
  • PIO Only
  1. If "DMA if available" is showing, select PIO Only. Click OK.
  2. Exit Device Manager and Control Panel.
  3. Restart your system

Note: Once the verification process completes and your game software is successfully installed, you can turn DMA back on using the above method.


Fixing Defragmenter problems in Windows XP

When trying to access the Defrag tool in the Properties>> Tools dialog box for your local hard drive, one of the following problems may occur:
  • The Defragment Now button is missing
  • When you click the Defragment Now button, your receive the following error message:

The Disk Defragmenter is not installed on your computer. To install it, double-click the Add or Remove Programs icon in Control Panel, click the Install/Uninstall tab, and then follow the instructions on your screen.

To fix this issue:

Method #1:

1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: %Windir%\Inf [Enter] or click OK
2. Locate the dfrg.inf file
3. Right click the file and select Install.

Method #2:

Go to Start>> Run. Copy and paste the following command in to the "Open:" text box:

rundll32.exe setupapi,InstallHinfSection DefaultInstall 132 %windir%\inf\dfrg.inf

The above command will reinstall the Disk defragmenter.


Booting to Safe Mode in Windows XP

Booting to Safe Mode can be a very effective method of troubleshooting a system. Safe Mode allows only essential files and drivers to be used. An example of why you would need Safe Mode is; If you have installed a new hardware device and upon rebooting your system it will not start. If you can get into Safe Mode you will be able to remove the offending hardware device from your system and allow your system to boot normally.

If there are damaged, deleted or corrupt system files involved, Safe Mode may not be an option. You may need to use the Recovery Console for help.

To boot in to Safe Mode:
  1. Go to Start>> Turn off computer>> Restart.
  2. When the message "Please select the operating system to start" appears, press F8.
  3. Using the arrow keys, highlight the appropriate Safe Mode option, then press Enter.

Note: If your system is a dual-boot or multi-boot system, choose the appropriate installation using the arrow keys, then press Enter.

Alternate method:

  1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: msconfig [Enter]
  2. Select the BOOT.INI tab
  3. Check the box titled "/SAFEBOOT"
  4. Click Apply and then exit the Configuration Utility.

Windows will now be configured to restart in Safe Mode and will continue this way until you uncheck the /SAFEBOOT box.


Error message when you click a Mailto: link

Applies to:
Windows XP/2000

When you click on a Mailto: link, you may receive the following error message:

Could not perform this operation because the default mail client is not properly installed

The mail client may also invoke several windows followed by the error message:

Action Cancelled

The reason these errors could occur is due to either:

A missing String value in the Windows Registry


Registry Mailto key permissions are set incorrectly

To resolve this issue:

Resetting the default email client:
  1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: control inetcpl.cpl [Enter] or click OK.
  2. Select the Programs tab.
  3. Open the email dropdown menu and select another email client.
  4. Click Apply.
  5. Go back through steps 1 - 5 and reset your email client from the email dropdown menu. Click Apply.

If this does not resolve your issue, try this:

Note: The following instructions involves editing the Windows Registry. Please be sure to make a
backup copy before making any changes.

Create a new registry string value:

Note: Administrators, be sure that all users have READ access to the following Registry key.

  1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: regedit [Enter] or click OK.
  2. Navigate to:

  3. Single click the "mailto" entry to view its contents in the right pane.
  4. Right click an empty portion of the right pane.
  5. Select New>> String Value
  6. Name the new string value: URL Protocol
  7. Exit the Windows Registry.


Reinstall System Restore in Windows XP

If you ever need to reinstall System Restore, this tip will guide you though the process. Follow the outlined procedures below:

Method #1:

1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: %Windir%\INF
2. Scroll the list to find the SR.INF file
3. Once found, right click the SR.INF file
4. Select Install

Windows will now start the System Restore reinstallation. Restart Windows when the procedure has completed.

Method #2:

1. Go to Start>> Run. Copy and Paste the following in to the "Open:" line:

rundll32.exe advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection %Windir%\Inf\sr.inf

2. Press Enter or click OK.

Windows will now start the System Restore reinstallation. Restart Windows when the procedure has completed.


BIOS Power-On Selt Test (POST) Screen

Each Motherboard has a self-diagnostic program built in. It is call the POST screen. As your computer starts to boot, it passes through this self-diagnostic mode extremely quickly to determine if the motherboard is running all devices without error. If no error is found during this process, you will probably never notice it. But, if an error is detected, the program will omit a series of audible beeps. These beeps are codes are useful in determining where the error originated. For a complete list of beep codes by motherboard manufacturer visit here:

BIOS Beep Codes from 5 Star Support


Disable "Automatic Restart" feature

Windows XP has an automatic restart feature that is designed to restart the operating system when an error is detected. Most of the time, one restart and you're back in business again. However, on some rare occasions your system may continually keep restarting making it difficult to determine what the problem is. To disable this feature follow the instructions outlined below:
  1. Click Start>> Control Panel>> System>> Advanced tab.
  2. Under the Startup and Recovery category, click the Settings button.
  3. Uncheck the "Automatically restart" entry.
  4. Click Apply and then exit all windows.


Muted sound

If you find that your DVD or CD won't play music any longer or if you are not getting any sound from your system at all. Try the following troubleshooting steps for help:

Make sure the Mute feature is not turned on by trying one or more of the following steps:
  • Try Pressing the Mute button on the keyboard. By pressing this button, it will toggle the ON/OFF and will give you onscreen notification. Press this button until you receive a Mute OFF notification.
  • Double click the volume control icon on the taskbar. When the Master Volume window appears, make sure that the "Mute" check boxes do not have a check marks.
  • Check to make sure that other devices not listed in the Master Volume window are not muted. Here's how:
  1. With the Master Volume window showing, go to Options>> Properties (see Figure #1).
  2. Place a check in the volume controls that you would like to view (see Figure #2).
  3. Click OK.
  4. The Master Volume window will now show the additional selected devices. Uncheck any Mute check boxes for these devices.
Figure #1
Master Volume Control Window
Figure #2
Master Volume Control Properties


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