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Table Of Contents  CertiGuide to A+ (A+ 4 Real)
 9  Chapter 4: Diagnosing and Troubleshooting in the Windows OS

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Safe Windows Start-up

When Windows does not start, you should try starting it in a Safe mode. The idea behind the Safe Mode is to load Windows with minimal set of drivers. That makes it a great way to deal with bad drivers, which do not let you load Windows compound your problems. In Safe Mode, you can load or remove drivers. The first thing to do when you start Safe Mode is run Device Manager.

Here is how to get to Safe Mode: Restart your computer and press F8 on your keyboard. Depending on the version of Windows, the menus don’t do look the same but on every version you can choose those three types of safe mode:

  • Safe Mode (there is a shortcut: press F5 instead of F8 to skip the menu)

  • Safe Mode with Networking support

  • Safe Mode with command prompt

Windows 9x Family Safe Mode Boot

Here is what a safe mode is on Windows 9x family: autoexec.bat and config.sys are not loaded. Load and run lines from Win.ini are not loaded. In System.ini file [Boot] and [386Enh] sections are not loaded.

Safe Mode loads Windows environment with minimal set of drivers. Windows loads a VGA driver, which means low-resolution display but every monitor you can plug-in to your PC and install 32-bit Windows supports VGA mode for sure. You can use your mouse, keyboard, floppy, hard drive and that is about the hardware can use to make Windows run normally in Normal mode. Video driver is a good example because a bad or buggy video driver can cause fatal errors on NT. Since NT4, the NT family is touchy about the video driver. Video driver has been incorporated with kernel to make a faster display.

Safe Mode with Networking support is a previous option filled with the drivers that you need to load networking. If you are not troubleshooting networking you may need this option to make a network backup of your important files before you try something tricky such as editing registry.

Safe Mode with Command Prompt will let you run only command prompt utilities. If you cannot start the system in Safe mode, you may still be able to start it in Command prompt mode. You can find this option on the same menu where you found Safe mode option. In Command mode it’s much harder to solve the problem because you don’t have as much tools as you have in graphical environment and you have to remember the commands. You already guessed this mode has to look different on Windows 9x and Windows NT family since the first one is DOS based and a second one doesn’t have DOS.

Step-by-step confirmation mode exists only on Windows 9x. It will ask you a couple of Yes/No questions. This is useful to narrow the problem, a sort of customized Safe mode.

Another tool to help troubleshoot drivers is: Automatic Skip Driver Agent tool (Asd.exe) in Windows 98/Me

Automatic Skip Driver Agent identifies devices that can cause Windows 98 or Windows Me to stop responding (hang) when you start your computer, and then disables them so that they are bypassed when you next restart your computer.

To start Automatic Skip Driver, click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, click System Information, and then click Automatic Skip Driver Agent on the Tools menu.

Automatic Skip Driver Agent lists all devices or operations that have failed to start. You can use Automatic Skip Driver Agent to enable any device it has previously disabled, and Windows then tries to use the device when you next restart your computer. If this device or operation does not start correctly, your computer stops responding.

If you then restart your computer for a third time, Automatic Skip Driver Agent prevents the device or operation from running, and when your computer starts, click Details to identify the device or operation that does not start correctly and then display a suggested course of action.

Automatic Skip Driver Logging

Devices disabled by Automatic Skip Driver Agent to allow Windows to start are recorded in the Asd.log file.

If Automatic Skip Driver Agent is unable to locate any errors, you may receive a message stating so, and you can then click OK to quit Automatic Skip Driver Agent.


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CertiGuide to A+ (A+ 4 Real) ( on
Version 1.0 - Version Date: March 29, 2005

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